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8 Ways To Explore The Diversity Of Indigenous Resistance In Canada “150th” Year

As we head into spring and summer conversations and coverage around Canada’s “150th” anniversary grow. The hype often involves images of the overly polite, outdoorsy and multicultural Canadian identity with a little poutine, Justin Trudeau, and hockey thrown in. However, within this coverage the histories, stories, and experiences of Indigenous people, communities and nations within Canada get little attention. Often when Indigenous people are included within national coverage the tone is peaceful and appears that reconciliation is something of the past. This is not the case. In fact many Indigenous bloggers and people on social media have resisted the ignorance of this celebration and its attempt painting Canada as a post-colonial nation. Take a look at the links below to explore the diversity Indigenous resistance in Canada today!

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1. Indigenous Artist: Kent Monkman

Kent Monkman

Kent Monkman is a well-known Cree artist in Canada. In his career he has worked with painting, film, performance and installation. His exhibitions have made waves in some of the largest art galleries across the country including the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Through his paintings Monkman creates as fantastical, vibrant, sexy, comedic and haunting retelling of Canada’s colonial history. Monkman’s work provides a critique of the horrors of colonialism through over-dramatization, symbolism, truth, and narrative. Monkman’s work shows an interesting way to resist colonialism through art and dark humour. His work has created a gateway for many people to explore their relationship and understanding of Canada’s colonial history. His work has had a broad impact and been a catalyst for critical thinking and dialogue within Canada. Monkman’s work highlights the importance of art within reconciliation efforts, as art is often a more moving and accessible way to engage with ideas.

2. Indigenous Blog: apihtawikosisan


The apihtawikosisan blog is run by Chelsea Vowel, a Metis mother of 6 from manitow-sâkahikan territory in Alberta. Through this blog Vowel explores everything from Joseph Boyden to Indigenous sovereignty, paternalism and misrepresentation within the news to the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat. Her site also has links to Indigenous artisans and clothing, web resources focused on decolonization and information on water and land protection. Her site allows for in depth engagement on many different subjects via its thorough approach to each subject. This blog displays Vowel’s self-conception and representation of her Indigeneity. Self-representation is a critical piece to resistance as it challenges harmful and universalizing ideas about Indigeneity. This is critical as much of media written about Indigenous people, communities and nations is created by non-Indigenous people and settlers. Self-representation is a powerful resist act for it subverts harmful and violent misrepresentation. Self-representation is an absolutely imperative component to reconciliation for the access to information and creation on a wide scale is an important site of empowerment and tool of change.

3. Indigenous Musician: Tanya Tagaq

Tanya Tagaq / Via

Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk throat singer from Nunavut. She creates powerful and politically charged punk-throat singing music. Through her work she explores very difficult and real subjects of violence, rape, colonialism and residential schools. She approaches her work with a radical tone and deep disdain for the colonial institutions and state sanction oppression of Indigenous people in Canada. Her work offers an alternative approach to activism and resistance. Her anger creates a moment of pause and thought about the current state of reconciliation and the mainstream coverage that asserts progress and peace. Tagaq’s work asserts and makes space for anger, despair and rage as tools of resistance, and important steps in reconciliation. Her works validates an often-criticized form of resistance; anger. Contrary to much public thought anger has a place in reconciliation efforts as a motivating and important perspective in conversations. Reconciliation is not a project of progress it does not account for and comprehend the full range of perspectives and feelings of everyone involved.

4. Indigenous Digital Media:

Native Land / Via

Native Land is a website created to help people living in North American learn more about Indigenous histories, territory, and land. Through their website users are able to put in an address to see the territories, languages and treaties that cross over to mark the history of that space. Users are also able to reverse this search through looking up a specific territory, language or treaty to see it’s stretch and impact on the land. This website is really innovative and unique as it demands recognition for the colonial, and pre-colonial histories of all land. This act resists hegemonic ideas about Canadian history and reconciliation that attempt to brush over the ongoing impact of colonialism on the land. This site complicates non-Indigenous and settlers conceptualization of space and urban areas through recognizing Indigenous land as broad and all encompassing. Understanding history of land is a preliminary step in reconciliation. Hopefully, land recognition will give way to the settling of land claims, and Indigenous self-governance.

5. Indigenous Book: Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg / Via

The author of Birdie, Tracey Lindberg is a Cree and Metis woman from Northern Alberta. She is extremely accomplished and is the first Aboriginal in Canada to graduate from Harvard law. She is also an award winning scholar, and author. Birdie is her most recent novel and came out in 2015. This book tackles topics of sexual assault, and trauma by way of Cree knowledge and practices of healing. In a short article written for CBC, Lindberg speaks of how writing has been an act of resistance for her. Through writing she has been able to escape her everyday life as a student and create something important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This book provides an opportunity for readers to connect with Indigenous led and based content and one representation of Indigeneity. In doing so this book is a tool of resistance and de-colonization. The complexity of Lindberg’s story helps expose reconciliation as a complicated and difficult process that requires everyone’s personal investment.

6. Indigenous Comedian: Ryan MacMahon

Ryan MacMahon

Ryan MacMahon is a Native comedian, media creator, filmmaker, podcast host, and writer in Canada. He is well known for his role in the anticipated movie, Colonization Road, and his overall involvement in discussions on reconciliation in Canada. MacMahon got his start working as a comedian. His stand up set, “Welcome to Turtle Island Too,” uses comedy to work through his experiences of colonization, resistance and reconciliation. MacMahon’s voice is important when thinking about resistance. Within his own career he has used many different platforms to resist colonial ideas within Canada and provide alternative means of reconciliation. His use of comedy is important, especially within, “Welcome to Turtle Island Too,” as it is created by and for Indigenous people and communities. He does not explicitly attempt to play a mediating or reconciliatory role but rather prioritize and make space for the experiences of Indigenous people. Centring the experiences of Indigenous people is absolutely critical to legitimate reconciliation efforts.

7. Indigenous Film: Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones / Via

The film, Fire Song, was written and directed by Adam Garnet Jones, a Cree and Metis creator. This film is a coming of age love story of Shane and David, a couple of two-spirit Anishanabe teens in northern Ontario. This films deals with the realities of some rural communities and the impact of alcohol, drugs, suicide and sexual assault. While this film does deal with heavy subjects it still brings us back to ideas of land, family, elders and culture. This film is a resistant piece through both the narrative within the film, and the film as a tool itself. Resistance is shown within the film through healing, self-care and community. These acts are often overlooked and oversimplified means of resistance. Through centring oneself as an Indigenous person there is rejection of colonial and racist ideas that may say otherwise. This film serves as a tool of connecting people to ideas of survival as resistance, and a critical preliminary step to reconciliation.

8. Indigenous Social Media: Idle No More Twitter

Idle No More / Via Twitter: @IdleNoMore4

Idle No More’s twitter is a prime example of modern and multi-faceted activism in the digital age. Idle No More is known for their activism work that opposes colonial institutions and legislation. Much of their well-known activism has revolved around the land and water. Their twitter page tackles many issues, crossing many subjects and boundaries including: Indigenous rights, land and activism, Missing and Murdered Indigenous people, climate change, Trump, Black Lives Matter and Mexican workers rights. The way in which Idle No More uses their platform to promote not only their work, but the work of others is a great example of relationality and solidarity. Their promotion of anti-oppressive work and empowerment in general recognizes the interconnectivity of white supremacy-capitalism-colonialism-sexism that upholds oppressive institutions. This work is important as reconciliation cannot be a project that exists within a bubble, rather it should be a project that understands and inspires equity for all people.

Thanks for taking a look!

It is important to acknowledge the ongoing existence of colonialism within this country, and the consistent acts of resistance that push back. This post aims to highlight the ways Indigenous resistance exists in our digital age and how these acts of resistance lead us closer to goals of true reconciliation and equity.

Each of these digital medias showcases a different way of approaching resistance and reconciliation. This diversity is important when thinking about misrepresentation within media and national ideology as a means of colonialism and racism.

It is also critical to acknowledge the validity of those Indigenous people, communities and nations who do decide to play an active role in the celebrations and commemoration of Canada's 150th since Confederation. Participation is a resistant act for it allows representation and power through subverting the colonial structures at play.

Through showing the diversity of resistance and reconciliation there is a broader understanding of what Indigenous activism looks like today!

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