10 resources for teaching and learning about Indigenous History

Posted on Monday, June 21, 2021

uottawa indigenous monument and sculpture in summer

A sculpture by Mohawk and Oneida artist David General, entitled She dances with the earth, water and sky, sits on the lawn of Tabaret Hall.

In 2007, members of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) began an eight-year journey; they visited over 70 communities and heard testimonies from more than 6,500 people impacted by the Indian Residential School legacy. The committee’s mandate was to “contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation” in Canada — and in 2015, it released a report that included 94 calls to action.

Since then, the University of Ottawa has been committed to this cause. In 2017, uOttawa signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure that no one ever questions the legacy of the Residential School system. In 2019, uOttawa’s Indigenous Affairs invited Mohawk and Oneida artist David General to create a sculpture that recognizes the relationship between the University of Ottawa and the Omamìwìnini Anishinàbeg as well as all Indigenous people in the National Capital Region. In 2020, the University launched its Indigenous Action Plan (IAP), which mobilizes the community to create an environment that reflects, enhances, includes and supports Indigenous culture and peoples on campus. As we move forward, the University recognizes that there is still more work to be done.

Indigenous History Month, and every day, calls upon all of us to understand the role we play in achieving the 94 calls to action and the importance of learning the true history of Canada’s treatment of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. We must take the time to learn about Canada’s history alongside historical and contemporary examples of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples excellence so that we can honour their experiences as we seek to address first “truth” and then, individual, systemic and societal reconciliACTIONS.

If you are not sure where to start, the following list of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit resources was created by members of the Faculty of Education. It was initially created for current and future educators, but it is useful for the entire uOttawa community — whether you are an educator, learner, parent, administrator or policymaker.

By exploring these resources, we can all do our part to address the 94 calls to action while re-imagining past, present and future relations between First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-Indigenous Canadian citizens.

 

1. TRC’s Calls to Action 

We acknowledge the importance of beginning journeys toward action-taking. As such, we wanted to highlight the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. There are 94 actions on this list that advocate to various institutional powers who are called upon to make change. This includes educational institutions. Please take some time to learn how you can action these 94 calls in your communities.

2. National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Reports 

Earlier this month, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released their Final Report, called Reclaiming Power and Place. This report shares 231 calls to action, which are rooted in the testimonies of 2,380 affected family members and survivors of these systemic and intergenerational harms. The report will help you understand how to support and address these harms to First Nations, Métis and Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples.

3. Spirit Bear’s story of Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams

First Nations Family and Caring Society shares Spirit Bear’s story of taking a journey and hearing Survivors’ stories. This resource is shared to support conversations with young students surrounding the Residential Schooling System. This resource is recommended for Grades K-4.

4. Project of Heart 

Project of Heart supports educators who would like to have respectful conversations with their students about Residential Schools and to offer the truth of Canada’s legacy. Their work supports conversations with K-12 students at various schools across Canada. uOttawa's Faculty of Education proudly hosts the Ontario Project of Heart website and activities.

5. The University of Ottawa Indigenous Resource Centre, Mashkawazìwogamig

The University of Ottawa Indigenous Resource Centre, Mashkawazìwogamig, provides First Nations, Métis and Inuit students with support to ensure their success at uOttawa. The centre is led by impassioned staff members who care deeply for their students. On their website, you will find the Elder and Knowledge Keeper Guide for Traditional Protocols, which provides guidance on how to engage with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. It is important to acknowledge that every nation is different. As such, their cultural practices are different too.

6. Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G) (English only)

Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G) is an Indigenous youth-led non-profit organization that prioritizes providing Indigenous youth with cultural and empowerment programs to uplift their connection to self and community. They are an organization we want to uplift as their work to support Indigenous youth, who are important leaders of change.

7. Reading list about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples (English only)

To hold conversations about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, learning through stories is an important part of the process. This article by CBC News offers a list of books and novels for youth and children to learn about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

8. Treaties and maps

Understanding the significance of geographical space is also an important step toward having ethical and respectful conversations with Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples. For people in Ontario, these resources can be used to teach students about treaties and locations of various treaties and First Nation communities.

9. Get to know Honorable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the TRC 

Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair said, “Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.” Our collective work is to share truth with our students to invoke actions. We must ensure they learn Canada's colonial legacies and know to never make the same mistakes again. In this interview, he shares his perspectives and reflection since retiring from the public service and from various distinguished roles he has held throughout his career.

10. Resources for engaging in dialogue

For students and community members to advance conversations and relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, they must understand the stories, perspectives and experiences that affect these communities today. The First Nations in Canada website and Indigenous Languages in Canada resource share information from First Nations communities: the various languages spoken by these communities and spoken by Métis and Inuit peoples.

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