Forest Fires and Indigenous Communities

The severity and impact of forest fires dominate the headlines every summer. In 2016, the Fort McMurray, Alberta, wildfire invoked the largest mass evacuation in Canadian history, with nearly 90,000 people forced from their homes. Many of the evacuees were Indigenous from urban areas and reserves.

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Why Continuity of Indigenous Cultural Identity Is Critical

Pow wow dancers. Photo: Marc Lautenbacher, Flickr

We all belong to some form of culture and identify with that culture to varying degrees. Our understanding of our own cultural identity begins at birth and is developed by the environment in which we grow up. It may be a loose affiliation or the guide that directs our daily activities. Whatever the connection, our cultural identity provides a sense of belonging.

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Debunking Misconceptions About First Nation Totem Poles

Photo: Shutterstock

There’s lots of lore and misconceptions about First Nation totem poles. In this article, we address six of the more common misconceptions.

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What are Gladue Reports?

Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Canada, Photo: Unsplash

Indigenous people account for less than five percent of the Canadian population, yet represent 25 percent of the total inmate population. Canada is not alone, however, in having an over-representation of Indigenous inmates. In Australia and New Zealand, the rate of incarceration of Indigenous people is also disproportionately high.

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Canada’s Complicated History with First Nation Totem Poles

Alert Bay, B.C, 1920. Photo: Jack R. Wrathall / Library and Archives Canada / PA-095510

Canada has a complicated history with the totem pole. Totems have been misunderstood, coveted, stolen, quashed, copied, and celebrated.

The first recorded mention of a pole, which was a house pole, was on Langara Island in the Haida village of Dadans, c.1790, by John Bartlett, who wrote:

“We went ashore where one of their winter houses stood. The entrance was cut out of a large tree and carved all the way up and down. The door was made like a man's head and the passage the house was between his teeth and was built before they knew the use of iron."

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Communications with Indigenous leaders - Letter Writing Tips

Photo: Unsplash

When communicating cross-culturally there are certain sensitivities around the language used in the letter and expectations placed on the recipient of the letter. In this article we focus on some guidelines for writing a letter to request a meeting with an Indigenous leader and provide some tips, as well as some do’s and don’ts.

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What is Indigenous Identity?

By Bob Joseph

Photo: Unsplash

We identify ourselves in many ways - by gender, generation, ethnicity, culture, religion, profession/employment, nationality, locality, language, hobby (biker, equestrian, knitter etc) and so on. We rarely identify ourselves in one category - it’s usually a combination of identities.

Identifying as an Indigenous person brings additional layers, complexities, and considerations. The added layers of identity can include, but are not limited to: whether or not a person has status, which nation, band, clan, tribal council or treaty office they belong to, and whether or not they live in their home community or have migrated to an urban centre.

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The Indian Act vs Self-Determination

Photo: Shutterstock

In recent decades there has been significant pressure to address historical Indian Act issues. That pressure has been imposed by the combination of increasingly organized and effective political actions by various Aboriginal groups, and the series of Supreme Court of Canada decisions mostly arising out of British Columbia that established the validity of the concepts of unextinguished Aboriginal title and Aboriginal rights of self-determination. Band Chiefs and Councils, other Aboriginal leaders across the country, and human rights leaders have called for increased Aboriginal autonomy from the federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (as of December 2017 the ministry was split into two departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Department of Indigenous Services) and the Indian Act.

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Definition of Smudging to Indigenous Protocol - Our Top 10 articles in 2017

In 2017, we had just over 816,000 visitors to our blog Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples® looking for information on a wide variety of topics related to Indigenous Peoples. Here are the top 10 most read articles from the past year, arranged with the most read first. 

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7 Not So Secret Advantages of First Nations Radio

By Juanita Muwanga

Photo: Shutterstock

Gimaa radio CHYF 88.9, which broadcasts from M'chigeeng First Nation, started as a dream of the late Carl Beam, an internationally known Indigenous artist whose works dealt with colonialism, language, and the spirit. As a child he was sent to Garnier Residential school and learned firsthand the power of language, and what happens to a people when their own are denied them.

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