Why Understanding Indigenous History is Important

Trees reflect on lake

As the details of Canada’s historical treatment of Indigenous peoples continue to be uncovered, we are reminded of the importance to question our beliefs about Indigenous history and people and the need to seek greater understanding.

National Indigenous History Month (June) and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th) serve as important reminders to recognize the history, heritage, resiliency, and diversity of Indigenous people and embrace the spirit of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations and commit to action. However, our learning journey is not limited to days on the calendar.

In an effort to advance the principles of indigenization, equity, diversity, and inclusion, we invite organizations to play an active role in raising awareness of and acknowledging Indigenous history and the diverse cultures of Indigenous peoples, as well as the impact of colonialism and anti-Indigenous racism.

Through education, awareness, and cultural understanding and competency, organizations are better equipped to address and dismantle systemic barriers that exist for Indigenous peoples.

To support you in your learning journey, we’ve curated several articles and resources:  

Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023 Public Lunch and Learns - A series of FREE virtual adult education lunch and learns during Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023 (Sep 25-29).

Indigenous History - A collection of educational resources and learning tools curated by Historica Canada for all ages.  

Indigenous Canada Course – Offered through coursera.org, this free 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course from the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. 

About National Indigenous History Month - Learn about National Indigenous History Month, Indigenous history, inspiring Indigenous peoples, this years’ celebrations and more through these helpful links and resources provided by the Government of Canada. 

Building Inclusion for Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Workplaces – Recommendations for creating a more inclusive workplace through inclusive leadership based on the research of global non-profit, Catalyst. 

Indigenous: Reconciliation and equity through inclusive employment – A library of resources for supporting Indigenous employees to thrive.  

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report – To learn about the legacy of the Indian Residential School system through the stories of those directly affected, read the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report or by exploring the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation's website.

Reflect on Canada’s progress in addressing the 94 calls to action from the report in at interactive timeline at Beyond 94. 

Residential School Films - A selection of films by Indigenous filmmakers and allies about the tragic impact of residential schools in Canada, as compiled by the National Film Board of Canada.

You can hear more about the importance of the commission’s findings and the role we all play in moving forward in this brief address from Senator Murray Sinclair former Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.   

According to the Assembly of First Nations, there are 634 First Nation communities in Canada, and over 50 distinct nations and language groups across the country. We recognize that this is not a comprehensive list of resources and encourage you to take the time to learn more about the Indigenous communities in your region. 

To engage in dialogue, we invite you to connect with Amorell Saunders N'Daw, Partner and EDI Lead with KBRS.