Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada: First Peoples | Level 1

Providing cultural context for Canada's First Peoples

This gallery explores Indigenous peoples through their ancestral objects and through their engagement with settler-colonist collectors. The objects on view tell stories of Indigenous identity, traditions, and beliefs across time, speaking to the vibrancy of Indigenous cultures both past and present.

The continuing legacy of Canada's First Peoples comes alive in this multi-layered gallery that discusses the complex relationship between past traditions and present life, the work of collectors who sought to document the unique experiences of Indigenous cultures, the development of museums where First Peoples’ material culture could be preserved, and through contemporary art, provide a sense of what it means to be a person of Indigenous ancestry in the contemporary world. European contact brought much change to Indigenous culture, but with this contact came new materials, new markets, and new opportunities for Indigenous cultural expression.

Explore a rich cultural legacy embodied in objects devoted to travel, subsistence, family life, the spiritual world, and artistic expressions. Space devoted to rotating exhibitions brings First Peoples' contemporary works into focus and multimedia spaces allow visitors to hear and savour their rich oral culture. Included is a  circular theatre devoted to the screening of films and live performances by Canada’s First Peoples. With more than 1,000 objects, up to 80 percent of which are rotated for preservation purposes, this vital gallery will continually feature new displays on different Native peoples.

About the Gallery


More than 1,000 objects provide a cultural context for Canada's First Peoples and examine the economic and social forces that have influenced Native culture and art.


Canada, west to the Pacific Ocean, north to the Arctic, east to the Atlantic, with some artifacts from cultures in Alaska and south of the Canada-United States border.


From Pre-European times to the present day.