Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples™

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Harry Daniels The Man Who Put Métis in the Constitution

"Harry Daniels will share with Louis Riel the honor of having introduced the rights of the Métis people in the Constitution of Canada: Riel in s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870, and Harry in S. 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982" [1]


The late Harry Daniels was a “force majeure”. Born on Sept. 16, 1940 in Regina Beach, Saskatchewan, Daniels worked tirelessly on behalf of Métis and non-status Indians at the local, national and international levels for over 40 years. He was also an author, an instructor at the University of Saskatchewan, a staunch practitioner of the Michif language, an actor and, according to family and friends, a man who embraced every opportunity to express his Métis heritage via jigging.

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Topics: Metis

Eskimo identification tags replaced traditional names

“In Inuit tradition, a child is not considered to be a complete person until they receive an atiq or “soulname,” usually given at birth. The construction of a subject’s identity therefore is a complex process involving the historical customs of “naming,” kinship practices, as well as spiritual beliefs. The subject’s identity is thus composed of multiple layers, as the following narrative suggests:

No child is only a child. If I give my grandfather’s atiq to my baby daughter, she is my grandfather. I will call her ataatassiaq, grandfather. She is entitled to call me grandson.” [1]

A note on terminology: In this article we use the term “Eskimo” as it is historically accurate for the subject “Eskimo identification tags”. Eskimo is considered derogatory in Canada but is still in use in Alaska. In Canada the preference is Inuit.   

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Topics: Inuit

Why should you learn to pronounce Indigenous names


It’s becoming more commonplace for formal meetings to begin with an acknowledgement of the traditional or treaty territory on which the meeting is being held. It’s good to see this really positive development on the increase because by doing so signals that you recognize that community’s deep, historical and constitutionally protected connection to the territory.

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Topics: Reconciliation, Indigenous relations

Indian Act and enfranchisement of Indigenous Peoples


Enfranchisement of any First Nation admitted to university (1880 amendment)

99.(1) Any Indian who may be admitted to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, or to

any other degree by any University of Learning, or who may be admitted in any

Province of the Dominion to practise law either as an Advocate or as a Barrister

or Counsellor, or Solicitor or Attorney or to be a Notary Public, or who may enter

Holy Orders, or who may be licensed by any denomination of Christians as a

Minister of the Gospel, may upon petition to the Superintendent-General, ipso

facto become and be enfranchised under the provisions of this Act; and the

Superintendent-General may give him a suitable allotment of land from the lands

belonging to the band of which he is a member. [emphasis added]

The ultimate purpose of enfranchisement (loss of status rights) was to encourage

assimilation/civilization and to reduce the number of *Indians the federal government

was financially responsible for. If you gave up your status you gave up associated rights and benefits.

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Topics: Indian Act

Compilation of resources for Indigenous consultation

When first starting work on a project that may intersect with one or more Indigenous communities there is a mountain of background information that needs to be compiled. If you are new at working with Indigenous communities knowing where to start your research can be overwhelming so we've put together a resources starter kit.

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Topics: Indigenous consultation and engagement

Protecting Indigenous Traditional Knowledge plus an Agreement example

Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (TK) is now a common component of environmental impact assessments and resource management policies. This was not always the case and now that TK is a requirement it poses a significant problem for Indigenous communities – the very real need to protect and preserve the information.  Communities are increasingly inundated with requests for TK studies which put preservation of their TK at risk. Access to Indigenous Traditional Knowledge is a gift, not a right.

Gary Pritchard, an Environmental and Ecological Coordinator with Neegan Burnside Ltd., writes TK agreements for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients. He shares some of his insight here and has also provided a generic TK consent and confidentiality agreement that can be downloaded and adapted.

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Topics: Indigenous relations

Value of Engaging with Indigenous Communities Via Social Media

Early, respectful, transparent and consistent communication with Indigenous communities is the foundation of any good engagement strategy. In order for your project to be fully analysed and considered by an Indigenous community you need to engage with the entire community and that means those who live there as well as those who live elsewhere. Absence from their home community for school or work or other reasons does not mean that absent members are not connected with their home community or don’t have opinions and concerns about development.

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Topics: Indigenous relations

Aboriginal rights, title and the duty to consult - a primer

“ The doctrine of Aboriginal rights exists… because of one simple fact: when Europeans arrived in North America, Aboriginal peoples were already here, living in communities on the land, and participating in distinctive cultures, as they had done for centuries.  It is this fact, and this fact above all others, which separates Aboriginal peoples from all other minority groups in Canadian society and which mandates their special legal status.” – Chief Justice Lamer in R. v. Van der Peet, para 30.

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Topics: Aboriginal Consultation and Engagement

Indigenous cultural competency trainer Criteria

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls-to-Action (CTAs) are galvanizing  the government, corporate and private sectors in Canada to learn about the wrongs of the past and work towards a better future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. The CTAs, released in June 2015, have inadvertently triggered an opportunity for entrepreneurial types to set themselves up as Indigenous awareness and cultural competency providers. The high demand to fulfill the CTAs is creating the opportunity for “new to the field” trainers.

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Topics: Indigenous Awareness

Snapshot of Indian Act denial of status for Indigenous women


“When an Indian woman marries outside the band, whether a non-treaty Indian or a white man, it is in the interest of the Department, and in her interest as well, to sever her connection wholly with the reserve and the Indian mode of life, and the purpose of this section was to enable us to commute her financial interests. The words "with the consent of the band" have in many cases been effectual in preventing this severance….The amendment makes in the same direction as the proposed Enfranchisement Clauses, that is it takes away the power from unprogressive bands of preventing their members from advancing to full citizenship.” [1]

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Topics: Indigenous Awareness