I invite you to join The O Canada Challenge !



Here is what I have learned so far…

DAY 1: 

National Aboriginal History Day

Display board at an elementary school in Peel.

June 21st is National Aboriginal History Day. It was created in 1996 and declared officially by former Governor General Romeo LeBlanc!

DAY 2:

Maple Syrup

bottles-canadian-maple-syrup.jpg.838x0_q80According to the Haudenosaunee, maple syrup was first discovered by the wife of one of their chiefs. As the legend goes, one day after her husband left to go hunting she collected the sap (what she thought was water) from a sugar maple tree from where her husband’s ax had left a hole. She used the sap in a stew and the boiling process created maple syrup!

DAY 3:

Whose Land?

Today I came across a website that can tell you whose traditional territory you live on. The city where I live belongs to the Anishinabek, more specifically the Mississaugas of  the New Credit First Nation! Whose land do you live on?

Taken from https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-first-nations-maps#section-2


DAY 4:

“People of the Longhouse”

Picture taken from: http://www.ganondagan.org/Learning/Wampum

I always thought that the Iroquois were one nation but it turns out they are a confederacy. This confederacy is comprised of 6 nations – the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and the Tuscarora nation. I also learned that “Iroquois” is not their original name but it was the French who called them that. The original/correct name of this group of nations is Haudenosaunee! It took me a while to pronounce that 😉

Check out  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/iroquois/ for more information!

How is the challenge going for you? What have you learned so far? Leave a comment below!

DAY 5:

 Deep Convos

Today on my lunch break I was catching up with one of my friends/co-worker. She was telling me about an upcoming panel she will be speaking at that will be addressing Indigenous women involved in sex-trafficking. I always thought that this horrendous social/health issue only happened in third world countries. On my way home as I was reflecting on the conversation I was reminded of an article my dad had sent me a couple of days ago. I don’t know what little old me can do to make a difference or if I can make a difference regarding this inhumanity going on in my own backyard (not just predominately to Indigenous women and girls but also to Black women and girls too – my people!) – but I am committed to educating myself and seeking out organizations/groups that are saving and servicing these women, girls, and babies.

DAY 6:

Ten Indigenous Films to Watch…

cbc twitter
Picture taken from CBC Twitter page.

Click here for CBC Docs list of short films to watch to commemorate National Aboriginal History Month! I am currently making my way through the list!

DAY 7:


Did you know that Canada’s name comes from the Huron-Iroquois (i.e Haudenosaunee) word kanata? This word is translated to village in English. When I was in grade school I remember being told that kanata was the original name of Canada but I did not know the history behind it. Click here for more information!

DAY 8: 

Dream Catcher

20170423_171539Although the dream catcher is apart of many First Nations cultures, legend has it that this popular icon originated with the Chippewa Nation. From my searches there seems to be variations in the story of how the dream catcher came to be and its purpose. In these variations a common theme of its purpose is, to capture the bad dreams/negative thoughts of its owner in the web-like section, and to allow their good dreams/positive thoughts pass through the center opening.

The hand crafted dream catcher in this picture I bought from the Ashnisnabae Art Gallery in Thunder Bay a couple months ago. I am assuming that this is not a traditional one because the style of the web inside its circle (there is no open center).


Day 9:

The Indian Act

Did you know that Canada is the only country in North America where apartheid still exists? The Indian Act is the reason why. I am continually learning about the bitter-sweet relationship that First Nations people have with it. If you are an ally too I highly recommend that you become familiar with this document (*Helpful if a First Nations person educates you about it)!

Image taken from CBC Indigenous News website.

On Facebook I came across an article from the CBC Indigenous News website entitle 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act. There were 6 things on this list that were new to my knowledge:

The Indian Act…

  • Renamed individuals with European names (#4)
  •  Could lease out uncultivated reserve lands to non-First Nations if the new leaseholder would use it for farming or pasture (#8)
  • Prohibited anyone, First Nation or non-First Nation, from soliciting funds for First Nation legal claims without special license from the Superintendent General. (this 1927 amendment granted the government control over the ability of First Nations to pursue land claims) (#10)
  • Prohibited pool hall owners from allowing First Nations entrance (#13)
  • Forbade western First Nations from appearing in any public dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant wearing traditional regalia (#17)
  • Created permit system to control First Nations ability to sell products from farms (#20)

DAY 10:

Indigenous Canada

I found an online course from the University of Alberta called Indigenous Canada. I am so excited to dive in! This course was developed to educate Canadians on the historical and present day issues that its Indigenous nations experience(d). I will keep you posted on the new things I learn while taking this course! 

DAY 11:

Traditional Names

Today I learned that it is important (especially as an ally) in conversations to use the terms that Indigenous people use to refer to themselves. For example the traditional name of the Cree people is Nehiyawak and Kanien Keha’Ka is the name the Mohawk people use to refer to themselves. Pretty neat!

DAY 12:


Today I learned about maligait, a code of ethics that the Inuit peoples live by. I found them relatable to some of my beliefs as well. Here they are: 

  1. Work for the common good
  2. Respect all living things 
  3. Preserve harmony and balance*
  4. Plan and prepare for the future

*I am currently learning how to maintain balance between self-care and caring for others.

DAY 13:

4 Regions

There are four Inuit regions in Canada: Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut. I am trying to master the pronunciation of these words! 

Image taken from University of Northern British Columbia website.


DAY 14:

Professional Development Interests



Today I was researching types of Indigenous studies diploma and certificate programs. I want to build on my existing knowledge and skills as a Child and Youth Care Worker. I also want to continue working with Indigenous communities long-term and I think the list of programs I made so far will help me with these goals.



DAY 15:


So far I am enjoying the Indigenous Canada online course. The information delivery has been very engaging. I am currently in the Week 2 Module which teaches about the Fur Trade. I didn’t know this but it was the Fur Trade that gave birth to the Metis nation (half European half Indigenous). This nation “began” or “originated” from the 1700s.

DAY 16:

National Aboriginal Day Events List

For those who are interested, I found a list of activities/events happening across Canada on National Aboriginal Day! Click here to view the list!

DAY 17:


If you like music, food, dancing, and learning about cultures I encourage you to go to a Powwow! Powwows are cultural celebrations that are celebrated by Indigenous peoples across Canada and the United States. The first powwow I went to was back in 2014 in Wikwemikong. The dancing was breathtaking and, for me, reflected the resilience of First Nations people. This year I will be attending some local ones and hopefully the one in Wikwemikong again! I came across a website called www.powwows.com which is basically the 4-1-1 for powwows in Canada and the United States.

DAY 18:

Fact Sheet – Indigenous Children in Care

Since university I’ve been aware that Indigenous children are over-represented in Canada’s child welfare system. I came across this fact sheet from the Ontario Native Women’s Association. This fact sheet “hits close to home” because in my experience working with children I have come across 6 First Nation and Inuit children/youth who are (at the time that I supported them) in care (meaning they are in the care of a Children’s Aid Society). To date, there are more Indigenous children in care than their were in Residential Schools (approx. 150,000 children went through the Residential School system).

DAY 19:

Today a family member and I found out that the name of their school campus residence they lived in is named after an Anishnabek nation called the Chippewas of Saugeen. Pretty cool!

DAY 20:

An Invite

fb screen shot

Today one of my peers from my university graduating class sent me a Facebook invite to an event next week. It’s a good feeling when people think of you – especially if you haven’t spoken in quite some time. The event is called “How to be an ally: Reconciling 150 with Indigenous calls to action” which will have a panel of Indigenous activists, artists, and community members that will speak about the impacts of colonialism in Canada for the past 150 years. Unfortunately the event is SOLD OUT but she said to keep an eye out for similar upcoming events like this one. I really hope I can make it out to the next one because I would love to learn more about how to be an ally to Canada’s Indigenous families and communities!

DAY 21:

Name Change


Today is National Aboriginal Day! This morning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that this day will be officially be renamed to National Indigenous Peoples Day starting next year. If you have noticed on my blog I use the term Indigenous instead of Aboriginal when referring to all nations original to Canada. A few years ago I learned that the term Aboriginal means “not original” (ab in latin means not) so using the term did not make sense to me anymore. There are several nations who prefer the term Indigenous over Aboriginal but even more important they also prefer to be called by their specific nation when addressed individually. For example the Cree nation refer to themselves as Nehiyawak. 

DAY 22:

Powwow at Fort York

Today I invited a friend to go to a powwow this weekend with me. This will be her first time attending a powwow – I am so excited for her! She says she is looking forward to it learning about First Nations cultures.


DAY 23:

I am Indigenous

Photo taken from: http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/i-am-indigenous-2017/peltier.html

This month CBC launched a project called I Am Indigenous that features 18 people across Canada sharing their story of what it means to be Indigenous. The story I found most intriguing was Autumn Peltier’s. Only 12 years old, she is an activist for clean drinking water for First Nations communities who had a heart-felt conversation with the Prime Minister! She is bold, she is wise, and I am positive that she has and will continue to inspire her peers to protect the land for a better future. You go girl!

DAY 24:

Jordin Tootoo

jodin tootoo


I am not much of a hockey fan but today I found out something really interesting! The current Chicago Blackhawks player Jordin Tootoo became the first Inuit NHL player back in 2001 – what an honor that must be! I watched an interview of him hosted by The National that makes me want to go and read his book! I am always intrigued and I find strength in hearing about other people’s story of resilience.

If  you read his book before please let me know your thoughts on it in the comment section below!

How is the O Canada Challenge going for you?


.*             *              *

As I am writing this the month is now July. I fell behind on the challenge but I am picking up where I left off! 🙂

DAY 25:

Residential Schools

It was through my enrollment in the Indigenous Canada course that I learned of the three provinces that did not operate residential schools – Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Very interesting! I wonder what the reasoning behind that was.


DAY 26:

First Canadian to win Mrs. Universe Beauty Pageant 

Ashley Callingbull made history back in 2015 when she became the first Canadian crowned Mrs. Universe! She also was the first First Nations women to win this title. Ashley is a Nehiyawak women from Alberta and this week I came across a BuzzFeed Canada feature about her thoughts on Canada 150. Below is a clip from a speech she gave at REDx Talks…Very inspirational!


DAY 27:

Harry Daniels

Today I learned about one of the most important Metis leaders when it comes to Metis rights and recognition. In the 1970s Harry Daniels advocated for the mention of his people within the Canadian Constitution Act. He believed without this mention that Metis peoples rights would be ignored. His determination lead to Jean Chretien’s addition (Section 35-1 and 35-2) to the Constitution in the 1980s:

“In this Act, aboriginal Peoples of Canada includes the Indian [First Nations], Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada,” (Section 35-2 of the Constitution Act). 

DAY 28:


Did you know that the word Nunavut (1 of the 3 territories in Canada) means “our land” in Inuktitut? Inuktitut is one of the languages spoken by Inuit people in Canada’s Arctic.

DAY 29:

The top three widely spoken Indigenous languages in Canada are Cree, Inuktitut, and Ojibwae!



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