Tag Archives: Human Rights

Being Informed About First Nations Social Issues

On November 3, I had the fortunate experience to take a group of students to We Day, where National Chief, Perry Bellegarde presented.  screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-11-19-05-pmThe main issues that he wants to address as National Chief, includes the preservation of First Nations’ languages, education, treaty rights and economic prosperity. As an educational mentor to more than 70 leadership students at my school, I feel that it is important to learn with my students Aboriginal social issues, and come up with strategies in how we can help make changes to better the conditions.  Before I lead my students to make change to help others with the healing process, however, I need to first educate myself.  I’m starting off with a very basic question:  What are the social issues that are endured by First Nations communities?  The posts that I am entering for this blog that I am completing for this module will help lead me towards the road to discovery in finding the answers to my question.


The First Nations Profiles Interactive Map screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-3-23-39-pm

To help myself answer this question, I first wanted to get a better understanding of how many different First Nations communities there are in Canada.  On the Government Of Canada Website, is a First Nations Profiles Interactive Map which gives viewers a geographical visual of the various First Nations communities across Canada.  The map also shows the tribal councils attached to the communities, and when zoomed in, the area of each of the reservations can be viewed.  A link to the Inuit Community Profiles Interactive Map can also be accessed, as well, links to websites of the various First Nations communities are listed to determine services available within the communities.  What is not listed on the map is what various languages are spoken within the communities, nor is the population of the communities.  This information would be helpful for example, to develop a better understanding of the amount of supplies needed for the community members if they are in remote or isolated communities.


Educating Myself

Two websites I found to give me an overview of issues include:

  1. The Centre of Social Justice cites general social issues endured by First Nations communities.  screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-12-27-amAlthough the statistics are nearly 20 years outdated, the issues are well outlined and a good starting point for research.  Of the issues mentioned include: poverty/inequality, lack of access to health care, unemployment barriers, lack of sensitivity and inclusiveness in the education system, and the restriction of civil and political rights.

2. Aboriginal Issues in Canada is a Western University project, created iscreen-shot-2016-11-12-at-9-30-36-amn 2015.  It is a slideshare video posted on Canada News which acknowledges the various issues that Canadian First Nations communities are confronted with.  This video would be a great resource to show students as an introduction to the Aboriginal issues.  It is not long, and the statistics are current.

Canada News has many archived videos on Aboriginal issues.


A Deafening Silence on Aboriginal Issues screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-11-21-14-am

is an article written by Nancy Macdonald, and published in Macleans magazine September 30, 2015.  The article reviews issues such as violent victimization, suicide, and missing women.  Of particular interest to me was the discussion of Government involvement.  This article was written in the brink of the National election and the article quotes the promises of Canada’s political parties to dedicate finances and resources to help Indigenous peoples.  Bellegarde is directly quoted in the article, mentioning the $110 million that has been spent in court battles on First Peoples rights.  Wouldn’t this money be better spent on solving the problems?  Change, according to Murray Sinclair, will not happen overnight, but occur “in neighbourhood by neighbourhood, street by street, and family by family.”


First Peoples Potable Water Issue

Of particular interest to me is the issue of access to potable water within the various First Peoplesscreen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-02-38-pm communities. An article written in the Huff Post on March 9, 2016 by Jessica Chin, titled Canada First Nations Water Issue To Be Fixed: UN, discusses the issue, statistics and politics around access to potable water.  Chin cites the United Nations calling upon Prime Minster Trudeau to address the issue because of Human Rights and cultural concerns.  Not having all weather roads is a factor contributing to not have access to water.  However, access to fresh drinking water is not a problem only to remote or isolated communities but also to those who live on reservations in the lower mainland.  The Semiahmoo Nation for example, has become vocal in local media asking for help to solve their water concern.  An article can be found here.  A summative report written by David R. Boyd, Ph.D., J.D, titled, No Taps, No Toilets: First Nations and the Constitutional Right to Water in Canada contends that the rights of particular Nations from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta “are being violated by the government’s failure to provide safe drinking water, an essential service which is vital to life, health, and human dignity.”  Therefore, it will be interesting to see within the next few years how the government plans to take action in correcting his human rights concern.

The Borneo Project



Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 7.42.22 AM

This is a very well crafted website that aims to bring the concerns and culture of the indigenous people of Borneo.  Their mission is to bring“… international attention and support to community-led efforts to defend forests, sustainable livelihoods, and human rights. We believe that protecting human rights and environmental integrity in Borneo is a critical component of the global movement for a just and peaceful world.”  This site has a wealth of information about these issues and uses multimedia, in the form of web series and online documentaries, to express that these people have about the world they live in.  They focus mainly on the preservation of the natural ecosystem of Borneo and indigenous education but also have, in the past, brought up the problem of human rights issues that their peoples have faced.

Module 4: Post #5- Indigenous and Education Issues

On further research into curriculum and resources to teach students about human rights and ways to break down stereotypes and racism towards Aboriginal communities, led me to the explore the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (https://humanrights.ca/).

This then took me to the following website, Speak Truth to Power Canada (http://sttpcanada.ctf-fce.ca/) which includes links to different defenders for Human Rights.

Below are links to biographies, interviews, resources and lesson plans from three Aboriginal Leaders.

Lesson Plans


Wilton LittleChild, Ph.D, Cree Chief, Residential School Survivor and Lawyer

– Truth and Reconciliation resources


Mary Simon, Advocate for Inuit Rights and Culture

– Cultural Identity and Education resources

“Respect each other. Doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re an Inuk, a First Nations, Métis, French Canadian, English Canadian, or somebody from another country. Respect each other, each other’s culture, each other’s identity, and accommodate the differences. It’s a big world.” (Mary Simon,  http://sttpcanada.ctf-fce.ca/lessons/mary-simon/interview/)


Karihwakè:ron Tim Thompson, of the Mohawk Nation’s bear clan at Wahta Mohawk Territory, advocate for Indigenous and Education Issues

– Equitable Education for All resources

Module 4: Post #1- Organizations Working Towards Human Rights

It is encouraging and exciting to learn about different organizations involved in teaching different aspects of Indigenous culture and history and working towards making a difference in terms of education, empathy and understanding. Most importantly, Indigenous people are involved and active in these organizations.

Here is a list of some organizations that seem to be helping to make a difference.

http://www.fncaringsociety.com/ The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

  • information on how to get involved in your community and make a difference for equal opportunities to succeed

http://projectofheart.ca/teacher-guideslesson-plans/– Lesson plans created by FNCFCS to teach about social justice issues  

http://projectofheart.ca/Project of Heart

  • created by Sylvia Smith to commemorate the Indigenous children who died in residential schools and to find ways to take action and form relationships between Indigenous and non Indigenous people.

http://projectofheart.ca/history/ Teaches empathy through history

http://www.kairoscanada.org/ KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives (unites eleven churches and religious organizations)

  • pursues ecological justice and equal rights

http://www.kairoscanada.org/dignity-rights/indigenous-rights/blanket-exercise/Kairos Blanket Exercise

  • A simulation exploring relationships between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Participants role play First nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples with blankets representing land to understand the impact of land colonization

** It is recommended that the The Blanket Exercise should always be followed by a talking circle and to be aware that it will likely raise deep emotions. Local First Nations, Métis or Inuit individuals or representatives should be invited to the workshop to honour the traditional territory, to teach, and to begin to build a relationship. (http://sttpcanada.ctf-fce.ca/lessons/wilton-littlechild/activities/)

http://www.legacyofhope.ca/ Legacy of Hope Foundation

  • raises Awareness of the Legacy of Residential Schools and the impacts on First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples