As you explore this web site you will discover five distinctive environments in British Columbia and learn about natural and human histories in these places.
This is a photograph of a mountaintop, trees in a forest, grass in grasslands, the ocean taken from a beach and apartment buildings in a city.Nature, First Peoples and History are interconnected themes throughout the site, presented in pictures, records and information from the Royal British Columbia Museum's collections and through narratives from First Nations with long histories in these landscapes.

Changing Landscapes

The landscapes of British Columbia have been shaped over millions of years. Vast chunks of foreign rocks collided to form the land. Ages of volcanoes, erosion and glacial ice carved mountains and valleys. Standing at the western edge of the continent, facing the westerly winds, British Columbia's mountain ranges divide this intricate land into climatic stripes of cold and wet, hot and dry, creating environments that support a huge diversity of life. All this natural change, all this motion, is still happening and will continue in the future.

Plants and animals have come and gone with changes in the landscapes and their climates. People have inadvertently and purposefully transformed the lands and waters of British Columbia and can be profoundly affected by the changes they cause.

Respecting the Land

First Nations cultural stories that go back to the beginning of time in what is now British Columbia tell of various Transformer figures.
Coast Salish oral histories describe an earlier age that was different from the present. A new era began when Haals (X̲ex̲á:la), the Transformers, came through the world, transforming monsters and other humanlike beings into rocks and animals, and setting things in order for the people of the present age. Sometimes identified with Raven (on the Coast) and Coyote (in the province's interior), the Transformer is as complex as the forces it unleashes, as shown by this Nisg̱a'a account:

Tx̱eemsim depicted on a Nisg̱a'a heraldic pole. Eric Grandison, Nisg̱a'a Lisims Government.
This is a photograph of a carved wooden figure, Txeemsim, holding something over its head, depicted on a Nisga'a heraldic pole.

"Tx̱eemsim was a messenger, sent by K̲’amligiihahlhaahl, the supreme God that we worshipped before European contact. Grandfather Tx̱eemsim taught by example how to use the resources and environment for protection, conservation and respect. He was also a steward of Lisims, the Nass River, reshaping the lands to protect the Nisg̱a'a people, resources and environment. Tx̱eemsim's major accomplishments include: releasing the sun into the world, providing fresh water and releasing the oolichan to Lisims, the Nass River. Tx̱eemsim was and continues to be the greatest teacher among the Nisg̱a'a."