Our Living History

Significant Moments in Indigenous History

As we go into National Making Indigenous History Month (aka National Aboriginal History Month), we came to the realization that everyone and their dog seems to be putting out a timeline meant to encompass Indigenous history in Canada. However, we believe that Indigenous history should be written by you, Indigenous peoples and allies. So, instead, we've created a timeline where you can submit events in history that make National Indigenous Making History Month significant for you. /Marsee/Miigwetch/Tansi/Thanks!

10,300 BP

Shuká Káa (Tlingit for “Man Ahead of Us”) is scientific proof of the Tsimshian, Tlingit, Nisga’a, and Haida oral histories of descendants in the area dating back over 10,000 years ago.

Photo: nexusnewsfeed.com


King George III issued a Royal Proclamation for the administration of British territories in North America. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III and was the beginning of a long and complicated history between the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Crown. It also laid the foundation for the treaty-making process still used today.

Photo: ipolitics.ca


Louis Riel emerges as Métis spokesman and leads Red River Rebellion. This uprising in the Red River Colony was sparked by the transfer of the vast territory of Rupert's Land to the new nation of Canada. The colony of farmers and hunters, many of them Métis, occupied a corner of Rupert's Land and feared for their culture and land rights under Canadian control.

Photo: cbc.ca


Initially, the Indian Act was passed as a way to assimilate Indigenous Peoples into what was considered Euro-Canadian society. It also marked the introduction of status for Indigenous peoples, and acted as a way to document and control Indigenous lands and communal monies.

Photo: cbc.ca


The North-West Rebellion was a five-month incursion by Metis and their Indigenous allies against the Canadian government in what is know today as Alberta and Saskatchewan. It ended with the permanent enforcement of Canadian law in the West, the subjugation of the Métis and the Plains Peoples, and the conviction and hanging of Louis Riel.

Photo: wikipedia.org


Kenneth Moore was one of the first Indigenous athletes to represent Canada in the Olympics. He competed with the men’s hockey team in the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics and brought home the gold medal.

Photo: collectionscanada.gc.ca


Mary Greyes-Reid joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corp and was the first Indigenous woman to enlist in the Canadian Forces.

Photo: thetyee.ca


Nisga’a Frank Calder was the second Indigenous person to be elected to a Canadian legislature, after Louis Riel. Calder, however, was the first Indigenous person to actively take his seat and serve the people in his riding.

Photo: newjourneys.ca


Although Indigenous Peoples were technically legally able to vote at the time of Canadian Confederation in 1867, we could not do so without giving up status and treaty rights. The first time Indigenous peoples were able to vote - without giving up status and treaty rights - was in 1960.

Photo: newjourneys.ca


Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation delivered a speech at Empire Stadium for Canada’s 100th year of Confederacy. “Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success-his education, his skills- and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society.”

Photo: jamesomara.com


Leonard Marchand of the Okanagan Indian Band was the first Indigenous person elected to serve as a Member of Parliament. During his political career he served as Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of State, Minister of the Environment and Senator.

Photo: thestar.com


Also known as the Professional National Indian Artists Incorporation, the Indian Group of Seven was responsible for incorporating Indigenous art as part of Canada’s artistic identity. The group included artists Daphne Odjig, Jackson Beardy, Alex Janvier, Eddy Cobiness, Norval Morrisseau, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez.

Photo: Alex Janvier, Morning Star


The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) becomes one of the five officially recognized National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) whose purpose is to represent and speak on behalf of Indigenous women in Canada.

Photo: raisethehammer.org


The Bill-31 amendment to Indian Act was a crucial moment in removing discriminatory clauses towards Indigenous women. One such amendment was the “double mother clause” or Section 12(I)(a)(iv), a measure that would take away a child’s status if both their mother and grandmother gained Indian status through marriage, regardless of whether their father or grandfather were status Indians.

Photo: newjourneys.ca


Ethel Blondin-Andrew was elected to the House of Commons in the 1988 general election, winning the Western Arctic seat for the Liberals, and served as the Opposition Critic for Aboriginal Affairs (now INAC). She was reelected in 1993 and was appointed Secretary of State, Training and Youth.

Photo: youtube.com

June 1990

The Meech Lake Accord was a series of amendments to the Canadian Constitution that would recognize Quebec as a “distinct society” within Canada. Elijah Harper of Red Sucker Lake in Manitoba implemented procedural delays in the Manitoba legislature on June 22, 1990—the last day the Accord could be ratified—and ran out the clock to have the Meech Lake Accord approved in all provinces.

“I was opposed to the Meech Lake Accord because we weren't included in the Constitution. We were to recognize Quebec as a distinct society, whereas we as Aboriginal people were completely left out.”

Photo: newjourneys.ca

July 1990

The Oka Crisis - also know as the Oka Resistance - was a land dispute between a group of Mohawk people and the town of Oka, Quebec. It lasted 78 days; from July 11, 1990 until September 26, 1990.

Photo: thestar.com


At the 3rd Annual Intertribal Native American/First Nations, Gay and Lesbian Conference, in Winnipeg, activist Albert McLeod and others propose the term Two-Spirit to refer to the Indigenous LGBTQ Community. The term becomes adopted by many within the Community.

Photo: cbc.ca


The Anglican Church of Canada offered an apology, delivered by primate (chief bishop of archbishop of one of the churches) Michael Peers, for the harm the church inflicted on Indigenous people through residential schools. The apology made at the Anglican Church National Native Convocation in Minaki, Ontario.

Photo: anglican.ca


Thelma Chalifoux is the first Métis woman to be recognized for an Aboriginal Achievement Award.

Photo: newjourneys.ca

October 1994

In 1994, the Presbyterian Church confessed to it’s role in Residential School and acknowledged their active role in attempting to destroy Indigenous cultures, languages, families, and communities through an assimilationist policy.

Photo: flickr.com


The Commission held 178 days of public hearings and visited 96 Indigenous communities to generate a report meant to restore the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The final report, released in 1996, involved recommendations on health, treaties, education and self-governance, and set out an 20-year agenda to improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Photo: unsplash.com

July 1996

Governor General of Canada Roméo LeBlanc announces the Proclamation Declaring June 21 of Each Year as National Aboriginal Day to celebrate the culture, heritage, and contributions of Indigenous Peoples.

Photo: thestar.com

November 1996

Gordon Residential School, the last operating residential school in Canada, closes its doors.

Photo: ubc.ca


Jordin Tootoo was the first Inuk athlete to be drafted to the NHL. His first game was in 2003 for the Nashville Predators, then was traded to the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. He now plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Photo: maskwak.com


For nearly a decade, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture by Bill Reid was featured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill. Before that, in 1996, the sculpture was also featured on Canada Post issued stamps.

Photo: newjourneys.ca


The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) recognized the damage caused by the residential school system and established multi-million dollar compensation to help survivors in recovery.

 Photo: library and archives canada

September 2007

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is released. The Declaration “establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous Peoples.”

Photo: indianlaw.org

June 2008

Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes to Indigenous Survivors of Residential Schools where he recognizes that “Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”

Photo: youtube.com

June 2009

Murray Sinclair was appointed the Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Marie Wilson and Wilton Littlechild were appointed commissioners of the TRC.

Photo: newjourneys.ca

December 11, 2012

On International Human Rights Day, northern Ontario Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence begins a hunger strike and brings national attention to Idle No More movement.

Photo: thestar.com

December 12, 2012

Also known as “Jordan's Principle,” this was motion tabled by Jean Crowder, MP Cowichan-Nanaimo for (NDP) where, "in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately adopt a child-first principle, based on Jordan's Principle, to resolve jurisdictional disputes involving the care of First Nations children.” It passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

Photo: youtube.com

June 2015

The final TRC report’s mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Residential Schools and to document the truth of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by Residential Schools.

Photo: globeandmail.com

April 14, 2016

This decision asserted that Métis and non-Status Indigenous Peoples are considered “Indians” under the Constitution Act.

Photo: ctvnews.ca

August 3, 2016

The appointments included Marion Buller of Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan as Chief Commissioner, and Michèle Audette, Brian Eyolfson, Marilyn Poitras, and Qajaq Robinson as Commissioners.

Photo: thestar.com