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Indigenous Research Guide

Below are some selected topics related to the past and present of indigenous peoples living in Canada; featuring books, videos, news articles and other selected resources from the internet and the Humber Libraries catalogue. For additional resources, check the Books and Journal Articles sections of this guide.

To jump to a particular topic, select from the Table of Contents below or click the associated box in the sidebar.

Jordan's Principle, the Sixties Scoop and Indigenous Foster Care in Canada

What is Jordan's Principle?

"Jordan’s Principle is a legal requirement resulting from the Orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) and is not a policy or program.

Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle that aims to eliminate service inequities and delays for First Nations children. Jordan’s Principle states that any public service ordinarily available to all other children must be made available to First Nations children without delay or denial.

Jordan’s Principle is named in honour of Jordan River Anderson, a young First Nations boy from Norway House Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, who spent his entire life in hospital while caught in a jurisdictional dispute between the governments of Canada and Manitoba, which both refused to pay for the in-home medical care necessary for Jordan to live in his home and community." - Assembly of First Nations

"Jordan's Principle provides that where a government service is available to all other children, but a jurisdictional dispute regarding services to a First Nations child arises between Canada, a province, a territory, or between government departments, the government department of first contact pays for the service and can seek reimbursement from the other government or department after the child has received the service. It is a child-first principle meant to prevent First Nations children from being denied essential public services or experiencing delays in receiving them. On December 12, 2007, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion that the government should immediately adopt a child-first principle, based on Jordan's Principle, to resolve jurisdictional disputes involving the care of First Nations children." - Government of Canada

Have the Provincial and Federal Governments Upheld Jordan's Principle?

"On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (Tribunal) issued its decision regarding a complaint filed in February 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), alleging that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs’ (INAC) provision of First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) and implementation of Jordan’s Principle is flawed, inequitable and thus discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The Tribunal found that the FNCFS Program denied services to many First Nations children and families living on-reserve and resulted in adverse impacts for them because it was based on flawed assumptions about First Nations communities that did not reflect the actual needs of those communities. The Tribunal also found that the FNCFS Program’s two main funding mechanisms incentivized removing First Nations’ children from their families.

The Tribunal also found that INAC’s narrow interpretation and implementation of Jordan’s Principle results in service gaps, delays or denials, and overall adverse impacts on First Nations children and families on-reserve. Jordan’s principle is a child-first principle that provides that, in the matter of public services available to all other children, where jurisdictional disputes arise between Canada and a province/territory, or between government departments in the same government, the government or department of first contact pays for the service, and can seek reimbursement from another government or department after the fact." - First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

"The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in January 2016 that Ottawa discriminated against First Nation children by underfunding on-reserve child welfare services and by failing to apply Jordan's Principle, which places the needs of First Nations children ahead of jurisdictional disputes between governments.

The tribunal ordered Ottawa to immediately increase child welfare funding, overhaul the child welfare system and apply Jordan's Principle on all publicly delivered services, including health and education, for children.

At the time of the ruling, Health Canada's data showed on-reserve First Nation children faced a massive gap in health services compared with what was available provincially, according to the internal correspondence obtained by NDP MP Charlie Angus through the Access to Information Act.

The correspondence said Health Canada wasn't equipped to assess children with special needs, and faced gaps in mental health services and health support for children in care. " - CBC News

What is the Sixties Scoop?

"The Sixties Scoop is the catch-all name for a series of policies enacted by provincial child welfare authorities starting in the mid-1950s, which saw thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes and families, placed in foster homes, and eventually adopted out to white families from across Canada and the United States. These children lost their names, their languages, and a connection to their heritage. Sadly, many were also abused and made to feel ashamed of who they were." - CBC Docs

"The term Sixties Scoop was coined by Patrick Johnston, author of the 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System. It refers to the mass removal of Aboriginal children from their families into the child welfare system, in most cases without the consent of their families or bands. Professor Raven Sinclair recounts that Johnston told her that a B.C. social worker provided the phrase when she told him “…with tears in her eyes—that it was common practice in B.C. in the mid-sixties to ‘scoop’ from their mothers on reserves almost all newly born children. She was crying because she realized—20 years later—what a mistake that had been.”1 The Sixties Scoop refers to a particular phase of a larger history, and not to an explicit government policy.  Although the practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families and into state care existed before the 1960s (with the residential school system, for example), the drastic overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child welfare system accelerated in the 1960s, when Aboriginal children were seized and taken from their homes and placed, in most cases, into middle-class Euro-Canadian families.  This overrepresentation continues today." - University of British Columbia

Land Back and Indigenous Sovereignty

What is Land Back?

"LANDBACK is a movement that has existed for generations with a long legacy of organizing and sacrifice to get Indigenous Lands back into Indigenous hands. Currently, there are LANDBACK battles being fought all across Turtle Island, to the north and the South. 

As NDN Collective, we are stepping into this legacy with the launch of the LANDBACK Campaign as a mechanism to connect, coordinate, resource and amplify this movement and the communities that are fighting for LANDBACK. The closure of Mount Rushmore, return of that land and all public lands in the Black Hills, South Dakota is our cornerstone battle, from which we will build out this campaign. Not only does Mount Rushmore sit in the heart of the sacred Black Hills, but it is an international symbol of white supremacy and colonization. To truly dismantle white supremacy and systems of oppression, we have to go back to the roots. Which, for us, is putting Indigneous Lands back in Indigenous hands.

In addition, LANDBACK is more than just a campaign. It is a meta narrative that allows us to deepen our relationships across the field of organizing movements working towards true collective liberation. It allows us to envision a world where Black, Indigenous & POC liberation co-exists.  It is our political, organizing and narrative framework from which we do the work.  " -'s Manifesto

"Land Back.

Those two words lay out with stark clarity the goal of centuries of Indigenous struggle. The Land Back movement comes up from the most grassroots land defenders across the country, who now see their local battles as part of a larger mobilization to reassert Indigenous control over their traditional territories.

The leaders of this resurgent movement want nothing to do with the establishment Indigenous organizations that have been willing to negotiate further land surrenders in exchange for one-off payments and promises of marginally improved services.

"Land Back" means precisely what it sounds like: taking land back under Indigenous control and protection that was never legally ceded in the first place."  Kanahus Manuel and Naomi Klein (Globe and Mail Opinion)

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

What is the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls?

"The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a public inquiry established under Part I of the federal Inquiries Act. The inquiry has also been established under respective provincial and territorial inquiries' legislation through Orders-in-Council. This gives the inquiry the ability to look into federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions as a part of the inquiry.

The inquiry has the authority to determine how best to accomplish its mandate and make recommendations.

The Inquiries Act gives the commissioners powers to conduct the inquiry independently. The commissioners will have the power to:

  • call any witnesses
  • require witnesses to give evidence
  • require the production of any document or item that they need relevant to their investigation" - Government of Canada


"The National Inquiry must look into and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including sexual violence. We must examine the underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional, and historical causes that contribute to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The mandate also directs us to look into and report on existing institutional policies and practices to address violence, including those that are effective in reducing violence and increasing safety.

While the formal name of the Inquiry is “the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” our mandate covers all forms of violence. This makes our mandate very broad. By not being limited to investigating only cases of Indigenous women who went missing or were murdered, we can include women and girls who died under suspicious circumstances.

It also means we can address issues such as sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, bullying and harassment, suicide, and self-harm. This violence is interconnected, and can have equally devastating effects. Expanding the mandate beyond missing and murdered also creates space for more survivors to share their stories. They can help us look to the future from a place of experience, resilience, and hope." - National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


"Understanding Treaty relationships and promises requires applying both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. The oral histories of Treaty negotiations have a place in the Treaty interpretation process." -  Aimée Craft, Living well together: Understanding treaties as agreements we share.

Explore Canada’s colonial past: the historical development of treaties, and treaty relationships as perceived by settlers and voices from Indigenous knowledge holders and communities – the original stewards of the land. Take a closer look at the history of treaties from an Anishinaabeg perspective in a beautifully illustrated video: We are all Treaty People.

Explore further with these selected library resources:

Chapter 3: Treaties of Canada. In Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian schools (eBook)

  • This chapter provides an excellent entry point into teaching about Canadian treaties with a holistic and reconciliatory approach

From treaty peoples to treaty nation: A road map for all Canadians (In Print)

  • This book discusses past and present treaty relationships, and providing realistic steps Canada can take to ensure we are honouring and acting upon treaty responsibilities.

The right relationship: Reimagining the implementation of historical treaties (eBook)

  • Indigenous and non-indigenous scholars are asked, in this collection, to cast light on the magnitude of the challenges Canadians face in seeking a consensus on the nature of treaty partnership in the twenty-first century.

Keeping promises: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, Aboriginal rights, and treaties in Canada (eBook)

  • In this book, essays by historians, lawyers, treaty negotiators, and Indigenous leaders explore the execution of the Canadian treaties.

Trick or treaty? (Streaming Video)

  • Obomaswin’s film portrays one community’s attempt to enforce their treaty rights and protect their lands, while also revealing the complexities of contemporary treaty agreements.

The numbered treaties and the politics of incoherency (Journal Article)

  • This article explores the inconsistent ways in which treaties have been taken up within Canadian legal and political institutions, arguing that the incoherency surrounding treaties promulgates the notion that treaties are being implemented while simultaneously obscuring, distorting and minimizing the rights of Indigenous peoples in practice.

Explore the land Humber is built upon by following a virtual path through Humber’s Indigenous Cultural Markers. Learn about the Indigenous History of Tkaronto, and the Toronto Purchase, Treaty Number 13 (1805). View a beautifully personalized land acknowledgement uncovering an oral history of Tkaronto - with illustrations by Chief Lady Bird, or discover and download First Story App, containing maps and walking tours related to Toronto’s Indigenous communities, both past and present.

Explore further with these selected library resources:

No surrender: The land remains Indigenous (eBook)

  • The research in this book exposes how the Canadian government deceptively misled Indigenous nations during treaty negotiations.

The clay we are made of: Haudenosaunee land tenure on the Grand River (eBook)

  • This award winning book offers a retelling of the history of the Grand River Haudenosaunee from their Creation Story, through European contact, to contemporary land claims negotiations.

Looking after gdoo-naaganinaa: Precolonial Nishnaabeg diplomatic and treaty relationships (Journal Article)

  • This article articulates Nishnaabeg cultural perspectives on relationships with the land, the non-human world, and other Indigenous nations, relying on academic literature interpreted through an Nishnaabeg lense. This perspective exists in contrast to mainstream academic literature regarding treaties.

Tkaronto (DVD, in Library Holdings)

  • Tkaronto is a reflective and provoking exploration of two Indigenous 30-somethings, Ray and Jolene, who make an unexpected connection at the pinnacle of a common struggle: to stake claim to their urban Indigenous identity.

Law's Indigenous Ethics (eBook)

  • Organized around the seven Anishinaabe grandmother and grandfather teachings of love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect, this book explores ethics in relation to Indigenous issues including title, treaties, legal education, and residential schools in Canada.

Lessons from the land: Peace through relationship. In standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL movement (eBook)

  • Michelle Latimer reflects on her experience at Standing Rock, Toronto and her connection with the land.

Learn about treaty names and the land history of Ontario, Canada and beyond. Explore Whose Land or Native Land to learn about your location and the history of the land you are on. Look to Humber’s Land Acknowledgement Best Practices, or resources like the Native Governance Centre, for tips to writing your own, appropriate Indigenous land acknowledgement.

Explore further with these selected library resources:

Children of the broken treaty: Canada's lost promise and one girl's dream (eBook)

  • In a movement inspired by Shannen Koostachin, a young Cree woman, Angus works to establish how Canada--through breaches of treaties, broken promises, and callous neglect--deliberately denied Indigenous children their basic human rights.

Why Indigenous literatures matter (eBook)

  • This book contemplates four key questions at the heart of Indigenous kinship traditions: How do we learn to be human? How do we become good relatives? How do we become good ancestors? How do we learn to live together?

Rethinking the practice and performance of Indigenous land acknowledgement (Journal article)

  • This article is based on a plenary panel of Indigenous scholars asked to consider land acknowledgements and questions such as: how might acknowledgement be ‘actioned’ differently by settler Canadians, ‘arrivants,’ immigrants, displaced peoples, and visitors?

Treaty # (In Print)

  • A book of poems, drawing upon Armand Ruffo’s Ojibwe heritage and his connection to place.

Arrows in a quiver: From contact to the courts in Indigenous-Canadian relations (eBook)

  • A comprehensive political and legal overview of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada, written at a level appropriate for both college and university students.

Explore the significance of Two Row Wampum and wampum belts. Listen to Rick Hill speak on the importance of The Dish with One Spoon and The Two Row Wampum. Read about Nation-to-Nation relationships and the meaning of Wampum in Our Stories, watch and listen to Alan Ojiig Corbiere discuss The Underlying Importance of Wampum Belts, and read an introduction the Two Row Wampum, one of the oldest treaty relationships made in 1613, between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee peoples. Listen to a beautiful poem by poet Lena Recollet, to acknowledge the history and territorial land of Tkaronto.

Explore further with these selected library resources:

Two-row wampum reimagined: Understanding the hybrid digital lives of contemporary Kanien’kehá:Ka youth (Journal Article)

  • Jacobs uses the Two Row Wampum to describe her experience as Kanien’kehá:ka person. The article emphasizes the hybrid identity of contemporary Indigenous youth who not only reconcile traditional and contemporary identities, but also participate actively in several digital communities and life worlds.

Reading the wampum: Essays on hodinöhsö:Ni’ visual code and epistemological recovery (eBook)

  • Reading the Wampum, Kelsey provides the first academic consideration of the ways in which these sacred belts are reinterpreted into current Haudenosaunee tradition. While Kelsey explores the aesthetic appeal of the belts, she also provides insightful analysis of how readings of wampum belts can change our understanding of specific treaty rights and land exchanges.

The truth that wampum tells: My debwewin on the Algonquin land claims process (In Print)

  • The Truth that Wampum Tells offers readers a first-ever insider analysis of the contemporary land claims and self-government process in Canada.

The two row wampum-covenant chain tradition as a guide for Indigenous-university research partnerships (Journal Article)

  • This article examines the oldest known treaty between incoming Europeans and Indigenous North Americans to derive five basic principles to guide healthy, productive relationships between Indigenous community-based researchers and university-based ones.

Kayanerenkó:wa: the great law of peace (In Print)

  • In this book, Paul Williams, counsel to Indigenous nations for forty year, brings the sum of his experience and expertise to this analysis of Kayanerenkó:wa as a living, principled legal system. In doing so, he puts a powerful tool in the hands of Indigenous and settler communities.

Land claims, protests, occupations and blockades are currently happening across Canada. Learn about land claims in process in Ontario. Read current news about the long fight in Caledonia, the Six Nations Grand River land dispute, just 100 km west of Toronto; the Wet'suwet'en Conflict, regarding pipelines in British Columbia; the ongoing dispute regarding Mi’kmaw fishing rights in Nova Scotia. Let Wab Kinew take you on an exploration of land claims and treaty rights protest across Canada, and in Attawapiskat, in his 8th Fire series. Or, listen to a podcast series, Call Her Aunty by Humber’s Quazance Boissoneau and Grace Francisci as they interview Regina Hartwick, Associate Dean of Indigenous Education and Engagement on Indigenous treaties, reconciliation and resurgence.

Explore further with these selected library resources:

All our relations: Finding the path forward (eBook)

  • Talaga explores the legacy of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples and how to move forward, in her CBC Massey Lecture.

Resurgence and reconciliation: Indigenous-settler relations and earth teachings (eBook)

  • By using “earth-teachings” to inform social practices, the editors and contributors offer a rich, innovative, and holistic way forward in response to the world’s most profound natural and social challenges. This timely volume shows how the complexities and interconnections of resurgence and reconciliation and the living earth are often overlooked in contemporary discourse and debate.

This place: 150 years retold (In Print)

  • This graphic novel explores the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators.

From where I stand: Rebuilding Indigenous nations for a stronger Canada (In Print)

  • Jody Wilson-Raybould reveals why true reconciliation will occur only when Canada moves beyond denial, recognizes Indigenous Rights, and replaces the Indian Act.

IdleNoMore: And the remaking of Canada (eBook)

  • Launched by four women in Saskatchewan in reaction to a federal omnibus budget bill, the protest became the most powerful demonstration of Aboriginal identity in Canadian history.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Residential School System

What are Residential Schools?

"The term residential schools refers to an extensive school system set up by the Canadian government and administered by churches that had the nominal objective of educating Indigenous children but also the more damaging and equally explicit objectives of indoctrinating them into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living and assimilating them into mainstream white Canadian society. The residential school system officially operated from the 1880s into the closing decades of the 20th century. The system forcibly separated children from their families for extended periods of time and forbade them to acknowledge their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their own languages. Children were severely punished if these, among other, strict rules were broken. Former students of residential schools have spoken of horrendous abuse at the hands of residential school staff: physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological. Residential schools provided Indigenous students with inappropriate education, often only up to lower grades, that focused mainly on prayer and manual labour in agriculture, light industry such as woodworking, and domestic work such as laundry work and sewing.

Residential schools systematically undermined Indigenous, First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures across Canada and disrupted families for generations, severing the ties through which Indigenous culture is taught and sustained, and contributing to a general loss of language and culture. Because they were removed from their families, many students grew up without experiencing a nurturing family life and without the knowledge and skills to raise their own families. The devastating effects of the residential schools are far-reaching and continue to have a significant impact on Indigenous communities. The residential school system is widely considered a form of genocide because of the purposeful attempt from the government and church to eradicate all aspects of Indigenous cultures and lifeworlds." - University of British Columbia

What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was created through a legal settlement between Residential Schools Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit representatives and the parties responsible for creation and operation of the schools: the federal government and the church bodies.

The TRC’s mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. The TRC documented the truth of Survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. This included First Nations, Inuit and Métis former residential school students, their families, communities, the churches, former school employees, government officials and other Canadians.

The TRC concluded its mandate in 2015 and transferred its records to the safekeeping of National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR)." - National Center for Truth and Reconciliation