Anti-Indigenous Racism Resources

Anti-Indigenous Racism Resources

The Institute of Canadian Agencies and its staff are physically located in the City of Toronto and as such acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. 

We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. Our member agencies are located across Canada and we encourage them to research the territory acknowledgement that is applicable to them.

This page is intended to serve as a resource to all non-Indigenous people and parents to deepen our understanding of the Indigenous worldview, journey, history, beliefs and traditions. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now.

Dr Dori Tunstall's Six Six Steps for Structural Change starts with Step One: Indigenous Demands First. Understanding Diversity, Inclusion and Equity for Black people and People of Colour means first understanding the Canadian government's Federal mandate around decolonization. Only once we truly understand the effects of systemic racism on Indigenous people can we begin to work toward dismantling the structures in place that disadvantage all visible minorities.

September 30th: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

September 30th marks the new federal statutory holiday, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day provides an opportunity for Canadians to recognize and commemorate the intergenerational harm that the legacy of residential schools has caused to Indigenous people, families and communities.

This holiday seeks to answer Call to Action 80 which reads:

80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

September 30th is also Orange Shirt Day, a day to acknowledge and commemorate the day that Indigenous children were removed from their homes, families and communities and taken to residential schools.

To honour those who have been affected by residential schools and other colonial injustices we encourage families, communities and businesses to come together in the spirit of reconciliation. Please consider finding time on September 30th for quiet reflection, purposeful listening, research and learning or participation in a community event. You’ll find resources in various categories below to support you with your commemoration activities.

Community Events

Diversity and Inclusion Training for your Agency

IDEA Indigenous Demands First Session Series

What's Your Reconciliation?

This five-part series follows-up on Dr Dori Tunstall's call to action to place Indigenous Demands First. Join the ICA Community on this journey to discover What is Your Reconciliation?

Relationships & Reconciliation

Tracey Lindberg, Indigenous-Rights Activist, Professor of Law & Acclaimed Author of 'Birdie', joins the ICA Community to start us off on our journey to answer the question What is Your Reconciliation? In this session, Tracey discusses development and maintenance of healthy relationships and how that informs and impacts our understanding of territoriality, lawful responsibilities, challenges and possibilities of reconciliation.

Deck available upon request.

Tracey Lindberg’s Answers to Your Questions

A: Thank you for this question. I don’t know what Indigenous peoples feel, as a whole. I just know the way I was taught. It might not be applicable to the land you are on. My Best Advice: ask more or look for more information on this in addition to my thoughts.

My response is: I look to see what obligation a person, organization and community says about its relationship with the land they are on, the Indigenous laws that are operable and how they endeavour to participate in reciprocal relationships.

When I hear the statement and it is just a statement with no demonstrable or experientially based experience or relationship, I am disappointed and less likely to trust that person, organization, community or institution.

If I hear that recognition AND see commitment to Indigenous peoples and territories (re: naming, inclusion, policy, hiring principles, inclusive language, practices, leave policies that include Indigenous ceremonies, etc., etc.) then I accept the statement at face value.

If it is just a statement, I don’t remember it. It is important to acknowledge the peoples original to the land and our relationship with it. It can be part of a respectful relationship. The other parts need attending.

A:Thank you for this question and the opportunity to learn with you. We do much better at this if we have many Indigenous peoples in the room. We do much better at this if we have people whose job it is to think equitably AND who have lived lives within which oppression is understood from experiential learning. That is, there can be an Indigenous community member role as an employee with that included in their job description, in an advisory committee which is rewarded and incentivized properly at a level consistent with the experience, and in developing in house capacity to learn and honour the realities and impact of colonization on individuals, institutions and communities. This change, collective change, requires time, resource and financial investment.
A: Thank you for this question. Yes, I do.

I want to stop there because developing those relationships and contacts has taken me a lifetime of reciprocal obligations to develop. In my life and work, I don’t pass on names, numbers and possibilities without: a budget line, commitment to inclusion, and known anti-racism and anti-colonialism contributions.

In order not to exhaust the resources, relations and referrals I answer a general inquiry like this: Create relationships with organizations which are reciprocal: you can have a community conversation, but you have agreed to invest in the community before asking for help / information – in order not to participate in extraction.

This is the crux of actual reconciliation: contact Indigenous organizations, communities, and peoples with the knowledge that we are asked for information, answers, actions, participation every minute of every day. We need to know where to healthily and happily put our energy.

You can want and get information without a personal relationship. That will probably involve a professional (contract, paid) relationship.

Start with reading all you can, watching all you can, knowing what you are asking for in terms of information, and the protocols followed by the person you are asking. In my case, you would follow the protocols related to offerings for my Nation and community. Or, you would offer me a contract to answer your questions, build capacity.

Remember: Even showing up for a zoom meet has at least a personal cultural or other cost affixed to it. I am not saying you monetize all relationships with Indigenous peoples. I am saying: think of us as peoples who gather our knowledge following protocol and paying those social, cultural, familial and monetary dues. How do you become an ally? First consider what you bring TO Indigenous peoples and not what you can/want to get from Indigenous peoples.

I am not shaming you or denouncing the question; my attempt to is inform every person about how to do this respectfully. This is one approach I have learned and follow. In the institutions I have worked in, this has necessitated building budget lines, systemic support and projects that support Indigenous excellence.
Creating Cultural Safety

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) is now a widely used and accepted term, but is it the right term? Does it adequately illustrate the cultural insensitivities, health & safety crises and land challenges that Canada’s First Nation and Metis peoples have experienced and currently face? In this session, Guy Freedman, President of First Peoples Group, helps us to understand what Cultural Safety is and why it’s an important first step in our journey to creating diverse and inclusive work environments. We’ll discuss how leaders can incorporate the cultural safety approach into their business ensuring that they are marketing to and employing this marginalized and under-represented group.

What is Truth & Reconciliation?

The Truth & Reconciliation template isn’t unique to Canada but perhaps we need to ask if it’s right for Canada and First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples? Do we know what the Truth is? Are we ready for Reconciliation? 

Dr. Eva Jewell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University, Yellowhead Associate Fellow and co-author of the Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation, provides us with an overview of the 94 Calls to Action, the status of those calls and more importantly the barriers to meaningful progress. Reconciliation is not static and where gains have been made one year, they have been lost the next. In this presentation Eva shines a spot light on the 5 reasons there has been a lack of action on the Calls to Action and what we can individually and collectively do as we look inward and answer the question, “What is Your Reconciliation?”

Connecting with Purpose

We cannot attract Indigenous talent without understanding and connecting in an authentic way with their community. But how? Krystal Abotossaway, President of the Indigenous Professionals Association of Canada (IPAC) and Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training helps the ICA Community understand why authentic connection with the Indigenous community is important, how leaders and businesses can achieve this and most importantly, what first steps they should take.

Agencies: Change Your Call for Employees!

This session series is aimed at helping participants build up their Cultural Fluency and is the culmination of our learnings: Relationships & Reconciliations, Creating Cultural Safety, Truth & Reconciliation and the Land Back initiative and Creating Purposeful Connection with the Indigenous Community. Now we’re ready to apply these learnings in our hiring practices by doing what Dr Tunstall urged: Change Your Employee Call!

Join Melissa Hardy-Giles, Founder and Paul Giles, Director of ORIGIN as we explore how Agencies can and should change their call. ORIGIN, an Indigenous-owned company, is focused on innovating the recruitment and selection process through localized workforce and partnership strategies. They do this with an emphasis on integration & reconciliation, acting as a communication and connection mechanism, bridging the gap between Indigenous people and employers. They assist companies that want to tap into the Indigenous workforce using VR and story-telling as a tool to increase awareness and interest in non-traditional career paths. Melissa and Paul will provide you with some of their learnings and experience on how you can improve your connection with the Indigenous workforce.

Register here:

Connecting with the Indigenous Professional Community

Truth & Reconciliation

Indigenous Celebrations & Events

Supporting Indigenous Creatives

For Teachers & Parents: Start the Learning and Pass it On


Looking for a Leadership Retreat

Looking to Support Indigenous Small Business

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