Ongoing processes of colonialism have profoundly shaped and affected relations between the Canadian State and First Nations, and non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. Settler consciousness, which permeates through nearly every aspect of mainstream society, has allowed colonial practices and narratives to remain dominant within Canada.
What follows is a collaborative collection of past, present, and ongoing initiatives from across the territory now known as Canada, which contribute to the process of understanding and transforming settler consciousness, and rebuilding relationships between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who share this land.
To navigate the collection, which is presented in the form of a prolific blog, you can select particular topics and sectors using the Categories and Tags sections on the right sidebar.
The Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation is run by leaders and chiefs from Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities which seek to strengthen the relationship between the philanthropic sector and Indigenous communities in Atlantic Canada. Funds can come from registered charities, individual, or even corporate donors to invest in meaningful opportunities for Indigenous communities such as scholarships, grants, child and/or elder care, arts, health, or emergency supports.
Since one of their main goals is to increase public understanding of the opportunities for Indigenous peoples and continue to build respectful relationships between Indigenous communities and the philanthropic sector, this is a great starting point for transforming settler consciousness. This initiative changes the narratives and relations between settlers and Indigenous communities, and further forms a commitment to fostering community support.
The Aki-naagadendamowin Youth Outreach program offered through York University’s Indigenous Environmental Justice Project is an initiative which recruits Indigenous youth (either in high school or university) to engage in storytelling, events, and other outreach projects to present at local schools in the GTA. This program is broken down into three sections—Climate Change Futures, Listening to the Land, and Changing Your World—which each engage students in learning about Indigenous issues pertaining to the land, climate change, and Indigenous storytelling as a call for justice.
By offering Indigenous storytelling and perspectives when viewing environmental issues, students who are settlers are encouraged to think about their personal relationship to colonialism and how this contributes to climate change. Further, the Changing Your World panel, which is offered at York each year, specifically calls for environmental activists to engage in decolonization in their activism, and ensure that Indigenous knowledges and perspectives are at the forefront of organizing. Therefore, this initiative transforms settler consciousness by providing settlers the opportunity to begin their commitment to learning from Indigenous knowledges, and to challenge colonial ways of thinking about the land and climate change.
The Decolonization Toolkit was developed by the Victoria International Development Education Association with the Vancouver Foundation and other partner organizations. It includes a facilitator guide so the toolkit can be taught widely. This toolkit is a beginner guide of decolonizing, which includes many steps and questions surrounding reconciliation, positionality, relationships, and Indigenous knowledges. The toolkit is organized in six main categories: 1) Self-Location, 2) Reconciliation & Decolonization 3) Reflection Questions & Elevating Indigenous Voices, 4) Truth and Reconciliation & Reclaiming Power and Place, 5) UNDRIP & Indigenous Youth in Leadership, and 6) Barriers, Solutions and Action Plans. (VIDEA).
This toolkit incorporates the pivotal steps of decolonization which is specifically beneficial for settlers in Canada to consider. The content is largely centred around how to communicate, understand, and properly respect Indigenous peoples, and there are sections describing the importance of self-location, Indigenous history, engaging with Indigenous communities, elevating Indigenous voices, and Indigenous peoples in leadership. This suggests the toolkit is primarily for the learning and unlearning of settlers. Therefore, this toolkit is a wonderful resource for transforming settler consciousness since it encourages settlers to analyze their positionality in relation to Indigenous communities, and begin working towards decolonization in their daily life.
Indigenous Activist Collective is a grassroots social movement formed in St. Johns NL in June, 2020. According to their Facebook page, the IAC is made up of “Indigenous activists who are committed to decolonizing/Indigenizing the province colonially known as Newfoundland and Labrador and empowering those disenfranchised by our colonial government and systems of oppression” (IAC, Facebook).
Although members of the IAC are Indigenous, they prioritize engaging settlers through protests and resources posted online. The collective hosted a sit in to occupy the Confederation Building (St. John’s main government building) in solidarity with Wetsuwet’en, and a protest to dismantle and defund the police. Both initiatives called for the support of settlers to work towards a common goal of decolonization. Further, the IAC regularly posts resources such as informational guides specifically intended for settlers to read and reflect on their position in relation to Canada’s colonial structure. The IAC is an excellent initiative which settlers are invited to support to gain a deeper understanding of colonial legacies and decolonization in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Canada as a whole. By engaging with the IAC, settler consciousnesses are inherently transformed through self reflection and greater awareness of colonialism and decolonization.
This lesson plan from The National Centre for Collaboration (Indigenous Education) is designed to educate newcomers to Canada of Indigenous histories and the country’s current relationship with Indigenous peoples. This one-day workshop was developed in Treaty 1 with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and multiple partners, and has a lesson plan and facilitation guide allowing for different facilitators across Canada to deliver it. The workshop includes activities, information on Treaties in Canada, Indigenous relationships with the land, and land protection initiatives. It centralizes around 7 main learning points and exercises: 1) Unpacking Treaty Acknowledgements 2) Building Personal Connections 3) Contextualizing Treaty, 4) Exploring Worldviews: Land 5) Blanket Exercise and Debrief 6) Indigenous Resurgence, and 7) Personal Action: What Now? (NCCIE).
This is a welcoming and reflective way for newcomers to Canada to be informed about the country’s legacies of colonialism, and in turn, analyze their position as a new settler and how they can contribute to decolonization. From this workshop, newcomers can transform their settler consciousness by renouncing colonial structures in Canada as well as making a commitment to support Indigenous peoples and processes of decolonization.
The Indigenous Long-Term Participant Development Pathway, established in 2019 by Sport for Life, came from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions #87-91, which focuses on sport and reconciliation. This resource is appropriate for Indigenous and non-Indigenous coaches. It is a “reference for those who work with Indigenous participants in sport and recreation. It has grown out of the understanding that mainstream models for sport development do not necessarily align with Indigenous needs or experiences” (2019). The pathway promotes a holistic approach and provides ideas to support physical, mental, emotional, and cultural wellness. Alongside this is the introduction of Sport for Life’s ‘Playground to Podium’ two-stream approach, accounting for the different pathways Indigenous participants can take in their Active for Life journey. In the model, these two streams, the Indigenous community system, and the mainstream system are interconnected. The pathway recognizes that participants may choose to move between different streams throughout their participation, and supports this choice, promoting appropriate personal development, as well as the ability to play sports in a culturally diverse environment.
This is an annual campaign, most recently run in December 2020, that “encourages reconciliation by increasing Canadians’ understanding of Indigenous issues, cultures, and history” (2020) through reading. The campaign invites Canadians to read Indigenous authored literature and join in the conversation to share what they have read using on social media using #IndigeousReads. It was implemented by the Government of Canada in their work towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and promotes transforming settler perspectives. There is a link is provided to a cumulative reading list that features children’s books like Nibi’s Water Song by Sunshine Tenasco, illustration by Chief Lady Bird, and more adult literature such as Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga. It also includes young adult, poetry, and graphic novel options to appeal to readers of all levels and genres. For those who have read a book by an Indigenous author that is not on the list, there is an option to suggest an addition to next year’s campaign.
The definition of Indigenous homelessness was published in 2017 on the Homeless Hub, an online library for research and resources on homelessness in Canada, authored by Jesse Thistle and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. This document is appropriate for use by advocates, academics, and those seeking a deeper understanding of the systemic issue of homelessness. The definition of Indigenous homelessness extends beyond the mainstream understanding of homelessness, it is not just lacking a stable structure (house) to live in or the immediate prospect of such. Instead, the document explains how “Indigenous individuals who are without home and shelter have been symbolically, as in their lived experiences of homelessness, displaced from their relationships to land, water, place, family, kin, each other, animals, their cultures, languages, and identities” (2017). This displacement of Indigenous people across Canada is represented in the 12 dimensions that encompass the definition: Historic Displacement, Contemporary Geographic Separation, Spiritual Disconnection, Mental Disruption and Imbalance, Cultural Disintegration and Loss, Overcrowding, Relocation and Mobility, Going Home, Nowhere to Go, Escaping or Evading Harm, Emergency Crisis, and Climatic Refugee Homelessness. The document provides a detailed overview of the impact of government laws, policies, and practices that have placed the blame on Indigenous peoples for their situation and continue to perpetuate negative settler discourse. Bringing up difficult truths that Canadians must face head-on, these dimensions create a visible connection and important point of conjecture between colonial and Indigenous histories.
The Aboriginal Coaching Modules were implemented under the ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ subsection of the Coaching Association of Canada website, in conjunction with the Aboriginal Sport Circle. Across sport in Canada, there has been a call for educational resources and opportunities for coaches to meet the needs of culturally diverse athletes. The CAC provides 3 modules: Holistic Approaches to Coaching, How to Deal with Racism in Sport, and Individual and Community Health and Wellness. These modules are directed at both Indigenous and non-Indigenous coaches who will be working with Indigenous athletes. Resources and support for coaches in areas such as understanding the importance of sport in Indigenous communities, establishing a positive team culture, and being a role model. There is an emphasis in these modules on inclusivity and “coaching the whole person; coaching beyond the physical to include the mental (intellectual and emotional), spiritual, and cultural” (2021). Recognizing that representation in sport is important, there is also a goal to have more Indigenous coaches certified with the NCCP while listening to Indigenous voices in sport. Further information about the specific learning outcomes for each module is available on the website.
The University of Toronto has developed an Aboriginal Worldviews and Education online course offered through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). This 14-hour course is intended for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals to learn about Indigenous knowledges, ways of knowing, and ways of being. As stated on the website, “Topics include historical, social, and political issues in Aboriginal education; terminology; cultural, spiritual and philosophical themes in Aboriginal worldviews; and how Aboriginal worldviews can inform professional programs and practices, including but not limited to the field of education” (Coursera, 2021). Course enrollment is free. Upon completion of the course, participants can receive a certificate and purchase access to all the course materials including assignments.