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Indigenous Resources For Allies
The following is a non-exhaustive list of resources including reports, courses, documentaries, books, podcasts, organizations, and articles about various topics surrounding Indigenous peoples in what is currently known as Canada. It is meant as a starting point for learning, unlearning, and reflecting about the history of Canada and the historic and contemporary issues faced by Indigenous peoples as a consequence of colonialism.
Content Warning: The following resources deal with subjects related to residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, forced sterilization, police brutality, and other issues caused by the ongoing impacts of colonialism.
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) provides 24/7 support for anyone experiencing distress or pain as a result of residential schools.
- Resources for Victims and Witnesses of Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents (Humber Story Lab): https://bit.ly/3mSRp4r
- Anishnawbe Health Toronto: https://bit.ly/3BxOrGx
- Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellness (CAMH): https://bit.ly/3tdDCq7
Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report
• Published in 2015, the TRC’s mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. The TRC documented the truth of Survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. This included First Nations, Inuit and Métis former residential school students, their families, communities, the churches, former school employees, government officials and other Canadians.
• Read the reports and the 94 Calls to Action
Reclaiming Power and Place: Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
• Published in 2019, The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The two volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.
• Read the report and the 231 Calls for Justice
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
• UNDRIP is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples, establishing a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world. Canada first voted against the adoption of UNDRIP at the UN General Assembly in 2007, and has since reversed its position.
• Read the Declaration and its 46 articles
Free University of Alberta Indigenous Studies course
• The University of Alberta offers a free online Indigenous studies course titled “Indigenous Canada” that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training
• Take a step towards increasing understanding of Indigenous culture in your organization. Bear Standing Tall & Associates is an Indigenous-owned company that provides advising and Corporate Training.
The Witness Blanket
• Art installation made out of hundreds of reclaimed items from Residential Schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres and universities, from across Canada
• Yellowhead Institute generates critical policy perspectives in support of First Nation jurisdiction. They publish reports, briefs, and thorough research about a range of topics.
• Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation is a special report from December 2020 analysing the TRC and finding that only 8 of the 94 Calls to Action have been implemented in the 5 years since its publication.
Indigenous Ally Toolkit
• Created by the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network, the Indigenous Ally Toolkit outlines first steps on how to be an ally to Indigenous peoples, do’s and dont’s, important terminology, and some next steps to take in this process.
Resources about settler colonialism in Canada
• Colonialism in Canada – Concordia University
- Includes books, articles, and films
RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS
• Decolonizing Our Schools: Aboriginal Education in the Toronto District School Board – A report on the Urban Aboriginal Education Pilot Project
- The Legacy Schools free national initiative to engage, empower and connect students and educators to further reconciliation through awareness, education and action (#reconciliACTION).
• Ontario Teachers of Indigenous Content – Facebook Group
• Native Land Digital
Interactive map that allows viewing of Indigenous Lands, treaties, and languages across the globe. Use it to explore the lands you live on and familiarize yourself with their history.
Similar concept as native-land.ca. Learn about the treaties, land acknowledgements and agreements signed across Canada.
• Indigenous Place Names Map
The Canadian-American Center’s “Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names” map
• Willie Ermine: An Indigenous Perspective on Reconciliation
Watch Willie Ermine share his perspectives on reconciliation.
• James Carpenter’s Medicinal Walk
In this virtual nature walk, James Carpenter/Grey Cloud shares Indigenous knowledge of Rowntree Mills Park, discussing the area, the importance of community, and the story of the Birch Tree.
• Tkarón:to & Turtle Island: The Remarkable Indigenous Trade Networks
Watch Anishinaabe artist and OCAD Associate Professor Bonnie Devine’s talk about the significance of land and water to Indigenous nations, the complex trade networks that existed, and the influence of colonial rule.
• Land Acknowledgements with Lindy & Leslie
Watch an interview with workshop facilitators Leslie McCue and Lindy Kinoshameg, following the guided land acknowledgement workshops they hosted earlier this year.
• In Conversation with Duke Redbird and David Crombie
Watch this conversation between Duke Redbird & former Mayor David Crombie that reflects on Toronto’s history & Indigenous/Settler relations.
• Ask an Elder Playlist
Watch highlights from Myseum’s “Ask an Elder” program, an intimate online experience for individuals or small groups to engage with, ask questions of, and learn from Indigenous Elder Duke Redbird
• Seven Ancestors’ Teachings
Watch a conversation with Elder Duke Redbird about the Seven Ancestral Teachings and how you can apply them to your everyday life.
• Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel
Delgamuukw. Sixties Scoop. Bill C-31. Blood quantum. Appropriation. Two-Spirit. Tsilhqot’in. Status. TRC. RCAP. FNPOA. Pass and permit. Numbered Treaties. Terra nullius. The Great Peace… Are you familiar with the terms listed above? In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about these (and more) concepts and the wider social beliefs associated with the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada.
• 21 Things you May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
Based on a viral article, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph is the essential guide to understanding the legal document and its repercussions on generations of Indigenous Peoples, written by a leading cultural sensitivity trainer.
• Indigenous Toronto: Stories That Carry This Place edited by Denise Bolduc, Mnawaate Gordon-Corbiere, Rebeka Tabobondung, and Brian Wright-McLeod
With contributions by Indigenous Elders, scholars, journalists, artists, and historians, this unique anthology explores the poles of cultural continuity and settler colonialism that have come to define Toronto as a significant cultural hub and intersection that was also known as a Meeting Place long before European settlers arrived.
• A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott
In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism.
• Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada by Harold Johnson
An urgent, informed, intimate condemnation of the Canadian state and its failure to deliver justice to Indigenous people by national bestselling author and former Crown prosecutor Harold R. Johnson.
• In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience by Eden Robinson and Helen Knott
In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.
• Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun: Portraits of Everyday Life in Eight Indigenous Communities by Paul Seesequasis
A revelatory portrait of eight Indigenous communities from across North America, shown through never-before-published archival photographs–a gorgeous extension of Paul Seesequasis’s popular social media project.
• All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga
In this urgent and incisive work, bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga explores the alarming rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. Based on her Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series, All Our Relations is a powerful call for action, justice, and a better, more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples.
• Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit by Marie Battiste
Drawing on treaties, international law, the work of other Indigenous scholars, and especially personal experiences, Marie Battiste documents the nature of Eurocentric models of education, and their devastating impacts on Indigenous knowledge. Chronicling the negative consequences of forced assimilation and the failure of current educational policies to bolster the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal populations, Battiste proposes a new model of education.
• Decolonizing Trauma Work: Indigenous Stories and Strategies by Renee Linklater
Renee Linklater explores healing and wellness in Indigenous communities on Turtle Island as she engages ten Indigenous health care practitioners in a dialogue regarding Indigenous notions of wellness and wholistic health. Through stories and strategies that are grounded in Indigenous worldviews and embedded with cultural knowledge, Linklater offers purposeful and practical methods to help individuals and communities that have experienced trauma.
• Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson
Together Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to Canada’s most glaring piece of unfinished business: the place of Indigenous peoples within the country’s political and economic space. The story is told through Arthur’s voice but traces both of their individual struggles against the colonialist and often racist structures that have been erected to keep Indigenous peoples in their place in Canada.
• Survivance: Narratives of Native Presence edited by Gerald Vizenor
The concept and idea of survivance has revolutionized our understanding of the lives, creative impulses, literary practices, and histories of the Native peoples of North America. In this anthology, eighteen scholars discuss the themes and practices of survivance in literature, examining the legacy of Vizenor’s original insights and exploring the manifestations of survivance in a variety of contexts.
• Braiding Legal Orders: Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples edited by John Borrows, Larry Chartrand, Oonagh E. Fitzgerald, and Risa Schwartz
These essays engage with the legal, historical, political and practical aspects of UNDRIP implementation. Written by Indigenous legal scholars and policy leaders, and guided by the metaphor of braiding international, domestic, and Indigenous laws into a strong, unified whole composed of distinct parts, the book makes visible the possibilities for reconciliation from different angles and under different lenses.
• Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice. Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.
• This Place: 150 Years Retold by several Indigenous authors and artists
Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.
• NDN Coping Mechanisms by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Belcourt aims an anthropological eye at the realities of everyday life to show how they house the violence that continues to reverberate from the long twentieth century. In a genre-bending constellation of poetry, photography, redaction, and poetics, Belcourt ultimately argues that if signifiers of Indigenous suffering are everywhere, so too is evidence of Indigenous peoples’ rogue possibility, their utopian drive.
• Reading Lists:
- 8 Indigenous Women’s Voices You Need to Hear – Canadian Women’s Foundation
- Indigenous Reading List: Truth and Reconciliation – Calgary Public Library
- BOOK LIST: National Indigenous History Month Reading List – The Canadian Children’s Book Centre
- 35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month – CBC
- Canadian History Books by Indigenous Authors – Raven Reads
- Bestselling Indigenous books in Canada – Booknet Canada
PODCATS & RADIO
• Missing and Murdered
Where is Cleo? Taken by child welfare workers in the 1970’s and adopted in the U.S., the young Cree girl’s family believes she was raped and murdered while hitchhiking back home to Saskatchewan. CBC news investigative reporter Connie Walker joins the search to find out what really happened to Cleo.
• The Henceforward
The Henceforward is a podcast that considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island.
• The Secret life of Canada
The Secret Life of Canada highlights the people, places and stories that probably didn’t make it into your high school textbook. Join hosts Leah and Falen as they explore the unauthorized history of a complicated country.
• This Land
How a string of custody battles over Native children became a federal lawsuit that threatens everything from tribal sovereignty to civil rights.
Unreserved is the radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation. Host Rosanna Deerchild takes you straight into Indigenous Canada, from Halifax to Haida Gwaii, from Shamattawa to Ottawa, introducing listeners to the storytellers, culture makers and community shakers from across the country.
MEDIA INDIGENA is a weekly Indigenous current affairs podcast. Our website also features Aboriginal news, views and creative expression.
• Warrior Life by Pam Palmater
This is an Indigenous podcast about warrior life – a lifestyle that focuses on decolonizing our minds, bodies and spirits while at the same time revitalizing our cultures, traditions, laws and governing practices.
• One Dish One Mic
The award-winning radio program is a two-hour, socially progressive show that sheds light on the issues affecting Indigenous people through an urban Indigenous lens. The show’s goal is to tell stories that traditionally wouldn’t have been told and provide a platform that highlights Indigenous excellence.
DOCUMENTARIES & FILM
• National Film Board Educational Playlist on Indigenous Voices and Reconciliation
Various Indigenous films addressing a range of topics
• Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance by Alanis Obomsawin by Alanis Obomsawin (free to stream on NFB)
This landmark documentary chronicles the July 1990 dispute over a proposed golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, a historic confrontation that would grab international headlines and sear itself into the Canadian consciousness. Director Alanis Obomsawin—at times with a small crew, at times alone—spent 78 days behind Kanien’kéhaka lines filming the armed standoff between protestors, the Quebec police and the Canadian army.
• Angry Inuk by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
In her award-winning documentary, director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril joins a new tech-savvy generation of Inuit as they campaign to challenge long-established perceptions of seal hunting. Armed with social media and their own sense of humour and justice, this group is bringing its own voice into the conversation and presenting themselves to the world as a modern people in dire need of a sustainable economy.
• Mother of Many Children by Alanis Obomsawin by Alanis Obomsawin (free to stream on NFB)
Alanis Obomsawin honours the central place of women and mothers within Indigenous cultures. An album of Indigenous womanhood, the film portrays proud matriarchal cultures that for centuries have been pressured to adopt the standards and customs of the dominant society.
• Broken Promises – The High Arctic Relocationby Patricia Tassinari (free to stream on NFB)
In the summer of 1953, the Canadian government relocated seven Inuit families from Northern Quebec to the High Arctic. There they suffered from hunger, extreme cold, sickness, alcoholism and poverty. It would be thirty years before any of them saw their ancestral lands again. Interviews with survivors are combined with archival footage and documents to tell the poignant story of a people whose lives were nearly destroyed by their own government’s broken promises.
• Club Native by Tracey Deer (free to stream on NFB)
Tracey Deer grew up on the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake with two very firm but unspoken rules drummed into her by the collective force of the community. These rules were very simple and they carried severe repercussions: 1) Do not marry a white person, 2) Do not have a child with a white person.
• We Were Children by Tim Wolochatiuk
In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.
• First Stories – Two Spirited by Sharon A. Desjarlais (free to stream on NFB)
This short documentary presents the empowering story of Rodney “Geeyo” Poucette’s struggle against prejudice in the Indigenous community as a two-spirited person (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender).
• Is the Crown at war with us by Alanis Obomsawin(free to stream on NFB)
In this feature-length documentary by Alanis Obomsawin, it’s the summer of 2000 and the country watches in disbelief as federal fisheries wage war on the Mi’kmaq fishermen of Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Casting her cinematic and intellectual nets into history to provide context, Obomsawin delineates the complex roots of the conflict with passion and clarity, building a persuasive defence of the Mi’kmaq position.
Articles About Various Contemporary Issues
• Forced sterilization:
- Sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada without Consent – Amnesty International
• Child separation, forced apprehension of children:
- Interrupted childhoods: Over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario child welfare – Ontario Human Rights Commission
• Lack of clean drinking water:
- Water crisis in First Nations communities runs deeper than long-term drinking water advisories – The Conversation
- First Nations water problems a crisis of Canada’s own making – Policy Options
• Cost of living on reserves:
- 8 Things You Need to Know About On-Reserve Housing Issues – Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
• Police brutality:
- RCMP killings of Indigenous people intensify calls for police reform – The Globe and Mail
• Every Child Matters:
- Genocide and Indigenous Peoples in Canada – The Canadian Encyclopedia
- What does sovereignty actually mean in Canada? – IndigiNews
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL TOPICS
• Inuit relocation
- Inuit were moved 2,000 km in Cold War manoeuvring – The Toronto Star
• Sixties Scoop
- Sixties Scoop Apprehension of Indigenous Children without Consent – Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
• The Indian Act
- 21 Things You May Not Have Known About The Indian Act – Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
- As the RCMP deny systemic racism, here’s the real history – The Toronto Star
ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT
• Woodland Cultural Centre
Woodland Cultural Centre serves to preserve and promote Indigenous history, art, language and culture through innovative exhibitions and programs. Find out more about their Save the Evidence campaign to raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School.
• Native Women’s Association of Canada
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit.
• Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council
TASSC is the leading not-for-profit research, policy, and advocacy organization that addresses the social determinants of health to improve and enhance the socio-economic prospects and cultural well-being of Aboriginal peoples living in the City of Toronto.
• Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre
Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre is an autonomous, vibrant cultural agency that involves and serves the Indigenous community with confidence for and commitment to their well-being.
• Ontario Federations of Indigenous Friendship Centres
Founded in 1971, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) works to support, advocate for, and build the capacity of member Friendship Centres across Ontario.
• Native Women in the Arts
NWIA (Native Women in the Arts) is a not-for-profit organization for First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and other Indigenous gender marginalized folks who share the common interest of art, culture, community and the advancement of Indigenous peoples.
• Red Sky Performance
Red Sky Performance is a leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide.
• 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations
We provide prevention education and support for 2-Spirit, including First Nations, metis and Inuit people living with or at risk for HIV and related co-infections in the Greater Toronto Area. We base our work on indigenous philosophies of wholistic health and wellness.
• Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is a membership-based, charitable organization that offers a wide range of programs and services based on Indigenous cultural traditions and teachings.
ImagineNATIVE is the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content.
• Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction
TIHR is an entirely queer and Two-Spirit Indigenous collective founded in April 2020 during the first wave of the COVID19 pandemic in response to a massive shutdown of frontline services and a lack of basic needs for Indigenous houseless folks in the city of Toronto. TIHR aims to reduce the negative impacts of substance use and other stigmatized behaviours and experiences through culture and unconditional support.
• Urban Indigenous Education Centre
At the TDSB, the Urban Indigenous Education Centre is pleased to offer a variety of services with the goal of closing the opportunity gap for Indigenous students. This mandate is approached by infusing Indigenous perspectives across the curriculum for all students as well as by providing direct wrap-around supports to enhance the overall achievement of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students throughout the TDSB.
• Kapapamahchakwew – Wandering Spirit School
First Nations Public School is unique in that Indigenous values, spirituality, culture and language are integrated throughout the school curriculum to ensure that urban Indigenous children have the opportunity to learn about their heritage and the traditional Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) cultural perspective while acquiring the skills necessary to survive in the world today.
• Indian Residential School Survivors Society
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) is a provincial organization with a twenty-year history of providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors.
• 1492 Landback Lane
Six Nations Land Defenders have mobilized to stop the Mackenzie Meadows housing development project bordering the town of Caledonia. Mackenzie Meadows is one of several housing developments within the area that are directly violating the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee.
• Raven Trust
RAVEN is a registered charity with a mission to raise funds for Indigenous People’s access to justice. Guided by some of the most brilliant legal advisors in the country, we work to enshrine environmental justice for all.
Myseum of Toronto is made possible with the generous support of Diane Blake and Stephen Smith.