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These resources are a selection of starting points to begin learning more about the conversation happening around Indigenous issues in Canada. They are not specific to our sector, but are instead included to advance settler education on some basic issues.
Terminology and Theory
On Names for Indigenous Peoples
- "Aboriginal, Native, or Indigenous?" Post by Indigenous Awareness Canada. Brief and factual account of different words used to refer to Indigenous peoples, as well as why some may be more offensive than others.
- "A Rose by any other name is a Mihkokwaniy." Blog post by Chelsea Vowel. This is a friendly introduction to different words people use to refer to Indigenous peoples, by a Métis writer.
- "The Red River Nation." Declaration by the Manitoba Métis Nation. Métis is an identify often poorly misunderstood as being any person with mixed First Nation ancestry. This declaration clarifies that Métis, as the word is used in Manitoba, refers to a specific ethnic and cultural identity with a shared history and homeland.
- "Ally Bill of Responsibilities." Document by Lynn Gehl (PDF). When looking to serve as an ally in the struggle for reconciliation, there are certain things the settler must be aware of lest they reproduce colonial power dynamics in the spaces where they advocate. This contains sixteen statements characterizing good allies that we can all model ourselves after.
- "Becoming Anti-Racist." Center for Civic Justice. This very brief fact sheet can help you situate yourself in your anti-racist ally journey.
- "What Reconciliation is and what it is Not." Post by Indigenous Corporate Training INC. We hear the word so often nowadays, what does it actually mean? This post by Indigenous Corporate Training takes 2 minutes to read and is an excellent grounder for any conversation about the topic.
- "What does reconciliation mean to Indigenous people?" Article by CBC News. Many Indigenous people are skeptical of promises, commitments and projects made in the name of reconciliation-- and with good reason. Here’s an introduction to the critical side of the national reconciliation project.
- "Reconciliation isn’t dead. It never truly existed." Opinion by Tanya Talaga. A renowned Anishinaabe writer and journalist, Talaga’s article from 2020 articulates the mood prominent in many Indigenous activists, land defenders, and water protectors. Canada continues to use the same forceful tactics to subjugate Indigenous sovereignty. In the context of mass arrests, injunctions and crack-downs, she emphasizes that reconciliation will not happen at the end of a gun.
- "Reconciliation is dead. Or is it?" Keynote by Lori Campbell, uncaptioned. Campbell’s main thesis in this talk is that “Reconciliation isn’t dead, as long as you don’t let it die.” She identifies several responsibilities that settlers have to create a culture of reconciliation in Canada, and points out that tokenistic approaches to reconciliation can be more unhelpful than productive.
On ‘Genocide’ and ‘Cultural Genocide’
- "Cultural Genocide." Article by Facing History. The Indian Residential Schools project was described as a “cultural genocide” by the Truth and Reconciliation commission, and was taught as such in curriculum for years. Recently a motion in parliament was passed to recognize the Indian Residential Schools as an attempted genocidal project. This article introduces the naming debate.
- "Genocide Takes Many Forms." Interview article and podcast with Leah Gazan. Gazan, a proud Lakota woman, currently (2023) represents Winnipeg Centre in the national parliament. Her fight to finally get the IRS recognized as a genocide was won in October of 2022.
- MMIWG Inquiry Supplemental Report on Defining 'Genocide' (PDF). This 46-page report rigorously dissects the international definition of genocide and its applicability to the Canadian nation state. It argues that many Canada’s policies, past and present, support “the insidious and gradual obliteration of Indigenous people.” The report concludes saying genocidal acts continue to happen and the need for cessation of such activities is immediate.
- Genocide in Canada: A Legal Explanation (PDF). By Chloloula and Fannie Lafontaine. This 11-page illustrated booklet outlines the arguments made in the MMIWG Supplemental Report on Genocide in a clear and easy-to-understand way.
- "Decolonization is not a metaphor." Academic article by Tuck and Yang (PDF). This 35-page article talks about how the word ‘decolonization’ is a word that has become diluted by its overuse in settler-lead spaces. The article is dense in theory but speaks frankly about the society-bending transformations that will need to occur for Indigenous peoples to finally achieve liberation and safety.
- Decolonization is not a metaphor (summary). Post by poco.lit. If the original article is too dense, this post summarizes key ideas from the “Decolonization is not a metaphor” article, considered a staple text in Indigenous studies.
Bill C-15 and the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (PDF). This key document outlines the basic rights to which Indigenous peoples are entitled under international law. Canada was one of four ‘No’ votes in 2007 that initially voted against adoption of the declaration by the UN. Canada finally signed on to the document in 2016, but took until 2021 to finally implement UNDRIP into its law in the form of Bill C-15.
- "The passage of Canada’s UNDRIP bill is a triumph we should all celebrate." Opinion by Perry Bellegarde. This article, released shortly after Bill C-15 received royal assent, outlines an optimistic view of reconciliation in the passing of the law.
- Indigenous Watchdog's monitoring of UNDRIP progress. This page is frequently updated with the newest news on how the implementation of the law is actually progressing. It’s progressing slowly.
- "Indigenous Sovereigntists critique Canada’s toothless take on UNDRIP." Roundup by The Volcano. Bill C-15 has received criticism from Indigenous voices who worry the language of the Bill is not strong enough to protect Indigenous claims to land and resources.
On the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- The TRC's 94 Calls to Actions, PDF. HTML format.The Final Report’s most famous section issues 94 calls to action. Although these calls are not immediately applicable to our sector, Abilities Manitoba has identified Calls #19, #22, #23, #34(i, iii, iv), #62, #92 as starting points to incorporate into our capacity-building work and advocacy work.
- Indigenous Watchdog's monitoring of Calls to Action progress. This website provides easy visualization, news and sources regarding the progress of the 94 calls to action. It outlines which ones have been completed, which ones have stalled, which ones are in progress, and which ones have not been started on yet.
- Application and Action: TRC Reading Guide for Non-Indigenous Organizations. Developed by Ka Ni Kanichihk for Manitoba Harm Reduction Network, this is a thorough workbook that invites your organization to use the TRC final executive summary to situate your organization’s activites and mission within the context of reconciliation in Canada. The kit encourages a critical and reflective reading of the final report. This guide is especially helpful for non-Indigenous organizations that are in frequent contact with Indigenous communities.
Reconciliation is often centred squarely on the process of healing from the harms created by the Indian Residential Schools System. But the residential schools are not the only atrocity that Canada has committed against its Indigenous peoples. This next section introduces resources to help Canadians understand other acts of violence that have been and are being perpetuated by the Canadian nation state.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2-Spirit People
MMIWG2S is an ongoing human rights catastrophe and genocide. Winnipeg has been called Ground Zero, by the former minister of Crown-Indigenous relations.
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This link will lead you to the homepage of the final report, where you can access both the report’s Executive Summary (PDF) and the 231 Calls for Justice (DOCX). The report was issued in 2019.
- "Deaths of First Nations women in Winnipeg reignite calls for action." Article by Darrell Stranger. This article introduces the issue of MMIWG in the context of the serial murders in Winnipeg and decries the lack of action by all levels of government.
- No More Stolen Sisters: Amnesty International's Response to #MMIW. In this article, Amnesty, an international organization for human rights, elevates the voices of No More Stolen Sisters, a grassroots movement to create awareness and action by the Canadian government. This article was authored before the release of Reclaiming Power and Place, but provides some easy-to-understand reasons for why the rates of violence are so high and links to a wealth of other resources.
- MMIWG Info-Hub, maintained by KAIROS Canada. This is a regularly updated resource bringing together news items, inquiry updates, commemorative projects, books and art, in one location. It also includes a timeline documenting important moments in the struggle to end this crisis.
- MMIW Webpage by Native Hope. MMIW does not restrict itself to the Canadian border. This resource defines the crisis with a primary focus on the USA. This page also links to many documentaries that dig into the issue further.
- "Canada's Indigenous women forcibly sterilized decades after rich countries stopped." Article by CTV News. The MMIW crisis cannot be understood without understanding other ways that the Canadian state devalues and violates the bodies of Indigenous women. This article talks about the continuing and horrific practice of forced sterilization.
Stolen Generations and CFS
The Child Welfare system is often described as the Residential School System’s second coming. Starting with the Sixties’ Scoop, the state began to remove Indigenous children from their homes en mass and place them with white, middle-class families. There are three times more children in care now than there were at the height of residential schools.
- Lost Generations. Chapter in the open-source eTextbook, Our Stories. This chapter gives a comprehensive chronological history of the CFS system as an extension of the residential school system, with a special focus on legal actions taken and the current class action lawsuit.
- "The Stolen Generation(s)." Blog post by Chelsea Vowel. This article gives a comprehensive chronological history of the system and addresses how underfunding of both Child Welfare Services and of First Nations communities’ infrastructure has exacerbated the problem.
- Coverage Series, The Child Welfare Industry, by APTN. This three-part series of call-in television exposes not only the failings of the system, but the ‘business’ side of these systems where thousands of jobs are dependent on many children being in care.
- As If They Were Pets: The Sixties Scoop. Podcast interview of Betty Ann Adam. Listen to Adam’s powerful testimony as a survivor of the Sixties’ Scoop, and an advocate-journalist covering the current crisis in CFS.
The Justice System
- "The Mounties: 150 years of conflict with Indigenous Peoples." Article by Danielle Paradis at APTN. This article walks through the RCMP’s history of being used as a instrument of oppression against the Indigenous peoples living in what we now call Canada, including the Cypress Hill Massacre, sled dog massacre, involvement at Oka, dirty tricks campaigns, Costal Gas Link, and many more. The author argues that in the context of countless not-too-long-ago historical injustices, Indigenous people have reasonable justification to mistrust the RCMP.
- "A Concise Chronology of Canada's Colonial Cops." Article by M. Gouldhawke. This article also walks through the RCMP’s history of being used as an instrument of oppression against Indigenous peoples, but with a different set of examples than what Paradis uses.
- Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (2020). Documentary by APTN. In 2016, a man named Gerald Stanley execution-style shot a young Cree man named Colten Bushie, who had entered his property. The story and proceeding trial was a highly discussed issue in Canada. This documentary follows the mourning family who, thrust into the media’s limelight and into the roles of activists and public speakers, never received closure for the death of the beloved son, cousin, and brother.
- Aboriginal Peoples and the Criminal Justice System: Executive Summary. Document written by Jonathan Rudin (PDF). This paper was written in 2005, and describes how the over-representation of Indigenous people in jails can be directly attributed to legacies of colonialism in Canada. Many of the recommendations in this report have been reiterated in TRC calls to action and MMIWG Inquiry calls for justice.
Indian Segregated Hospitals
- Indian Hospitals in Canada. Entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia. This article is an eased introduction to the atrocious conditions within these ‘hospitals,’ the context in which they emerged, the link to residential schools, and how they were finally shut down.
- "Emerging from the Long Shadow of Canada’s Indian Hospitals." Article by Martha Troian. Survivors and communities are still healing from the horror of the Indian hospitals, and racism in our health care system has a history in institutions like these. This article sheds light on some recent efforts to bring back Indigenous self-determination in health care.
- "When the cure is worse" Article by Gary Geddes. Read some survivor testimonies in this article that situates the hospitals within the larger context of Canada’s other genocidal activities.
- Manitoba Indigenous Tuberculosis History Project website. This project documents Indian hospitals in our home province within the context of the tuberculosis crisis. Browse it’s ‘History’ page for a summary of Indian Hospitals in Manitoba and to understand how TB is a focal point within this conversation, browse the photo database to gain a visual understanding of how these hospitals functioned.
Often forgotten about in the conversation of atrocities are the numerous assaults that Canada has made upon the land and waters that Indigenous communities are connected to. This section offers a survey of various instances where the desecration and theft of Indigenous land and resources have directly lead to Indigenous lives being cut short.
- "Environmental racism in Canada:." Article by Elaine MacDonald. The author defines the term ‘environmental racism’ and provides a couple of key examples from recent history that fit this definition. She makes the point that the Indigenous lives that have been lost in all these cases were not lost by ‘coincidence.’ Instead, they are best considered as fatalities stemming from a long tradition of racist and eugenic policies in Canada.
- Flooding Hope: The Lake St. Martin First Nation Story (Documentary on YouTube). Once a thriving community with abundant hunting culture, the Manitoba community of Lake St Martin First Nation was uprooted when their land was washed out by an inundated flood that was “totally avoidable,” engineered by the Manitoba government to divert floods away from cottagers upstream.
- Niibi Bimaadiziwin: Water is life. Campaign by CUPE. Niibi Bimaadiziwin is a public awareness grassroots activism campaign spearheaded by the Canadian Union of Public Employees rallying for Indigenous communities’ universal access to clear drinking water.
- Camp Morningstar. Documentary by Kevin Settee. This documentary features interviewers with land defenders of Camp Morningstar, a blockade set to deter the construction of a silica sand mine proposed on the east side of Lake Winnipeg without any consultation to the Indigenous groups who were living there.
- "State of erosion: the legacy of Manitoba Hydro." Photo essay by Aaron Elkaim. Manitoba Hydro has a long history of undertaking large hydroelectric projects that alter the environmental landscape, terrain and lifestyles of communities without obtaining Indigenous consent. This photo essay illustrates the manifold hardships that have spiraled out for generations due to the non-consensual actions that Hydro has made.
- "Shoal Lake 40 water crisis an ugly reminder of Canadian colonialism." Article by Brian Lorraine. Many know that Shoal Lake 40 faced a 27 year boiling water advisory. Less people know that until 2019, the water supply infrastructure essentially made it possible for Shoal Lake 40 to have direct access to the mainland. Several members of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation died crossing the lake.
- "Children of the poisoned river." Article by Jody Porter. Ninety per cent of the population of Grassy Narrows, a First Nation community in Ontario, experiences symptoms of mercury poisoning. From the 1960s to early 1970s, a chemical plant located upstream from the community dumped nine thousand kilograms of mercury into the river.