Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples™

Let this blog be your guide

A look at First Nations Prohibition of alcohol 

The Indian Act Prohibited the sale of alcohol to First Nations (1884 - 1985)


“Every one who by himself, his clerk, servant or agent, and every one who in the employment or on the premises of another directly or indirectly on any pretense or by any device,

(a) sells, barters, supplies or gives to any Indian or non-treaty Indian, or to any person male or female who is reputed to belong to a particular band, or who follows the Indian mode of life, or any child of such person any intoxicant, or causes or procures the same to be done or attempts the same or connives thereat…..

….shall, on summary conviction before any judge, police magistrate, stipendiary magistrate, or two justices of the peace or Indian agent, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and not less than one month, with or without hard labour, or to a penalty not exceeding three hundred dollars and not less than fifty dollars with costs of prosecution, or to both penalty and imprisonment in the discretion of the convicting judge, magistrate, justices of the peace or Indian agent.” [1]

Note on terminology: in this article we use the term "Indian" as it is the term used in the Indian Act. 

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Topics: Indian Act

The Constitution Express and Its Role in Entrenching Aboriginal Rights


"I would rather pass onto my grandchildren the legitimacy of the struggle than to leave them with a settlement they can't live with." Grand Chief George Manuel, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (1979-1981)

This is a snapshot of an extraordinary, passionate, grassroots Aboriginal movement in Canadian history that altered the direction of the Constitution Act 1982 to ensure Aboriginal rights were included. This article is brief so if people are interested in learning the backstory to the Constitution Express I suggest they read Unsettling Canada A National Wake-Up Call by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson for the backstory of the Constitutional Express.

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Topics: Aboriginal History

11 Attributes of an Effective Indigenous Relations Practitioner

The ideal Indigenous Relations Practitioner (IRP) has the ability required to fulfill the mandate of the organization while developing a positive working relationship with Indigenous leaders, communities, and organizations. They will have the skills to build within the Indigenous leaders and communities an understanding of the organization’s business and values and to build within the organization an understanding of the challenges and interests of Indigenous Peoples and communities.

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Topics: Indigenous relations

Christopher Columbus and the Doctrine of Discovery - 5 Things to Know

The Doctrine of Discovery was used by European monarchies, beginning in the mid-fifteenth century, as a means of legitimizing the colonization of lands outside of Europe. It was issued in 1493, the year after Christopher Columbus arrived on the shores of what is now known as North America. The Doctrine of Discovery continues to impact Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.

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Topics: Aboriginal History

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