Author Archives: donna-marie hamilton




This site embodies the sacredness of water and the need to restore the balance that was lost because newcomers overlooked traditional knowledge and teachings about the importance of water, land, and the environment.  It seeks to restore “water ethics,” traditional knowledge, and knowledge keepers. The documentary argues for returning to the Elders’ teachings that follow the importance of taking care of the environment. Respecting everything in the environment, the trees, the birds, all the animals and the water will leave a good legacy for seven generations to come.




8th Fire tells the story of Aboriginal peoples; it  “draws from an Anishinaabe prophecy that declares now is the time for Aboriginal peoples and the settler community to come together and build the ‘8TH Fire’ of justice and harmony.”  It shows the different ways that Aboriginal people are using the land to forge economic relationships to sustain their communities. There are many features in this site like an interactive map that outlines treaties and land claims in Canada. It examines the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada.There are videos like Aboriginal 101 and many others that tackle different issues around the interactions of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.  The hyperlinks are great for finding out about Aboriginal people who are movers and shakers in their communities like Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band Chief and entrepreneur, inducted into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame.



This New York Times article discusses the initiatives and solidarities of Indigenous peoples across North America from the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella British Columbia to the people of the Lummi Nation in Seattle. They use protest and sit-ins to lobby governments for the rights to manage their land and fishery resources. They use their voices to express concern about the effects of climate change on the coastal and forest areas where they live. The positive result of this collaboration is the agreement between twenty-seven First Nations group including the Heiltsuk to manage The Great Bear rainforest region in British Columbia area and protect it from commercial activities. Good news that will have long-term positive effects on how Indigenous lands will be used in North America in the future.  “The University of Victoria law school in British Columbia will begin enrolling students next year in a degree program that will combine the traditional study of court precedents and legislation with the study of tribal law.”




Shannen’s dream speaks well to the hope and resilience of First Nations youth.  It is about the work of a teenage girl who was motivated to work towards the establishment of schools that provided safe and nurturing environments for Aboriginal children. She advocated for schools that would receive adequate funding so that Aboriginal children could attend school holding on their dignity and culture. Shannen died before she could her dream come to fruition, but her legacy has lived on, and the day she would have graduated from high school construction began on a new First Nation school.


The long awaited First Nations school was opened at the end of August 2014.  Shannen’s dream website has many useful resource and links on issues re First Nation education.




We were so far away, examines residential schools from the perspectives of the Inuit peoples from the Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. It takes a before, during and after look at the lives of the Inuit who attended residential schools. There are videos of residential school survivors talking about their experiences and links to many other resourceful websites. The pictures in the slideshow are worth a thousand words.  Some of it made me think of the story of the residential school in the book Fatty legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton.


Module 3


  1. is an initiative of community Chiefs. It started in 2012 and offers guidance to young people on how to avoid substance abuse. The project trains Aboriginal youth to be leaders. They become peer mentors and role models to the teens in their community. The youth are enthusiastic about this program and the training it provides it provides (for example facilitators training, & suicide prevention training). They use a variety of technology (podcast, social media) to promote the project. It also provides resources such as the Seven Sacred Teachings (love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth). Hear the youth talk about their understandings of each of the  Seven Sacred Teachings.


2.  The Kairos blanket is a resource for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to dialogue about Canada’s untaught and unspoken history.  The blanket exercise is a journey in the truth and reconciliation process and aims to bring to light the painful effects of colonisation on Canada’s Indigenous peoples. It is a great resources for upper elementary to adult groups as well as for teacher training programs across Canada.  It seeks to create unity in diverse peoples who recognise the effects of colonisation. 




Here is a place to learn about Canada’s Inuit people. It teaches about the various cultural groups and explains their connection to the land from hunting, trapping to picking berries. There is a portraits of Inuit Elders section and an analysis of  the differences between modern life and the traditional Inuit way for shelter, hunting, clothing, language, sports, custom, education and entertainment. Information on all aspects of the Inuit culture: language, Inuit games, drumming, circle time can be found here.



Modern Day Protest – “eat less fish”

This is protest is happening now 2016 in Muskrat falls, Labrador. The protesters are fighting to prevent mercury contamination of Lake Melville from the Muskrats fall hydroelectric project which they worry will adversely affect their food sources like fish and seals. The protest show how non-Indigenous people are unaware of the importance and sacredness of the land to the Indigenous people. This insensitivity is especially evident in the comment above that was posted by politician Nick Whalen on Twitter for the Indigenous peoples to eat less fish if the mercury levels rise.  Mr. Whalen had to apologize for his insensitive comment which shows a lack of unawareness that eating fish is a part of culture the Indigenous people of that region.




The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) which represents workers in Canada and the USA is working to promote reconciliation in the workplace by focusing on Aboriginal issues. They promote and use the reconciliation in the workplace kit and the seek to preserve Aboriginal culture and language. The are following the Call to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commision to “to ensure that reconciliation principles are embedded in our workplace practices across Canada”. 

Making the connection to the land and to First Nation change makers

My research is directed at reframing the education experience of Indigenous students by understanding the sacredness of the land. This also involves examining the issues that have contributed to the removal of First Nations people from their communities and their land.


This is a song by Lucie Idlout. Lucie about her mother’s disc number e5-770. Disc numbers were given to Inuit people by the Canadian government in the 1940’s as a way of identifying them. Even though many Inuit people were born with surnames this policy saw the government giving the people Eskimo disc that were similar to dog tags.


This is a  resourceful website that takes the reader into “Inuit traditional knowledge. It shows the connection to their land and its importance to their well being. It tells the stories of First Nations people- “the story you are about to read will take you from the mountains of the Noatak River in Northern Alaska to Baffin Island in Nunavut.  It also tells more about the Eskimo disc that were giving to identify Inuit people.




This is about the film Arctic Defenders. “Arctic Defenders tells the remarkable story that began in 1968 with a radical Inuit movement that changed the political landscape forever. It lead to the largest land claim in western civilization, orchestrated by young visionary Inuit with a dream – the governance of their territory – the creation of Nunavut.”  It features Aaju Peter who received the  Order of Canada on Dec. 30, 2011.Aaju is advocating for Inuit rights to seal and seal skin products as well as the Inuit right to be involved in issues related to Arctic waters.


Renowned Director Alanis Obomsawin directs many Aboriginal Films that can be found on the National Film Board of Canada website.  For example Hi-Ho Mistahey, which is s the story of Shannen’s Dream, to provide equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children. She recently directed WE CAN’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE, at the Calgary Film Festival which  highlights how even today, Indigenous Peoples face prejudice and discrimination from even the highest government offices.

Some of her other films includes

KANEHSATAKE: 270 YEARS OF RESISTANCE,  Alanis Obomsawin spent 78 nerve-wracking days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. This powerful documentary takes you right into the action of an age-old Aboriginal struggle.


This is a multimedia theatre project created in 2012 tried to rectify that. The Making of Treaty 7 was a re-enactment of the signing from the First Nations’ point of view.“What we’re trying to do,” director Michelle Thrush has said, “is pay honour and respect to the other side of the story, which is the Making of Treaty 7 through indigenous eyes.”



A closer look at Indigenous communities in Canada

Resources on my journey of learning about Indigenous Communities across Canada and the world.

These sites provide a good foundation and starting point for my research around Indigenous communities.  As I read and research and gain a better understanding of the issues that Indigenous communities face, this will help me to drill down to a particular area that resonates with me.



I live in the province of Alberta, so I think that it is important for me to start where I live and become aware of the resources that Alberta has for learning about its Indigenous communities. Walking Together is a First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) resource that guides educators, to understanding the FNMI perspectives and broadening worldviews around the issues the FNMI communities face. It lays out well the protocols around knowing how to build relationships with Indigenous communities.  It offers a holistic way of navigating the journey of understanding the worldview of FNMI peoples. There are videos from Elders about Indigenous worldviews, oral traditions, and understanding a deep connection to the land. There are insightful conversations that present a clear practical guide to understanding how to access, approach and be respectful in utilizing FNMI resources.


Another Alberta connection: Renowned First Nation activist Dr. Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitksan First Nation and Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Associate Professor at the University of Alberta prepared this document in collaboration with UNICEF.  The primary focus of the document is Indigenous adolescents; it speaks comprehensively to the rights of Indigenous peoples in 90 countries across the world. It advocates for their protection by governments all over the world.  It offers adolescents in global Indigenous communities, a solid foundation for knowing and understanding their rights. The word bank and the quiz in this document are useful tools. It is interesting to see that the theme for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9 was : Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education.


Dr. Cindy Blackstock is regarded as being the single mom of hundreds of First Nations children and this website features the tireless work that she does on behalf of Canada’s First Nations children.  It details the work being done to reconcile the differences in the treatment of Canada’s Indigenous children versus non-indigenous children in the welfare system. Most importantly, however, the site gives practical actions that can be taken by every Canadian to bring about positive changes and make a difference in the lives of Canada’s Indigenous children. Find information about creating hope for Canada’s First Nation children and seven (7) ways to take action to restore dignity to Indigenous children. These include joining the movement, Jordan’s Principle.  Learn more about Dr. Blackstock in her interview on the National with Peter  Mansbridge. She speaks about the work that needs to be done by Canadians to become fully cognizant of Canada’s invisible and ‘normalized racism’ in its treatment of its Indigenous families. She speaks about the racism of government’s fiscal policy, by the way in which money is allocated to Indigenous vs non-Indigenous children in the welfare system.




Secret Path is a multimedia project by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire. It is a song and a graphic novel about a young First Nations boy who died a half-century ago after running away from one of the residential schools. The money from the new album and book will be used to help the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation identify some of the children who died at the schools and were buried in unmarked graves. It will also be used to commemorate their lives and, in some cases, return them to their home communities.


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) web site documents  Canada’s movement towards healing. It helps the nation to come to a deeper awareness of the effects of residential schools on Canada’s First Nation Population. It contains the TRC report of historical documentation of abuse that Indigenous children faced in residential schools. The true stories of residential school survivors bring life to the Commission. The site documents the call to action and changes that are being made to bring reconciliation and healing. One example of the changes that have come about as a result of the TRC is  -schools in Toronto are now starting each day with a First Nations lesson. This is an excellent way for all students in Canada’s public school to show respect to the teachings of Canada’s First Nations People, and it is movement in the right direction in the restoration of their culture.