School bell from Columbian College, New Westminster, BC, circa 1890's. RBCM 987.43.1
The Theme of Transformation
In addition to the wealth of information about the
geography, natural history, First Peoples and historical
development of British Columbia, the site incorporates the
theme of transformation. The theme is useful for teachers
and students as a way of understanding natural and cultural
principles. Here are some of the ways the theme of
transformation is relevant to the different topics in the
- First Peoples of British Columbia have transformed
their way of life in response to changing social,
political, and environmental conditions around them.
They continue to play a strong part in the social and
political life of the province.
- A Transformer character is an important feature in
the oral histories and stories of many First Peoples.
The transformer may appear as Raven, Coyote, Swan, or
other culture hero.
- Transformation is an everyday occurrence in the
traditional lives of First Peoples. For example, the
forests of British Columbia provide raw materials for a
wide variety of First Nations clothing, regalia,
basketry, containers and art works. Materials
introduced through the early fur trade, such as beads
and fabrics, were incorporated into this rich and
varied production as well. These artistic traditions
- Transformation is an important part of First
Peoples' relationship with nature. Everything in the
world, including people, animals, fish, trees and
mountains, has a spiritual being, and all are
connected. Success in any undertaking, such as fishing,
hunting or gathering tree bark, is dependent on
effective communication with the spirit beings. By
showing respect and taking only what is needed, First
Peoples maintain the resources in their territory.
Transformation in Nature
- The landscape of British Columbia is the result of
geological transformation. The effects of natural
forces, such as tectonic movement, wind, and water
continue to change the natural environment.
- Transformation is an integral part of ecological
interactions. As environments change, participating
organisms adapt or perish. The species within an
ecosystem are interconnected — changes within the
system affect them all.
- As in the First Peoples' understanding, science
reminds us that nature is a transformation generator.
The sun's energy is transformed into plant nutrients
through photosynthesis, which is consumed by animals to
become animal proteins. Plant energy is also
transformed into heat when forests burn, or into fossil
fuels when they decay. Natural processes render one
form of energy into another.
- Humans have an impact upon the environment.
Population growth, resource extraction, and
industrialization impact the local and global
- In the past two hundred years, settlement has
transformed BC's natural resources into cultivated farm
land, forestry operations, mines, oil fields, and a
fishing industry. Industrial development extracts
natural products and transforms them into commodities
- Urban development went hand in hand with industrial
development. Unsettled areas became towns; towns grew
into cities; cities followed their own patterns of
growth, decay and/or sprawl. With urbanization came
networks of transport and communication.
- With the growing complexity that accompanied
development, society in BC transformed. Changes brought
wealth to some and marginalization to others. As the
society's values shift and change, governments and
other agencies respond by instituting laws, offering
relief, and encouraging different types of growth.
Transformation in the Curriculum
This site addresses many objectives in school
- Traditional settlement of First Peoples
- Lifestyle patterns
- Land and resource ownership
- First Peoples' use of their own histories and
languages for modern names of their Nations (eg.
Heiltsuk rather than Northern Kwakiutl, Dane-zaa rather
than Beaver, Nuu-chah-nulth rather than Nootka, and so
- Spiritual and cultural dimensions, and
technologies, including the use of plants and
- Importance of First Peoples, including belief and
economic systems, artistic expression, interactions
with settlers, and continuing treaty negotiations.
- The effects of geography and environment on the
development of British Columbia.
- Historical development patterns, including concepts
of resource management and sustainability
- Economic relations with the rest of Canada and
international trading partners
- Urban development
- The effects of technological change
Take advantage of these ideas in your classroom.
- Show how the stories and practices of a First
Peoples group reflect the importance of transformation
in their lives.
- Make a poster illustrating the stages of
transformation in a traditional art or craft.
- Interview an Elder to find out the transformations
he or she has witnessed.
- Compare First Peoples' beliefs about the cycles of
life with scientific explanations of how energy is
transformed through natural processes.
- Explain the relationship between First Peoples and
the environment. What can we learn?
- Using photographs, illustrate and describe the
transformation of a local region or a particular site
over the course of time.
- Select a town or a region and comment on the
transformations that have occurred there by creating
travel brochures for several time periods (e.g. 1850,
1950 and now).
- Describe the general pattern of development of your
local region, explaining some of the causes for
- Interview a local resident who has lived in the
community for a long period of time for a personal
account of social and economic change.
- Take one technological change (such as the
introduction of television, personal computers,
automobiles, etc.) and describe the effects that
technology has had on people's lives and the physical
and social environment. Speculate on what the world
might be like if it had not been developed.
- Chart the pattern of growth (and possibly decline)
in a resource industry. Try to find some of the causes
for the pattern.
- Describe the effect a single person (or a company)
had on the development of the province or your local