Indigenous economies existed in BC long before European contact. As the colonial economy emerged indigenous people became part of the formal workforce as miners, loggers, sawmill workers, agricultural workers, cannery labour and fishers, but their role in the early economy has been written out of history.
In Episode 9 of On the Line: Stories of BC Workers host Rod Mickleburgh examines indigenous workers on the waterfront, where they gained a reputation as “the best men that ever worked the lumber”. Indigenous workers also formed one of the earliest BC unions, a local of the Industrial Workers of the World. This episode includes audio clips from family members sharing stories of early indigenous longshoremen.
FULL EPISODE: Indigenous Longshoremen & the IWW