Arts are a way of dealing with issues, building community and sharing windows into first-person experiences in ways that are inclusive and collaborative across generations. Some stories talk about programs that involve community members and students of all ages. Through a variety of mediums including visual arts, literary arts, photography, music, performance arts, multimedia storytelling, traditional crafting and harvesting, these school and community-based initiatives are teaching traditional knowledge, values, language skills and deepening community connections through the arts.
Climate change is impacting Indigenous Peoples and communities across Canada in different ways. The stories in this category describe programs or initiatives that connect people with their lands and culture. Some initiatives teach living-on-the-land skills, and some stories talk about programs that provide training to youth and community members to monitor what is taking place on their lands, balancing Indigenous worldviews, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and scientific knowledge.
Colonialism in Canada included the forced removal, genocide and assimilation of Indigenous people. The stories in this category address the history of colonialism and residential schools and how they have created contemporary challenges and devastating impacts for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. These stories are about building a sense of belonging and building a strong sense of identity as Indigenous people rebuild a connection with their local culture, language, traditions and practices, recognizing that Indigenous peoples have always been here. This collection of stories is from ceded and unceded regions including secondary, post-secondary, and community-based programs from the perspective of Elders, educators, knowledge holders and community organizations.
A sense of cultural identity is important to an individual person’s own self-identity. Cultural identity is a built feeling of belonging that includes understanding the histories, languages, stories and practices of a group. The stories in this category include examples from schools, land-based programs and community initiatives. They involve hands-on opportunities focused on learning language and experiencing cultural activities through traditional teachings and practices. Some are land-based programs and others bring cultural knowledge indoors to combine Indigenous knowledge with other forms of knowledge. Many stories include a focus on cultural knowledge, values and protocols that build intergenerational relationships to show how traditional teachings can offer solutions for present day challenges and demands and build a stronger sense of identity while healing from intergenerational impacts of colonialism and government policies.
Curriculum is the course of study for a certain subject. The stories in this category share a wide range of approaches to learning from land-based experiential land-based learning to classroom learning. They describe projects that teach traditional skills, academic skills and offer culturally appropriate support services in their regional context using a range of methods. Elders and educators support students as they develop relationships, and engage in learning that meets their needs. These stories showcase examples of programs that meet students where they are and attempt to address their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, as consistent within a Medicine Wheel framework in order to foster a desire for learning, to achieve a specific educational goal, or allow students to see themselves in the material they are learning.
Stories in this category are focused on Early Childhood Education and promote the development of cultural knowledge and language for young children, from birth to six years old and their families and caregivers, in a safe, supportive setting. Programs include Headstart, early years and family literacy, licensed child care, family resource, prenatal, Early On, and early years outreach. The goals of these programs include bonding, culture and language development, learning traditional crafts, cultural development, confidence, walking proudly in two words as they prepare to enter kindergarten, health, nutrition, and adapted programs through an Indigenous lens, focused on teaching parents and caregivers to use literacy as a way to connect with their children. Additional goals include speech and language support, teaching a foundational knowledge of Indigenous ways of knowing and being to Indigenous children and families, and outreach to schools and community partners.
Stories in this category document some of the ways Elders are involved in the creation and delivery of programs to support Indigenous people. Several Elders share stories of trauma from their experiences of attending residential schools and the barriers they have faced as a result of the ongoing impacts of colonialism, and share how they came to assume leadership roles in their communities. Elders and allies share experiences of building relationships, community, and appreciation of Indigenous culture, which has changed dramatically over time. They also bring attention to the need to value Elder’s time through culturally appropriate and financial ways. Elders bring knowledge of language, history, relationship to land, stories, ceremony, spirituality and culture and these stories show their integral role in developing, teaching and offering support and knowledge for programs at the community, public school and post-secondary levels.
Stories in this category are all about relationships to the natural world. Some stories show how Traditional Ecological Knowledge can support proper land-use planning, healing, and how several organizations and programs blend together Indigenous ways of knowing with Western scientific knowledge to create programs and initiatives that monitor and attempt to mitigate environmental impacts of humans through an Indigenous understanding of the land, resources and people. These stories demonstrate the importance of establishing control over jurisdictional authority in order to promote and enhance environmental management in Indigenous communities in ways that reflect Indigenous understandings of responsibility and relationship in accordance with the way of the land, including using plants and medicines, and taking advice from Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
The stories in this category are about harvesting, preparing and consuming traditional foods such as wild rice, blueberries, acorn, maple syrup, maple sugar, fish, wild meat, using traditional methods and also newer technologies and tools. Food preparation in these stories is done in fun, experiential, often family or community-based ways that allow for the transmission of knowledge between generations, the strengthening of community pride, human health, and ultimately survival. Those interviewed share stories of food practices and draw attention to issues of food security through contrasts between bush food which is harvested and hunted, and town food, which contains additives and costs money. Several of these programs address the need to understand the land, develop technical skills, and also to be able to adapt based on changes like governmental policies, weather, and other factors that impact an ability to survive through traditional Indigenous food practices.
The organizational system of people is referred to as governance, which can include laws, language, traditions, and knowledge systems that guide people in their actions. The stories in this category include programs designed to offer guidance and reconnect people to traditional knowledge systems, to develop policy and resources, and to provide leadership. The programs showcased in this category discuss principles and laws that provide structure and support for Indigenous people and their lands, including youth, adults, elders, teachers and researchers and include post-secondary programs as they gain leadership in order to actualize change.
The stories in this category include programs that teach traditional skills including harvesting. Some of the harvesting include materials such as animal hides and others focus on harvesting foods such as wild rice, blueberries, acorn, maple syrup, maple sugar, fish, wild meat, using traditional methods and also newer technologies and tools. These skills promote food security and develop land-based traditional survival skills, while also building community connections. Harvesting from the land also teaches participants about reciprocal relationships that exist between humans and all living things, and about a way of life and a knowledge system that sees humans as part of creation, which emphasizes the need to give back when something is taken. The programs include teaching about respect when taking life and deepening a connection with land and food.
Stories in this category are focused on reconnecting participants to a strong sense of self through spiritual practices, traditional ceremonies, relearning language and traditions, and understanding history, which can all be used to promote healing from past traumas. Stories include experiences at all stages and ages of life and are focused on reclaiming knowledge that has been lost or suppressed due to the history of colonization.
Stories in this category focus on recognizing past events of Indigenous people and understanding how they relate to contemporary experiences. Looking at past experiences can provide insight into how to move forward and these programs aim to strengthen a sense of belonging and self-identity and raise awareness of, and an appreciation for relationships with land, including traditional knowledge, medicines, survival and Indigenous ways of life. These stories focus on experiential learning, arts-based programming, and policy and show the vital importance of knowing where you are from in order to know where you are going.
Land-based learning is education, community and skills building or training that takes place outdoors in particular places of local significance, often on traditional Indigenous territories. The stories in this category are about harvesting, hunting, trapping, fishing, medicine gathering and teachings, learning bush survival skills, traditional land-based scientific knowledge and culture and are aimed at educators, students, youth, and adult community members, and often involve Elders and Knowledge Keepers as teachers. The importance of building relationships and the bonding that occur on the land is emphasized, both with participants and educators as well as relationships with non-human relations. The land-based programs occur in all seasons including spring, summer, fall and winter.
Leadership means guiding a group of people, so stories in this category include topics of leadership and governance and highlight programs that foster a sense of pride and belonging and to promote wellbeing, driven by a community need to promote leaders from within to promote several levels of community engagement and create change. Stories show how an understanding of history and intergenerational trauma allows participants to understand their context and to consider the ways they can contribute to the betterment of their community. Several programs focus on fostering resiliency as participants prepare for leadership roles, whatever they may look like. Opportunities exist for participants to receive support to recognize the knowledge they already have, see their own potential, and eventually to become mentors for other participants. Stories in this category focus on the value of knowledge transmission in order to create the next generation of knowledge keepers.
Languages are native to a particular region, and there are more than 70 Indigenous languages across what is now called Canada and some are on the verge of extinction. However, many people have lost their traditional language due to the residential school system which punished people for speaking their languages and other intergenerational impacts and government policies. Indigenous languages are important as they tell stories, protocols, laws, family histories, and ways of knowing and worldviews that cannot otherwise be translated. The extensive number of stories in this category focus on language acquisition, revitalization, restoration, and resurgence and include language classes, immersion, workshops, curriculum development, and use a variety of techniques including total physical response, Native American Hand Signs, ACTFL, reading, writing, speaking, documentation, self-study, and music. Language teachers emphasize the need for language fluency as well as academic understandings of language etymology for a language to evolve, and encourage students to use the language in the real world as well as during their classes in order to become language speakers. Stories in this category include First Nations, Metis, Inuit languages. Languages may include: Algonquin, Cree, Dënesutine, English, French, Innu, Inuktitut, Maliseet, Michif, North Slavey, Oji-Cree, Ojibway, and/or Saulteaux.
Stories in this category focus on policing, security, violence reduction, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, addictions and mental health, and many describe projects that work with justice-involved participants. Methods that are discussed include restorative justice, sharing circles, diversion programs, healing, ceremony, service navigation, etc. which aim to keep people out of the justice system, and rather resolve legal matters within the community. These stories highlight the importance of community embeddedness to understand the cultural context and learn from Elders and community members through processes such as cultural competency training and understanding the role of ceremony to value how the justice systems already work within communities.
Stories in this category support participants to establish routines, learn life skills and gain confidence and a sense of belonging, ability, and autonomy to achieve goals, objectives and an overall sense of wellbeing through programs that are steeped in cultural ways of knowing. Methods include cultural inquiry, personal life planning, service navigation, land-based programming, and sharing culture and ceremony in order to help participants to increase their pride, and see their potential. Other programs work to dispel myths about Indigenous people in relation to homelessness and addictions. Participants in this category include children, youth, and adults.
Many programs in this category offer embedded literacy activities that go hand in hand with cultural practices in order to both develop literacy skills and to keep culture alive through intergenerational knowledge transfer. Participants in this category are developing 21st century competencies, critical literacy skills, and are responding to and exploring texts to make meaning of the world around them through and to hear and share authentic first-person stories and experiences and to situate themselves within a historical context.
Stories in this category are focused on traditional medicine, including gathering, preparing, healing, and understanding the climate and environmental impacts on traditional healing practices. Several programs are delivered through land-based experiences to help participants to learn how to identify traditional plants and medicines. These stories highlight the importance of transferring traditional knowledge to the next generation, as it is essential to the healing of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, as many pharmaceutical drugs contain traditional medicines or synthesized versions of these medicines. Some stories also focus on Indigenous representation in the medical field in order to increase the representation of Indigenous knowledge and peoples and also to increase knowledge of Indigenous medicinal and healing practices by non-Indigenous medical practitioners.
Methods used include ‘train the trainer,’ mentorship programs, secondary school and community training programs, and professional programs and certificates. Many programs blend both Indigenous and Western ways of knowing to support participants in seeing their own culture’s knowledge systems as being important to solving contemporary challenges.
Reconciliation in the Canadian context refers to restoring relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and seeking justice from the wrongdoings perpetuated through colonization. Reconciliation includes telling and listening to the truth, and seeking reparations and justice through healing and forgiveness. Stories in this category include personal accounts and projects that contain a goal of moving forward reconciliation within their project objectives. Many of the stories focus on reclaiming knowledge that has been lost or suppressed due to the history of colonization and residential schools, including reconnecting with languages, stories, laws, protocols, traditions and ceremonies as a way of restoring power to nations and individuals.
Residential schools in Canada were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Western culture. Children were removed from their families and placed in church-run schools, were forced to stop speaking their languages, and experienced widespread physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996. Stories in this category discuss the impact of residential schools on their participants and communities, and thorough their programming, attempt to restore knowledge and a sense of pride in Indigenous ways of knowing and doing.
Sciences attempt to theorize and test theories about the world. Many of the stories in this category weave together Indigenous knowledge Western scientific knowledge to show the importance of both forms of knowledge to be able to effectively and accurately monitor, mitigate and restore damaged environments that have been impacted by human activity. These stories provide participants with tools, knowledge and resources to learn to observe and experience issues in the world around them and include examples of land-based learning, classroom learning and community-based programs. Several stories use Indigenous cultural examples to illustrate engineering and problem solving so the scientific learning is culturally significant. The stories are from the perspective of program leaders, Elders and participants sharing their reflections on the aims and successes of their programs.
Student support is integral to their success so the stories in this category attempt to explain the ways in which support is offered, as well as the ways in which success is measured. Stories in this category mainly include elementary, secondary, post-secondary and adult learning programs to support students in navigating non-Indigenous institutions and achieving success in terms of program completion and participant satisfaction. Other stories focus on community-based programs designed to embed Indigenous knowledge throughout the model to support participants to achieve the goals of the program by offering culturally-responsive pedagogy. Several stories are about bringing Indigenous knowledge to non-Indigenous audiences in order to build success in terms of reconciliation and deepening understandings.
Teacher training is any program designed to instruct educators. Stories in this category include programs designed to integrate Indigenous knowledge into non-Indigenous teacher training programs as well as those that are built on Indigenous ways of knowing. Several stories include indigenous educator’s perspectives and outline how they attempt to integrate Indigenous ways of knowing throughout the provincial curriculum or their organization’s educational programming. Educators speaking in this category emphasize the need for Indigenous students to see themselves represented in everyday society, and throughout the curriculum, and emphasize the need for all students to understand the history of Indigenous people in this country.
Traditional knowledge refers to the knowledge, skills and practices that originally existed in a particular place and continues to shape the local context for Indigenous people. Because of colonization, many Indigenous people were separated from their traditional knowledge systems, so stories in this category focus on programs designed to revitalize traditional knowledge systems including language, history, relationship to land, crafting, arts, storytelling, music, ceremony, spirituality and cultural traditions. Stories in this category focus on the importance of intergenerational learning, and Elders are a key component to passing knowledge from one generation to the next. Stories in this category also convey the importance of valuing Indigenous knowledge in order to solve contemporary issues as Indigenous knowledge systems can provide insight into a more interconnected understanding of the environment.
Treaties are agreements that exist between two nations. In the context of Canada, treaties were established between Indigenous nations and the Crown and although there have been changes throughout history, treaties continue to form the legal relationship between many Indigenous communities and the federal government in Canada. Stories in this category discuss some of the rights and responsibilities of treaties, as well as showcase how some communities are working to assert treaty rights, and bring attention to the ways in which many treaties have not been upheld by the Canadian government. Stories in this category highlight historical and contemporary implications of treaty relationships, and use wampum belts and treaty documents to help people to think about their role as treaty partners toward better relations.
Stories in this category include examples of reclaiming Indigenous knowledge and traditional practices to address health issues, and promote wellness. Through culture, traditions and protocols, stories in this category aim to promote healing, empowerment, and substance-free living in culturally relevant ways to increase ability, autonomy, a sense of belonging, and an overall sense of wellbeing for participants.