Yellowhead Briefs

Yellowhead Briefs provide a platform for perspectives from key thinkers on First Nations issues.  Our Briefs focus on topical and pressing issues affecting communities on the ground and ideas that challenge the status quo.



Social Policy

May 5, 2022
What The Freedom Convoy Protests Reveals About Structural Racism In Canada

In this brief, Krista Stelkia analyzes police responses to the Freedom Convoy in comparison to police responses to Black and Indigenous movements. Stelkia asks how policing is mediated by structural racism and what it means for other inequality gaps in Canadian society. LEARN MORE


Balancing the Budget at Indigenous People’s Expense

What does the 2022 budget approach mean for Indigenous people, who have been consistently underfunded even when the Canadian government has made its largest investments? 

Let’s Talk about Indigenous Mental Health: Trauma, Suicide & Settler Colonialism

As cabinet returns to work this January, one item on the agenda should be implementing the new UNDRIP legislation. In this brief Kanatese Horn explores the possibilities UNDRIP holds for urban Indigenous governance and political authority.

Imagining Urban Indigenous Sovereignty & Space through Canadian UNDRIP Legislation

As cabinet returns to work this January, one item on the agenda should be implementing the new UNDRIP legislation. In this brief Kanatese Horn explores the possibilities UNDRIP holds for urban Indigenous governance and political authority.

A Record of Solidarity in the X University Campaign

In the aftermath of the “X University campaign” including the decision to change the name of the University, a group of graduate students encountered an administration that refused to accept their work unless they used the name “Ryerson”. This brief is a record of their solidarity in the submission of their research.

A New Conversation on Inuit Self Government in Nunavut | ᓄᑖᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᔅᓴᖃᕐᕕᐅᔪᓐᓇᕐᑐᑦ ᐱᓪᓗᒍ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓇᖕᒥᓂᖅ−ᒐᕙᒪᖃᓐᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᖕᒥ

Aluki Kotierk discusses the problems faced as a result of incomplete implementation of the Nunavut agreement. Kotierk poses that Inuit self-governance may be the only way to truly improve the lives of the Inuit population in Nunavut after twenty years of the agreements existence.

Equalization Politics in Alberta & the Restoration of Indigenous Power

Robert Houle discusses the recent referendum question proposed to Albertan’s relating to the issue of equalization. Houle discusses the exclusion of Indigenous community members from the vote and calls for greater Indigenous participation and decision-making, especially on issues directly related to stolen resources.

Connection Creating Change: Indigenous Youth Perspectives on Trauma, Storytelling & Healing

In this brief, Alexa Blyan, an Indigenous youth activist, discusses her project “Digital Voices” which seeks to provide a destigmatized space for youth to discuss their experiences. Through Digital Voices, Blyan explains how the platform can promote connection and healing through the process of storytelling.

Residential School Records and Data Governance

In this brief, Ushnish Sengupta analyzes the role of data governance in contributing to discussing the full truth about residential schools, calling on the Government of Canada and institutions to uphold their promises to implement the TRC’s Calls To Action as it relates to residential school records.

Yellowhead Resources for Truth & Restitution

In the last Parliament, the Federal Government passed legislation to recognize September 30 as a statutory holiday to observe and learn. Yellowhead has curated here, a list of our own related resources for learning and education on this day and beyond.

Liberal Red, Conservative Blue, or Something New? A First Nation Voter’s Guide to the 2021 Federal Election

As the Canadian federal election approaches, Brock Pitawanakwat offers a comparison of party platforms and analysis of commitments being made to communities in the 2021 Canadian federal election.

Murdered by “Bad Luck”: Indigenous Life and Death in Canada

Following the murder of Kristian Ayoungman, Robert Houle and Dallas Hunt analyze disturbing trends in violence against Indigenous people by the hands of settler Canadians, and the seeming impossibilities of justice.

Getting Back to Normal? Not if “Normal” means Indigenous Food and Health Insecurity

As many anticipate a post-COVID, return to ‘normal’, authors Elisa Levi and Hayley Lapalme draw attention to health inequities and structural issues which continue to undermine the well-being of Indigenous peoples, particularly through restricted self-determination in relation to food security.

The Climate Emergency & the Colonial Response

In this brief, Eriel Deranger identifies the critical nature of the climate emergency amidst the dangerous exclusion of Indigenous peoples from environmental decision-making being made by colonial governments. Deranger asks, what does a climate plan look like without consideration of Indigenous rights and what should they look like from [an Indigenous] perspective?

Measuring Indigenous Well-Being: What is Indigenous Services Missing?

The “well-being index” has been a bumpy ride for Indigenous peoples, since the decision on what and how to measure has led to misleading results and poor policy. Ethan Guthro outlines the challenges, and possibilities for indigenizing the metric.

Not So Grand Plans: The Continued Erasure of Indigenous Rights in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Hydroelectric ‘Development’

In this Brief, Johnson-Castle and Penney, argue that Newfoundland and Labrador’s continued push to advance hydroelectric development – not under the auspices of recovery from COVID-19 – is in disregard of Indigenous rights and title, and risks compounding social, health and economic impacts for the whole region.

Canada and Israel: Partners in the “Settler Colonial Contract”

After eleven days of violence in Palestinian territories and a ceasefire in place, Azeezah Kanji takes stock of the Canadian role in the assault, and more importantly, the links in the Settler Colonial Contract between Canada and Israel.

Introducing X University: An Open Letter to the Community from Indigenous Students

As Ryerson’s Standing Strong taskforce to “reconcile the history of Egerton Ryerson” begins to wrap up community engagement, Indigenous students at the University have written this open letter and call to action: Introducing X University.

Historic and Underwhelming: An Indigenous Analysis of Budget 2021

While the Federal 2021 budget has boasted of increased investment in Indigenous communities, Riley Yesno argues that it falls short of what is neccesary to transform systems of inequity and fulfill commitments to Indigenous communities.

Insolvency, Indigenous Research & the Uncertain Future of Laurentian University

As Laurentian cuts faculty, staff and entire degree programs, what about research at the university? In this brief, members of the LU Indigenous community raise current and future concerns of research collaborations with Indigenous partners.

The “New Normal”: Defending First Nations Jurisdiction During COVID-19

What do the Wet’suwet’en-CGL crisis and COVID-19 have in common? Both ignore Indigenous jurisdiction to devastating effects. Jade Dumoulin examines how Canada ignored international guidance on state pandemic response concerning Indigenous peoples and their rights.

In Defence of the Integrity of our Nation: Métis Colonialism West of the Rocky Mountains

The relationship between First Nations and Metis has been one of kinship, but not without tension. A new, and troubling source of tension is now in B.C., where the Metis Nation of BC has begun claiming lands and rights. In this Brief, Stephen Mussel even describes this relationship as a form of colonialism.

Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction in Solidarity with Indigenous Encampment Residents

As the third wave of COVID-19 emerges, Indigenous folks who find themselves unhoused are now being threatened with violence to clear encampments, with no promise of safe, permanent housing. Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction raised a teepee on March 27, 2010 as a space for healing, community and ceremony in Allen Gardens, a gathering place for many houseless Indigenous people in the city.

Colonizers Being Colonizers: Lobster Fishing & the Continued Oppression of L’nu’k in Mi’kma’ki

Months after the fisheries conflict in Nova Scotia, the Dept. of Fisheries and Ocean’s has imposed a decision on the “moderate livelihood fishery” and l’nu’k fishers continue to be charged and harassed by the RCMP. This Brief assesses the current state of affairs and asks where we go from here.

George Cleary & The Sahtu Dene and Métis Land Claim Agreement

George Cleary has stood out as a prominent fixture in the history of treaty-making in the Sahtu region. He led the regional tribal council that negotiated and signed the Agreement. Here, Dakota Erutse reflects on the influence of George Cleary today.

A User Guide for Land Defenders: The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

As Arthur Manuel said, you can’t “cry on the shoulder of the guy who took your land.” One place to turn instead is to international human rights bodies, like CERD. But navigating the UN is hard from the outside. This guide breaks it down.

Statement from the Braided Warriors on Police And State Violence re: Trans Mountain Pipeline

Indigenous Youth Land Defenders, the Braided Warriors, issue this statement in response to their violent arrest and treatment by Vancouver Police Department on February 19, 2021 when peacefully occupying the corporate lobby of AIG, an insurer of the Transmountain pipeline.

Water is Life: The fatal links between water infrastructure, COVID-19, and First Nations in Canada

Boil water advisories are only the tip of the iceberg. In this brief, Jaida Beaudin reveals more breaking news on the impact of COVID on First Nations related to water issues.

Algonquin Anishinabeg vs. The Algonquins of Ontario: Development, Recognition & Ongoing Colonization

As the Algonquins of Ontario lead a for profit housing development in Ottawa, concerns about their membership issues and land claim are re-emerging. Could this organization be a threat to the Algonquin Nation?

The Failure of Federal Indigenous Healthcare Policy in Canada

As multiple crisis in Indigenous healthcare mount around the country, the federal government has announced development of Indigenous healthcare legislation. But considering Canada’s previous record here, what can we expect?

Writing Myself into Existence: An Essay on the Erasure of Black Indigenous Identity in Canadian Education

As various jurisdictions move towards “reconciliatory” changes in the curriculum, what gets left out? Etanda Arden makes a call for the inclusion of Black-Indigenous histories and experiences.

Happy New Year to Everyone but Non-Status Kids: Jordan’s Principle & Canada’s Persistent Discrimination

If federal lawyers are successful in challenging the latest Candian Human Rights Tribunal Ruling on Jordan’s Principle, there are implications for Indigenous jurisdiction over citizenship. If a community recognizes a non-status child as a band member, shouldn’t they be eligible for Jordan’s Principle support? According to Canada, the answer is no. According to Damien Lee, this is ultimately an act of political violence.

Calls To Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update On Reconciliation Executive Summary

December 15, 2020 marks the five year anniversary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In this in-depth analysis, enhanced by the expert insight of Indigenous leaders from across the country, Eva Jewell and Ian Mosby find that in 2020, Canada has completed no additional Calls to Action.

Jordan’s Principle 5 Years Later: A Band-Aid for Government Neglect?

As the dust continues to settle on the inaugural term of the United Conservative Government, many groups within the private, public and Indigenous sectors are grasping the full scope of ongoing and future harm. This briefs offers an analysis of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC), which was hailed as a “game changer” to allow First Nations in Alberta to participate in self-determination.

What’s at the “Core of Indianness”? Bill-C92, Labour & Indigenous Social Services

What do labour regulations have to do with the First Nation Child and Families Act? In this Brief, a team of researchers finds a gap in the new legislation that places First Nation child welfare workers in regulatory limbo between federal and provincial jurisdiction.

Battle for the Sun: Green Energy vs. Indigenous Heritage in Edmonton

Earlier this month, the Epcor E.L. Smith Solar Farm was approved at Edmonton City Council. Located on a Cree heritage site, this approval exemplifies a failed process of Indigenous engagement that ultimately, may lead to bigger problems in the future. 

Open Letter From The Williams Family Regarding Their Rights and Safety

As the land back movement at 1492 Land Back Lane goes on, so do the threats and intimidations faced by Indigenous Peoples. This open letter from the Williams family was written at the request of three daughters to address the intimidation directed at their family by Ken Hewitt but also the Haldimand Police Services Board, and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Do Métis have Rights in British Columbia? Let our Métis People be heard in a Good Way

Are Metis west of the Rocky Mountains Indigenous to that place? And what is the scope of their rights there? Stephen Mussel confronts these questions and offers important insights about Metis-First Nation relations and the revitalization of Indigenous laws.

Peace, Friendship and Fishing in Mi’kma’ki

For the past three weeks Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia have been pursuing a “moderate livelihood fishery” while facing harassment and intimidation. Hannah Martin looks at the roots of the conflict and argues that a better understanding of Mi’kmaw rights and the treaty relationship generally could help resolve the conflict.

Does the Charter Apply? The Struggle to Protect Free Speech On-Reserve

Do Charter Rights apply on-reserve? In response to concerns about political repression at Kwantlen First Nation, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association issued a letter arguing that it does. In this Brief, Robert Jago reflects on the challenges and implications for the future of free speech

Yellowhead Statement Regarding Arrests At 1492 Land Back Lane

This statement was released by Yellowhead Institute and Indigenous faculty members at Ryerson University in response to the arrest of Courtney Skye, Yellowhead Research Fellow. Courtney was charged with disobeying a court order and mischief in relation to 1492 Land Back Lane.

Statement from Concerned Haudenosaunee Women Regarding Injunctions at 1492 Land Back Lane

This statement was released the morning Haldimand County sought to make an interim injunction against land defenders permanent. Concerned Haudenosaunee women responded, calling for an end to the criminalization of their community.

CIRN-ACK! Leaked Government document outlines the Indian Department’s “Indigenous Agenda” and “Accomplishments” for 2019-2020

In February 2019 Anishinaabeg communities in Ontario will vote to ratify a regional self-government agreement. While there are some expanded powers and new resources for communities, the Agreement is founded on outdated federal policies.

An Indigenous Abolitionist Study Guide

In commemoration of August 10th, Prisoners Justice Day, the Toronto Abolition Convergence shares An Indigenous Abolitionist Study Guide. This guide includes seven themed weeks of curated resources such as readings, films and podcasts relating to abolition.

A How-To Guide for the Settler Colonial Present: From Canada to Palestine to Kashmir

Today, on August 5th, Kashmiris mark and mourn the one-year anniversary of the “official” annihilation of their autonomy. It is one among many anniversaries marked by colonization in Kashmir and elsewhere. In this Brief, Azeezah Kanji recognizes the patterns of settler colonialism and the strategies deployed to make it invisible.

Police Brutality in Canada: A Symptom of Structural Racism and Colonial Violence

As the discussion of defunding police goes on, Krista Stelkia has written a Brief identifying how structural racism operates within the criminal justice and in Canadian institutions more generally. Can we hold systems accountable?

Black-Indigenous Futures in Art, Literature and #BlackLivesMatter

How do we imagine Black-Indigenous futures, free from the violence of colonialism and racism? In this Brief, Karina Vernon looks, and asks us to look, to art and literature so that we can shape these new/old political realities.

The House of Commons, Jagmeet Singh & The Disappearing Trick of Canadian Racism

What does the expulsion of Jagmeet Singh from the House of Commons reveal about structural racism in Canada? In this Brief, Azeezah Kanji details how white supremacy shapes the work of the RCMP, national security, and Parliament itself.

Abolish the Police: The Financial Cost of Law Enforcement in Prairie Cities

How much do Prairie cities, where there are growing Black and Indigenous populations, spend on policing? In this Brief, Emily Riddle breaks down the budget numbers and makes the case for police abolition as one step toward transformative change

Carceral Redlining: White Supremacy is a Weapon of Mass Incarceration for Indigenous and Black Peoples in Canada

Why are Black and Indigenous communities disproportionately imprisoned in Canada? Rai Reece makes the argument for carceral redlining: the practice of identifying and targeting racialized communities for criminalization in order to maintain a white (settler) state

Can We Achieve Climate Action and Reconciliation in a Post COVID World?

t is becoming clearer that COVID-19, and future pandemics, are tied to climate change. How can we prevent that impending reality? This Brief imagines our current moment as transformational for climate policy, our notions of economic development, and reconciliation.

Federal child welfare and Indigenous childhood sexual violence

A timely intervention at a time when Canada is dragging its feet on MMIWG calls, Fallon Simard argues in this brief that Land Back is a call to end sexual violence against children & youth by advocating for an enhanced spectrum of consent in Indigenous governance decision-making.

To Breathe Together: Co-Conspirators for Decolonial Futures

Indigenous communities have kept the cases of COVID-19 relatively low. Yet research by Yellowhead reveals that the numbers are nearly triple those reported by Indigenous Services Canada. This data discrepancy is rooted in a public health system that excludes Indigenous people.


Colonialism of the Curve: Indigenous Communities & Bad Covid Data

Indigenous communities have kept the cases of COVID-19 relatively low. Yet research by Yellowhead reveals that the numbers are nearly triple those reported by Indigenous Services Canada. This data discrepancy is rooted in a public health system that excludes Indigenous people.

Mapping Indigenous Youth Services in Ottawa

Assembly of Seven Generations, an Indigenous youth-led non-profit released a report that maps and highlights Indigenous youth services in Ottawa. This brief shares the methodology and key findings/recommendations from the report.


COVID-19 did not cause food insecurity in Indigenous communities but it will make it worse

Operating alongside the many challenges of COVID-19 is food insecurity, which has long been a significant problem in many Indigenous communities. Few of the current emergency measures that have been enacted by the federal government will substantively address this long term and ongoing problem.

Metis Harvesting in Alberta: Violence, Racism & Resistance

After the murders Jake Sansom and Morris Cardinal—two Metis hunters trying to get on the land to feed their families in this time of uncertainty—Conor Kerr reflects on his own experiences as a Metis hunter and some of the challenges more generally for Indigenous hunters.


No such thing as natural disasters: Infrastructure and the First Nation fight against COVID-19

This Brief examines the recent commitments from the federal government in relation to the existing information about infrastructure deficits in First Nations. Specifically, how do physical distancing/isolation requirements align with housing, water, and health services needs in First Nations? 


COVID-19 in Community: How are First Nations Responding?

While much of the country has been self-isolating for three weeks, Indigenous governments and organizations have been preparing and are now bracing for the impact of coronavirus and covid 19 in their communities.


COVID-19 and Inuit Nunangat: Research, Responsibility & Infrastructure Inequality

This brief considers the importance of research and Northern research responses to the pandemic, but also some infrastructure challenges that must be addressed to ensure the health and well-being of Inuit. 


Covid-19 and Indigenous Communities: Family Conversations

As the covid-19 pandemic evolves, Dr. Alika Lafontaine offers clear and simple advice for Indigenous families on what to do, what to look out for and how we can be mindful of each other during this time of uncertainty.

A Métis Royal Rumble: Identity, Politics & the Failure of Our Leadership

Just as national and provincial Metis organizations begin self-government discussions, a dispute about Metis identity threatens to divide the Nation.

Re-Affirming Indigenous Citizenships: Two Spirit Family-Making and the Future of Belonging

In the 35 years since Section 10 band membership codes began allowing First Nations to control their membership lists, an increasing number of people have challenged the ways their communities determine belonging. Authors of this brief show that two-spirit families are ushering in a new era of challenges that bring Section 10 heteropatriachy to the fore.

Banking While Brown: Indigenous People and Structural Racism in Canada

The arrest of Max Johnson and his family at the Bank of Montreal follows a long trend in Canada of casually criminalizing Indigenous people. How can these examples of racism be addressed?

The Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation: A Critical Analysis

As the dust continues to settle on the inaugural term of the United Conservative Government, many groups within the private, public and Indigenous sectors are grasping the full scope of ongoing and future harm. This briefs offers an analysis of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC), which was hailed as a “game changer” to allow First Nations in Alberta to participate in self-determination.

Wet’suwet’en: Why are Indigenous rights being defined by an energy corporation?

An unsigned agreement between a Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Coastal GasLink along with financial documents, obtained by Yellowhead Institute, provide reinforcement to Yellowhead’s assessment of the ways these private contracts can dramatically undermine First Nation rights and jurisdiction

The Rise of the Anishinabek Nation, Part II: The Fiscal Agreement

In February 2019 Anishinaabeg communities in Ontario will vote to ratify a regional self-government agreement. While there are some expanded powers and new resources for communities, the Agreement is founded on outdated federal policies.

G’ganoonigonaa Zaagigan | The Lake Is Speaking To Us: Nuclear Waste in Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territory?

On January 31st, 2020, the members of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) will vote on a proposal for a Deep Geological Repository near Lake Huron that will store 200,000m3 of low and intermediate level nuclear waste. Authors of this brief call for a process that goes beyond FPIC principles and engages an Anishinaabe version of consent that fully considers the current and future impacts of this decision.

Nuna: Dispossession & Reclamation in Inuit Nunangat

Amid the ongoing conflict between Western and Indigenous philosophies of relating to and with the land, the reflections here engage with Yellowhead’s Red Paper and offer an Inuk perspective on the challenges and hope of “Land Back” in Inuit Nunangat.

The Rise of the Anishinabek Nation: Self-Government for the Status Quo?

In February 2019 Anishinaabeg communities in Ontario will vote to ratify a regional self-government agreement. While there are some expanded powers and new resources for communities, the Agreement is founded on outdated federal policies.

Land, Language and Culture in Denendeh: Making Connections with Dene Nahjo

Dëneze Nakehk’o, founding member of Dene Nahjo and a Research Fellow with Yellowhead Institute is interviewed by Hayden King about his work with Dene Nahjo and how the organization enacts its mission of “land, language and culture forever”.

The Indigenous Land Stewardship Circle calls for an immediate ban on pesticides in Toronto’s High Park

Since the Fall of 2018, the Indigenous Land Stewardship Circle has been organizing to protect a number of sacred sites in and around what is now the City of Toronto. Among their campaigns is the effort to manage High Park responsibly. As part of their campaign, they have issued this Call to Action, republished here.

Calls to Action Accountability: A Status Update on Reconciliation

In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its Executive Summary and 94 Calls to Action. This brief is a report card and analysis of the progress on the calls, assessing the completion of the 2015 Calls to Action. As of December 2019, only 9 of the calls have been completed.

The Data Pandemic, Zombie Voters and First Nation Governance

During the latest Six Nations of the Grand River band council election, on-line voting was used for the first time, It was discovered that deceased citizens ‘participated’ in voting, leading to the questions explored in this brief around the intersection of citizenship, data and governance.

Injunctions by First Nations: Results of a National Study

After reviewing over 100 cases of injunctions filed by and against First Nations, we believe that this legal tool reinforces the impossible position of First Nation parties when they appear before Canadian courts. This brief provides a summary of just a slim subset of data collected in the largest national research project that exists to date on the use of injunctive relief by and against First Nations in Canada.

A Response to “Decolonizing Clean Energy?”: The Case of the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative

This brief is a response to a previous Yellowhead brief on decolonizing clean energy. It outlines the Indigenous participation and leadership in the BC clean energy sector where First Nations are involved in true partnerships with government, serving as a model for other clean energy partnerships involving First Nations.

Preface from Land Back

This is the preface to Yellowhead Institute’s Red Paper, Land Back. The project of land back is about reclaiming Indigenous jurisdiction: breathing life into rights and responsibilities. Our Red Paper is about how Canada dispossesses Indigenous peoples from the land, and in turn, what communities are doing to get it back.

Election 2019: Which Party will Return the Land?

With the 2019 federal election imminent, this Brief represents an overview of each of the major federal parties, their commitments to issues of land restitution, and a more general breakdown of investments (or lack thereof) to Indigenous communities.

Reclaiming Indigenous Place Names

Indigenous peoples in Canada are working to restore their place names and revitalize their languages after colonial policies and law sought to eradicate them. This brief offers several examples of Indigenous nations who are actively reclaiming jurisdiction to their lands, and provide recommendations for how federal and provincial/territorial governments can help to undo some of these past harms and injustices.

“Decolonizing” Clean Energy Policy in Canada?

As provinces and territories work to develop policies to promote clean energy, they will also need to come to terms with the fact that climate change and renewable energy are fundamentally Indigenous rights issues. While Indigenous peoples could play a key role in Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy, a recent review of 57 provincial and territorial energy programs and policies show that Indigenous inclusion in such programs is severely lacking.

Indigenous in Alberta: Considering the First 100 Days of UCP Rule

It has been a whirlwind 100 days for the United Conservative Party (UCP) in Alberta following the formal return of conservatism in April. Indigenous individuals and communities will be impacted greatly by the ongoing repeals and impending policy shifts arising from campaign promises. This brief considers what our communities stand to lose and what it will mean to be Indigenous in Alberta into the future.

Research, Ethnic Fraud, and the Academy: A Protocol for Working with Indigenous Communities and Peoples

Today, major research funding agencies, such as the federal Tri-Council, have set aside historic funding levels for Indigenous-related research, which is cause for optimism. But there are also many reasons to be cautious. This brief includes a proposal for a Protocol for Working with Indigenous Communities so that the broader research community might begin to seriously examine the role of identity and identity fraud.

Making the most out of Canada’s New Department of Indigenous Services Act

On July 15, 2019, two new federal laws came into effect: the Department of Indigenous Services Act (“DISA”) and Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Act (“CIRNAA”).Together, these two acts replaced and repealed the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act, RSC 1985, c I-6 (the “DIAND Act”). This brief explains the new laws, and how DISA, particularly, is an improvement over the old DIAND Act.

The Green New Deal in Canada: Challenges for Indigenous Participation

As we move through another colonial election year at the federal level, there is one arena that challenges most politicians: climate change and what we do about it. While the core tenets of the Green New Deal outline the dramatic change required to tackle this crisis, we must proceed with caution. In its ongoing creation, the GND coalition needs to ensure the inclusion and consent of Indigenous and racialized communities.

After the Far North Act: Indigenous Jurisdiction in Ontario’s Far North

The Legislature will address the Far North Act when they are back in session. But we should not hold our breaths. Because the answer to how to govern the north should not come from provincial law. It must be found through a negotiated joint-planning regime based on renewed treaty relations.

Legislation Affecting Indigenous People: An Overview of the Liberal Record

At the end of this parliamentary session and the (near) end of the Government’s current four-year mandate, we can now more clearly take stock of the legislation affecting Indigenous peoples that actually made it through the legislative process. This brief provides an overview of the Bills affecting Indigenous people – those that have passed, those that will not move forward, and those in progress.

Libertad para Alberto! Mapuche Land Defence in Chile & the Goldman Environmental Prize

In April 2019, Alberto Curamil was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. Leader of the Alianza Territorial Mapuche, Alberto could not accept because he is currently in a Chilean prison for charges widely considered fabricated. Here, Yellowhead an interview on Alberto’s incarceration and Mapuche resistance with Belén Curamil, his daughter, and Miguel Melin (spokesperson for the Alianza Territorial Mapuche).

Answering Calls to Justice: A National Action Plan on Ending Violence

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ final report, “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into MMIWG,” has been released. Now what? Courtney Skye discusses the importance of implementation and some requirements for that promised National Action Plan in this brief.

The Current State of Indian Gaming in Alberta: Are First Nations Subsidizing the Province?

Since the establishment of Alberta’s First Nations Gaming Policy in 2001, Indian Gaming in the province has been a much discussed topic. To date, a majority of the discussions and questions revolve around the way revenue generated on-reserve through gaming is distributed. This is an important conversation, and one that requires a renewed debate on how the revenue is shared. This Brief considers the current formula, highlights some inequities, and hopefully opens the space for more critical questions.

The Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement: A Pre-Ratification Review

Before year’s end, Canada and the Anishinabek Nation are seeking to conclude almost 25 years of negotiations for a self-government agreement. But does the self-government agreement really deliver on the promised return to nationhood? This Brief considers the content of the draft agreement and whether it provides real alternatives to the Indian Act and self-government policy.

How Canada’s proposed Indigenous Languages Act fails to deliver

Bill C-91 is headed for third reading in Parliament, with time to still amend and improve it. This brief provides a critical analysis of the Bill, highlighting issues that need to be addressed including its problematic funding model and how it outlines general objectives without any corresponding positive obligations on the Government.

Education and Crown Paternalism: Reviewing the New On-reserve Education Funding Model

Leslee White-Eye provides a critical analysis of the ‘new’ approach to funding First Nations schooling on-reserve, the Interim Funding Approach (IFA). The brief explicates why this approach remains rooted in colonial ‘Indian’ federal education policies and offers the requirements for a strong First Nation led model of education.

Report Launch | RED WOMEN RISING: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Yellowhead Institute supports the release of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre report, Red Women Rising, based on the live experience, leadership and expertise of Indigenous survivors. This comprehensive report is the culmination of a participatory process with 113 Indigenous women and 15 non-Indigenous women regarding the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Reviewing The Fisheries Act: An Indigenous Perspective

Canada’s Fisheries Act has been and continues to be one of the most oppressive and one of the most contentious of these acts. This brief reviews the potential impact of the proposed amendments to the act that are currently being reviewed by the Senate.

A Critical Look at the New Fiscal Relationship and Contribution Funding Agreements with First Nations

As the federal government moves towards new Indigenous self-government and service delivery policies, the central component is a revised fiscal relations regime. However, from a treaty perspective, there remains concerns with the proposed funding model.

Strengthening the Indigenous Languages Act – Bill C-91

Bill C-91, An Act Respecting Indigenous Languages was introduced in the House of Commons on February 6, 2019. This brief is a review of key provisions of the Act, highlighting key weaknesses and suggested amendments for improvement in select sections.

Lessons from Aotearoa: The Indigenous “exception” clause in Free Trade Agreements

This latest brief is a warning from Aotearoa about why Indigenous peoples should be concerned about USMCA, the new continental free trade agreement, framing exception clauses as “tools being used to circumvent our participation in the governance of our own territories.”

Straining a gnat but swallowing a camel: Policing First Nation fishers in northern Saskatchewan

Last month, the National Post ran a story titled, “Saskatchewan Launches 16-month undercover sting to catch First Nations man illegally selling $90 worth of fish. Seriously.” This brief contextualizes this instance within a larger context of power relations between government agenda and Indigenous peoples, accountability and surveillance.

Dear Qallunaat: Racism, Public Government and Inuit Nunanga

In the era of Inuit self-government, non-Inuit seem to talk up a lot of space and racism remains an issue. In this Yellowhead Brief, Sandra Inutiq offers advice in the form of 21 tips how true allyship and how non-Inuit can improve the relationship

The Promise and Failure of First Nation Policing in Ontario

While the original intent of the Anishnaabek Police Services (APS) was to deliver peacekeeping in a more traditional sense to our communities, lack of recognition and support has resulted in a system that produces First Nation OPP officers who aren’t trained in the specificities of policing / peacekeeping in a First Nation context and a service that is disconnected from First Nation aspirations for self-governance.

An Injunction Against the Unist’ot’en Camp: An embodiment of healing faces eviction

In so-called Northern British Columbia, the Unist’ot’en House Group of the Wet’suwet’en Nation is facing an injunction application to allow construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline through their traditional territory. If approved and enforced, the injunction would force the pipeline through the territory without the consent of the Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (Hereditary chiefs), who have unanimously rejected Coastal Gaslink’s proposal.


UPDATE | The 176 Million Dollar Question: Are the Promised Federal Education Funds for First Nations Actually Flowing?

This brief examines the status of the $2.6 billion in new funding promised by the federal government for First Nation education. Since publishing this brief, the Department of Indigenous Services Canada contacted Yellowhead, providing specific information with respect to expenditures in First Nations elementary and secondary education.


Eliminating the Ontario Child Advocate Threatens the Rights of Indigenous Kids

Last week, the Ontario government announced the elimination of the independent office of the Ontario Child Advocate. This move severs the investigations and advocacy function previously housed in the Advocate’s office, cutting this critical level of oversight. Removing this protections for First Nations, Inuit and Metis children and youth should raise concern for every family and community.

Introducing Yellowhead Institute: Indigenous Strategies for Transformative Change

On October 23, 2018, Yellowhead Institute held an official launch event centred on the pending Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework legislation. Here, we share highlights from the event and panel discussion, where three key themes emerged regarding the framework: Regional Contexts, Exclusion of Women, Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit Perspectives and Treaties, Relationship and the Land.

In Conversation with the Gwich’in Tribal Council: Modern Treaties, Northern Self-Government & “Rights Recognition”

The Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) is a political organization advocating for Gwich’in rights relating to lands, waters and resources in the Gwich’in treaty settlement area as well as Treaty #11. Read on for an interview with Grand Chief Boobie Jo Greenland-Morgan and Deputy Chief Jordan Peterson.

Happy Cannabis Day? First Nations, Legalization & the Ongoing Failure of Canadian Federalism

Today marks Canada’s newest national holiday, Cannabis day. This brief outlines four critical issues that must be addressed so that First Nation communities can reap the potential economic opportunities while balancing the health and safety of their members and also upholding their culture and values.


An Indigenous Housing Innovation Challenge? Start with the Foundation

Earlier this year the federal government launched the Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge, an award of $30 million dollars for a project that improves people’s health, safety and security on reserves. Lost in the critique of this challenge, are any in-depth, community-based responses to the Challenge. This is not the ideal solution. But if there is genuine engagement with community needs, could it offer some relief?

What about Cities? Containing Urban Self-Determination through the Indigenous Rights Framework

The federal government’s policies and the new Indigenous Rights Framework, as it appears to be taking shape, reproduce the (original and ongoing) dispossession of First Nations from (urban) land and the disconnection of citizens from First Nation jurisdiction.

Canada’s Indigenous Rights Framework: A (Bad) Proposal Emerges

Last week the Assembly of First Nations hosted a national meeting on the federal government’s proposed “Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework”. The proposal was met with resistance by most of the elected First Nation leadership who were present, justifiably so. As suspected, Canada is seeking to entrench a version of contemporary state-Indigenous relations merely re-branded as reconciliation.

Ewert v Canada: Supreme Court of Canada decides that systemic racism doesn’t make you a riskier offender

From the very first encounter with police, contact with the criminal justice system for Indigenous people is loaded with disproportionate penalties. A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision of R v Ewert finally recognized the critical role played by Correctional Service Canada that may be unjustly keeping Indigenous peoples behind bars for longer, under far worse conditions than their non-Indigenous incarcerated counterparts.

Better Late Than Never? Canada’s Reluctant Recognition of Métis Rights and Self-Government

While the emerging rights framework is certainly limited and based on the flawed presumption of Canadian sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, this new channel of dialogue with the Crown for the Métis National Council, its five governing members, and the Métis Settlement General Council is itself a fairly profound development.

On the Road to the New Reserve: Considering Canada’s Preferred Path to Land Restitution

Since 1987, Additions to Reserve Policy (ATR) has been Canada’s pathway for First Nations to create new reserves. Two years have passed since INAC finalized the most recent ATR policy. This brief reviews the impacts of changes and the challenges that still need to be addressed.

A Brief Assessment of Canada’s Collaborative Process on Indian Registration, Band Membership and First Nation Citizenship

Yellowhead Associate Fellow, Damien Lee considers the impending and dramatic changes to Indian Status rules and the consequences for Indigenous notions of belonging and relationality.

We Own It, So Let’s Kill It: What to do about Kinder Morgan in an era of “reconciliation”

Now that Canada owns the pipeline, what difference does it make to Indigenous people who are fighting to stop it?

Fraser Institute: Property Rights for Everyone, Just not Indians

Clarifying misconceptions about Specific Claims outlined in Tom Flanagan’s most recent article, “Specific Claims and the Well-being of First Nations”, released recently by the Fraser Institute

The Gaping Holes in Ottawa’s Indigenous Fiscal Policy

Rather than address fundamental issues of land distribution, the federal government is prioritizing “fiscal capacity building” in an effort to prepare bands – not for self-determination – but for compliance with the self-government policy that does not expand the authority of First Nations over their traditional territories.

AFN Election 2018

The Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly will be held in Vancouver from July 24 – 26, with the election of a new National Chief scheduled to occur on Wednesday, July 25. Here is an overview of all the candidates


Can the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl’s Inquiry be Reclaimed?

Given the challenges the Inquiry has faced to date, a number of issues need to be addressed in order to restore confidence in the Inquiry’s ability to affect change.

Splitting INAC: Coercive Fiscal Federalism in the Disguise of ‘Reconciliation’

Why is the split of INAC in line with the federal government’s neoliberal agenda? How does the restructuring of INAC support Canada to continue avoiding responsibility to First Nations?

Wholesale Rapid Removal of the Indian Act without Alternatives will be Met with Resistance

There is no question that the Indian Act must go. Its assimilation provisions, restrictions on mobility, violating nearly every treaty, aggressive patriarchy, and the dismantling of authentic First Nation governance models is all well documented. So the question becomes which path do we take from here?

Aboriginal Title in British Columbia Examined Under the New Liberal Agenda

How do the new Liberal government initiatives affect aboriginal title in British Columbia?

Mi’kmaq and the Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework

This brief highlights some of the issues with the new Rights Framework as it pertains the Mi’kmaq and what is known as the Made-In-Nova Scotia Process (Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative (MRI) Negotiations).

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