Indigenous History Month

Animated group image of Indigenous Peoples

Western University is located on Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Lunaape and Chonnonton territorities, in connection with the Sombra and London Township Treaties. Southwestern Ontario is also part of the Dish with One Spoon wampum covenant between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe. It is important to know the Treaties and Indigenous Nations where you live, as without Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, Canada could not have come to be. June is nationally recognized as Indigenous History Month and is a great opportunity to learn more about our shared histories in what is now known as Canada. We put together some resources using suggestions and activities from the government of Canada website, but there is lots more than what is here to continue to learn! 

What is Indigenous History Month? 

Indigenous History Month was declared in 2009 and is a time to celebrate and recognize the histories of Indigenous Peoples, as well as acknowledge and appreciate the positive impact that Indigenous communities continue to have on Canadian society. Indigenous communities have diverse Nations, languages and cultures and Indigenous History Month is the perfect opportunity to dedicate some time to learning and unlearning, diversify your social media feeds, or discover a local Indigenous vendor.  

To learn more about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, click on the accordion below.

How can I celebrate Indigenous History Month? 

Check out the resources below and consider how you might participate in Indigenous History Month on campus, in London, or in your own community this year! 

Complete this 30-Day Challenge! 

To learn a little bit more about Indigenous history each day, we encourage you to try this 30-Day Challenge organized by Western’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives. 

References 

Government of Canada, National Indigenous History Month: https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1466616436543/1534874922512 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf  

The History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Where can I learn more about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada? 

 

First Nations History 

Indigenous history from the perspectives of First Nations in Canada. 

 

Métis History 

Indigenous history from the perspectives of Métis in Canada. 

 

Inuit History 

Indigenous history from the perspectives of Inuit in Canada. 

 

Canadian Museum of History: First Peoples of Canada 

This virtual exhibition looks at some facets of the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, underlining their reclamation of cultures and languages and indicating the wealth of their modern-day contributions. It is based largely on information and artifacts presented in the First Peoples Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Neither pretends to be a comprehensive presentation of the history of all the Native groups in Canada. Rather, aspects of cultural identity are explored through four themes: the diversity of Indigenous cultural expression; how Indigenous Peoples have contributed to present-day Canada; the adaptation of traditional lifestyles to different environments across Canada; and the impact of the arrival and settlement of Europeans over the last 500 years. 

 

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 played an important role in laying the foundation for First Nation rights, the treaty-making process and the relationship between First Nations and the Crown. 

 

Treaties & Agreements 

Learn about historic and modern Treaties in Canada, treaty rights and the treaty relationship. 

 

Indigenous Contributions to the War of 1812 

First Nations warriors and Métis fighters played important roles defending British territories in the War of 1812 against invading American forces. 

 

Indigenous Veterans 

Commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ contributions to the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and during the post-war years. 

 

Residential Schools 

Over 150,000 Indigenous children were removed and separated from their families and communities to attend residential schools. Recently, a mass grave at the site of a Residential School in Kamloops uncovered the bodies of 215 children. While most of the 139 Residential Schools ceased to operate by the mid-1970s, the last federally run school closed in 1996. In May 2006, the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement was approved by all parties to the Agreement. The implementation of the Settlement Agreement began in September 2007 with the aim of bringing a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of Residential Schools. 

 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action 

In order to redress the legacy of Indian Residential Schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made a list of Calls to Action. 

 

Indigenous Peoples Day 

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First NationsInuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples. 

 

Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. 

 

In consultation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21, the summer solstice, for National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. For generations, many Indigenous Peoples and communities have celebrated their cultures and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year. 

Indigenous Authors & Themes

Discover Indigenous Authors & Themes at the Book Store

Find the whole collection by visiting The Book Store! 

 21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality By: Bob Joseph 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants By: Robin Wall Kimmerer 

Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s first Treaty Indigenous Player By: Fred Sasakamoose 

Five Little Indians By: Michelle Good 

From The Ashes By: Jesse Thistle 

Highway of Tears By: Jessica McDiarmid 

Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips & Suggestions to make Reconciliation a Reality By: Bob Joseph 

Johnny Appleseed By: Joshua Whitehead 

Marrow Thieves By: Cherie Dimaline 

A Mind Spread Out On The Ground By: Alicia Elliott 

One Drum: Stories and Ceremoines for a Planet By: Richard Wagamese  

The Only Good Indians By: Stephen Graham Jones 

Orange Shirt Day: September 30th By: Orange Shirt Society 

Phyllis’s Orange Shirt By: Phyllis Webstad 

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine By: Joanna Jolly 

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World By: Tyson Yunkaporta 

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City By: Tanya Talaga 

The Sharing Circle: Stories about First Nations Culture By: Theresa Meuse-Dallien 

Indigenous-Owned Businesses

Visit a Local Indigenous-Owned Shop or Business
Atlohsa Gifts109-343 Richmond Street 

Shop unique Indigenous gifts from handcrafted local artisans to Pendleton, Manitobah Mukluks and more. 

 

Bear’s Den Native Crafts: 1712 Dundas Street 

Bear’s Den Native Crafts is owned and operated by Daniel N. Pelletier (Megisa Magawa Tick) and his family. We carry many unique Native Crafts, Bear & Minigan Salve, Jewllery, Sage & Sweetgrass, Animal Skulls, Furs, Moccasins and much more.  

 

N’Amerind Friendship Centre: 260 Colborne St 

The N’Amerind Friendship Centre is a non-profit organization committed to the promotion of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual well-being of native people and in particular, urban native people. 

The commitment is realized through the implementation of culturally relevant programs aimed at social recreational and educational needs; at developing leadership, at increasing awareness levels of native heritage, establishing resources for community development and in promoting the development of urban aboriginal self-governing institutions. 

 

OtsitsidesignsOneida Nation of the Thames 

Rebecca Doxtator’s intricate work brings a mix of traditional beadwork style with a pop culture twist. 

Activities

Indigenous History Month Activities

Learn How to Weave 

Indigenous Peoples use weaving to make many things. For instance, the Iroquois weave corn leaves to make sacred masks and the Haida weave spruce roots to make baskets and cedar bark to make hats. Other well-known articles are also made by weaving or braiding, such as Inuit or First Nations snowshoes or the traditional Métis sash.  

By using this weaving technique, you can make bracelets, headbands, belts or decorations. If you persevere, you'll pick up the technique and your weaving will become increasingly beautiful. 

You'll need four strands of embroidery thread in different colours, each strand about 1 metre long. Rank the colours in whatever order appeals to you. For your first attempt, however, we suggest you stay with the order in the weaving example: yellow, blue, green and red. 

Check out this Step-by-Step Guide to braiding a beautiful bracelet. 

 

Host a Trivia Night 

Organize a virtual trivia night with your family and friends using this Trivia Activity! How much do you think you already know about Indigenous cultures? Try Backyard or Google Meet if you need a break from Zoom! 

 

Learn Indigenous Languages 

Learn how to say “thank you” in Cree along with other words from different Indigenous languages using this Word Search! 

 

Cook Indigenous Style 

For more than thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have cultivated many different kinds of corn! For example, by the 1500s, the Iroquois were growing 150 varieties of corn, which were used for food and trade. This grain that we find so frequently on our plates was the basis of Indigenous Peoples diet for a very long time.  

Pumpkins, squash and beans are also foods grown traditionally by many different Indigenous Nations across the continent as well as raspberries, blueberries and wild cherries.  

Some Indigenous Peoples use dried berries to mix in with dried meat and fat to make pemmican, a food that could be stored for a long time. 

All these foodstuffs enabled Indigenous Peoples to prepare some delicious dishes. Try out a Fried Bread recipe or test out a Coureur des bois casserole using these Cooking Instructions. 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure! 

You and your family and friends can celebrate Indigenous History Month with all kinds of activities. When planning your activities, we strongly suggest you get some advice from an Indigenous person or organization. Check out this Guide to help get you started on planning your own activities and celebrations!