Cultural Literacy: Your Next Adventure
Guest post by Natasha Loh.
Living in British Columbia means exposure to a wealth of cultures, their traditions and people. Food, language, holidays and art all encompass what culture is. The diversity of cultures across this province reflects the rich history of First Nations people and later migration of individuals and families from all over the world. Consider where you live. Who do you share the land you live with? What languages do you hear? What foods can you taste and smell that are different than yours? What holidays are celebrated? Make your next adventure a discovery of cultural literacy.
What is Cultural Literacy?
Cultural literacy has a dual definition: it encourages individuals to learn about a group of people and their ways of life both past and present. It’s also defined by the ability to learn in a physical space like a museum. Both definitions have the same end goal, and that’s for the learner to walk away with a deeper understanding, knowledge and appreciation for what it is they have immersed themselves in.
ABC Life Literacy defines cultural literacy as, “… being able to understand the traditions, regular activities and history of a group of people from a given culture.”
Multiple opportunities for engaging with cultural literacy exist in community spaces all over the province and online. Whether you’re learning virtually or in person, be sure to take some time to reflect on what you have learned. If financial barriers exist for you and your family, check out some of the budget-friendly options offered through your local museum or library.
Where to learn
- Nelson Public Library offers free passes for cardholders to the Nelson Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Kootenay Gallery of Art.
- The Prince George Public Library offers a Northern Routes Discovery Pass for cardholders.
- June is National Indigenous History Month. Indigenous BC has a list of cultural centres and galleries where visitors can learn about the province’s many Indigenous nations.
- The Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project has compiled stories of Punjabi Canadians in BC through video. Watch a few people recount their stories of settlement in places like Surrey, Golden and Prince George.
- The Japanese Canadian Museum in Kaslo is by donation and showcases the history of BC’s earliest Japanese immigrants before internment.
- The OWL card is an annual membership that allows you unlimited access to a number of museums around the province. An individual membership is $56 (2023). Check out the list of participating museums (click “Owl Card Accepted” to see what museums you can visit with the pass).
- Digital museums are a great way to teach in the classroom and learn from home. Check out the current list of exhibitions.
Looking at artifacts at a museum or listening to people’s stories allows us to reflect on our own histories and how we wish to influence future generations. Cultural literacy opens the door to awareness and acceptance. The next time you’re learning about an individual or group’s heritage, consider how their struggles, successes or traditions are different from yours. In what ways are they similar? How has their history influenced you? If cultural literacy is an adventure in learning about the past and present, it is also a hope for a better future.
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