Indigenous Cultural Heritage Glossary

July 31, 2020


Below is a glossary of terms seen throughout documents related to First Nations Cultural Heritage. This reference guide allows you to better understand the terminology used when describing the different facets of First Nations Cultural Heritage.

Prepared By

First Peoples’ Cultural Council

Contributing Organizations

Heritage Branch, Ministry of Tourism, Culture & the Arts 

Throughout the toolkit documents, terms related to heritage conservation are written in bold. Definitions for those terms are written below.

B.C. Register of Historic Places (BCRHP)
– is a database of all the historic places recognized by local governments in B.C. It is not accessible by internet, but information about historic places listed on the BCRHP can be obtained by contacting the B.C. Registrar.

Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP) – a searchable database containing information about formally recognized historic places of local, provincial, territorial and national significance. It is accessible to the public at

Character-­defining elements – the physical manifestations of the values associated with a place that must be retained in order to preserve its heritage value to the community (can include materials, forms, location, spatial configurations, uses, cultural connections or meanings)

Client requirements – part of a conservation plan; includes what is needed by the community for the historic place and how it will be used in the future

Community Heritage Register
– an official list of historic places identified and recognized by the local government; it supports the monitoring, awareness and management of registered places

Conservation plan – the overall plan for conserving a historic place; compiled from a brief history of the place, statement of significance, character-­-defining elements, the vision for the future use and regulations

Heritage conservation – the protection, rehabilitation and celebration of historic places

Heritage designation
– a legal identification by local governments that protects private heritage property Heritage planning – the process used to decide how best to manage a community’s cultural heritage resources

Historic places – buildings, structures, landscapes, historic districts and other places of heritage value

Historic Places Initiative – a national program aimed at conserving and celebrating Canada’s historic places, created in 2000 as a partnership between the Government of Canada and all the provinces and territories  Intangible heritage – the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage

Safeguarding – the practice of conserving intangible heritage by ensuring the communication of the knowledge, skills and so on; it is continued across generations

Statement of Significance (SoS)
– a written document explaining why a place is valued by the community; consists of a description, heritage values and character-­-defining elements

Values-­-centered management – the practice of conserving a historic place based on the associated values of the place as decided by the community

Reference: Heritage Branch. (2008, July). Heritage Resource Glossary. Retrieved June 2010, from Heritage Branch, Ministry of Tourism, Culture & the Arts Website: