Indigenization Guide: Colonization Framework in Canada

The following is an excerpt from Pulling Together: A Guide for Teachers and Instructors by Bruce Allan, Amy Perreault, John Chenoweth, Dianne Biin, Sharon Hobenshield, Todd Ormiston, Shirley Anne Hardman, Louise Lacerte, Lucas Wrigh, and Justin Wilson.

Not only has colonization been purposefully omitted from Canadian history, but it continues today. Indigenous scholarship and educational reform resulting from the reports of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada are only now providing a foundation on which these truths can be brought forward.  For instance, the Foundations Guide and UBC’s Indigenous Foundations website[1] explore and build awareness of the tools used to form and perpetuate disparity and privilege, such as:

  • the spreading of disease to wipe out a healthy and thriving population and gain access to a land base
  • the stripping of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit rights through policies and legislation, such as the Indian Act, historic treaties, the Scrip policy[2] in Manitoba, and High Arctic relocation[3]
  • assimilation and cultural genocide through the forcing of numerous generations of Indigenous children into the residential school system
  • the reserve system, which has affected relationships, consultation, and governance

The effects of colonization on Indigenous communities continue today, as the Indian Act and reserve system still exist. The harm caused by these processes and laws, however, has not extinguished Indigenous Peoples. Rather, the opposite has occurred:

  • Indigenous Peoples are among the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the country.
  • The apologies for the residential school policy and system and the release of the 94 Calls to Action [PDF][4]from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are pathways to truth-telling and reconciliation.
  • Indigenous land rights and title are being reaffirmed through landmark court decisions, international declarations, and tripartite treaty negotiations.
  • First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities are revitalizing traditions and language and building capacity for self-determination.

These paths of resiliency, resistance, reclaiming, and revitalization despite the processes of colonization in this country are becoming more apparent through Indigenous scholarship and engagement with Indigenous activists, knowledge keepers, and leadership.

…who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land? As the long forgotten people of the respective continents rise and begin to reclaim their ancient heritage, they will discover the meaning of the lands of their ancestors.

– Deloria (1973, p. 300–301)

A Guide for Teachers and Instructors is part of an open professional learning series developed for staff across post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. These guides are intended to support the systemic change occurring across post-secondary institutions through Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation.

Learn more:

  1. Indigenous Foundations website: 
  2. Collections Canada Scrip Policy: 
  3. High Artic relocation article: 
  4. TRC Calls to Action: