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Discover: Contemporary Topics (Sub-Module 8 of 8 of Discover Module)

This section covers more contemporary topics relating to Indigenous Peoples in Canada.


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, & Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S)

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, & Two-Spirit (MMIWG) is a human rights concern today. Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people experience higher rates of violence and many have been found missing or murdered. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission supported a call for a nationwide public inquiry into violence against Indigenous women and girls. On June 3, 2019, the final report of the National Inquiry was completed and made available to the public (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Source: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada (Canadian Encyclopedia)

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Video: MMIWG, a Canadian Responsibility | Sophie Kiwala | TEDxQueensU

True reconciliation can only be achieved when it exists in the hearts and minds of every Canadian. Why that matters is related to Canada's heart-wrenching history of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.


A person who possesses both a male and feminine spirit is referred to as two-spirit which comes from the term niizh manidoowag in Anishinaabemowin. The word was coined in 1990 by activist Albert McLeod to refer to Indigenous peoples who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. Some Indigenous peoples refer to their gender, sexual orientation, and spiritual identity as being two-spirit (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Source: Two-Spirit (Canadian Encyclopedia)

Video: Ma-Nee Chacaby talks about Two Spirit identities

From OurStories eTextbook | Centennial College. Author and Indigenous elder Ma-Nee Chacaby talks about Two Spirit identities.

Economic Reconciliation

Economic reconciliation involves setting right economic injustices that Indigenous Peoples experience as a result of a history of colonization. It aims to provide economic equality for Indigenous Peoples and economic revitalization of their communities (Vancouver Economic).

Source: Economic Reconciliation (Vancouver Economic)

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Video: Time for Economic Reconciliation

JP Gladu, who coined the term “economic reconciliation”, speaks about the state of Indigenous business in Canada.

Environmental Racism

Environmental racism refers to the increased exposure of racialized populations, including Indigenous communities, to hazardous materials and polluting industries. An example is the mercury contamination experienced in the Grassy Narrows First Nation, an Ojibwe First Nation and reserve located north of Kenora, Ontario (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Source: Environmental Racism in Canada (Canadian Encyclopedia)

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Video: The Story of Grassy Narrows

A river poisoned with mercury. Tap water that is contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. Decades of government inaction. The story of Grassy Narrows is only one example of more than 100 First Nations communities in Canada with no access to safe drinking water.


Recently, there's been a growing concern about people falsely claiming to be Indigenous, leading to the term "pretendians." While it might seem like calling out these false claims helps Indigenous Peoples, there's a problem. The main issue is that Indigenous nations aren't the ones deciding who is Indigenous. Instead, non-Indigenous genealogists are often seen as experts on this topic. This approach focuses too much on ancestry alone and overlooks the social and political aspects of Indigenous identity. Being Indigenous isn't just about genetics; it's also about kinship, culture, and community practices.

Source: Fraudulent claims of Indigeneity: Indigenous nations are the identity experts (Cheryl Simon | The Conversation)

Video: What are Pretendians? | NDN POV

"Pretendians" are individuals who falsely claim Indigenous heritage, and this issue has gained prominence in mainstream Indigenous discussions. This appropriation is not only distasteful but also poses a significant danger.