In 2017, the government dissolved Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), and replaced it with two separate entities:


This guide attempts to gather basic resources related to Indigenous Issues in Canada, Alberta, and the Northern Lakes College service area, largely Treaty 8. 


If you are aware of content you feel may complement the information in this guide, contact the library.


The Trouble with Terminology

Terminology, particularly as it relates to Indigenous peoples, can be tricky to navigate. A term that might be acceptable to some might be offensive to others. Because of this, many people do not feel confident using certain terms when referring to Aboriginal peoples. Fear of using the "wrong" word should never stifle important dialogue and discussions that need to be had.

By taking a moment to consider the history of certain terms, it is very possible to learn and be comfortable with which words to use in which contexts. We have compiled this guide to help inform your decisions on terminology.

- University of British Columbia Indigenous Foundations


Databases with content on Indigenous Peoples and Issues

Open source databases and websites with material to support indigenous studies and reconciliation research include the following:

Databases in the NLC Library collection that support indigenous studies and reconciliation research include the following. They can be searched individually or most can be accessed simultaneously with other databases using the Library's Discovery Search.

First Nations Information Governance Centre

 The First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) is an incorporated non-profit organization operating with a special mandate from the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution #48, December 2009). FNIGC is committed to improving the health and well-being of First Nations people living in our 634 communities across the country.

In collaboration with its Regional Partners, FNIGC conducts unique data-gathering initiatives that allow us to build culturally relevant portraits of the lives of First Nations people and the communities they live in. FNIGC recognizes that quality information — information that is collected by First Nations people for First Nations people — has the power to change lives by influencing knowledge-based decision-making and inspiring effective policy and programs for all First Nations Communities. (from FNIGC)

TRC Overview

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The largest class action settlement in Canadian history to date, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement recognized  damage inflicted by Indian Residential Schools, and established a multi-billion-dollar fund to help former students in their recovery. One of the five components of the September 2007 agreement is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The TRC was launched June 2008 and a federal government apology to residential school survivors was issued later that month. In June 2010, the first of seven national events began gathering testimony from survivors. Conflict regarding the provision of government documentation to the Commission resulted in a June 2013 court ruling requiring the federal government to release material to the Commission. Also in June 2013, the University of Manitoba agreed to host the National Research Centre for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The final national event was held in Edmonton March 2014. TRC final reports, including a 94-item list of Calls to Action, were delivered June 2015 and the commission was dissolved. The National Research Centre at University of Manitoba continues. Transcripts of testimony will be destroyed in 2030.

The commissioners were Justice Murray Sinclair, judge, Dr. Marie Wilson, journalist, and Chief Wilton Littlechild, lawyer.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is complete. The work of the commission is now being undertaken by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. 


National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR)

The University of Manitoba hosts the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

"A shared vision held by those affected by Indian residential schools was to create a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of their experiences were honoured and kept safe for future generations. They wanted their families, communities and all of Canada to learn from these hard lessons so they would not be repeated. They wanted to share the wisdom of the Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers on how to create just and peaceful relationships amongst diverse peoples. They knew that Reconciliation is not only about the past; it is about the future that all Canadians will forge together. This vision is the legacy gift to all of Canada."       - What we do, NCTR

Calls to Action

Calls to Action, Truth & Reconciliation Committee

The final reports of the Truth & Reconciliation Committee include a 94-item list of calls to action "to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation" (TRC Calls to Action Report). Calls to action are not recommendations; they are directives meant to provoke an immediate response.

The report includes 42 "Legacy" items and 52 "Reconciliation" items.

Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action

Legacy concerns:
Child welfare  |  Education  |  Language and Culture  |  Health  |  Justice

Reconciliation concerns:
Governments and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  |  Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation  |  Settlement agreement parties and the UN declaration  |  Equity in the legal system  |  National Council for Reconciliation  |  Professional development and training for public servants  |  Church apologies  |  Education  |  Youth Programs  |  Museums and archives  |  Missing children and burial information  |  National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation  |  Commemoration  |  Media  |  Sports  |  Business  |  Newcomers to Canada

Residential Schools

"Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture."  - The Canadian Encyclopedia



Treaties Overview

Canadian Treaties with Indigenous Peoples

Canada, and before that Britain, entered into formal agreements and treaties with Aboriginal people from 1725 to 1923. Treaties are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Indigenous peoples.

Pre-confederation Treaties:

  1. Peace and Friendship Treaties (1725-1779) Maritimes
    On the East Coast, Peace and Friendship Treaties were signed with the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy prior to 1779. The British Crown first began entering into treaties to end hostilities and encourage cooperation between the British and Aboriginal peoples. Because the British and French competed for control in North America, treaties were also strategic alliances. (INAC, see link below)
  2. Royal Proclamation of 1763 (Laid ground for treaties)
    This document outlined how Britain would govern in North America, and instituted an Indian Department as the primary point of contact between Aboriginal peoples and the colonies. It stipulated that only the Crown could purchase Aboriginal lands and indicated the land was only British if it was purchased or ceded by Aboriginal people. It was created in part to appease Aboriginal groups by checking the encroachment of settlers. (UBC, see link below.)
  3. Upper Canada Land Surrenders (1764-1862)
    The first of these surrenders covered very small parcels of land and dealt more with security and trade than settlement. After the War of 1812, European settlement began to replace the trading focus. Before 1818, compensation for land surrendered included one-time payments in goods or money or both; after 1818, annuities were included. Later, the focus of the government turned to encouraging Aboriginal peoples to abandon traditional lifestyles and to adopt agricultural and sedentary lives. In 1836, the first reserve for the "protection" of Indians was created on Manitoulin Island. (INAC, see link below.)
  4. Robinson Treaties (1850) Ontario
    The Robinson Treaties dealt with land, mineral rights, the rights of "half-breeds", and hunting and fishing rights. These treaties are the basis for the post-confederation numbered treaties to follow. In this period, a "civilization program" aimed at assimilating and "protecting" Aboriginal peoples was begun. (INAC, see link below)
  5. Douglas Treaties (1850-1854) Vancouver Island
    These treaties were made between the Hudson Bay Company agent James Douglas and 14 First Nations on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. They involved the "sale" of land from 14 First Nations on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The Aboriginal people retained the right to live on the land and to hunt and fish (Governor's Letters, see link below.)

Post-confederation Treaties:

  1. Numbered Treaties (1871-1921)
    After confederation in 1867, the Dominion of Canada began rapid expansion to the west. Treaties 1-11 were signed with Aboriginal peoples for massive expanses of land. These treaties had provisions for reserve lands, annuities, and hunting and fishing rights. As part of the government's civilization policies, they also included schools. Treaties 6, 7, 8, and 10 include areas of what is now Alberta. (INAC, see link below.)
  2. Williams Treaties (1923)
    After an inquiry into the status of colonial land surrenders in Upper Canada, a new treaty was undertaken with the Ojibway People. Two separate treaties were negotiated for the surrender of lands in central Ontario and the northern shore of Lake Ontario. (INAC, see two links below.)
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry began in 2016 and presented its final report on June 3, 2019. The inquiry was established after years of activism by families, and a background report that found that Indigenous women and girls were disproportionately represented in homicides and violent crimes across Canada. 

Associations and Campaigns

She is Indigenous, a campaign begun in Ontario by  Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (LFMO), aims to raise awareness about the strengths and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women across Canada.