Gathering Theme: Dispelling the Misconceptions about Indigenous People

Gathering Theme

Dispelling the Myths About Indigenous People

Opening common to all gatherings

Presentation of the theme

(The majority of this document comes from a publication “Indigenous Workforce Participation Initiative,” Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1998, with updates from Statistics Canada, and from “Indigenous Strong, Manitoba Strong: Indigenous contributions to the Manitoba Economy” (2019). The publication is very consistent with other similar documents, such as the 2012 publication by TD Bank called “Debunking 10 myths surrounding Canada’s Indigenous population.”)

Many misconceptions about Indigenous peoples in Canada are based on stereotyping and lack of information. These misconceptions have serious consequences and are often at the root of racism and discrimination that Indigenous peoples continue to experience today. For employers, ongoing misconceptions about Indigenous peoples can adversely impact the effectiveness of their Indigenous workforce participation initiatives.

Dispelling the misconceptions and myths is one step towards building relationships based on mutual respect and trust. Here are 10 common misconceptions about Indigenous peoples, along with factual information that will help to dispel them.

  1. MYTH: All Indigenous peoples are the same.

The Facts:

  • The Indigenous population is very diverse:
  • It is composed of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples – each with a different history, culture and society.
  • In Canada today there are 11 major language families with over 50 forms. Some Indigenous languages are as different as Spanish is from Japanese.
  • Indigenous peoples live in many different parts of Canada -in geographically diverse locations such as urban centres, rural communities and remote locations. As of 2016, half of Status Indians live in urban areas.
  • There are 63 Reserves in Manitoba, 207 in Ontario.
  • Not all Indigenous people do pow wows, potlatches, smudges or sweats.

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples have always had the same rights as others in Canada.

The Facts:

  • Only recently have Indigenous peoples begun to obtain the same rights as other people in Canada.
  • In 1880, an amendment to the Indian Act provided for automatic loss of status of any Indian who earned a university degree

or any Indian woman who married a non-Indian or an unregistered Indian. Loss of status was not officially repealed until 1985.

  • In 1884, an amendment to the Indian Act instituted prison sentences for anyone participating in potlatch, or other traditional Indigenous ceremonies.
  • Indigenous people were denied their right to organize politically.
  • Amendments to the Indian Act in 1927 made it illegal for First Nations people or communities to hire lawyers or bring about land claims against the government without the government’s consent.
  • Registered First Nations peoples only obtained the right to vote in 1960.
  • The Nisga’a Treaty was only ratified in 2000. It is the first modern-day treaty in B.C. and it served as a model for many First nations seeking self-government and modern treaties in Canada.
  • In 2016, The Supreme Court declared that Métis (and non-status Indians) must be considered “Indians” in the Constitution and thereby fall under federal jurisdiction. This did not include remedial action, but in conjunction with agreements with provincial governments, this opens the door for Métis rights and land claims.

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples are responsible for their current situation.

The Facts: Many factors have contributed to the situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada:

  • Prior to European contact, Indigenous societies were strong and self-sufficient.
  • While Indigenous peoples were never conquered, the process of colonization resulted in complete loss of control and dependency. For example:
  • According to article 32 (1) of the Indian Act “a transaction of any kind whereby a band or a member thereof purported to sell, barter, exchange, give or otherwise dispose of cattle of cattle,,, grain,… or plants or their products from a reserve.. to a person other than a member of that band, is void unless the superintendent approves of the transaction in writing.”
  • Policies of displacement and assimilation (e.g., residential schools and banning of potlatch) deprived Indigenous peoples of their traditional, social, economic and political powers.
  • Indigenous peoples are now re-establishing control through a process of healing, negotiation and partnership.
  • The Pass system, in place for over 60 years until its repeal in 1941, required written permission from the Indian agent for a person to leave a reserve, to fish, hunt, sell their crops, get married, etc. The pass indicated why they were allowed to be absent, for how long and whether or not they could carry a gun.

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples have a lot of money.

The Facts:

  • Indigenous individuals have lower incomes than others in Canada:
  • In 2010, the median income for Indigenous peoples was $20,000—compared to $27,600 median income for the rest of Canadians. While income disparity between Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canadians narrowed slightly in a decade, at this rate it would take 63 years for the gap to be erased.
  • Although Indigenous incomes rise with increased education, even highly educated Indigenous people still face a considerable income gap relative to non-Indigenous people.

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples have everything paid for; they don’t have to pay for their housing, education or medical expenses.

The Facts: Certain services are paid for. What these are, and who they are for, is defined by statute or agreement:

  • Registered First Nations peoples have certain services paid for. These are part of the federal government’s as outlined in the Indian Act. Indigenous people did not ask for the Indian Act.
  • When a registered First Nations person leaves the community, access to these rights are limited. And as the federal government cuts spending, items admissible under these statutory obligations also diminish.
  • The national Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, now called Indigenous and Northern Affairs, provides certain services to the Inuit through its Indian and Inuit programs. The department funds services for these communities that other Canadians receive from their provincial or municipal governments. These services include education, social services and community infrastructure.
  • There is a strong link between education and income levels.
  • Only in 2016 was the annual cap of 2% increase in on-reserve funding for education ended.
  • In 2017, the Parliamentary Budget Office estimated the gap between on reserve schools and other schools in Canada is $665 million. That is even worse than in 2012, when the gap was $595 million.
  • Outside of the items defined by statute and agreement, Indigenous peoples pay their own expenses.

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples do not pay taxes.

The Facts: Personal tax exemption occurs only in confined cases. Indigenous peoples pay significant amounts of tax every year:

  • Inuit and Métis people always pay taxes.
  • First Nations peoples without status, and registered First Nations peoples living off-reserve, pay taxes like the rest of the country.
  • Registered First Nations peoples working off-reserve pay income tax, regardless of where they reside (even on-reserve).
  • Administrative costs incurred by registered First Nations peoples claiming tax exemption for off-reserve purchases under $500 discourage requests for reimbursement. In these cases, most registered First Nations peoples opt to pay the sales tax.
  • Registered First Nations peoples are sometimes exempted from paying personal taxes. Tax exemption is part of the federal government’s statutory obligation as outlined in the Indian Act.
  • There are many taxes beyond personal income taxes: income taxes on corporations, and unincorporated businesses, federal and provincial sales taxes, and federal excise taxes. Based on 2016 data, Indigenous people contributed over $230 million in taxes annually (57% federal and 43% provincial).

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples cannot interface with, or adapt to, life in the mainstream.

The Facts: Indigenous peoples have extensive and effective relationships with the rest of Canadian society.

  • Indigenous peoples attend, and graduate from, a wide range of colleges and universities.
  • There are over 40,000 businesses owned and operated by Indigenous people in Canada. There are 706 in Manitoba.
  • Indigenous businesses are estimated to have spent $6,011 million in 2016. This spending contributed $1,121 million to Manitoba’s GDP, 13,688 jobs and labout income of $6.4 million.
  • Indigenous businesses form joint ventures (and other business arrangements) with non-Indigenous businesses.
  • The Indigenous economy is the second largest component of the major industries in Canada
    • Agriculture = 5.3%
    • Indigenous =3.9%
    • Manufacturing =2.7%
    • Accommodations and food industry = 2.7%
    • Mining, oil and gas = 2.0%
  • The Indigenous component contributes $9.3 billion to the Manitoba economy annually
  • Of all self-employed Indigenous people in Canada, women make up 37%, and even 51% of Indigenous small– and medium-sized enterprises are owned in whole or in part by Indigenous women; 

 

  1. MYTH: Indigenous peoples do not have a good work ethic; they have high rates of turnover and absenteeism. They are “lazy.”

The Facts: Indigenous peoples are skilled, productive and reliable employees who are valued by their employers:

  • Indigenous peoples participate extensively in work-oriented education and training programs.
  • Indigenous peoples are valued as stable, reliable employees who contribute in many ways to corporate performance.
  • Flexible work arrangements may be established to allow Indigenous peoples to pursue their traditional ways, the timing of which differs from statutory holidays.
  • There are 71,440 First Nations people employed in Southern Manitoba, and 16,000 in the North.
  • There are 92,800 Indigenous people in Winnipeg (2016 census). In the 2015 survey of homelessness in Winnipeg, there were about 1,400. Almost 800 were Indigenous. Where are the other 92,000 Indigenous people? Working, at home caring for their children, volunteering, etc.

 

  1. MYTH: There are no qualified Indigenous peoples to hire.

The Facts: Indigenous peoples have the education, skills and expertise required for jobs in all economic sectors:

  • Almost one-half (48.4%) of Indigenous people had a postsecondary qualification in 2011, including 14.4% with a trades certificate, 20.6% with a college diploma, 3.5% with a university certificate or diploma below the bachelor level, and 9.8% with a university degree. (In comparison, almost two-thirds (64.7%) of the non-Indigenous population aged 25 to 64 had a postsecondary qualification in 2011.)
  • Indigenous peoples work in many occupations. First Nations peoples work in all parts of the Manitoba economy
    • 20% healthcare and social assistance
    • 13% education
    • 11% public administration
    • 10% construction
    • 10% retail trade
  • A young and growing Indigenous population represents an opportunity for economic development in Canada, and even more so in Manitoba. The growing cadre of young Indigenous people represents a supply of new workers, entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • Many services are available to help employers find qualified Indigenous employees.

 

  1. MYTH: Hiring Indigenous peoples is a form of reverse discrimination.

The Facts: Hiring Indigenous peoples is part of a strategy to develop a representative workforce:

  • A representative workforce strategy means that all groups are represented – those who are part of the majority population as well as those who are in minorities—reflecting the make-up of the country or of the population surrounding work areas.
  • Measures to increase Indigenous workforce participation are not designed to favour one group over another. They are designed to increase access to employment vacancies and promote equitable opportunity for all groups.
  • Provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (as well as provincial and territorial statutes) permit employers to take special measures to achieve the equitable representation of Indigenous peoples and other groups in the workforce.

Our “Resources” section of our website provides a direct link to the full 2019 report on Indigenous contributions to the Manitoba Economy.

Discussion, passing the talking stick

Closing common to all gatherings

Call for Volunteers to Become Part of Our Advisory Committee

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS TO BECOME PART OF OUR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 What is Circles For Reconciliation (CFR)?
We are a grassroots, full and equal partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with the sole goal of fostering respectful relationships as the basis of reconciliation. We do this by creating small circles of 10 participants with two trained facilitators who meet once a week for 10 weeks for an hour and a half to become informed and share insights and life stories.

While the project began in Winnipeg, it has expanded across Canada, including Toronto. The guiding principles of CFR are the Truth and Reconciliation’s 94 Calls to Action.  We are seeking volunteers in Toronto to serve on the Advisory Committee.

Role of CFR Advisory Committee members:

  • Understand the Truth and Reconciliation Calls To Action
  • Attend Advisory Committee meetings
  • Advise and provide feedback on project development.
  • Promote Circles for Reconciliation
  • Provide support for Toronto Indigenous Community Recruiter

Qualifications

  • Interest in and commitment to Indigenous social justice issues and reconciliation
  • Knowledge of and connections to GTA Indigenous organizations
  • Immediate need is for Indigenous candidates to maintain parity on the Advisory Committee

For more information, contact: Raymond Currie, info [at] circlesforreconciliation [dot] ca or 1-(204) 487-0512

Closing Protocol for Meetings

Closing Protocol for Meetings:

(Each sentence to be read by a different participant,
with the last sentence being read together by all six)

  1. Reconciliation must become a way of life.
  2. It will take many years to repair damaged trust and relationships in Aboriginal communities and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
  3. Reconciliation not only requires apologies, reparations, and relearning of Canada’s national history, and public commemorations, but also needs real social, political and economic change.
  4. Ongoing public education and dialogue are essential to reconciliation.
  5. Governments, churches, educational institutions, and Canadians from all walks of life are responsible for taking action on reconciliation in concrete ways, working collaboratively with Aboriginal peoples.
  6. (All six readers) Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us.”

(Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, Page 18)

 

Opening Protocol for Meetings

Opening Protocol

1. I wish to acknowledge that we are on the original lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

2. Following the presentation of the topic for today, a general discussion will follow with each of you being given an opportunity to speak to the issue. You are encouraged to keep in mind seven sacred teachings of the Anishinaabe in your thoughts and words.

3. (The Seven Sacred Teachings are then to be read aloud by one of the participants)
LOVE: it is important to care for one another
HONESTY: better to fail with honesty than succeed by fraud
RESPECT: give it, earn it, receive it.
TRUTH: it is always easiest to speak the truth
HUMILITY: to be humble about your accomplishments is to be strong
COURAGE: let nothing stand in the way of doing the right thing
WISDOM: with hard work and dedication will come knowledge

4. Sharing around the circle, clockwise is recommended. Should you wish to “pass” at that time, you will be given a chance at the end to offer your thoughts. While you may not wish to speak at all on a given week, your participation is desired as each individual has gifts to offer the circle.

5. An item, such as a talking stick, will be passed around giving each person a chance to speak. Speak on behalf of yourself only and speak what comes from your heart and from your own experience.

6. It is very important that we all recognize that the feelings of an individual are neither right nor wrong. They are real and need to be respected.

7. In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the four guiding principles for the new relationship are “mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility.” (Interim Report, page 23)

8. We ask you to be conscious of your sharing time so that everyone has a chance to participate. Because we have a number of gatherings you will have ample opportunity to share your ideas and feelings.

Opening protocol for the first circle

I would like to share with you some of the feedback we have received from our participants. While most of it has been very positive, there have been several concerns raised.

Our non-Indigenous participants have sometimes been frustrated when Indigenous participants have not continued in the group after the first few meetings.

Our Indigenous participants also have some concerns. Some feel that too much burden has been placed upon them to share difficult moments of their past, while the non-Indigenous participants have not felt that same obligation. We need to respect each other’s stories. We cannot ask Indigenous participants to share if the non-Indigenous partners are not also willing to share.

A second concern Indigenous people have expressed is in the form of a question: “Why should we have to educate settlers about things they should have learnt in school or elsewhere? It is not our job to educate them”. The answer to that question is both simple and complicated. The simple answer is that settlers did not learn it in school. Period. But now there are plenty of books, T.V. programs and media reports that are telling the stories. Non-Indigenous people cannot be blamed for not learning this in school, but there is no longer an excuse to be ignorant. Now that we know a little more, we can do something about it. Let’s all take responsibility ourselves to learn more and do something about it. Our circles give us a wonderful opportunity to meet one another, to get to know one another, to hear the stories of one another and to build that mutual respect that the TRC states is the foundation of reconciliation. Knowledge has to add empathy to bring about change.

There is another reason we encourage Indigenous participants to take part in our circles. We hope your children and grandchildren will no longer have to experience the racism and ignorance that has marked Canadian history and Indigenous lives for so long. You can help end that with your participation. We hope you will grace us with your presence and participation. We need you!

To our non-Indigenous participants, we want to ask you to share some of your own history. How does it relate or does it not relate to Indigenous people in Canada? Why have you not been taught more about Canada’s broken promises to Indigenous people or about your relationships with the systems that uphold the status quo? Together, our sharing can lead us to live by the treaties that our forefathers signed in our name.

General Procedures for Gatherings

GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR GATHERINGS

Each meeting would have the following format:

    1. Opening standard Protocol (by facilitator)
    2. Reading (or alternate presentation) by facilitator or by a designated but volunteer participant, determined by the facilitator (10-12 minutes).
    3. Sharing by everyone in the circle using a talking stick
    4. Closing  (Initiated by the facilitator, but each phrase read by 6 different participants, with the last sentence read by all six). We consider it important that gatherings conclude after 75 minutes with the sharing of the Closing protocol.  In that way, those who wish to leave can do so without feeling guilt or disrupting things. Some may wish to continue discussions if that is acceptable in the facility. But our commitment is for meetings of 75 minutes.
    5. Items needed for each meeting
      • Refreshments, possibly muffins and a drink
      • A talking stick
      • A copy of the Opening Protocol
      • A copy of the  Sacred Teachings of the Anishinaabe
      • 6 copies of the closing Protocol for each group
      • Materials for smudging (if desired) or appropriate invocation

 

Registration

Register for Circles for Reconciliation

Circles open for new participants

The information below indicates simply the physical location of the circles. There is no requirement for membership in any of the organizations where the circles are being held. Where known, we have also indicated the time of the circles. If you would like to participate in one of these circles please indicate which circle when you register online. You can also register without indicating a specific site where you would like to participate.

A detailed list of circles can be found here.

Common interest in achieving truth and reconciliation and equality of opportunity for Indigenous people is the only requirement for participation.

There is no cost to participation.
Each meeting will be approximately 75 minutes
Participation will include attendance at 10 meetings.

If you know others who might like to take part, please invite them to respond. Once we have 10 participants we will announce the particulars of a new Circle.

Having reviewed and agreed to the “Guiding Principles” posted on this website, I wish to join a group.

We ask this next question to ensure that we have a balance of participants in each circle:
First NationInuitMétisNon-Indigenous

City
Winnipeg, ManitobaToronto, OntarioThunder Bay, OntarioOther

Availability
Please check all that apply.

Weekdays
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Weekends
Saturday
Sunday

Start Times
Morning (10am
Afternoon (1pm)
Evening (Starts between 5-7pm)

Can not participate now. Available starting

I would like to be trained to be a facilitator of a group (I agree to be contacted by email).

You will be informed as soon as 10 participants register for a given time. Groups are held in various areas in your city. New groups are starting on a regular basis.

Thank you for your registration! If you cannot attend for some reason, can you please provide 72 hours notice so we may find a replacement. Thank you for this courtesy.

A Survivor

“A Survivor is not just someone who “made it through” the schools, or “got by” or was “making do.”

A Survivor is a person who persevered against and overcame adversity. The word came to mean someone who emerged victorious, though not unscathed, whose head was “bloody but unbowed.” It referred to someone who had taken all that could be thrown at them and remained standing at the end. It came to mean someone who could legitimately say “I am still here!”

For that achievement, Survivors deserve our highest respect. But, for that achievement, we also owe them the debt of doing the right thing. Reconciliation is the – thing to do, coming out of this history.

In this volume, Survivors speak of their pain, loneliness, and suffering, and of their accomplishments. While this is a difficult story, it is also a story of courage and endurance. The first step in any process of national reconciliation requires us all to attend to these voices, have been silenced for far too long. We encourage all Canadians to do so.

The Survivors Speak, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Page XIII.

Closing Remarks for all Gatherings

CLOSING FOR ALL GATHERINGS

(Each sentence to be read by a different participant)

1. Reconciliation must become a way of life.

2. It will take many years to repair damaged trust and relationships in Aboriginal communities and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.

3. Reconciliation not only requires apologies, reparations, and relearning of Canada’s national history, and public commemorations, but also needs real social, political and economic change.

4. Ongoing public education and dialogue are essential to reconciliation.

5. Governments, churches, educational institutions, and Canadians from all walks of life are responsible for taking action on reconciliation in concrete ways, working collaboratively with Aboriginal peoples.

6. Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us.”  – (Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, Page 18)

Opening for all Gatherings

OPENING FOR ALL GATHERINGS

(To be read aloud at the start of each session)

1. I wish to acknowledge that we are on the original lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

2. Following the presentation of the topic for today, a general discussion will follow with each of you being given an opportunity to speak to the issue. You are encouraged to keep in mind seven sacred teachings of the Anishinaabe in your thoughts and words.

3. (The Seven Sacred Teachings are then to be read aloud by one of the participants)

LOVE: it is important to care for one another
HONESTY: better to fail with honesty than succeed by fraud
RESPECT: give it, earn it, receive it.
TRUTH: it is always easiest to speak the truth
HUMILITY: to be humble about your accomplishments is to be strong
COURAGE: let nothing stand in the way of doing the right thing
WISDOM: with hard work and dedication will come knowledge

4. Sharing around the circle, clockwise is recommended. Should you wish to “pass” at that time, you will be given a chance at the end to offer your thoughts. While you may not wish to speak at all on a given week, your participation is desired as each individual has gifts to offer the circle.

5. An item, such as a talking stick, will be passed around giving each person a chance to speak. Speak on behalf of yourself only and speak what comes from your heart and from your own experience.

6. It is very important that we all recognize that the feelings of an individual are neither right nor wrong. They are real and need to be respected.

7. In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the four guiding principles for the new relationship are “mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility.” (Interim Report, page 23)

8. We ask you to be conscious of your sharing time so that everyone has a chance to participate.

Advisory Committee

Circles for Reconciliation Advisory Committee

Ko’ona Cochrane,  Community Indigenous Facilitator

Raymond F. Currie, retired, University of Manitoba

Ashley Edson, MsW.

Michael Yellowwing Kannon, Website developer

Lisa Raven, Exec. Dir., Returning to Spirit

Clayton Sandy  Indigenous Facilitator   

Ruth Shead, Coordinator for Indigenous Achievement, U. of Manitoba

Maraleigh Short, Visions & Voices Coordinator

Vincent Solomon, Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land, Urban Indigenous Ministry Developer

Mary Warmbrod, Family Therapist

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