The effects of colonization on Indigenous peoples around the world have been significant. Attempts to assimilate Indigenous peoples through strategic colonial policies have resulted in many losses, including land and strong connections with language, culture and traditional ways.  These policies have manifested themselves in inter-generational traumas that require consideration.

To engage in reconciliation, we must explore and understand how colonization has impacted Indigenous people, their traditions, their institutions, and their practices.

The Indian Act was formulated in 1876 amalgamating the Gradual Civilization Act (1857) and Gradual Enfranchisement Act (1869) into one legislative document with the intent and purpose of assimilating First Nations people into Canadian society (Dickason & Newbigging, 2010). The Indian Act legislated the definition of who is considered an ‘Indian’ under the act as well as what constitutes a band. Furthermore, the act affected all aspects of their daily life. For example, this can be seen in the outlawing of ceremony in 1884, the introduction of the pass system in 1885, in compulsory attendance in education in 1894, and the prohibiting of raising money for land claims in 1927 (Dickason & Newbigging, 2010).

Indian Act (1876)

There are 11 numbered treaties in Canada within Alberta, housing three treaty areas: Treaty 6, Treaty 7, and Treaty 8 (Treaty Map). Treaties are constitutionally binding agreements signed between sovereign nations that formulated certain conditions for a peaceful alliance and sharing of the land. Within the treaty agreement rights, benefits and obligations of the signing parties were determined. Specific to the University of Calgary, we live within Treaty 7.

Text of Treaty 7 Agreement (1877)

Reg Crowshoe's Reflections on Treaty Seven and the Calgary Stampede (Galileo Network, 2006)

Treaty 7 Resource Document (Alberta Teacher’s Association, 2018)

Plain Talk 4: Treaties - It's Our Time - (Assembly of First Nations (AFN), n.d.)
The Assembly of First Nations has a substantial toolkit with resources aimed at improving understanding of Indigenous history.

Treaty 6 Resource Document (Alberta Teacher’s Association, 2018)

Treaty 8 Resource Document (Alberta Teacher’s Association, 2018)

Scholarly Publications on Treaty 7 and Other Treaties

Carter, S., Hildebrandt, W., First Rider, D., & Canadian Electronic Library (Firm). (1996). The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. (University Library login required)

Dempsey, H. (2015). The Great Blackfoot Treaties. Nanoose Bay: Heritage House Publishing. (University Library login required)

Websites for Treaty 7 Signatory Nations

Bearspaw First Nation
Stoney Nakoda Nation
Tsuut' ina Nation
Goodstoney First Nation

Blackfoot Confederacy (Kainai, Siksika, Piikani)

Residential Schools

Residential Schools were in operation from the early 1800’s until the last school closed in Saskatchewan in 1996. The schools were established and sanctioned by the Federal government and run by churches (click the following for an interactive timeline).

For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada. The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as “cultural genocide” (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, p. 5).

Scholarly Publications on Residential Schools

Chartrand, L, Logan, T. & Daniels, J. (2006). Métis History and Experience and Residential Schools in Canada. Originally hosted by Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

Milloy, J. (2017). A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System. (2nd ed.). Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press. (University Library login required)

Sellars, B. (2013). They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School. Vancouver: Talonbooks. (University Library login required)

The Inuit experience is worth exploring even though there are few Inuit students in Alberta. Their experience is a vital part of Indigenous history in Canada and insights into their education and culture would be valuable for Werklund graduates who may be teaching in Inuit communities.

Canada's Relationship with Inuit: A History of Policy and Program Development (2010) - A resource from the Government of Canada documenting the relationships between the federal government and the Inuit of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec and Newfoundland and  Labrador.

Broken Promises: The High Arctic Relocation. Tassinari, P. V., Buffie, E., National Film Board of Canada and Nutaaq Media, I. (Directors). (1995). [Video/DVD] Montreal: National Film Board of Canada.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami - The national representative organization for protecting and advancing the rights of Inuit in Canada.

The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBQNA) 1975 - An agreement between the province of Quebec and both the Cree and Inuit of Northern Quebec.

Nunavut Education Act (2008)

Métis people in Canada have distinct histories, culture, languages, and experiences. Their history has political and cultural depth that encompasses histories such as: the Battle of Seven Oaks, two Riel resistances (1869 and 1885), the scrip system, legacy of road allowances, residential school, the creation of Alberta Métis settlements, and the recent Supreme Court of Canada’s Daniel’s decision.

Publications on Métis

Campbell, M. (1979). Halfbreed. Toronto: Seal Books. (University Library login required)

Andersen, C. (2014). "Métis": Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood. Vancouver: UBC Press. (University Library login required)

Poitras Pratt, Y. (2011). Meaningful Media: An Ethnography of a Digital Strategy within a Métis Community. University of Calgary. (University Library login required)

Further Resources on Métis
Alberta Métis Settlements and Agreements (Alberta Teachers' Association, 2018)

Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture

Métis Nation of Alberta

Four Faces of the Moon (2017) – a short documentary video of Métis history


Métis Settlements

The Métis Betterment Act of 1938 established Métis colonies in the province of Alberta to address the extreme poverty levels of Métis communities. Currently there are eight Métis settlements governed under the Métis Settlements General Council.

Métis Settlements Map