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Honouring Indigenous History Month: First Nations  

This week we will continue learning more about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada by learning about First Nations. Each First Nations community has its own unique worldview, culture, and way of being that is rooted in the land of the Nation.  

A Brief History 

Since time immemorial First Nation communities thrived on Turtle Island. In relationship with each other and with the land, First Nation communities established complex political, spiritual, and economical systems. Each community self-governed their territories and developed sophisticated networks among Nations.   

Pre-colonization the geography of the land determined the way of life for First Nation communities. Culture, language, and daily practices were greatly influenced by the landscape and resources of the territory. A strong relationship between peoples and nature was maintained through sustainable living and through honouring wildlife and the land. By living in relationship with the environment, First Nations communities established strong and resilient communities. At the time of European contact there were millions of First Nations across Turtle Island with cultures, identities, governments, and economic systems that were both complex and prosperous. 

However, with the arrival of European settlers in the 1500s, the validity of First Nations’ ways of being were called into question and began to be replaced with Eurocentric values. The occupation of Turtle Island introduced European diseases (such as influenza, smallpox, and typhus) to First Nations communities and had devastating impacts on the culture of First Nations. Colonization demanded assimilation, whether it be through the Indian Act, residential schools, the 60s scoop, or the prohibition of traditional ways of being.  The profound impacts of colonization can be seen in the loss of self-governance, culture, language, community, knowledge, economy, and rights of First Nations communities. This is what current and future reconciliation efforts hope to restore.  

Learn more: 

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has created an Educational Toolkit to learn more about the History of First Nations. Explore some of the toolkit below: 

Read: AFN Plain Talk 2: Pre-Contact 

Read: AFN Plain Talk 3: Impacts of Contact 

Read: AFN Plain Talk 5: Introduction to the Indian Act 

Read: AFN Plain Talk 6: What are Residential Schools? 

Cultural Connections: 

Below are resources sharing culture from multiple First Nations communities. However, with rich diversity among the over 900,000 First Nations in Canada, it is impossible to share resources that encompass all the diverse languages, traditions, worldviews, and ways of being of First Nations in this post. Please feel invited and encouraged to continue learning beyond the resources below. 

Listen: Traditional Stories and Creation Stories 

Watch: Strawberry Moon Teachings with Kim Wheatley (Anishinaabe Ojibway Grandmother) 

Read: The Story of Napi (Piikani) 

Read: About Siksika Nation 

Read: Musqueam’s Story   

Watch: məθkʷəy̓ (Musqueam) 

Watch: Raven Brings the Light by Roy Henry Vickers (Coast Salish)  

Watch: Coast Salish Chronicles of the West End: Gabriel George: Knowledge Holder (Tsleil-Waututh) 

Listen: The Legends of Yamoria and Yamogha (Stephen Kafwi, Songs of the Dene) 

First Nations Storytellers:

Tracey Lindberg 

Waubgeshig Rice 

Richard Wagamese 

Eden Robinson 

Michelle Good 

Things You Should Know: 

1.There are over 60 First Nations languages in Canada.  

There are over 60 First Nations languages in Canada, stemming from 10 distinct language families: Algonquian languages, Athabaskan languages, Siouan languages, Salish languages, Tsimshian languages, Wakashan languages, Iroquoian languages, Tlingit, Kutenai, and Haida.  

2. Powwows are a cultural gathering for many First Nations. 

From spring to fall many First Nations communities gather for powwows, a celebration of First Nations culture through music, dancing, and food. Dancers dress in bright coloured regalia, drum groups circle around the host drum, and then with the ‘Grand Entry’ the powwow will begin. Watch: Indigenous Peoples History Month Pow Wow & Dance Celebration 2022 (Saskatoon) 

3. Each First Nation has its own creation story. 

Each First Nation in Canada has its own creation story. All these stories are believed to be true, as these stories are founded in the land and the history of the Nation’s ancestors. First Nations creation stories and the characters in them vary greatly across Turtle Island.  

Reminder: 

June 1st to June 30th: Share your learning raffle!  

Throughout the month of June all members of our CityU community are invited to participate in the Share Your Learning raffle. Share something that you learn or experience during Indigenous Peoples History Month and/or National Indigenous Peoples Day to be entered to win one of multiple prizes! Use this link to enter the raffle on Google Forms.    

June 19th at 12pm to 1pm PDT: Community Book Reading Braiding Sweetgrass (Virtual) 

Gather with Indigenous Campus Advocate Jalissa Schmidt to share reflections and conversations about Robin Will Kimmerer’s teachings of Indigenous knowledge, relationships, and plants in her book Braiding Sweetgrass.  

This discussion will focus on the introduction and the first half of the section “Planting Sweetgrass”. The book is available through our CityU library, but you don’t have to read the book to attend! All are invited to join the discussion. And, if we want to continue reading this love letter to Mother Earth together, more gatherings will be scheduled! 

Zoom Link: https://cityu-edu.zoom.us/j/82520790128  

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