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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Strategies for cultural maintenance : aboriginal cultural education programs and centres in Canada Haagen, Claudia Elisabeth J.


This thesis examines the cultural education programs that have been developed over the past two decades by Canada's First Peoples. These programs are designed to strengthen and maintain indigenous cultures by promoting cultural identity and by developing cultural curriculum materials for a broad range of education programs. This thesis gives particular emphasis to cultural education centres and their unique integration of a characteristic set of programs which have been designed to systematically collect, preserve and communicate indigenous cultural knowledge. Despite the effects of more than a century of colonization, and against all expectation. Native cultures have persisted. Native people are now actively communicating a renewed confidence in their own cultures, their values and their ways of doing things. Community-based self-government and the maintenance of a land base are ideologically inseparable from the retention of culture and language, and Native people today view these as integral to their survival and self-determination as distinct peoples within the fabric of the majority society. Cultural education programs and centres perform a significant communication function in the agenda of self-determination by both ensuring and affirming the continuing viability of Native cultures. This thesis explores the ideology of cultural survival and examines its current expression as a program of action directed at the damaging effects of cultural disruption. The background to the emergence of cultural goals is discussed, with reference to their central place in the socio-economic development strategies and education policies developed by Native organizations in the 1970's. A variety of cultural education programs are described with a specific focus on two cultural education centres in British Columbia. Cultural education programs, as they are defined and carried out by various Native agencies, are presented as significant innovations in the definition and management, overall, of cultural heritage. The organizational integration of these programs also represents a significant innovation in the area of community development. In this context, museological themes are explored. Native concepts of culture are contrasted to non-Native concepts of heritage, with particular attention given to some of the problems in the way non-Native museums have traditionally represented Native cultures.

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