Although most cities are indigenous, insofar as they are built on the lands of dispossessed first peoples, over the past few decades there has been an increasing trend of urban migration for indigenous peoples in Canada. However, this was not always possible. Until the 1950s, the existence of an informal Canadian administrative policy called the pass system confined First Nations in Canada to Indian reserves unless they had been issued a special travel permit, called a pass, by a government official. Today, little is known about this system. A Toronto Star article by Joanna Smith notes that any records of the pass system were destroyed. In this quote, Nisgaa First Nations Rod Robison succinctly describes the importance of Indigenous history for reconciliation,   

“Today the Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians stand on opposite shores of a wide river of mistrust and misunderstanding. Each continues to search through the mist for a clear reflection in the waters long the opposite shore. If we are truly to resolve the issues that separate us, that tear at the heart of this great country … then we must each retrace our steps through our history, to the source of our misperception and misconception of each other’s truth.”

As of the 2016 census, Indigenous peoples in Canada totalled a little over 1.6 million people, and Canada makes some attempt to celebrate this vibrant indigenous presence.  Today, half of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis people live in cities. And more First Nations and Métis people live in Winnipeg than in any of the country’s other cities: compared to about 4% country-wide, indigenous people account for about one in 10 Winnipeggers. What’s more, their voices are heard in the cities. Canada recognises aboriginal rights and title in the constitution, and the urban shift of First Peoples and Métis has inspired new dimensions of indigenous cultural expression. But the parallels with so many other countries – not least Australia – are acute: urban aboriginal people in Canada, despite their traditional associations, are seen and treated, culturally and sometimes officially, as less “traditional” than their rural countrymen and women. And Winnipeg, despite official displays of pride in its significant aboriginal population, is still marred by racial tensions and indigenous disadvantage.






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All resources were provided by Marissa and are available online for free and should link to download. 

Indigenous Issues 101

  1. âpihtawikosisân: Law. Language. Culture: Visit Chelsea Vowel’s blog and click on “Indigenous Issues 101” and scroll down to the “Specific Myths or Misunderstandings” section. Please read through the following: “Indian Status,” “First Nation Taxation,” “Free Housing for Indians,” “Drunken Indian,” “Wandering Nomad,” “Blood Quantum,” and “Progress Narratives.”

  2. Indigenous Foundations out of the University of British Columbia is a great catch-all resource!

  3. THIS PLACE: 150 Years Retold: This edited book is great for ages 15 and up!**

  4. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America: This is Thomas King’s national bestseller book. It is great for an accessible, readable and overview  history of Indigenous peoples in North America.*

  5. A Third University is Possible: This book by la paperson (who is also K. Wayne Yang) wrote this book and I love it so much. I love this chapter for understanding settler colonialism as a set of technologies. Makes colonialism more tangible as a concept, more in relation to land. 

  6. Decolonizing Methodologies: Linda Tuhwai’s Smith classic and a necessary read!


Online Resources 


  1. Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters: This edited book by Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell and Christi Belcourt about violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2S people in Canada.*

  2. Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies: This toolkit from Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

  3. Summary of the Final Report and Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). You can find more TRC resources here.

  4. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2S People: This is the Final Report and Calls for Justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2S People Inquiry. 

  5. I mentioned a resource on what it means to be in relation to, or have “harmful” kin such as oil and I mentioned Zoe Todd’s paper, which you can find here.

  6. http://native-land.ca: Toggle for territories, treaties and languages. 

  7. For treaties, I would direct you to Alan Corbiere. There’s this video about wampum treaties. This one about the Treaty of Niagara.

  8. Land Acknowledgement Video 


Further Resources


I always recommend these books to folks getting acquainted with Indigenous writers and thinkers and think these could be helpful to read:

  1. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (non-fiction)

  2. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (fiction and good for COVID19 times, if you like end of the world books)

  3. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (fiction and good for COVID19 times, if you like end of the world books)

  4. 21 Things you may not know about the Indian Act  by Bob Joesph 

  5. This Wound is a World by Billy Ray Belcourt (poetry)

  6. Anything by Leanne Betasamoake Simpson


Indigenous Feminist Podcasts:

All My Relations: https://www.allmyrelationspodcast.com/

HenceForward: http://www.thehenceforward.com/


Good Places to Get More Resources

Decolonization Journal: https://decolonization.wordpress.com/decolonization-readings/


Standing Rock Syllbus: https://nycstandswithstandingrock.wordpress.com/standingrocksyllabus/


Diversify Your News



Online Resources

CBC’s Indigenous-led Beyond 94: 


Note: This is where to find the interactive Residential School Map.


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