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FNST 301 Issues in Applied First Nations Studies Research

If you need help, please contact Jenna Walsh, Indigenous Initiatives Librarian & Liaison for First Nations Studies, Archaeology, Environment, and Resource & Environmental Management at 778.782.9378 or or Ask a librarian.

Professor: Rudy Reimer/Yumks
Course Outline: FNST 301 Issues in Applied First Nations Studies Research (Fall 2013)

Selected SFU guides:

Complete list of SFU guides


Other Non-SFU guides


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Looking for a "known Source

  • When you already have a reference (citation) to a book or article - efficient way to find out if SFU Library has it.

    Search the Library CatalogueSearch by "Title" of the book" (not chapter title) or "Journal title" (not article title) OR use the Citation Finder tool.
  • E.g. LItosseliti, L. (2006). Constructing gender in public arguments: The female voice as emotional voice. In J. Baxter (Ed.), The female voice in contexts (pp. 40-58). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

  • Myles, F. (2010). The development of theories of second language acquisition. Language Teaching, 43(3), 320-332.


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Finding books in the SFU Library

First Nations Terminology

Two ways to search for books in the SFU Library Collection

1) FastSearch Tab, from the search box from home page, and

2) Library Catalogue, under link, "Books, Media" from home page. 


Books - Via Fast Search

SFU Library Fast Search

New! What is Fast Search? | SFU Library - both books and articles

e.g.    (poverty OR poor) AND elderly AND canada

- In the FastSearch engine, make sure the "boolean" connector words (AND, OR) are in "capital" letters.
- use the "subject" listing in the left hand column to narrow your topic.


Books - Searching via Library Catalogue

Advanced Keyword searching in Library Catalogue

Books tend to cover a subject thoroughly and are usually easy to obtain. Use the Library Catalogue to find books and reports owned by SFU.

For works on a topic, search first by KEYWORD. Here are some sample keyword searches:

  • sexual harassment and universities
  • (poverty or poor) and elderly
  • s:homelessness and canad* [this search looks for the word "homelessness" in the authorized subject heading field and the words "canada" or "canadian" or "canadians", etc., anywhere in the record for a book, including the title of the book and its subject heading]

Look at the authorized or standard SUBJECT HEADINGS used in the records.  Is there one that describes what you are looking for?  If so, click on it to find other books on your topic.

Use the references (referenced articles and books) listed at the back of relevant books on your topic as guides for further reading.

For more help using the catalogue, see the Library Guide,  "How to use the Library Web Catalogue".


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Subject Headings / Descriptors

After you've found some worthwhile results, look at them and scan them for Subject Headings or Descriptors. Subject headings and descriptors are terms that have been assigned to each article. They are extremely useful for locating books or articles on the same subject. The SFU Library Catalogue and most, but not all, electronic databases use these. Using subject headings in your search can lead to more accurate results but it's almost always easier to start with keyword searching first.

Be careful of spelling - most databases use American spelling - but you should try both versions (e.g. labour, labor).

Be prepared to find information that is not completely on topic, but may still be useful and relevant.

Terminology in Library of Congress Subject Headings (Library Catalogue and many databases use this list of words) may be outdated, but you may need to think about how terms may have been used "historically."

Examples of subject headings related to "homelessness" topic:

Homelessness -- Government Policy -- Canada
Homeless persons
Homeless Youth -- 2 Related Subjects
Homeless Youth -- Canada
Street Youth -- Canada

Subject Headings in the Library Catalogue - First Nations topics

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Concept Map

Identifying Key Concepts: Before you start researching your topic, sit back and think about what you want to write about. If you don't have an assigned topic, it's sometimes easier to create one by asking a question. For example:

Is teen homelessness caused by poverty?

Break down your topic into concepts or keywords. Clearly articulate what is meant by homelessness, teens, poverty, and causation. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is the idea of homelessness here defined as street people, runaways, people on social assistance?
  • How is poverty defined?

Library Research Concepts Worksheet (Concept Map / Keywords)

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4
homelessness Teens Poverty Caused
Related Terms Related Terms Related Terms Related Terms
street youth poor causal factors
runaways adolescence destitute social theories
vagrancy minors social assistance


First Nations Terminology

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The Mechanics of Searching:

After you've identified terms relevant to your area of research, the next step is to use them either individually or in combination with each other until you locate information relevant to your research. Here are some tools to help you.

Boolean Searching
Too many or too few results? Try combining terms using AND, OR, NOT. (Called "Boolean Operators" in library-speak).. Use them to narrow or broaden your search.

  • AND: use to narrow your search when you must find one or more terms in combination with each other: "homelessness and choice and lifestyle" would require that each of these words be present somewhere in the document or record in order to result in a successful search
  • OR: use to widen your search—especially when you're using related terms: "lifestyle or way of life or culture or class" would retrieve documents with ANY of these words.
  • NOT: use sparingly (if at all) as it will exclude any words you add after it.

Combining Terms: You can combine your Boolean searches to get better results. Remember to group like operators together within parentheses: "(lifestyle or way of life) and homeless and choice" will retrieve documents with either of the first two words and both the following two words.

Need more? Try a little truncation. Truncation is a shortcut, expressed by a symbol, to help you search for variations and multiple endings for your search terms. Common truncation symbols are: $, ?, ! but the most popular is the *.

For example, econ* will retrieve economic, economics, economical, economy, economies, etc.

Modify your search terms as you search the databases and become aware of new terms to describe your topic.


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Journal articles

Overall Strategy:

Use the same strategy as for books for defining your topic and identifying key authors and sources and capturing results.  Go from the from Journal Articles and Databases link on Library's home page to:

  • First Nations Studies -- list of databases using the pulldown menu
    • Google Scholar -- if you do use Google, use Google Scholar instead, using the link at the bottom of the page or look for it under "G" in the alphabetical list of databases. Then it will link to the fulltext of electronic books and articles for all those things that the Library has already paid for.


First Nations and General Databases

First Nations Terminology

  • Bibliography of Native North Americans (BNNA) - from 17th century to present.  Includes citations to books, articles, and govenment report about Native North American culture, history, and life, archaeology, multicultural relations, gaming, governance, legend, and literacy.
  • Native Health Databases - bibliographic information and abstracts of health-related articles, reports, surveys, and other resource documents pertaining to the health and health care of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Canadian First Nations.

Canadian Databases

Journal Articles


  • Canadian Newsstream - fulltext of major Canadian daily newspapers from about mid-80s.
  • British Columbia Newspaper Index
    Indexes the Province, the Vancouver Sun,  and The Victoria Times Colonist (1990- ).
  • Newspaper index [microform]
    Created by the B.C. Provincial Library, indexes the Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Daily Colonist (1900-1990) (PN 02 12 Microforms Classified ).<---- 6th floor in microfilm area, by call no.
  • AMMSA Archives - from Aboriginal Multi Media Society of Alberta -- fulltext of First Nations newspapers some going back to 1983. Click on the URL.
    From the Home page, click on to the individual newspaper, or use the search box, and limit it to News, from the pull down menu.
  • Globe & Mail Canada's Heritage from 1844
    Searchable full-text of the Globe and Mail from 1844 to 2001. Includes major events in Canadian history, plus thousands of images, advertisements, and political cartoons dating back to the pre-confederation era.
    Covers major news in Canada and around the world during this period, including every image, advertisement, classified ad, birth and death notice. E.g.
    • Indian* or native
    • Tip: choose "boolean search" in the bottom pull down menu if you use "or" or "and" to combine terms.


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Government Reports

  • Canadian Research Index - Canadian Government reports. SFU Library has the microfiche collection associated with the "Microlog number", besides each record. (6th floor). Once you identify a report here, you may also wish to go to the government department's website and see if the report is available online. E.g.
    • The Magic leaves : a history of Haida argillite carving
      by Peter L. Macnair and Alan L. Hoover. (British Columbia Provincial Museum special publication ; no. 7 ISSN 0707-1728) Victoria: Ministry of Provincial Secretary and Government Services, 1984. 211 p.
      Microlog 85-01368
      map 6th floor microfilms:
  • For earlier period, try print equivalent: Microlog Index (JL 75 Z955; 1979-1995; Bennett Reference Indexes)
  • Early Canadiana Online - (see Primary Documents section for more details) -- Full text, online collection of more than 3,000 books and pamphlets documenting Canadian history from the first European contact to the late 19th century.

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Primary Documents

  • Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF) - Covers the cultures of the world. Full-text data on world archaeological traditions. There is a microfiche collection which has been partially converted and updated into the electronic. Check both to see if your group is covered. The database uses a classification scheme to organize topics, which works better than keywords in the databases.
  • Early Canadiana Online
    Full text, online collection of more than 3,000 books and pamphlets documenting Canadian history from the first European contact to the late 19th century, including "Journals of the Legislative assembly of the Province of Canada", "Sessional papers" of the Dominion of Canada.  SFU Library has the "CIHM Microfiche" collection that supplements the database.
    • Be sure to also search the Library Catalogue, since not everything that was microfilmed has yet been made available fulltext within the ECO database. 
    • In the Library Catalogue, search: "cihm" AND "your topic".
      • cihm and haida
      • cihm and stalo
      • cihm and (boarding or residential) and school
    • In ECO database, search for "haida" and "your topic"
      • Search in "Fulltext"
      • When you come across a relevant item, check its "subject headings" and do a search on that. 
      • Try searching "Haida" in "subject heading" (use the pulldown menu)
        • Haida Indians
        • Haida language, etc.
      • Search in "Subject" -
    • To email or save items from the ECO database:
      • Click on a title from the results list
      • Download the "pdf" document
      • Save as (pdf) on your desktop
      • Send as "attachment" via your email.
    •  Browse by Collection
      • collections such as "Native Studies", "Jesuit Relations", "Fur Trade and the Hudson's Bay Company"
  • Early Encounters in North America (1534 - 1850) 
    -includes works by American Indians, Canadian First Peoples, and many European groups, capturing first impressions, hundreds of years of observations of flora and fauna, descriptions of encounters with indigenous peoples, and new language elements as they evolved. Also resents the perspectives of traders, slaves, missionaries, explorers, soldiers, officials, and others.


From the home page, click on to the "Peoples" link. Check the list under "North American" to see if your group is represented. E.g. Clayquot (1 doc), Bella Coola (1 doc), etc.

Even if the above section does not contain your group, do a "keyword" search, and there may be documents. E.g. "Haida"

Look for "Cultural events" or "Environment" or "Encounters", etc. from the Table of Contents.

  • North American Indian Thought and Culture /  also known as North American Indian Biographical Database -  full text and audio file.  Organized in a similar manner to "Early Encounters in North America" database.  It contains biographies, oral histories, personal stories, speeches by chiefs, depictions of historically important events, biographies from contemporary Indian newspapers.
  • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (Britain)
    • papers issued by the British House of Commons between 1801-1900 in all formats, including Bills, Reports of Royal Commissions, Reports of Select Committees, Accounts and Papers, and Command Papers. These are the working documents of British government for all areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy.
    • Topics include Canadian confederation, the abolition of slavery, electoral reform, affairs of the British in North America, and more. 
    • Browse 19th Century Subject Catalogue,
      • Select "Dominions and Colonies" and then "Canada, Newfoundland, and Bermuda" and then:
        • "Churches", "Constitution & Government", "Emigration to Canada", "Indian Affairs
      • Select "Colonial Administration" and then "Aboriginal Tribes"
    • Search by keywords: (canad* or british north america) and (aborig* or indian* or native*)
      •  (Hudson's Bay company) and (aborig* or indian* or native*)

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Government information



Sessional Papers / Debates / Journals

NOTE: The "Sessional papers", the "Debates" and the "Journals" of the House of Commons of Canada (Dominion of Canada/ Legislature of Canada) are all part of the Early Canadiana Online database.

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Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
(formerly -- Indian and Northern Affairs Canada)

For land claim agreements, community profiles, maps, legislation, and treaty information.

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Select the "popular resources" from left hand column, and then the "Aboriginal Resources".  Use the search engine on top right to search andy of the following: library, archives or the entire website..


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Canadian Museum of Civilization

Canadian Museum of Civilization.  They have reorganized their website. 



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Office of the Auditor General (OAG)

For performance of federal departments of the Government of Canada, check out the reports of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.



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