5 Ways You Can Educate Yourself and Support Indigenous Communities

With the recent discoveries of more than 1,000 unmarked graves and the remains of hundreds of children at former residential “school” sites, many have made the pledge to make more time to honour and support Indigenous communities.

Indigenous-led charities and organizations are vital to the prosperity of Indigenous people and institutions in Canada, and while we as a country may be a far way off from reaching true, authentic reconciliation, we can make the commitment to learn and to educate ourselves on Indigenous culture and the complicated history of colonization in Canada. Here are 5 Indigenous groups to consider donating to, plus ways you can actively participate in the dialogue of our shared history as Canadians.

Donate to Native Women’s Association of Canada

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit. An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies.

NWAC works on a variety of issues such as employment, labour and business, health, violence prevention and safety, justice and human rights, environment, early learning childcare and international affairs.

COVID-19 is hitting Indigenous communities especially hard. Indigenous women and their families are struggling to cope and your donations can help communities deal with the unique challenges during this difficult time. Our support can make a significant difference, so if you’re able to make a donation, here’s the link to do so.

Volunteer at Reconciliation Canada

Born from the vision of Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Gwawaenuk Elder, Reconciliation Canada is leading the way in engaging Canadians in dialogue and transformative experiences that revitalize the relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. Engaging people in open and honest conversation to understand our diverse histories and experiences, the organization engages in multi-faith and multi-cultural communities to explore the meaning of reconciliation.

Reconciliation Canada is calling on volunteers who are willing to donate their time and energy to help build a stronger relationship among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians and facilitate a better and stronger Canada for all. From assisting with dialogue workshops, community engagement, marketing and communications and fundraising, the registered charity accepts volunteers through this link.

Inuit mother and daughter

Fundraise for: The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund

Inspired by Chanie’s story and Gord Downie’s call to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Part of Gord’s legacy, and embodying his commitment, and that of his family, the organization is committed to improving the lives of First Peoples in Canada.

The Legacy Schools Program, a free national initiative to engage, empower and connect students and educators to further reconciliation, education and action offers the opportunities for all schools across Canada to register for access to educational resources and program development for Legacy cool to help ensure that the unique interests, rights, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples are recognized and implemented in schools and communities across Canada.

Lakota Indian Dancing

Educate yourself at: The University of Alberta Indigenous Canada program

Indigenous Canada is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. Offering a free course online or a certificate program, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Also of note: Dan Levy hosts discussions with instructors Dr. Paul Gareau and Dr. Tracy Bear, as well as weekly special guests.

Indigenous Canada is for students from faculties outside the Faculty of Native Studies with an interest in acquiring a basic familiarity with Indigenous/non-Indigenous relationships.

Support Indigenous culture and art at: The Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada

In taking inspiration from the Haudenosaunee Seventh Generation Principle, the Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada was founded in 2012 to preserve and revitalize endangered Indigenous art forms and enrich lives through Indigenous arts and culture.

In using our knowledge from Ancestors and Elders, we are actively practicing and teaching in safe and inclusive spaces. The IACC engages, [re]connects and empowers Indigenous women by promoting the transfer and conservation of cultural knowledge; securing the capacity for the next generations to retain and cultivate intrinsic cultural connections.

With an online marketplace and links to over 100 Indigenous artists, you can peruse home décor, feathers and smudge, jewellery, dreamcatchers, and ceramics from a number of Indigenous artisans.

Firsay Nation Dancers