The Dialogues Project

Dialogues between First Nations, Urban Aboriginal, and Immigrant Communities in Vancouver


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About the project Edit

The Dialogues Project is a City project in collaboration with diverse community partners.

The goal of the project is to build increased understanding and strengthened relations between Aboriginal and immigrant/non-Aboriginal communities.

The first phase of the project includes five main initiatives:

• Dialogue circles
• Community research
• Cultural exchange visits
• Youth and elders program
• Legacy projects

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What is the social value of this project? Edit

Details of the Dialogues Project

Phase 1 of the Vancouver Dialogues Project included the following five main initiatives:

1. Dialogue circles
The circles brought together members of the Aboriginal and immigrant/non-Aboriginal communities to share stories and perspectives with each other. Circles were facilitated, and focused on three broad topics: remembering the past, reflecting on current issues, and envisioning strategies for building future relationships.

2. Community research
The project conducted a community survey and interviews to find out people’s experiences and perspectives on community relations. The project also conducted a literature scan to find out what information is easily accessible to newcomers about Aboriginal communities.

3. Cultural exchange visits
Twelve cultural exchange visits were held to give communities opportunities to engage with each other face-to-face through on-site visits and learn more about each other’s history, culture and perspectives. Visits were hosted by Aboriginal, immigrant and youth communities.

4. Youth and elders program
Youth and elders held separate dialogue sessions to discuss issues around intercultural and intergenerational relations. They also received photography training to help them complete photovoice projects, on which they collaborated in small groups.

5. Legacy project
A story gathering project is being undertaken in the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood, called Our Roots. Youth Story Gatherers will conduct interviews of residents to help give voice to diverse Aboriginal and immigrant experiences of the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood.

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August to November 2011
The Dialogues Project undertook a story gathering project in the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood, called "Our Roots." The project used cultural dialogues and story sharing to help build understanding between Aboriginal and immigrant communities.

Thursday 21 July 2011
A photo-voice exhibit opened at W2 Media Café. This exhibit was a culmination of a number of youth engagement activities. A group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal/immigrant elders and seniors met to dialogue around intercultural and intergenerational relations. Forty Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth also had sessions among themselves to dialogue around the same issues. The youth and Elders formed small groups and took photos around themes of their choice, relating to the themes of the Dialogues Project.

Tuesday 5 July 2011
The Dialogues Project held a celebration event, bringing together over 250 guests, including City Council, government and First Nations representatives, project participants and community partners.
The event included multimedia installations showcasing the project’s initiatives and activities including:

• The launch of the book, "Vancouver Dialogues: First Nations, Urban Aboriginal and Immigrant Communities"
• A screening of Sharing Our Stories (the project’s documentary video)
• A feature performance, titled Arrival Over Distance
• A collaboration of performing artists from Aboriginal and immigrant communities.

Sunday 26 September 2010 - Saturday 28 May 2011
Twelve cultural exchange visits were organized. The visits took place at sites of community and cultural significance for Aboriginal and immigrant communities. They provided opportunities for participants to learn more about the histories and cultures of the community groups hosting the events.

Thursday 15 July 2010
A series of dialogue circles held between April and July 2010 wrapped up with a closing session at the Vancouver Public Library.

Tuesday 13 April 2010
The Dialogues Project was officially launched at the UBC First Nations Longhouse.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit



First Nations people have been living here for thousands of years. The City is within the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people, including the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, who still live here today. They are thriving communities with unique, living cultures rich in heritage. Many Aboriginal people from other communities have also come here and now call Vancouver home, adding their experiences to the cultural tapestry.


Though it has a rich indigenous heritage, Vancouver is also increasingly a city of immigrants. According to 2006 census data, close to half of Vancouver’s population was born outside of Canada. The same census shows that two of the fastest growing demographic groups in Vancouver are immigrants and Aboriginal peoples.

Over the years, First Nations, urban Aboriginal groups and immigrant organizations have acknowledged that there is limited inter-cultural interaction between Aboriginal and immigrant Canadians.

Within Aboriginal communities, there is a sense that their history, culture and heritage are not well understood by others living within their traditional territory. For newcomers, it seems there are few opportunities to learn about the Aboriginal community living in their midst. Some studies have shown that newcomers are generally under-informed (if not misinformed) about Aboriginal history, perspectives and issues.


One key goal of the Dialogues Project is to help bridge the information and communication gaps between these communities.

Dialogues between First Nations, Urban Aboriginal and Immigrant Communities in Vancouver’ is a project convened by the City of Vancouver, in collaboration with community partners (the Dialogues Project). Its goal is to promote increased understanding and stronger relationships between indigenous and immigrant communities within the City, and create a welcoming and inclusive city for all.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

Key funding is provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, through the BC Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Workplaces Program.

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