National Indigenous History Month – A Time to Reflect and Confront Our History

Posted: 20-Jun-2022

At Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region, we respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Mississauga adjacent to Haudenosaunee Territory. We wish to recognize the long history of First Nations and Metis Peoples in Ontario and show respect to them today and every day. We offer our gratitude to our First Nations for their care for, and teachings about, our earth and our relations.

While we celebrate Indigenous History during the month of June, the responsibilities of allyship should be permanent.

If you are non-Indigenous, continue to utilize the many valuable resources that exist and honour the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples every day. Learn more yourself, and start conversations with your family, friends, and community. Understanding what allyship can look like is important. Dr. Lynn Gehl’s Ally Bill of Responsibilities is a helpful resource. But you need to educate and teach yourself.


Where can you start to learn more? There are many ways to celebrate and honour the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous communities, including:

  • Know whose land you are on. If you are non-Indigenous, you are occupying land that is being colonized. You are a settler. To have a greater understanding of the land’s original caregivers and history, visit Whose Land, an educational tool and interactive map. It is useful for understanding Indigenous treaties and communities across Canada. The website offers videos of appropriate land acknowledgments as well as some great Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Learn some Indigenous language. Just as a responsible and courteous traveler learns some basic language skills before immersing oneself in a culture and place that is not familiar, so should Canadians with Indigenous languages. There is a nationwide push for Indigenous language revitalization and for some to be recognized as official languages. Learn more about how to support the revitalization with this Guide to Indigenous Languages in Canada. In the short term, you could make someone’s day by taking the time and respect to learn a few greeting and parting words.
  • Celebrate Indigenous Peoples in Canada with this learning and activity guide.
  • Learn some Indigenous recipes. Make delicious Bannock (fried bread) to share with loved ones.
  • Be culturally sensitive. This is past and present trauma. It’s important to be sensitive when posting/sharing/discussing content that could be triggering and upsetting to people.
  • Know the protocol. Take the time before going to powwows or a ceremony to understand the protocol, through research, or by kindly asking a volunteer or worker once you’ve arrived. Read A Guide to Taking Your Family to a Powwow for the First Time (available on CBC) for some powwow protocol.
  • Get curious about Indigenous literature:
    •The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has compiled a list of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis books for libraries and classrooms.
    •The Government of Canada has compiled an #IndigenousReads reading list.
    •CBC has shared a list of “35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month” as well as “108 Indigenous writers to read, as recommended by you”.
  • Support Indigenous businesses and services. There are many Indigenous businesses and services that would benefit from non-Indigenous customers, and shopping with them can be a great way to support Indigenous people. Visit the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Businesses Membership Directory to find an array of Indigenous businesses from across Canada (search by province, name, or sector).
  • Understand that it is not the job of Indigenous people to teach you. Metis-Irish author, Melanie Lefebvre, wrote, “If you don’t have time to educate yourself, then I can’t help you, in “It’s Not My Job to Teach You about Indigenous People” published in The Walrus. Individuals should not expect that all Indigenous people are experts on all things Indigenous, nor that they have the time or energy to teach. Google can be a great start in educating yourself.
  • Connect with your local friendship centre. Relationship building with your local friendship centre can support your allyship journey, build knowledge of nearby Indigenous communities and support reconciliation–all of which can help local efforts to intentionally engage with Indigenous communities in your area.
  • Watch Heritage Minute: Chanie Wenjack. This 60-second Heritage Minute tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, whose death sparked the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools. For more “Indigenous History ”minutes, visit Historic a Canada’s collection of 60-second short films, each depicting a significant person, event or story.
  • Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Call to Action Report. The TRC was a part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and had a mandate to document and prepare a comprehensive historical record on the policies and operations of the schools and produce a report that includes recommendations to the Government of Canada. The TRC completed its work in 2015.
  • Understand our full history and how it affects us today. The University of Alberta offers a free and in-depth 12-lesson course called Indigenous Canada from their Faculty of Native Studies. This course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Last year, Habitat Canada staff took the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, a paid three-hour multimedia course from the First Nations University of Canada, to learn about the history and culture of Indigenous communities in Canada, the history of residential schools, and treaties around the country.
  • Donate to survivors of residential schools and organizations working to further reconciliation:
    Canadian Roots Exchange
    First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
    Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society
    Legacy of Hope Foundation
    Orange Shirt Society
    Reconciliation Canada
    True North Aid 

Housing Crisis

Through our Indigenous Housing Partnership, we’re committed to finding housing solutions that are by and for Indigenous communities and fostering equitable partnerships rooted in respect for Indigenous culture.

We are proud and pleased to share Tanya and Duanne’s, journey towards affordable homeownership through the Indigenous Housing Partnership program in Curve Lake. Get to know their story.

But there’s more to be done.

First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples across this country continue to face horrible housing conditions, both on and off-reserve.

1 in 5 Indigenous people lives in a dwelling that’s in need of major repairs, according to Statistics Canada. In comparison, just 6% of the non-Aboriginal population reported living in a dwelling in need of major repairs. This encompasses homes with severe mould, defective plumbing or electrical, or ones requiring structural repairs to the walls, floors, or ceilings.

We are committed to partnering with Indigenous communities to find housing solutions that are by and for Indigenous communities to help alleviate the housing crisis. Local Habitats work with Indigenous families on and off Traditional Territories as part of our Indigenous Housing Partnership, which fosters equitable partnerships rooted in respect for Indigenous culture.

Giga-waabamin menawaa (see you again).