Learn, Reflect, Practice

Journey to Reconciliation
Wellbeing WR features a learning piece in each bi-weekly newsletter to assist readers in their personal journey to reconciliation. Each piece also includes a reflection and practice tip to add to the learning and enhance the experience. Access of all the past newsletter learning pieces below!

*Information is sourced through online resources and through the Wellbeing WR First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Advisory and Advocacy Circle

Learn: For the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) who are also known as the Six Nations (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Tuscarora), the Midwinter Ceremony in late January or early February is one of the most significant observances. The general tone of the ceremony is one of contentment and thanksgiving for the blessings of the past and hopes for the future. The ceremony focuses on dream sharing, dream renewal and dream interpretation.

One of the first rites of the Midwinter Ceremony, occurring on the first day of the celebration, is the extinguishing of old fires of the longhouse, the stirring of the ashes, and rekindling of new fires in preparation for the new year. On the last day, the Great Peach Stone game begins, which symbolizes to the Haudenosaunee that everything is still functioning as it was meant to by the Creator. It is also a reminder that everything that surrounds a person does not belong to them but is part of the larger world in which one lives.

Read the full article by Alice Bomberry & Blake Bomberry here.

Reflect: Do you resonate with any of the lessons from the Midwinter Ceremony? How can you apply some of these lessons to your personal journey to reconciliation?

Practice: Follow the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to continue to educate yourself on the traditions and ceremonies of the People of the Longhouse.

Learn: The Proclaiming Our Roots project is aimed at honoring the histories, realities, stories and experiences of people who are of African diasporic and Indigenous ancestry, and who reside on Turtle Island. With over 400 years of African diasporic presence in Canada, originating from the British North American slave trade, relationships developed between Indigenous and Black people. These unions became a central form of resistance for some African diasporic and Indigenous communities. Indigenous and Black unions are common within many communities such as the Cherokee, Creek, Lumbee, Creole, and Seminole peoples. 

Listen to digital stories of Black-Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island here.

Reflect: What did you learn from the digital story you watched? What surprised you? What are some unique challenges faced by Black-Indigenous peoples?

Practice: Share this resource and your learnings through social media, or with a friend and family member.

Learn: “All over the world, cultures and communities have mapped the moon cycle, which happens 13 times per year, in cycles of 28 days. The moons correspond to the seasonal changes happening to the land; thus, Indigenous communities in different parts of the country will have different moons. What is common to all communities is the idea that these moons orient us to the passage of time, the changing seasons, animal migrations, and plant life cycles, and that each moon cycle has associated spiritual and moral teachings” (Our Stories: First Peoples in Canada).

According to the territories of the Mississaugas of New Credit (Anishnabek Nation) moons, we are currently in the Spirit Moon (Mnido Giizis). “Teaching us to take time for self-reflection to look at how we treat ourselves and others, how we understand our feelings, and our connections to the world around us” (Anishnabeg Outreach).

Reflect: How can you use the teachings of this month’s moon and apply to your personal journey to reconciliation?

Practice: Follow Anishnabeg Outreach on Instagram to learn about the 13 Moons of Creation and their meaning each month. 

Learn: January 4th was the first National Ribbon Skirt Day in Canada, which was inspired by the story of Isabella Kulak; a 10-year-old member of Cote First Nation, Saskatchewan, who was shamed for wearing her handmade ribbon skirt to a formal wear day at her elementary school. This sparked a movement of Indigenous women posting photos of themselves with their ribbon skirts and led to calls for a national day to be created.

Ribbon skirts are a centuries-old symbol of identity, adaptation, and survival for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people, and represents a direct connection to Mother Earth. Isabella’s story shone a light on the enduring injustices, racism, and discrimination faced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in Canada every day, and on the importance of the role we all have to play in making sure that what happened never happens again to anyone in Canada. Learn more about ribbon skirts here.

Reflect: Why do you think Isabella was shamed for wearing her traditional handmade ribbon skirt at school? How can we learn from this story and move forward towards reconciliation?

Practice: Mark January 4th as a recurring event in your calendar to continue to learn about and celebrate ribbon skirts.

Learn: Located along the banks of the Grand River, the only place in North America where all six Haudenosaunee nations live together is the Six Nations of the Grand River territory. The six member nations include the Onondaga, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The Six Nations of the Grand River council unifies all Haudenosaunee peoples under the great tree of peace. Their website provides resources for six nation community members looking to access various forms of support, and provides non six nation community members with educational resources on how to best support six nation community members and further enhance learning and understanding of Settler Canada. Learn more here.

Reflect: With Six Nations of the Grand River being the largest First Nation by population in Canada (approx. 28,000), how can you amplify these voices to ensure they are heard?

PracticeFollow the Six Nations of the Grand River on Twitter, go to their website to learn more, and access their resources for both Six Nation and non Six Nation community members.

Learn: Indigenous women, girls, transgender, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit people continue to go missing and are murdered at an alarming and disproportionate rate. Safe Passage is a community-driven, trauma-informed, and survivor centered initiative created by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). Safe Passage tracks cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, transgender, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S+), monitors ongoing safety concerns, provides distinction-based safety resources, educates the public and media about the MMIWG2S+ genocide, and commemorates and honours our stolen loved ones. Learn more about Safe Passage here.

Reflect: What are some of the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, transgender, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit people? How can you be an ally in the MMIWG2S+ movement?

Practice: Commemorate and honour the victims of MMIWG2S+ by reading the stories of lost loved ones at Safe Passage Stories.

LearnWatch these videos to hear Indigenous speakers share their knowledge about the importance of treaties, treaty relationship and rights in Ontario.

Reflect: Why is it important to learn about the history of treaties from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Keepers?

PracticeLearn about the Haldimand Treaty (encompasses six miles on either side of the Grand River from the source near Dundalk to where it empties into Lake Erie at Port Maitland) that was promised to the Six Nations on October 25, 1784.

Learn: On July 22nd, 2022 the Ogwehohweh Skills and Trades Training Centre (OSTTC) Ganǫsa’ǫ:weh Longhouse was tragically engulfed in flames, and sustained serious damage. This building was used to provide education on the history and culture of the Haudenosaunee peoples in an accurate and appropriate representation. Visitors from all over the world have been able to participate in teachings and activities tied to the Haudenosaunee peoples, providing some insight into the Haudenosaunee way of life.

Reflect: How does the loss of this building impact the local Haudenosaunee community? Is there a building in your community that you use that would have an impact on you if it was seriously damaged, and could no longer be used?

Practice: OSTTC Ganǫsa’ǫ:weh Longhouse is currently collecting donations for their “We Will Build Again” Fund to rebuild the Longhouse to support their mission of cultural awareness. Donate and learn more here.

Learn: The month of October is Mi’kmaq History Month. Learning about different Nations and cultures is important while understanding Indigenous ways of knowing. When the Mi’kmaq people met the European colonists for the first time, “Mi’kmaq” is what they used to greet them, which is the word for “friends”. The colonists took this word to be the name for the people, and the term stuck even into present day. Learn more here.

Reflect: Why is it important to take time to learn about the diverse history of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Peoples?

Practice: Follow Anishnabeg Outreach (@anishnabeg) on social media for further information on Mi’kmaq and Indigenous history, as well as resources and access to supports, and share their content with your network to further spread education and awareness.

Learn: Today marks National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & Gender Diverse People (MMIWG2S). The National Inquiry into MMIWG2S outlines 7 Principles of Change to work towards a world where “First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families can raise their children with the same safety, security, and human rights that non-Indigenous families do.”

  • A Focus on Substantive Equality and Human and Indigenous Rights
  • A Decolonizing Approach
  • Inclusion of Family and Survivors
  • Indigenous-led Solutions and Services 
  • Recognizing Distinctions
  • Cultural Safety
  • Trauma-Informed Approach

Read about each principle and the calls for justice here.

Reflect: How can you be an ally in the movement to end violence against missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender Diverse People?

Practice: Amplify awareness and show support for the missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender Diverse People on social media and use the hashtag #MMIWG2S and #SistersinSpirit

LearnWawahte is a 45 minute documentary produced by John Sanfilippo based on the book written by Robert P. Wells that recounts the life experiences of three residential school survivors; Esther Faries, Bunny Galvin and Stanley Stephens. The documentary combines archival images with elements of the Wawahte audiobook. Watch the documentary here.

Reflect: Why is it important to learn about the history and legacy of residential schools? 

Practice: Share this free documentary with someone you know and discuss how you will take action to address historical and present-day injustices of Indigenous peoples.

Learn: The On Canada Project intentionally disrupts social conversations by bridging information gaps and using a compassionate tone that calls people into conversations, rather than calling people out. Their content goal is to give Millennials and Gen Z the tools they need to stay informed, take up action and champion change in Canada. 

Their Settlers Take Action Series provides information, reflections and perspectives on residential schools and the recovering of the remains of Indigenous children and how to take action towards reconciliation as a settler person.

Reflect: How have you personally benefited from colonialism in Canada? Why is it important for settler people to take action in reconciliation?

PracticeFollow On Canada Project on social media and share their content with your network and followers to spread awareness and education around Reconciliation.

Learn: Land and Territory Acknowledgements are a small but important piece to continuous reconciliation work. Included in this work is changing and shifting your acknowledgements based on your most recent learnings. Language is constantly evolving, and as settlers work to understand the vast cultures within First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, sometimes our understanding may be altered.

For example, the Territory Acknowledgement of Waterloo Region has traditionally included the Haudenosaunee, Anishnaabe and Neutral People. However, we now understand that the Neutral People referred to themselves as the Chonnonton — “the people of the deer,” whereas Neutral was a name given to them by the French for their neutral alliance between the Hurons of the north and the Seneca of the south. Learn more about this here!

Reflect: Why is language important in understanding the history of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in Canada? How has colonialism impacted our understanding of Indigenous Peoples?

Practice: Take some time to work on your territory acknowledgement to ensure you understand the significance and history of what you are stating, and try to work in a personal reflection to make a more meaningful acknowledgement. 

Learn: Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, declared by the United Nations to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous population. There are an estimated 476 million Indigenous Peoples in the world living across 90 countries, with 7,000 different languages and 5,000 different cultures.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is an international universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and wellbeing of the Indigenous Peoples of the world, and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous Peoples. When this was first adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States were the only 4 countries who voted against. It wasn’t until June 2021 that the Parliament of Canada passed the UNDRIP Act, setting out Canada’s obligation to uphold the human rights (including Treaty and inherent rights) of Indigenous Peoples. Learn more about UNDRIP here.

Reflect: Why do you think Canada voted against joining UPDRIP in 2007? How is Canada doing in upholding this legislation since joining in 2021?

Practice: Share about your learnings of this day on social media using the hashtag #IndigenousPeoplesDay and tag our account @wellbeingwr!

Learn: The Land Back movement advocates for the reclamation of not only land, but Indigenous knowledge and culture as well. It encompasses sovereignty, the ability to self govern, autonomy to create structures, and take care of the land as Indigenous communities once did before colonization. It is also about reawakening the understanding of ownership over land, and redefining what Indigenous sovereignty looks like. Read more about the Land Back Movement from local Indigenous leaders here.

“From the origins of settler colonialism to the era of reconciliation, land remains at the centre of conflict between Indigenous peoples and Canadians.” 

Reflect: What does land ownership mean to you, and how can you shift your understanding of it? How does it make you feel to know that Canada was formed by stealing land?

PracticeRead about these case studies of communities developing, practicing, and attempting to enforce jurisdiction regarding land and water in their territories.

Learn: Dreamcatchers have become widely recognized and a popular item to create and purchase. The item was originally created by the Ojibwa people though now many nations share it. Traditionally the hoop was made from willow branches bent into a circle to represent the circle of life and the world. The spider web like center was meant to capture the negative dreams and keep them away from the sleeping individual. While the feathers allowed the positive dreams to climb down to the sleeping form below. Small beads may decorate them and either represent the spider or items caught in the web depending on the teachings being followed. There are many different teachings of how the dreamcatcher came to be but they all share the commonality of spreading the good and ridding the negative. In the recent years it has become a symbol of healing for many and appropriated in multiple ways to be sold for profit by corporations with little to no knowledge of its significance and history. The dreamcatcher still holds a great significance for many Indigenous people as a symbol of hope and care.   

Reflect: Why is it not appropriate for corporations to sell dreamcatchers or images of them? Are there things in your own culture that share a similar significance?

Practice: If you wish to purchase a dreamcatcher do so from an Indigenous artist. Learn about the many different teachings of dreamcatchers. Learn more here.

Learn: Headdresses or War Bonnets are items of significant spiritual and political importance, traditionally worn by only some Indigenous Nations. Many of the large feathered items most are familiar with are from the Plains Nations.  These Headdresses were only to be worn by those that had earned the honour and right through formal recognition from the community. They were traditionally worn in times of war and in ceremony but the importance of them has not changed. The Indian Act placed restrictions on these spiritual items, and only allowed men to wear them for a long time, however it’s important to remember that many Nations had their own rules. There are many different styles of Headdress and gifting of one comes with a responsibility to the people and community. They are not to be purchased or crafted for oneself.

Reflect: Why is wearing a Headdress (when it is not earned) disrespectful?

Practice: Do not purchase or craft (even children’s paper craft) a headdress to wear. Do not support, like or share content of those that sell or wear headdresses for festival or just for the fun of it. Take time to patiently and kindly inform those that do not know of the importance. 

Learn: Regalia is traditional clothing worn by many different people and Nations that is used in ceremony and dance. It is made up of finely decorated and often sacred pieces, which varies depending on its purpose. For example, Jingle dress dancers will decorate with small metal cones that make a beautiful sound as they move, this is a prayer or healing dance. Where as a fancy shawl dancer will have a colourful shawl with ribbons streaming from it as they twirl, the shawl represents butterfly wings. Every Regalia is different and represents not only the dancer, but family, history and culture as well. Many dancers will make their own Regalia or have someone close to them help, while other pieces are purchased and created by an artist. Regalia can take years to complete, hundreds of hours and be very costly. It’s important to remember that Regalia is not a costume, nor should be referred to as such.

Reflect: Why do you think it’s disrespectful to call Regalia a costume? Can you think of any other cultures that have a type of Regalia?

Practice: Do not refer to Regalia as a costume. Do not ask to touch or try on pieces of someone’s Regalia. Kindly correct those that may not understand the importance of it.

Learn: With National Indigenous History Month and Pride starting, we are bringing awareness to the genders and sexualities that were recognized by nations on Northern Turtle Island before being colonized into Canada. The term Two-Spirit was created in 1990 at the Indigenous Lesbian and Gay International Gathering in Winnipeg, and is an umbrella term across many nations, specifically for First Nations individuals. There is not one overarching definition that fits every person that identifies as Two-Spirit. Indigiqueer/Indigequeer is a newer emerging term meant to intertwine Indigeneity and queerness. The word encompasses culture, gender, sexuality and other elements of identity into one, showing that one can not separate and leave pieces of themselves in nice neat boxes. Some will use one of the terms over the other but they can be used together depending on the individual’s definition. Some still choose to use neither, as many nations have their own languages and many are choosing to reclaim that language that was nearly stripped away. Watch this video to learn more.

Reflect: Why might it be important or helpful to have words that encompass culture and identity? Do you know of other culturally significant identities? What are things you can do to respect and uplift those that are 2SLGBTQ+ in your day to day life?

Practice: Do not identify a person with a term they have not consented to. Always capitalize Two-Spirit and Indiqueer/Indigequeer, and always respect pronouns.

Learn: With Powwow season starting, it’s important to understand what they are and their history. Powwows are a celebration of Indigenous cultures, and historically the Indian Act banned these gatherings in an attempt to assimilate Indigenous peoples. This ban lasted until 1951, though many nations would continue to gather in secret. Today many nations come together to celebrate and exchange knowledge and experiences in many forms. Some may be closed and others open to anyone wishing to learn share and show respect. Families will come together at these times and bonds are made across distances and generations fostering community. Some may be traditional while others competitive, meaning there will be prizes for dancers, singers and makers in all sorts of categories. Often there will be dancing, music, vendors, crafts and food to be bought, traded or shared. Whether a Powwow is intra-national (only for those of a certain nation), open, traditional or competitive, they hold a deep community, cultural and ceremonial significance in preserving and celebrating what was taken and nearly lost.
Reflect: Have you ever attended or considered attending a Powwow? If so, what did you learn? If not, what stopped you?

Practice: Refrain from using “having a Powwow” as a term for gathering with friends. Consider attending an open Powwow with a willingness to engage, listen and learn. When attending be mindful of the fact you are participating in the sharing of traditions and culture that may seem different then your own.

Learn – This week on May 5th marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S), also known as Red Dress Day. MMIWG2S is not only a deeply important movement, but also a report that reveals the tragic violence that has occurred and continues to occur in Indigenous communities across Canada. The report looks at missing and confirmed murders, those that died under suspicious circumstances, sexual violence, child abuse, self harm, domestic violence and other violence that is experienced in these communities. Efforts are being made to bring awareness, support survivors and address the disproportionally high numbers of violence to Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People. Between 1980 -2012, Indigenous women and girls represented 16% of all female homicides in Canada, while being only 4% of the female population. This is only one of the many statistic from this report. Take the time to learn; National Inquire into MMIWG2S.
If you are someone you know is affected by this violence please call this free 24 hour helpline: 1-844-413-6649.   

Reflect – Why do you think Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirited People are subjected to more violence than non-Indigenous people? What are some systemic biases that you hold within yourself in regard to this topic?

Practice – Wear Red on May 5th. Take the time to read the National Inquire into MMIWG2S report and understand the number of people impacted by this everyday. Challenge the stereotypes that lead to violence against Indigenous people. Donate to organizations helping survivors and families of those taken such as the NWAC or local Indigenous organizations near you.

Learn – There are many tropes and stereotypes in media pertaining to Indigenous culture and people. “The Chief’s Daughter” also know as “The Indian Princess,” is a powerful trope that although recognized now, continues to have impacts today. The trope consists of a spunky young Indigenous woman or girl with no mother figure who fills the role of caregiver to her father and others. She is often the target of affection of the mainly white male protagonist and is often pretty by western standards but just different enough to be considered exotic. Often seen as morally superior to the rest of her community, who will be portrayed as less civilized people. This trope plays into the White savior complex as she is usually a prize to be saved or won. Two examples most are familiar with are Pocahontas and Tiger Lily from classic Disney movies. Even played for satire it can still cause harm to portray a young Indigenous women or girl in this light, as this trope has led to the sexualisation of Indigenous adults and children, which contributes to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and girls, a number that continues to rise every day. Learn more here.

Reflect – What other examples of this trope have you come across in media? With this trope so ingrained in portrayals of Indigenous women, in what ways can this contribute to sexualisation? How can tropes and stereotypes like these lead to violence?

Practice – Practice having a critical lens of the media you absorb. Educate and/or disengage from those portraying this dangerous trope. Call people in when they engage in this kind of harm or thinking.

Learn – Smudging is a closed practice that has been done and passed down for generations amongst Indigenous communities and Nations across Turtle Island. Smudging is done before ceremony or events to cleanse and begin in a positive way, and the tools used to Smudge are also sacred items for many different reasons. It is important to note that due to colonialism, it was illegal for Indigenous Peoples to practice for many years. Smoke cleansing is slightly different from Smudging, as it often uses many different herbs, methods and tools depending on the originating culture. Smoke cleansing can be a form of open practice, and certain forms can be learned through others, books or other media. In recent years the use of smoke cleansing has become trendy in the wellness world, which is why it is important to learn about these differences and how to respectfully participate. Learn more here.

Reflect – How is smudging different from other smoke cleansing? Does your own background use smoke cleansing in some form? When is it appropriate to participate in smoke cleansing?

Practice – If choosing to smoke cleanse, make sure to research herbs and the methods. Do not buy mass produced “Smudge” sticks, and remember that being invited to participate in Smudging does no entitle you to then share the practice. 

Learn – There is a common misunderstanding of when it is and isn’t appropriate to partake in spiritual practices that aren’t part of your culture, spirituality or religion. Open practices are religious, spiritual or cultural practices that have been opened up and gifted to the broader communities by those that traditionally practice them, meaning that the community has given explicit consent for others to partake in it. For example, smoke cleansing is an open practice done by many different peoples and groups around the world. The traditional act of Smudging on the other hand is a closed practice and holds a different sacredness to many Indigenous peoples and communities. Though these practices may look similar, they are not, and it is disrespectful to partake in closed practices that you are not culturally, spiritually or religiously part of, or given consent for. Find a list of closed cultures and religions here, and stay tuned to our next newsletter to learn more about smudging.

Reflect – Are there any open or closed practices in your culture? Why is it important to respect closed sacred practices? Why might a practice be closed?

Practice – Before participating in cultural activities you are unsure of, ask or research. Make sure that if offered to partake in closed practices, it is by the person or peoples of said culture. Remember that just because it was offered to you does not mean you get to share it unless explicate permission was given.

Learn – Cultural exchange is the sharing of different traditions, knowledge and ideas with someone that comes from a different background their your own. Most often cultural exchange occurs to build trust and understanding between Peoples or Nations. An example of this exchange can be seen in Kokum scarves, which means grandmother scarves in Cree. When Ukrainian settlers arrived they brought with them these beautiful flower fabrics that complemented the floral beadwork done by the Cree, Dene and Metis Peoples. These fabrics were shared as the communities worked together, and now today these scarves hold a deep meaning for many Indigenous Peoples. This may be why you might see some Indigenous People choosing to wear one in support of Ukrainians during this troubling time of conflict. Learn more about these scarves here.

Reflect – What are other examples of cultural exchange? What’s the difference between cultural exchange and appropriation?

Practice – Know the difference between Cultural appropriation, appreciation and exchange.

Learn – What is the difference between Appropriation and Appreciation? Appreciation is when we learn or seek knowledge about something in order to better understand it, such as culture. It allows us to broaden our perspective or connect better with others as we have a better understanding. An example of appreciating Indigenous culture would be purchasing a dream catcher created by an Indigenous individual. Appropriation on the other hand is taking a single aspect of a culture and using it for your own personal interest or gain whether on purpose or by accident. An example of this is purchasing a mass produced dollar store kit to make your own dream catcher and still claiming it as Indigenous. Learn more here.

Reflect – When is a time you may have appropriated cultural items or elements in the past? Can you think of other ways to appreciate culture without appropriation? Is there a way you can recognize the difference in a moment of uncertainty?

Practice – Speak up and call in someone when they are appropriating. Make sure you know where culturally significant items are coming from or if they are open for use by those outside the culture.

Learn – Canada’s 1982 Constitution recognizes three distinct Indigenous groups: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. There are many diverse communities and nations within these groups. The Métis are a distinct Indigenous People with a unique history, culture, language, and territory that includes the waterways of Ontario, surrounds the Great Lakes, and spans what was known as the historic Northwest.

  • The Métis Nation is comprised of descendants of people born of relations between Indigenous women and European men. The initial offspring of these unions were of mixed ancestry. The genesis of a new Indigenous People called the Métis resulted from the subsequent intermarriage of these mixed ancestry individuals.
  • Distinct Métis settlements emerged as an outgrowth by the highly mobile lifestyle of the Métis, the fur trade network, seasonal rounds, extensive kinship connections and a shared collective history and identity 
  • Métis symbols and traditions include the Métis Flag, Métis Sash, Fiddle Music and Jigging and Michif Language.

This information is from the Métis Nation of Ontario. Visit the Grand River Métis Council for additional information.

Reflect – How have Metis experiences differed from other Indigenous groups in Canada?

Practice – Learn about the three distinct Indigenous groups: First Nations, Inuit and Métis and identify each groups histories, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

Learn – Indigenous Peoples is a collective noun commonly used in Canada for First Nations, Inuit or Métis, but can sometimes create the false assumption that this is one homogenous group. In reality, there are hundreds of individual Indigenous communities that have their own unique history, culture, tradition, and language. For example, within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy there are six Nations with a distinct history and cultural identity; Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Tuscarora. Learn more here.

Reflect – How can you be more specific in addressing the Indigenous communities you live or work with? Why is it important to recognize the uniqueness of individual Indigenous communities?

Practice – Learn about two Indigenous communities and identify the key differences (ex. language, traditions, or history). For information on Haudenosaunee culture, start here.

Learn – Indigenous Peoples is a collective noun commonly used in Canada for First Nations, Inuit or Métis, but can sometimes create the false assumption that this is one homogenous group. In reality, there are hundreds of individual Indigenous communities that have their own unique history, culture, tradition, and language. For example, within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy there are six Nations with a distinct history and cultural identity; Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Tuscarora. Learn more here.

Reflect – How can you be more specific in addressing the Indigenous communities you live or work with? Why is it important to recognize the uniqueness of individual Indigenous communities?

Practice – Learn about two Indigenous communities and identify the key differences (ex. language, traditions, or history). For information on Haudenosaunee culture, start here.

Learn: When recounting history, it is important to recall not only what we should be proud of, but also where harm was caused. Many of the schools in Canada are named after historical figures, but what if they weren’t such heros afterall, and played a part in the oppression of Indigenous Peoples and the land. Sir John A. Macdonald is one of these figures whose name is now being removed from schools across the country as an act of Reconciliation and to atone for the harm caused in order to plan a path forward. Read more here.

Reflect: Why is it important to recognize wrongdoings in Canada’s history and reframe current history teachings? How is renaming schools an important step towards Reconciliation? What biases do you carry when understanding Canada’s history?

Practice: Help rename the Waterloo school located at 650 Laurelwood Drive (previously known as SJAM) by submitting a school name, why you have chosen that particular name, and how the name honours Reconciliation. Submissions are due on January 31, 2022. See more here.

Learn – When collecting data of First Nations communities, it is essential to do so in a way that incorporates traditional knowledge and gives data sovereignty to the communities that the research is observing. In the past, information collected about Indigenous communities has been used against them, and First Nations Information Governance Centre works to assert data sovereignty and information governance that is meaningful and relevant for Indigenous Peoples. Learn more here.

Reflect – How can data and research be decolonized? Could you incorporate traditional knowledge into your research and data, and how? How can we support data sovereignty for Indigenous communities? 

Practice – Share this information about data sovereignty and knowledge translation with co-workers, management, professors, researchers, friends or family to help increase awareness.

Learn – The current and ongoing events between the Wet’suwet’en Nation, Coastal GasLink and the RCMP continues to cause trauma and unrest, 2 years into the dispute. Coastal GasLink is the company building a pipeline that would drill under the Wedzin Kwa river, a sacred headwaters on Wet’suwet’en Territory. The recent arrests of 15 people in British Columbia on Gidimt’en clan territory are having rippling effects in our community and on our neighbours, and having traumatic impacts. Read more about this recent news here.

Reflect – How does this impact Waterloo Region (ex. land, future generations, communities)? Why is this still unresolved 2 years later, and what could be a way to move forward? What role does media play in this and what news sources do you rely on? What are the different points of view in this narrative, and how can those be shifted? How can you best support local Indigenous Peoples in this traumatic time?

Practice – Join Kelly Fran Davis and Dr. Stephen Svenson for a virtual community discussion and reflection on the recent RCMP raid on the Wet’suwet’en camps on December 3rd from 4:00-6:00pm. Stay tuned for registration information.

Learn – The First nations, Inuit and Métis of Canada have a long tradition of military service to this country, despite the racism and inequities that occured. The earliest Indigenous people to serve in Canada’s military were not recognized as citizens, and many were residential school survivors who returned after war to continued discrimination, including in some cases denial of benefits, loss of Indian Status, and expropriation of land. It took until 2003 for the Government of Canada to provide veterans’ benefits to First Nations soldiers who had been denied them in the past, and some veterans have still never received them. Read about this in the Globe and Mail.

Reflect – Many Canadians today have relatives who served in the Canadian military, and while we take time this week to honour their sacrifices, it is important not to exclude the important contributions of Indigenous veterans of Canada. 

Practice – Keep the stories from Indigenous veterans alive by reading about and sharing Indigenous War Heroes from World War 1 & 2.

Learn: First Nations diets in Canada traditionally consisted of animal and plant species that were harvested from the natural environment and acquired through traditional activities such as hunting, fishing, and gathering. Since the European colonization of North America, First Nations diets have been altered with commercial foods and environmental contamination in natural traditional foods. Learn more about this from the Assembly of First Nations Environmental Stewardship Unit report on the safety of traditional foods. 

Reflect: What do traditional “Canadian” foods and recipes mean to you, and how are you connected to the food that grows locally to you? How can you support traditional and healthy eating for Indigenous communities in Canada?

Practice: Cook a recipe using Canadian grown ingredients inspired from Indigenous chefs using The Indigenous Nutrition Knowledge Information Network of DC’s Collection of Indigenous Recipes.

Learn: Read Tamara Starblanket’s essay that discusses Indigenous Peoples and Crown perspectives of treaties and what rights and conclusions were agreed upon, while also acknowledging the misunderstandings of “Treaty” in colonial mainstream education systems. 
Reflect: What is your understanding of a Treaty, and how have treaties impacted your life today? 

Practice: What treaties and agreements were made on the land you live, work, or study on? Find out through this interactive map.

Learn – The First nations, Inuit and Métis of Canada have a long tradition of military service to this country, despite the racism and inequities that occured. The earliest Indigenous people to serve in Canada’s military were not recognized as citizens, and many were residential school survivors who returned after war to continued discrimination, including in some cases denial of benefits, loss of Indian Status, and expropriation of land. It took until 2003 for the Government of Canada to provide veterans’ benefits to First Nations soldiers who had been denied them in the past, and some veterans have still never received them. Read about this in the Globe and Mail.

Reflect – Many Canadians today have relatives who served in the Canadian military, and while we take time this week to honour their sacrifices, it is important not to exclude the important contributions of Indigenous veterans of Canada. 

Practice – Keep the stories from Indigenous veterans alive by reading about and sharing Indigenous War Heroes from World War 1 & 2.

Learn: Visit this link to view a short clip from TVO titled “Why do Indigenous topics cause such emotional discomfort?”

Reflect: What reactions does Pam Palmater see from students in her Indigenous studies classes? How does she use these reactions to further the students’ learning.

Practice: Reflect on your own responses to learning about the histories of Indigenous peoples in Canada. If you have felt emotional discomfort, how can you use it to further your journey to reconciliation?

Learn: Visit this link for an episode of APTN News reporting on the five year anniversary of the publication of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Reflect: Based on the comments of the commissioners, which calls to action in the report have been addressed, and which have not?

Practice: In the next five years, how can we- as individuals, within institutions, communities, and governments, move forward in implementing all 94 calls to action?

Learn: Visit this link for a resources that explains the history of the Haldimand Tract.

Reflect: Who was Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant, and what role did he play in the Haldimand proclamation?

Practice:How will you incorporate your learning about the Haldimand proclamation into your understanding of local history?

Learn: Visit this link for a talk hosted by University of Waterloo featuring Phil Monture during Treaties Recognition Week in 2020. Phil Monture is Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River and has devoted his life’s work to land rights, including accumulating a significant amount of research and knowledge on the Haldimand Tract.

Reflect: Has your understanding of the Haldimand Tract changed after learning about the records and details that Monture discusses?

Practice: How will you incorporate your learning about the Haldimand proclamation into your understanding of local history?

Learn: Visit this link for a short video which describes the Indigenous Worldview and how it differs from the Western ideas on philosophy and tradition.

Reflect: What are the core ideas that set the Indigenous worldview apart from that of the West?

Practice: How can you bring elements of the Indigenous worldview (ie. collaboration, shared interest, abundance) into your own spaces?

Learn: Visit this link for a short video in which Helen Knott, a Dane-Zaa/Nehiyaw social worker, poet, and activist, explores the connection between violence against Indigenous women and violence against the land.

Reflect: What parallels does Helen draw between economic and urban development and violence against Indigenous women in Peace Region?

Practice: How do you understand Helen’s statement: “The peoples’ voice is life”? How can you bring voice to the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls in the spaces that you occupy?

Learn: Visit this link to watch an informational clip which explains the term “two-spirit”, the history behind the term, and the realities of two-spirit people across Turtle Island today.

Reflect: Does the concept of “two-spirit” challenge your beliefs about gender and gender roles prior to colonization?

Practice: How might you or your organization ensure that conversations about gender equity include and value two-spirit people and their experiences? 

can you bring elements of the Indigenous worldview (ie. collaboration, shared interest, abundance) into your own spaces?

Learn: Read the Waterloo Public Library blog about Indigenous History Month

Reflect: Based on the comments in the Waterloo Public Library blog, why is reading, watching, and engaging with characters or peoples real experiences that are different from our own essential?

Practice: Reflect on your own learning journey related to learning about Indigenous peoples in Canada. What have you learned? What do you want to learn more about? Choose a book or video to read or watch to learn more.

Learn: Watch the short five minute TVO video “What non-Indigenous Canadians need to know” What non-Indigenous Canadians need to know – YouTube

Reflect: Eddy Robinson says that one of the ways that non-Indigenous people can help is to listen and do their research. What are some of your key learnings and reflections from listening to Indigenous people?

Practice: Choose a book or watch a documentary by an Indigenous film maker to learn more about Indigenous narratives.

Learn: Read the following articles to learn more about the recently passed legislation to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Reflect: Stated in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action Report (Call to Action #80) the statutory holiday is designed “to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

Practice: On September 30, how will you take time to learn and reflect on the legacy of residential schools (e.g. read, participate in a community event)?

Learn: Visit the Be a ConnectR | Reconciliation in Saskatoon website. 

Reflect: How will you continue your journey and take action towards reconciliation? 

Practice: Reflect on your own learning journey. What have you learned? What do you want to learn more about? Be a ConnectR | Reconciliation in Saskatoon helps you choose your next steps towards reconciliation.  Choose a path (head, heart, body, spirit) and review the resources available on the website related to the path you choose. 

Start Typing
Translate »