Knowing Our Place and the Second Discovery of America

“This is the most important conversation happening in Canada right now,” said Indigenous Services Minister, Jane Philpott, at a recent forum. She was speaking about conversation on the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous in Canada.

Saturday, March 3rd, the Knowing Our Place Book Club offers you an opportunity to explore that relationship, to learn more about the culture of Indigenous people and their rightful place in our history and to ask what kind of relationship we want.

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“The culture of Native people amounts to more than crafts and carvings,” writes the distinguished Canadian jurist, Thomas Berger. “Their tradition of decision-making by consensus, their respect for the wisdom of their elders, their concept of the extended family, their belief in a special relationship with the land, their regard for the environment, their willingness to share – all these values persist in one form or another within their own culture, even though they have been under unremitting pressure to abandon them.” 

Berger believes that the present day is still the age of discovery. The European explorers thought they had discovered the New World. We now know it was actually an Old World, and that there were many varied and thriving cultures living here. Today we have the opportunity, Berger says, for the “second discovery of America.”

Books are an important way to enter into this discovery and there are many excellent and inspiring books written by Indigenous authors. We have chosen for our inaugural book, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, by Thomas King. It’s a foundational book for understanding the worldview of Indigenous people in Canada. The first chapter begs to be read out loud and I have been known to do just that for anyone who is willing to listen. Copies of the book are available at the Bowen Library and Phoenix. 

As Creative Director of Knowing Our Place, I invite you to join me, the Bowen Island Library and the Bowen Island Arts Council to be part of this discovery. Saturday, March 3rd. 11 am-12:30 pm at the beautiful new Cove Commons. Please register at


Pauline Le Bel is an award-winning novelist, an Emmy-nominated screenwriter and the author of Whale in the Door: A Community Unites to Protect BC’s Howe Sound.

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