Glossary of terms

by Anthony Auchterlonie, Skye Lacroix, Sydney Moore and Lisa Schnitzler

The authors of this glossary are made up of a team of Indigenous students, we have reviewed our work along with our editors who are two settlers. To be completely objective is not possible, because our lives are implicated in this rhetoric. We have no choice but to put a lot of care into each of these definitions. During this process, we tried to uphold Indigenous scholars and use their work in our references, and we encourage you to do the same. Much of this terminology is complex and ever-evolving, so we have done our best to ground the definitions in the times that we are currently living in.

Aboriginal

The term Aboriginal is defined in the Constitution Act, 1982 and includes all Indigenous Peoples in Canada including First Nations (status, non-status, and Treaty Indians), Métis, and Inuit.1 The term is slightly outdated and some individuals may be uncomfortable with it, but it is still widely used. However, Canada has Aboriginal Law in place, and it is acceptable to use the term when referring to rights and title of Indigenous Peoples.2 Additionally, the Indigenous Peoples of Australia actually prefer the term Aboriginal as opposed to Indigenous.3

Allyship

Caitlyn Vernon argues that being an ally means knowing the past and bearing witness to the present, apologizing for our shared histories and taking responsibility for our own complicity, offering compensation and working together to build new relations.1 Settler allies must first educate themselves on the oppression that marginalized people face, then they must task themselves with educating others and disrupting their biases against marginalized people.2 Settler allies must question their own motivations for allyship so that they can ensure that they are doing this work for others and not for personal gain.3
According to Vernon, settler allies must humble [themselves], learn the stories of the oppressed and learn [their] own family histories, listen to others with respect, challenge [their] assumptions of entitlement, and learn to work together, to take responsibility for both justice and sustainability.4 It is imperative to note that ally is something you do— a kind of relationship and action you practice— not something you claim to be.5 In order to build these foundational relationships settler allies must address the balance of power and challenge settler colonialism.6
Other similar nouns include “accomplice” and “co-resistor,” which can be found in the Indigenous Ally Toolkit put together by the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network. Being an ally is not something a person can proclaim themself, their actions will speak for them if they are truly an ally. Being an ally requires a person to show their understanding and commitment through actions, relations and recognition.7 It is imperative to move beyond sympathy and guilt, and instead, towards tangible action.
  • 1. Caitlyn Vernon, What New Relationship? Taking Responsibility for Justice and Sustainability in British Columbia, in Lynne Davis eds., Alliances: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-Non-Indigenous Relationships, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 290.
  • 2. Dakota Swiftwolfe, Indigenous Ally Toolkit, Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network. March 2019.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Laura Reinsborough and Deborah Barndt, Decolonizing Art, Education, and Research in the VIVA Project,in Lynne Davis eds., Alliances: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-Non-Indigenous Relationships, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 158.
  • 5. Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker, Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada, (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing, 2015), 116.
  • 6. Vernon, What New Relationship?, 290.
  • 7. Swiftwolfe, Indigenous Ally Toolkit.

Assimilation

Assimilation occurs when a member of an ethnic minority group acquires the behavior patterns, lifestyles, values, and language of the mainstream culture.1 Although assimilation can be voluntary, colonial nations have a history of making deliberate attempts to destroy Indigenous cultures, languages, and religions.2 One example of deliberate assimilation is the Residential School System in Canada. When residential schools were made mandatory in 1920, Duncan Campbell Scott asserted, I want to get rid of the Indian problem… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian left in Canada that had not been absorbed into the body politic.3 To read more about the legacy of assimilation in Canada, reference Canada’s Residential Schools: The Legacy in The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

BNA Act

The BNA Act, or the Constitution Act, 1867, united Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada as one Dominion under the name of Canada on 29 March 1867.1 It served as Canada’s constitution until 1982.2 The BNA Act outlines the distribution of powers between the central parliament and the provincial legislatures.3 At this time, the government of Canada held power over Indians, and Land reserved for the Indians4 Settler politicians did not consult Indigenous peoples, nor was Indigenous land title considered during this process.5 David B. MacDonald observes that Canada was created as if Indigenous peoples did not matter.6 The government of Canada continues to govern Indigenous peoples to this day, though many Nations exercise their own forms of self-government.7
  • 1. W. H. McConnell, Constitution Act, 1867 The Canadian Encylopedia, 2006.
  • 2. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, British North America Act, Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  • 3. W. H. McConnell, Constitution Act, 1867 The Canadian Encylopedia, 2006.
  • 4. David B. MacDonald, Forgetting to Celebrate Genocide and Social Amnesia as Foundational to the Canadian Settler State, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 159-180.
  • 5. Ibid. 168.
  • 6. David B. MacDonald, Forgetting to Celebrate Genocide and Social Amnesia as Foundational to the Canadian Settler State, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 159-180.
  • 7. Government of Canada, Department of Justice, Constitutional Affairs, Part 3 - Part 1: British North America Act, 1867- Enactment No. 1.

Colonial Project

The colonial project refers to the process of colonizers as they claim Indigenous lands and enforce European policies and laws upon Indigenous Peoples. The colonial project was and continues to be the institutional violence of armies, law courts, and the prison-industrial complex that deprives Indigenous and racialized people of their Land and contributes to their disenfranchisement.1 Various tools, such as assimilation, have been used in the name of the colonial project to control and subdue Indigenous peoples and dispossess them of their land.2 The colonial worldview is rooted in the misconception that Europeans are “civilized” and Indigenous people are “savage”.3 This false narrative continues to perpetuate the belief that Indigenous Peoples are somehow lawless and therefore must be under the governance of the colonial state.4
  • 1. George J. Sefa Dei and Cristina Jaimungal, “Decolonial Latinx Feminist Spiritual Practices, in Indigeneity and Decolonial Resistance: Alternatives to Colonial Thinking and Practice (Gorham: Meyer Education Press, 2018), 15.
  • 2. Ibid. 19.
  • 3. Ibid. 20.
  • 4. Irene Watson, First Nations and the Colonial Project, Inter Gentes, (2013).

Colonization

Colonization is the process of settling or appropriating a place and imposing a system of power over a territory and its original inhabitants.1 Not to be confused with colonialism which is an ideology, colonization is the achievement of such an ideology. Canadian colonization policies have suppressed Aboriginal culture and languages, disrupted Aboriginal government, destroyed Aboroginal economies, and confined Aboriginal people to marginal and often unproductive land.2 It is evident that colonization is ongoing here on Turtle Island, because Indigenous land is still being stolen, and Indigenous peoples are still meant to adhere to the laws and norms of the colonizers.
  • 1. Historica Canada, Indigenous Perspectives Education Guide, Historica Canada Education, 2019.
  • 2. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, What We Have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation, 2015, 102.

Cultural Genocide

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada defines cultural genocide as the following: the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group.1 It is the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements which makes a people distinct from other groups.2 The term is widely used to describe the genocide of Indigenous Peoples in North America, but it is worth arguing that destroying a group’s culture amounts to genocide because the destruction of Indigenous land destroys Indigenous identity and is therefore genocidal.3 It should be noted that the TRC’s Commissioners were not allowed to find the churches or the federal government guilty for anything illegal and punishable by domestic law, hence the use of the term “cultural genocide”.4 To read more about genocide against Indigenous Peoples, please refer to the genocide glossary entry.

Decolonization

Decolonization involves the restoration of Indigenous worldviews, cultural traditions, and perspectives by shifting the way Indigenous Peoples view themselves and the way non-Indigenous people view Indigenous Peoples.1 This shift includes unlearning colonial ways of being, and eschewing from the colonial status quo, by opening up to Indigenous knowledge and practices. Indigenous communities are in the process of reclaiming the family, community, culture, language, history, and traditions that were taken from them under federal government policies.2 Jeff Corntassel confirms that reconnection and community resurgence are vital aspects of decolonization.3 Decolonization, as described by Emma Battel Lowman and Adam J. Barker, is an intensely political and transformative process with the goal of regenerating Indigenous nationhood and place-relationships while dismantling structures of settler colonialism that oppose or seek to eliminate Indigenous peoples from the land, which means decolonization requires the commitment and action of non-Indigenous peoples.4 It is important for all members of our society to recognize and accept the reality of Canada’s colonial history in order for us to move forward and transform our way of life.5 Rachel Yacaaᘃa∤ George asserts that Decolonization cannot be motivated by an effort to maintain as much comfort or privilege as possible.6 If we don’t change ourselves, then the state will continue to perpetuate violence on Indigenous peoples.7
  • 1. A Brief Definition of Decolonization and Indigenization, Indigenous Corporate Training, March 2017.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Jeff Corntassel, Indigenizing the Academy: Insurgent Education and the Roles of Indigenous Intellectuals, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, January 12, 2011.
  • 4. Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker, Decolonization and Dangerous Freedom, in Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada (Winnipeg; Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing, 2015), 111
  • 5. A Brief Definition of Decolonization and Indigenization, Indigenous Corporate Training, March 2017.
  • 6. Rachel Yacaaᘃa∤ George, Inclusion is Just the Canadian Word for Assimilation: Self-Determination and the Reconciliation Paradigm in Canada, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 59.
  • 7. Jeff Corntassel, Canada: Portrait of a Serial Killer, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 193-209.

Doctrine of Discovery

European powers utilized the Doctrine of Discovery, which was formulated in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to erase Indigenous peoples from the territory by forced assimilation, murder, and dispossession of land that was not previously inhabited by Christians.12 Nick Claxton and John Price observe that colonizers made “discovery assertions” on land that in their view was unoccupied, as a basis of seizing the land.3 Colonizers used The Doctrine of Discovery to justify the colonization and theft of land already inhabited by non-Christians.4 Europeans believed that their religions, civilizations, governments, laws, and cultures were superior to all other beliefs.5 Europeans adopted the rationale that, because Indigneous Peoples did not have Christianity, they were not truly human and therefore could be conquered because they did not own or improve the land in a Lockean understanding of property rights.6
The Doctrine of Discovery was the colonial justification for dispossessing Indigenous Peoples of their land in order to assert European sovereignty. This resulted in the domination of Indigenous Peoples and a disregard for their rights.7

Enfranchisement

Enfranchisement is the legal extinguishment of a person’s Indian status.1 This is an assimilation policy used by the Canadian government to revoke the rights of status Indians.2 The Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 introduced voluntary enfranchisement with the intent of having Indigenous peoples surrender their status and adopt Canadian citizenship.3 This policy had ingrained sexism— if a man enfranchised, his wife and children would also lose their status.4 Voluntary enfranchisement was not a successful system, as Indigenous Peoples did not want to abandon their rights and cultures.5 Enfranchisement became compulsory with the Indian Act in 1876.6 Starting in 1876, if Indigenous peoples served in the army or received a university education, they would lose their status.7 In addition to this, if an Indigenous woman married a non-status man, she would lose her status and be forced to leave her community.8 The Indian Act was amended in 1951 and 1985, ending compulsory enfranchisement as an explicit policy.9 This change was due to much of the hard work by Indigenous women who challenged the sexist policies of the Indian Act in court, see AG v. Lavell, R v. Bédard, Lovelace v. Canada, and more recently McIvor v. Canada. Refer to the glossary entry on the Indian Act to read more about the ongoing negative impacts of the Indian Act.
  • 1. Karrmen Crey, Enfranchisement, Indigenous Foundations, 2009.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid.

First Nations

First Nations is the preferred term used to describe Indigenous Peoples in Canada that are neither Métis nor Inuit. This term came to use in the 1970s in order to replace the derogatory terms “Indian” and “Indian band”.1 The term is used for status, non-status, and Treaty “Indians”. It is used either in plural or singular form, referring to either a nation or an individual. There are 634 First Nations communities in Canada.2

Genocide

Polish/Ukrainian scholar Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, specifically in response to the Holocaust.1 His neologism is a combination of the greek terms, genos, meaning race or people, and cide, meaning killing.2 Lemkin’s intention was to define the crime of killing not just an individual but a group defined as a nation or by its ethnic origin.3 The United Nations eventually adopted his term, defining it in article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:
[. . .] any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.4
In Canada, and often elsewhere, genocide against Indigenous Peoples commonly appears in the form of settler-colonialism, which is categorized as characteristicly eliminatory, especially in the form of accumulating territory.5 Settler colonialism and genocide work hand in hand, and act as a long, drawn-out structural system rather than an event, which is not typical of genocidal practices that are more widely recognized.6
The term genocide can, and has been, applied to Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people.7 The Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada first used the term Cultural Genocide in its 2015 Final Report.8 Four years later, The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released a supplementary report probing the possibility of a Canadian Genocide.9 The report authors found that a state’s specific intent to destroy a protected group can only be proved by the existence of a genocidal policy or manifest pattern of conduct.10 A thorough examination of legal literature, and the historical facts the Inquiry gathered, led them to conclude that a manifest pattern of conduct did in fact exist.11 The Inquiry therefore found that Canada has displayed a continuous policy, with shifting expressed motives but an ultimately steady intention, to destroy Indigenous peoples physically, biologically, and as social units, thereby fulfilling the required specific intent element.12
  • 1. Raphael Lemkin, 1900-1959. Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress. (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Division of International Law, 1944) 79.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, 78 UNTS 277 (entered into force 12 January 1951) art 2 [Genocide Convention].
  • 5. Andrew Crosby and Jeffery Monaghan, Project SITKA, Policing, and the Settler Colonial Present, in Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State, (Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2018) 9.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. To learn more about Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples please read Jeff Corntassel, Canada: Portrait of a Serial Killer, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 193-209.
  • 8. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. 2015.
  • 9. A Legal Analysis of Genocide (Cdn Electronic Library, 2019).
  • 10. Ibid. 20.
  • 11. Ibid. 24.
  • 12. Ibid.

Indian

The legal term used to describe an individual registered under the Indian Act.1 The term is outdated and many consider it to be derogatory, it is primarily used in the legal sense in Canada due to the Indian Act.2 This word was originally used by Columbus upon his arrival on Turtle Island; he believed he had landed in India, so he proceeded to call the Indigenous Peoples “Indians”.3 In Canada, the term has largely been replaced with “First Nations” which does not include the Métis or the Inuit, though they are included under the Indian Act.4 The term can be broken down using “status Indian”, “non-status Indian”, and “Treaty Indian”.5 Treaty Indians are descendants of Indians who signed treaties with Canada and who have a contemporary connection with a treaty band.6 The term was popular during the initial period of colonization, evident in many of the despatches. See the definition of Indian Status for more information about who qualifies for Indian Status.
  • 1. Bob Joseph, Appendix 1, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 110.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Gregory Younging, Specific Editorial Issues, in Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Edmonton: Brush Education, 2018), 56.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Michael Billinger, Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
  • 6. Ibid.

Indian Act

The Indian Act is a Canadian Federal Law that controls matters pertaining to Indian Status, bands, and Indian reserves.1 It is a highly invasive and paternalistic law that allows the Canadian government to maintain overarching political control of Indigenous communities.2
Efforts to abolish the Indian Act have been met with widespread resistance.3 The Indian Act is problematic, nonetheless, but it is one of the only pieces of legislation that acknowledges and affirms the unique historical and constitutional relationship [Indigenous Peoples] have with Canada.4 The Indian Act has not and will not achieve its goal of getting rid of the Indian problem.5 Indigenous peoples resist and continue to revitalize their cultures from the damage that the Indian Act has done. Bob Joseph argues that the Indian Act was designed for a specific purpose that no longer exists in a country committed to reconciliation and that we must move towards building the foundation for Indigenous communities to have self-determination and sovereignty.6
  • 1. Eric Hanson, The Indian Act, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Bob Joseph, If Not the Indian Act, Then What?, in 21 Thing You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 94.
  • 6. Bob Joseph, Looking Forward to a Better Canada, in 21 Thing You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 103.

Indian Agent

Indian Agents were federal employees on First Nations reserves from the 1830s to the 1960s.1 Indian Agents implemented government policy, enforced and administered the provisions of the Indian Act.2 Indian Agents were also expected to enforce the infamous pass system, meant to restrict First Nations individuals from leaving the reserve without permission, or a pass.3 Indian Agents were almost all settler men and rarely expressed doubts about the necessity or desirability of assimilation.4 Despite the fact that the explicit Indian Agent position was eliminated in 1960, the paternalistic nature of settler governments has a continued presence in Indigenous communities today.
  • 1. Robert Irwin, Indian Agents in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Bob Joseph, Tightening Control, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 50-51; See the glossary entry of pass system for more information.
  • 4. Robert Irwin, Indian Agents in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Indian Residential Schools

The Indian Residential School system was established through an assimilatory policy designed to integrate Indigenous Peoples into the Canadian body politic. State officials forcibly removed Indigenous children from their homes and communities in an attempt to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture—the culture of the legally dominant Euro-Christian Canadian society.1 The Government of Canada enacted and enforced this policy and authorized its administration by a variety of churches. Many children at the schools endured physical, sexual, and psychological abuse during their time at residential schools. About half of the children who attended residential schools died; those who survived suffer from trauma that forthcoming generations will endure.2 Richard Wagamese states that residential schools are the biggest single contributor to what many uninformed people still refer to as the Indian problem.3 Arthur Manuel compares his experience at residential school to that of his experience in a jail cell. 4
Before colonial education methods were imposed on Indigenous families, Indigenous children were educated by knowledge keepers and from the Land itself. In the early contact period, prior to the establishment of the residential school system, Indigenous children were educated by church missionary societies; these mission schools, in many cases, were absorbed into the Government of Canada’s residential school system. The first residential school opened in 1861, and the last one closed its doors in 1996. In 1920, the schools were made compulsory under the infamous Indian Act.5 The Family Allowance Act of 1945 was further used to coerce Indigenous parents into sending their children to residential schools, as children had to be enrolled in school in order to collect the benefit, and the benefit was targeted at low and middle income parents.6
Since the 1990s there have been three major national investigations into the wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples in Canada: The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. For more information on these reports, please see the respective glossary entries.
  • 1. Preface, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2015. Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, 2015.
  • 2. Bob Joseph, Appendix 2: Indian Residential Schools: A Chronology, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 119.
  • 3. Richard Wagaemese, Chapter 10, Residential Schools Killed Children While Destroying Culture, in The Terrible Summer, (Toronto: Warwick Publishing Inc., 1996).
  • 4. Arthur Manuel, Institutionalizing a People, in Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015), 15.
  • 5. Bob Joseph, Appendix 2: Indian Residential Schools: A Chronology, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 119.
  • 6. Miller, J.R, Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996).

Indian Status

Indian Status is the federal government’s way of determining who is and who is not an Indian. Canada defines Indian Status, or who qualifies as an Indian, through the The Indian Act.1 It is a specific legal identity for certain First Nations individuals and does not include Métis or Inuit.2 There is certain criteria in order to be granted Indian Status by the Canadian government. The government's regulation of Status Indians is paternalistic as they continue to consider these people to be wards of the state.3 Indian Status can only be passed on for a few generations before eventually being phased out.4 For more information, visit the Government of Canada website here.
Before 1985, a woman who married a person who was not an Indian was not entitled to be registered under the Indian Act, resulting in many women being stripped of their identity as Indigenous Peoples.5 If she was stripped of her Indian status she would also lose the right to live on the reserve, and be buried with her ancestors, along with treaty and health benefits, and any inherited property.6 Despite the Bill C-31 amendment in 1985, gender discrimination continues to be a prominent factor within the Indian Act’s requirement for status.7 Today, if two generations of women marry non-status men, the children who come afterwards will not be eligible for Indian status.8
  • 1. Karmen Crey and Eric Hanson, Indian Status, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 2. Eric Hanson, The Indian Act, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Karmen Crey and Eric Hanson, Indian Status, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Bill C-31, Indigenous Foundations.

Indigenous

The term Indigenous Peoples refers to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada collectively, and also [refers] to Indigenous Peoples worldwide collectively.1 If you are referring to a specific person or talking about a certain community it is more respectful to be specific by referring to the community or member by their own name rather than to use a blanket term like Indigenous. The term Indigenous can be useful for creating a connection of peoples across the world, but it is imperative to understand that Indigenous is not a single culture, it is the collective of many distinct and separate cultures.
Examples: General: The Indigenous people in Victoria have lived here for thousands of years. Specific (More Respectful): The Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples have lived in the area we call Victoria for thousands of years.
  • 1. Gregory Younging, Terminology, in Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Edmonton: Brush Education, 2018), 64.

Indigenous Methodologies

Western methodologies and ways of knowing have often masqueraded as universal knowledges, shunning other ways of knowing, or appropriating such knowledges without due credit.1 Indigenous Methodologies offer a different way of reading our worlds and the constitutive social, cultural, political, and spiritual relations.2 Aspects of Indigenous methodologies include a deep spiritual connection to animals, plants, and other living things and stress relationality, connections, reciprocity, community building, appreciation, sharing, humility, social responsibility, and generosity.3
  • 1. George J. Sefa Dei and Cristina Jaimungal, in Indigeneity and Decolonial Resistance: An Introduction, in Indigeneity and Decolonial Resistance: Alternatives to Colonial Thinking and Practice (Gorham: Meyer Education Press, 2018), 2.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. 2-3.

Inuit

The Inuit are Indigenous Peoples that reside and have traditional territory in the Arctic. In Northern Canada they have traditional territory in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon Territory, as well as Northern Quebec and Labrador.1 Amongst the Canadian territories and provinces, Inuit also live in Alaska and Greenland, with close relatives residing in Russia and Scandinavia.2 The term Eskimo was used to describe the Inuit up until 1960, when the Inuit began to assert their own name for themselves.3
  • 1. Aboriginal Information Series Office of University Accessibility, Glossary of Terms, University of Manitoba, 2006. ; Minnie Aodla Freeman, Inuit, The Canadian Encyclopedia, last modified on March 4, 2015.
  • 2. Inuulitisivik Health Center, Activities and Culture.
  • 3. Gregory Younging, Terminology, in Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Edmonton: Brush Education, 2018), 55.

Knowledge Keeper

Knowledge keepers may be called different names such as Old Ones or Elders. Traditional Knowledge Keepers are the keepers of Indigenous knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial.1 It is their responsibility to preserve this knowledge for their communities and to teach the young people . . . about the inherent spiritual ways of [Indigenous Peoples].2 These teachings include the need to have love, respect, patience, and compassion for all things.3 To read more about Traditional Knowledge Keepers explore this booklet.

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is an American ideology, spearheaded by powerful political and cultural actors, that rationalizes western expansion efforts.1 By definition, it involved the displacement, eradication, or assimilation of native cultures.1 According to proponents of Manifest Destiny, colonizers were destined by God to expand their territory and to spread Western values across North America.3
  • 1. Matthew Saleh, Manifest Destiny, in Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia, ed. Carlos E. Cortes, (Los Angeles: SAGE Reference, 2014), 1400.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Manifest Destiny, History, 2019.

Métis

Historically, the term Métis has referred to anyone who has mixed Indigenous and European Ancestry. This definition takes away from the distinct culture of Métis peoples. We choose to define the term Métis as a distinct people of historic Métis Nation Ancestry, with specific cultural traditions, and who are accepted by the Métis Nation.1
The term Métis must be understood through its connection to a national core historically located in Red River and in the shared memories of the territory, leaders, events, and culture that sustain Métis people today.2 It is imperative to recognize that 'Metis' is not a catch-all term for anyone who is Indigenous-but-not-First-Nation-or-Inuit.3
  • 1. Métis Nation Citizenship, Métis Nation.
  • 2. Chris Anderson, Introduction, in Métis: Race Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014), 13.
  • 3.Ibid. 24.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls had a mandate to look into and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.1 They included those women and girls who died under suspicious circumstances, as well as cases of sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, bullying and harassment, suicide, and self-harm. The National Inquiry looked at culturally appropriate solutions for addressing this violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA folks.2 Similar to the TRC, the National Inquiry held community hearings and statement gathering in order to complete their final report. Additionally, the National Inquiry held knowledge keeper and expert hearings, and institutional hearings - where they examined the systemic causes of institutionalized violence.3
  • 1. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Our Mandate, Our Vision, Our Mission, 2019.
  • 2. 2 Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual; Ibid.
  • 3. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Part II Institutional Hearings, 2019.

Native

The term Native has been used to describe Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) for many years, but is slightly outdated and some people could take offence to the term, due to it being so broad.1 As Gregory Younging explains: The term is problematic because of possible confusion with its wider definition of a ‘local inhabitant or life form,’ and because it does not denote that there are many distinct Indigenous Groups.2 However, the Indigenous Peoples in the United States are often described as Native American. The term was popular in the initial period of settling and colonization, as you can observe in many of the Dspatches.
  • 1. Bob Joseph, Tightening Control, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality, (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 113.
  • 2. Gregory Younging, Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples, (Brush Education, 2018), 58.

Oral History

Indigenous nations maintain a historical record of their culture through the transmission of oral histories and teachings.1 This transmission results in the preservation of the culture from generation to generation.2 Although critics frame oral history as subjective and biased, academia is becoming more and more accepting of oral history as a legitimate and valuable addition to the historical record.3
Oral history has also played a large role in establishing land title, specifically in the court case of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia in 1997.4 The Wet’suwet’en and the Gitxan who fought this court case were able to use oral history in order to establish their occupancy and use of their territory.5 The court recognized oral history as a legitimate source of proof due to many Indigenous languages not being written.
  • 1. Eric Hanson, Oral Traditions, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Dora Wilson-Kenni, Time of Trial: The Gitxan and Wet’suwet’en in Court, BC Studies, no. 95, (April 2010), 7-11.

Pan-Indianism/Pan-Indigenization

Pan-Indianism is the generalization of Indigenous Peoples as a single culture. Although there may be some similarities between certain nations’ teachings it can be harmful to pool all Indigenous communities together when there is so much diversity between them. It is important to avoid blanket terms and it is respectful to refer to people by using the words individual people use themselves, and if you don’t know what words to use, ask.1 Doing so, helps to recognize the diversity and distinctness of Indigenous Peoples.2
  • 1. Gregory Younging, Specific Editorial Issues, in Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Edmonton: Brush Education, 2018), 91.
  • 2. Ibid.

Pass System

The Canadian government developed the pass system after the 1885 Northwest Rebellion to police the movement of Indigenous peoples, most notably within the Prairies.1 In order to leave their reserves, any Indigenous person needed a pass signed by the Indian agent, stating when they could leave, where they could go and when they had to return.2 Breaking these rules would lead to being arrested and brought back to reserve.3 Canada put this policy in place to prevent large gatherings, in effect, preventing any further resistance.4 Although the pass system was never officially a law, the Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Hayter Reed, created the system and justified his actions with the claim that they were for the greater good.5 Prime Minister John A. Macdonald also supported the pass system.6 Although the government deemed the pass system illegal in 1892, the process lingered on until the mid-1930s.7 The pass system has had lasting effects on Indigenous communities, resulting in the loss of culture, strained family relations, [feelings] of distrust towards the government and police, and [socioeconomic inequalities] between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.8
  • 1. Rob Nestor, Pass System in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2018; Chinook Multimedia, May 1885: The Pass System, Canadian History.
  • 2. Rob Nestor, Pass System in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2018.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Chinook Multimedia, “May 1885: The Pass System,” Canadian History.
  • 8. Rob Nestor, Pass System in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2018.

Reciprocity

Reciprocity goes beyond a transaction or compensation.1 In any interactions with Indigenous Peoples and/or communities, reciprocity must not be a contractual arrangement but a disposition and [a] practice.2 Reciprocity is inseparable from responsibility and respect.3 Lawyer Roberta L. Jamieson asserts that Indigenous reciprocity is much more complex than a two-way exchange of favors . . . while the word reciprocity is not used often in our daily lives, it is deeply embedded in most Indigenous cultures.4 The meaning of reciprocity may vary between cultures and the English language may fail to communicate its meaning within Indigenous languages; therefore, it is important to have an open dialogue about what reciprocity means to you and the people in your lives.5 Reciprocity should be seen as a journey, and not a fixed point on a map.6
  • 1. Heather E. McGregor and Michael Marker, Reciprocity in Indigenous Educational Research: Beyond Compensation, Towards Decolonizing: Reciprocity in Indigenous Educational Research, Anthropology & Education Quarterly 49, no. 3 (2018), 318.
  • 2. Ibid. 323.
  • 3. Ibid. 321.
  • 4. Ingrid Sub Cuc and Mark Camp, Philanthropy as Reciprocity, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine, 2014.
  • 5. Heather E. McGregor and Michael Marker, Reciprocity in Indigenous Educational Research: Beyond Compensation, Towards Decolonizing: Reciprocity in Indigenous Educational Research, Anthropology & Education Quarterly 49, no. 3 (2018), 319.
  • 6. Ibid. 325.

Reconciliation

True reconciliation is only possible if the government recognizes [Indigenous] land rights and their fundamental right to self-determination.1 Although many Canadians would like to see reconciliation and love to use the word, there is a lack of understanding about what it really means.2 The government of Canada has used rhetoric around reconciliation to further control Indigenous Peoples across the country.3 In order to reconcile we must come to terms with the truth of Canada’s colonial history and ongoing violence and oppression perpetrated by the state
Some people view reconciliation as an end state, others argue it is an ongoing relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.4 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission defines reconciliation as an ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.5 Reconciliation will only come with the respect and affirmation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their lands. Leanne Betasomosake Simpson contemplates how we can reconcile when the majority of Canadians do not understand the historic or contemporary injustices of dispossession and occupation, particularly when the state has expressed its unwillingness to make any adjustments to the unjust relationship.6 Simpson continues to say that reconciliation is a process of regeneration that will take many years to accomplish.7
There are many ways to interpret reconciliation, but in truth, it has been used as a distraction while the government attempts to steal land and resources and ignores the pleas of Indigenous peoples. Reconciliation is not achievable so long as basic human rights are not respected.8 Criticizing reconciliation is not about shaming those elders and people that participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, states Tawinikay, it’s about attacking a government that used a moment of vulnerability to bolster its global image.9 Reconciliation requires healing, and Indigenous Peoples need the land back in order to heal. By definition, reconciliation hinges on an idea that parties were once whole, experienced a rift, and need to be made whole again.10 Rachel Yacaaᘃa∤ George expresses that reconciliation must be grounded in self-determination.11 In order to achieve reconciliation, the government must be willing to share its power and decision making with Indigenous Peoples.12 Corntassel and Holder argue that we must first achieve decolonization and restitution in order to achieve reconciliation in order to transform our relationships in the way justice requires.13 For us it is clear that reconciliation is not achievable so long as the state continues to criminalize Indigenous Peoples for being on our own land and practicing our own cultures as we have always done.
  • 1. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Attempted Genocide: Political Battles with Pierre Trudeau, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Econcomy, (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 98.
  • 2. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, The Reconciliation SWAT Team, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy, (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 200.
  • 3. Ibid. 201.
  • 4. Michael Asch, John Borrows, and James Tully, Resurgence and Reconciliation: Indigenous-Settler Relations and Earth Teachings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018), 4.
  • 5. Paulette Regan, Reconciliation and Resurgence: Reflections on the TRC Final Report, in Resurgence and Reconciliation: Indigenous-Settler Relations and Earth Teachings, eds. Michael Asch, John Borrows, and James Tully (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018), 210.
  • 6. Leanne Betasomosake Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011), 21.
  • 7. Ibid. 22.
  • 8. Tanya Talaga, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, (House of Anansi Press Inc., 2018).
  • 9. Tawinikay, Reconciliation Is Dead: A Strategic Proposal, Northshore Counter Info, February 15, 2020.
  • 10. Rachel Yacaaᘃa∤ George, Inclusion is Just the Canadian Word for Assimilation: Self-Determination and the Reconciliation Paradigm in Canada, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 49-62.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. David Milward, Reconciliation on Trial: Evaluating What Reconciliation Means in the Context of Aboriginal Justice, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 238-255.
  • 13. Jeff Corntassel and Cindy Holder, Who’s Sorry Now? Government Apologies, Truth Commissions, and Indigenous Self Determination in Australia, Canada, Guatemala, and Peru, Human Rights Review 9, no. 4 (April 10, 2008): 465-89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12142-008-0065-3.

Reserve

Reserves are land allotments for Indigenous groups, or in the words of historical geographer Cole Harris, a reserve is the compartment into which whites relegated [Indigenous] people.1 These reserves are owned by the Crown.2
The Indian Act 1876 states that: Reserves are held by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of the respective bands for which they were set apart, and subject to this Act and to the terms of any treaty or surrender, the Governor in Council may determine whether any purpose for which the lands in a reserve are used or are to be used is for the use and benefit of the band.3
The Canadian government designed reserves to control and surveille, especially the movement of, Indigenous Peoples.4 There are significant differences between reserves east of the Rocky Mountains to those in British Columbia. These differences include the size of reserve land allocation and state regulation of people on the reserves. Numbered treaty reserves east of the Rockies (and partially in northeastern BC), designed to support agricultural pursuits, are larger than reserves in BC. The pass-system and policing of Indigenous movements were also more common on the treaty reserves than in BC. In British Columbia, the settler population and their leaders such as Joseph Trutch, BC Commissioner of Lands and Works and first Lieutenant-Governor of BC, refused to recognize Native Title.5 This attitude encouraged the reduction of BC reserve sizes which were diminished during Trutch’s tenure as Commissioner of Lands and Works in the late-nineteenth century as well as in 1912 during the McKenna-McBride Commission.6 Further, Indigenous groups on the west coast have observed that the government created coastal reserves that were significantly smaller than interior reserves due to their attitude that Coast Indian people were not a land based people, and did not require a broad land base for economic survival.7 The destruction of the salmon-fishing industry has devastated small coastal communities.8 Harris argues that BC created small reserves to coerce Indigenous Peoples to participate in the settler workforce and contribute to the provincial economy.9 While Indigenous Peoples whose ancestors signed treaties with Canada have often brought grievances of broken promises to the federal government, the majority of Indigenous Peoples in BC have never signed a treaty; some scholars see this as a clearer claim to land and resources as the extinguishment of Indigenous title to land in the majority of BC has never occurred.10 Many reserves in BC delimit the land that BC reluctantly set aside to protect from colonization as opposed to land reserved through negotiated treaties.
Reserves should not be confused with the traditional territory of Indigenous Peoples.11 Despite the fact that the reserve system has been imposed upon many communities, their connections to their traditional lands continue to this day. The reserve system has undermined Indigenous Peoples’ relationship to their traditional territories but did not destroy it. 12
  • 1. Cole Harris, Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance and Reserves in British Columbia. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002), xxiv.
  • 2. Eric Hanson, Reserves, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 3. Office Consolidation, Section 18 (1), Indian Act, RSC 1985, c I-5.
  • 4. Reuben Ware, Our Homes are Bleeding: A Short History of Indian Reserves (Victoria: The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, 1965), 6; Keith D. Smith, Liberalism, Surveillance, and Resistance: Indigenous communities in Western Canada, 1877-1927, (Athabasca University Press: 2009), 51.
  • 5. Ware, Our Homes are Bleeding, 10.
  • 6. Ibid. 16.
  • 7. Alvin Dixon, Chinook Survival or Extinction is Forever, Native Voice, May 1984, 4; Henry Castillou Jr, The B.C. Indian Land Question: BC Natives Must Act Immediately, Native Voice, December 1962, 7-8; Diana Recalma, Another Fishery?, Native Voice, May 1977, 1-2.
  • 8. Rosemary E. Ommer, Coasts Under Stress: Restructuring and Social-Ecological Health, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007); Alvin Dixon, Chinook Survival or Extinction is Forever, Native Voice, May 1984, 4.
  • 9. Harris, Making Native Space, 88.
  • 10. Smith, 149.
  • 11. Eric Hanson, Reserves, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 12. Ibid.

Resistance

This term refers to Indigenous resistance to colonialism.1 This can be centering Indigenous practices and thoughts in individual lives, and can extend to mass mobilization.2 Those who resist colonialism hope to inspire a radically different future than the one settler colonialism sets out.3 This requires acts of resistance to take on heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, antiblackness, and actualizing Indigenous alternatives on the ground, not in the future but in the present.4 To Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, resistance is doing [the] work in the present so our kids know what freedom is like, so they know what it feels like to be from a particular Indigenous nation whether they are in downtown Toronto, in the bush, or behind a blockade, so they know what to fight for.5 It should be noted that those who resist colonialism are met with criminalization and over-policing. Notable resistance movements against settler colonialism include: the Red River Resistance; Kanienkehaka resistance; Idle No More; Mauna Kea; and the Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions.
Resistance is not only actuated in direct action and protest. As Jeff Corntassel, Taiaiake Alfred, Noelani Goodyear-Ka’Opua, Hokulan Aikau, Noenoe Silva, and Devi Mucina explain: While large-scale actions such as rallies, protests and blockades are frequently acknowledged as sites of resistance, the daily actions undertaken by individual people, families, and communities often go unacknowledged but are no less vital to decolonial processes.6 A common saying amongst Indigenous peoples is our existence is resistance.
  • 1. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Indigenous Resurgence and Co-resistance, Critical Ethnic Studies 2, no.2, 2016, 24.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. 32.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid. 33.
  • 6. Jeff Corntassel, Taiaiake Alfred, Noelani Goodyear-Ka’Opua, Hokulani Aikau, Noenoe Silva, and Devi Mucina, introduction, in Everyday Acts of Resurgence: People, Places, Practices, (Daykeeper Press, 2018), 17.

Resurgence

According to Asch, Borrows, and Tully, Resurgence is often used to refer to Indigenous peoples exercising powers of self-determination outside of state structures and paradigms.1 It can also refer to non-Indigenous solidarity and decolonizing activities.2 Resurgence may also include reciprocal practices of reconciliation in self-determining, self-sustaining, and inter-generational ways.3 Leanne Betasomosake Simpson adds that inherent theories of resurgence are transformative and revolutionary.4 And Jeff Corntassel stresses that in order to achieve resurgence we must strengthen our Inter-Indigenous relationships.5 Resurgence includes revitalizing and re-awakening Indigenous ways of being.
  • 1. Michael Asch, John Borrows, James Tully, Introduction, in Resurgence and Reconciliation: Indigenous-Settler Relations and Earth Teachings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018), 4.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. 5.
  • 4. Leanne Betasomosake Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011), 24.
  • 5. Jeff Corntassel, We Belong to Each Other: Resurgent Indigenous Nations, Voices Rising, November 27, 2013.

Revitalization

To revitalize, is to imbue (something) with new life and vitality.1 Indigenous revitalization refers to the act of bringing life to traditions that were illegal and almost lost due to colonialism. It is the act of keeping Indigenous knowledge alive and thriving. The revitalization of culture is the revitalization of Indigenous identity.2

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

The Government of Canada established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1991 in the wake of a series of events such as the Kanienkehaka resistance, 1990, and the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, 1987, which both illuminated disparities between Indigneous and non-Indigenous Canadians. According to the Library and Archives Canada, the RCAP was mandated to investigate and propose solutions to the challenges affecting the relationship between Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Inuit, Métis), the Canadian government and Canadian society as a whole.1
Concluding in 1996, the Commission had completed and released a 4,000 page document examining the place of Indigenous peoples in Canadian society. Ultimately, the report found that Canada enjoys a reputation as a special place - a place where human rights and dignity are guaranteed, where the rules of liberal democracy are respected, where diversity among peoples is celebrated. But this reputation represents, at best, a half-truth.2 The report concludes by promoting a 20-year plan to mend the state’s relationship with Indigenous peoples through increased funding for infrastructure and cultural programs as well as the promotion of self-government.3

Royal Proclamation 1763

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is a document that guided European settlement of the Indigenous territory of what is now North America.1 When the British won the Seven Years War against the French for control over the continent, King George III issued this proclamation to claim Crown sovereignty over the land.2 This was the first time that Indigenous title to the land was recognized explicitly stating that Indigenous land could not be settled unless purchased by the Crown prior to being sold to the settlers.3 This is recognized as the establishment of the British monopoly over Indigenous land.4 The Royal Proclamation stated that Indigenous Peoples living on these territories should not be molested or disturbed on their own land.5 However, the Proclamation enabled the Crown to extinguish the rights of Indigenous Peoples through treaties.6
The Province of British Columbia has taken issue with the Royal Proclamation being imposed on the Indigenous Peoples of this land, as British Columbia had not yet been settled and was not part of British Empire at the time of the Royal Proclamation.7 Indigenous Peoples, including those in BC, however, have used the Royal Proclamation to their advantage in order to assert their sovereignty.8
  • 1. Royal Proclamation, 1763, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson, Occupy Indian Affairs : Native Youth in Action, in Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015), 45.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Royal Proclamation, 1763, Indigenous Foundations.
  • 8. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson, Occupy Indian Affairs : Native Youth in Action, in Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015), 45.

Self Determination

Self-determination means that Indigenous Peoples have the right to make decisions about [their own] political status and development according to [their] beliefs, world views, priorities, traditions and aspirations for the future.1 The political status of Indigenous Peoples is equal to all sovereign peoples across the world.2 Arthur Manuel argues that the remedy against colonial oppression is the right to self-determination.3
Moving forward, Canada must fully recognize Indigenous rights including the right to self-determination, as stated in Article 3 in The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 3 asserts that Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.4 With this recognition, Indigenous Peoples will [also] recognize the fundamental human right of Canadians after hundreds of years, to live [in Canada].5 Indigenous Peoples wish for the freedom to live our relational place-based existence and practice healthy relationships [which] embodies our nationhood.6
  • 1. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Our Inalienable Rights, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 266.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, The International Stage, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 162.
  • 4. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Around the Mulberry Bush, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 146; United Nations, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.
  • 5. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Around the Mulberry Bush, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 146.
  • 6. Rachel Yacaaᘃa∤ George, Inclusion is Just the Canadian Word for Assimilation: Self-Determination and the Reconciliation Paradigm in Canada, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 53.

Settler

Settler is a collective term used to describe those who have immigrated to this land during and after the initial period of colonization. A settler is defined as all people not indigenous to North America who are living on this continent… on stolen land.1 Settlers inherently benefit from the displacement and the assimilation of Indigenous Peoples. However, settlers do not strictly identify with one codifiable set of cultural practices, political, or economic institutions, embodied expressions, or even languages or religions.2 Settlers are multi-ethnic people, encompassing vast disparities of wealth and economic opportunity, huge ranges of education and experience, and a massive variety of ways of identifying with respect to gender, sexuality and other overlapping markers of identity.3
It is imperative to acknowledge that not all settlers are created equal, and that white settlers benefit from the settler state much more than People of Colour. This term also does not apply to Black people who came here as a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and who came here unwillingly. Referring to Black people as settler is anti-black and contributes to the ongoing violence and discrimination that Black people face at the hands of the settler state. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson identifies anti-blackness as one of the pillars of settler colonialism on Turtle Island.4
Identifying as a Settler is saying, We benefit from and are complicit with settler colonialism and therefore are responsible, as individuals and in collectives, for its continued functioning.5 Choosing to identify as a Settler is an empowering action that demonstrates your commitment to making positive and decolonizing change.6 Indigenous Peoples are not asking settlers to move off their land, they are calling for settlers to actively participate in their inherent relationship with Indigenous Peoples and to recognize and respect Indigenous rights to land, sovereignty, and self-determination.
  • 1. Andrea Smith et al., Unsettling Ourselves: Reflections and Resources for Deconstruction Colonial Mentality: a sourcebook compiled by the Unsettling Minnesota collective, September 2009.
  • 2. Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker, Why Say Settler? in Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada (Winnipeg and Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing, 2015), 15.
  • 3. Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker, 'Settling’ Our Differences in Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada (Winnipeg and Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing, 2015), 69.
  • 4. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Introduction, in As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 10.
  • 5. Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker, Why Say Settler? in Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada (Winnipeg and Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing, 2015), 18.
  • 6. Ibid. 19.

Settler Colonialism

Settler colonialism functions through the replacement of Indigenous populations with an invasive settler society that, over time, develops a distinctive identity and sovereignty.1 Canada, the United States, Australia, and South Africa are all examples of settler colonial states.2 Settler colonialism differs from colonialism in that settlers wish to replace the current status of society, rather than ruling it from afar while extracting resources.3 Settler colonialism can be defined by the fact that settler colonizers ‘come to stay'.4 It is also important to acknowledge that the settler colonial invasion is a structure, not an event.5 Settler colonialism is upheld by spatial constructs, power structures, and social narratives.6 These structures allow for settler colonialism to exist today.7 Leanne Betasamosake Simpson asserts that settler colonialism relies on pillars of white supremacy, anti-blackness, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism.8 Arthur Manuel describes [settler] colonialism as not just a behaviour, but as the foundational system in Canada.9
For an in-depth conversation on what it means to be a settler and how settler colonialism has influenced relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, refer to Unsettling Settler Colonialism written by Corey Snelgrove, Rita K. Dhamoon, and Jeff Corntassel.10 Furthermore, Simpson demonstrates how to actively decenter whiteness in order to dismantle settler colonialism in an individual’s own life in As We Have Always Done.
  • 1. Adam Barker and Emma Battell Lowman, Settler Colonialism, Global Social Theory.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ann Bonds and Joshua Inwood, Beyond White Privilege: Geographies of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism, Progress in Human Geography (2015), 1-19.
  • 4. Adam Barker and Emma Battell Lowman, Settler Colonialism, Global Social Theory.
  • 5. To learn more about settler colonialism please refer to J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, A Structure, Not an Event: Settler Colonialism and Enduring Indigeneity, Lateral 5.1 (2016).
  • 6. Adam Barker and Emma Battell Lowman, Settler Colonialism, Global Social Theory.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
  • 9. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, White Supremacy - The Law of the Land, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 62.
  • 10. Corey Snelgrove, Rita K. Dhamoon, and Jeff Corntassel, Unsettling Settler Colonialism: The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society (2014).

Sixties Scoop

In addition to the Indian Residential School system, the Canadian government forcibly removed and adopted out Indigenous children from their homes and communities to non-Indigenous families as part of the assimilation process. Although started long before, this practise accelerated in the 1960s, which is why it is known as the Sixties Scoop.1 This policy furthered the destruction of Indigenous families and communities, and severely damaged the identity of the stolen Indigenous children.2 Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in the Child Welfare system today due to the impacts of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.3
  • 1. Jeff Corntassel, Canada: Portrait of a Serial Killer, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 193-209.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Sixties Scoop. Indigenous Foundations. (2011).

Sovereignty

Sovereignty refers to the condition of political independence and self-government.1 Within an Indigenous context, sovereignty’s foundation is non-interference and mutual respect.2 At the time of contact, Indigenous Peoples were politically independent and self-governing under their own traditional laws.3 Despite this, their sovereignty was ignored and eliminated by the legal fictions of terra nullius and the Doctrine of Discovery.4
The Canadian government has yet to fully recognize Indigenous sovereignty.5 To recognize Indigenous sovereignty is to [embrace] the notion of Nation to Nation relationship, one sovereign entity’s interaction with another sovereign entity.6

Systemic Racism

Systemic Racism refers to racism that is entrenched in established institutions within their policies and practices and1 does not require overt intent.2
There are two variations of systematic racism:
  • Institutional racism refers to the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.3 An example of this is the lack of clean water in Indigenous communities across Canada.
  • Structural racism refers to a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity.4
Systemic racism allows for BIPOC to live under a constant state of exploitation.5
  • 1. Individual and Systemic Racism, Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Sir William Macpherson, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 1999, para 6.34.
  • 4. Structural Racism, Racial Equity Tools.
  • 5. BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Colour; David B. MacDonald, Forgetting to Celebrate Genocide and Social Amnesia as Foundational to the Canadian Settler State, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 159-180.

Terra Nullius

The Latin phrase, terra nullius, means an earth that is null or void.1 Land considered to be Terra Nullius by European colonizers was considered to be empty, waste, or vacant, and thus available for taking.2 This included lands that were occupied by Indigenous Peoples that according to European standards were not being utilized appropriately; the Europeans justified the taking of the land to put the land to better uses.3 Terra Nullius is an element of the Doctrine of Discovery.4
  • 1. Robert J. Miller, Terra Nullius, Encyclopedia of United States Indian Policy and Law, eds. Paul Finkelman & Tim Alan Garrison, (Washington: CQ Press, 2009), 756.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.

Time Immemorial

A period of the distant past not defined by historical dates often used to describe the long-lasting relationship Indigenous Peoples have had with the territories in which they have resided for the entirety of their group’s memory.1

Treaty

Treaties are generally understood by Indigenous Peoples as diplomatic processes for negotiating relations of non-violent and generative co-existence between living beings in shared geographies.1 In contrast, the government of Canada defines treaty as a legal agreement made between the Government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples.2 The treaty process has been abused by the Canadian government as a tool to strip Indigenous title from most of the lands in Canada and has also ignored treaty obligations on many accounts.3 Not only has the government ignored their obligations, but they have also strategically built the treaties to sustain Indigenous dispossession and marginalization.4 There are two different types of treaties, historic and modern.
There are 70 government-recognized historic treaties in Canada, signed between 1701 and 1923.5 In nearly all cases in Canada, the verbal agreements that surrounded the treaties were far different from cession, release, or surrender of land that was put down in writing.6 The signing of historical treaties were quite often coerced, with the colonizers threatening to take the land without purchasing it if the Indigenous Peoples did not agree to the transaction.7 In other cases, Indigenous Peoples were under the impression that they would still be able to use the land, especially in regards to hunting and fishing.8
British Columbia stands out from other Canadian provinces because, other than Treaty 8, in the north-east portion of the province, and the 14 Douglas Treaties on Vancouver Island, Colonial officials offered no treaty to Indigenous peoples before the creation of the colony, land settlement, and confederation with the Dominion in 1871. In 1973, the Calder v. British Columbia Supreme Court case recognized Aboriginal rights, leading to the creation of the Comprehensive Lands Claim Policy and the modern treaty making process.9 Specific land claims address Indigenous grievances over the failure of the federal government to keep promises made to them in the Indian Act, historic treaties or other agreements.10 Whereas comprehensive land claims focus on land title questions regarding unceded territories.11
The process of treaty making remains flawed, with some Indigenous Peoples arguing that the government uses the imagery of treaty making to hide old patterns of colonization including co-optation of Indigenous elites, dispossession through the extinguishment of Indigenous rights and cultural genocide.12 As the treaty relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian state evolves, the recognition of Indigenous rights is essential and treaty rights must be stable, mutually agreed-upon, and [include] shared jurisdiction.13
  • 1. Gina Starblanket, The Numbered Treaties and the Politics of Incoherency, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2019, 2.
  • 2. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Treaties and agreements, Government of Canada, 2018.
  • 3. Anthony Hall and Gretchen Albers, Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2017; Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Risk and Uncertainty, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy, (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 124.
  • 4. Gina Starblanket, The Numbered Treaties and the Politics of Incoherency, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2019, 3.
  • 5. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Treaties and agreements, Government of Canada, 2018.
  • 6. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Occupy Indian Affairs, in Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015), 46.
  • 7. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada’s Residential Schools: The History, Part 1 Origins to 1939: The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Volume 1, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015), 50-51.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Anthony Hall and Gretchen Albers, Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2017
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Anthony Hall and Gretchen Albers, Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2017; Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Risk and Uncertainty, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy, (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 124.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Canada mandated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Schedule N of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the result of several lawsuits against the Canadian government and relevant churches by survivors of the Indian Residential School (IRS) system.1 In 2008, the TRC commenced with a five-year mandate, led initially by Justice Harry S. Laforme of the Ontario Court of Appeal and later chaired by retired Justice, the Honourable Murray Sinclair.2 The Commission’s mandate was later extended and it published its final report in 2015.3 The TRC’s prime objective was to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation.4 The TRC had a big task, to heal the 80,000 survivors of residential schools.5
The Commission released 94 Calls to Action, calling on several actors including the Government of Canada to move towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The TRC took on the responsibility of educating Canadians about the residential school system and asserted that these abuses did not end when residential schools closed, this violence against Indigenous Peoples is part of a larger colonial project that is ongoing.6
  • 1. Paulette Regan, Reconciliation and Resurgence: Reflections on the TRC Final Report, in Indigenous-Settler Relations and Earth Tachings, ed. Michael Asch, John Borrows, and James Tully (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018), 211.
  • 2. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Interim Report.
  • 3. Bob Joseph, Appendix 2: Indian Residential Schools: A Chronology, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 125.
  • 4. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Schedule N of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
  • 5. Bob Joseph, Appendix 2: Indian Residential Schools: A Chronology, in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Port Coquitlam: Indigenous Relations Press, 2018), 125.
  • 6. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015), 45.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the United Nations in 2007.1 Initially, 144 states were in favour, with 4 states against the Declaration including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States - all settler colonial states; these states have since changed their stance and support the Declaration.2 The Declaration recognizes the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources.3 The Declaration contains 46 articles that define and uphold the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples across the world, with specific articles containing language about self-determination and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, which would revolutionize the nation-to-nation relationship Indigenous Peoples have with the Canadian government if it were to be honoured. The implementation of UNDRIP is meant to be the framework for reconciliation for Canada should the Canadian government choose to follow the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.4 You can read UNDRIP here.

White Fragility

White Fragility has been defined by Robin DiAngelo as a state in which even a minimal amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering defensiveness from those who are white, white-passing, or can be considered to be aligned with whiteness.1 Whiteness is often used as a universal reference point for white people to represent humanity, meaning that people consider white to be normal while everyone else is abnormal.2 White people often see non-white perspectives as insignificant. Challenges to this perspective or accusations of racial insensitivity lead to the fragility DiAngelo explores.3
  • 1. Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for White people to talk about racism, Boston: Beacon Press, 2018, 57.
  • 2. Ibid. 59.
  • 3. Ibid. 60.

White Privilege

White Privilege can be best described as a built-in advantage, separate from one’s level of income or effort that is contingent on one’s ethnicity.1 It is not the suggestion that white people have never struggled, or the assumption that everything a white person has accomplished is unearned.2 Whiteness does not define a white person’s identity in the same way that blackness defines a Black person’s identity within the social structures of white supremacy; to not have your skin tone be a definitive characteristic is a privilege. White people are less likely to be followed because they look ‘suspicious’ and their skin tone will not be a reason people hesitate to trust their credit or financial responsibility.3 These are just some examples of advantages that white people have simply because of their skin colour.
Privilege comes in many different forms. Some other examples of privilege include: gendered privilege, socio-economic privilege, and heterosexual privilege.
  • 1. Cory Collins, What is White Privilege, Really?, Teaching Tolerance (2018), 60.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.

White Supremacy

White supremacy is an ideology based upon the belief that white people are superior to people of colour.1 This ideology was brought to North America by colonists and was backed by misguided scientific studies of physical differences on the basis of race.2
White supremacy remains in our world today and is evident in the fact that [white people] maintain a structural advantage over people of color in nearly every aspect of life.3 It is ingrained in our social structure, institutions, our worldviews, beliefs, knowledge, and ways of interacting with each other.4 White supremacy groups still exist in North America; we also see white supremacy in the over-policing of People of Colour and the lack of protection of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls/2 Spirit people in Canada.5 Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour have had their lives forecefully defined by the white supremacist state of the world for generations.6
White supremacy differs from white privilege in that white supremacy more precisely describes and locates white racial domination by underscoring the material production and violence of racial structures and the hegemony of whiteness in settler societies.7 White privilege is the result of social benefits of whiteness granted by the structures and systems of white supremacy.8 Arthur Manuel observes acts of white supremacy in Canada in legislation such as the Indian Act, and the entire reserve system, and further describes Canada as a country built on the dominance of one race over another.9
  • 1. Nicki Lisa Cole, The History of White Supremacy, ThoughtCo., (2019).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Rachel Yacaaᘃa∤ George, Inclusion is Just the Canadian Word for Assimilation: Self-Determination and the Reconciliation Paradigm in Canada, in Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal (ARP Books, 2017), 49-62.
  • 7. Ann Bonds, and Joshua Inwood, Beyond White Privilege: Geographies of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism, Progress in Human Geography 40, no. 6 (2015): 1-19.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, White Supremacy - The Law of the Land, in The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy,(Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd., 2017), 65.
The Colonial Despatches Team. Glossary of terms. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/glossaryIP.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)