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Indigenous Awareness Training: A Foundation for Success

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

The term "Indigenous Awareness Training" can be a little misleading when it comes to engagement, relations or partnerships with First Nations communities.

Personally, it is not so much as "awareness" and more of an understanding on an Indigenous communities beliefs, traditions, practices, language, and political landscape that is required. If you recognize that a cookie-cutter view isn’t relevant in today’s society, you’ll gain an appreciation and understanding of the diversity in culture as well as the contributions made by Indigenous communities across Canada.

Did you know there are more than 600 First Nations across Canada? Each one has its own unique traditions, beliefs, history, protocols, and world perspective. One of the more valid points of taking Indigenous Awareness Training is the respect of diversity in culture, and the subsequent understanding that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method of engagement. It’s about relationship-building.

What is Indigenous Awareness Training?

Indigenous awareness training gives people the opportunity to learn and explore the rich, diverse culture and traditions of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. Through structured learning modules (and in person classes), participants can expect to gain a better understanding of Indigenous governance, culture, community, traditions, history, and way of life.

Improved Indigenous Awareness will set the foundation for building positive (and sustained) relationships with Indigenous Communities and it's members.

Indigenous Awareness 101 - The Fundamentals of Indigenous Governance

The fundamentals of governance, operational structure, point-of-contact protocols, beliefs around land management and our environment, helps lead to the development of a trusting and effective relationship with Indigenous People. Learning the impacts of laws that were enacted on Indigenous People and the type of relationship that has developed with federal government as a result is a true eye-opener.

Did you know that although there is no generally accepted definition of Indigenous People in a global context, in Canada the constitutional terminology of Aboriginal Peoples as stated in Section 35 includes Indian, Inuit, and Métis? Working through the many forms of terminology and developing a better understanding of today’s issues is a building block of Indigenous Awareness. Related: Doing Business with First Nations: A Beginners Guide

For example: What are the ongoing impacts of legislation around Indigenous People in Canada? What are the lasting effects that the residential school system has had on the Indigenous population? How has Canada’s reserve system affected Indigenous People?

Did you know:

· 8 of 10 Aboriginal people live in Ontario and the western Provinces.

· Nearly half of First Nations people with registered Indian status live on a reserve.

· In Ontario, 37% of First Nations people with registered Indian status lived on a reserve, which is the second lowest proportion among the provinces. Related: Understanding Indigenous Treaties in Ontario

Gain a Better Understanding of Indigenous Culture

Cambium Indigenous Professional Services

If you would like to build a better understanding of today’s issues, learn how history has impacted Indigenous People, and grow your awareness around how western views influence decision making, Indigenous Awareness Training is an excellent beginning.

From learning such basics as terminology (Indigenous, First Nation, Aboriginal, Indian, etc.) through more in-depth discussions around formal recognition by government standards, definition of “status,” treaties, and reserve lands, becoming more aware can help you navigate topics such as reconciliation, education, language and culture, health, and justice.

To fully embrace the concept and rationale, non-Indigenous individuals should be prepared to recognize some dark truths from Canada’s past, and be open to a lifelong learning and relationship-building experience. (Related: Why is Indigenous Awareness Training Important?)

The magnitude of impact that the arrival of new settlers to North America has had on the Indigenous People is extensive and can seem overwhelming. Through training, you’ll learn assimilation, colonialism, and depopulation as they relate to post-contact Indigenous People. Did you know that the Seven Years War (1756-1763) was the first conflict from which the division of North America was decried by another nation, annexing rule of the land from Indigenous People? Related: 5 Principles for Effective Indigenous Engagement

Following that, treaties were formed with Indigenous Nations, sometimes grouped together and sometimes individually, which outlined land use in exchange for certain rights and privileges. After this, the British North America Act of 1867 provided exclusive federal legislative authority under Section 91(24) with respect to “Indians and lands reserved for Indians.” To this day, there continues to be confusion spurred by the administration and interpretation of such treaties and legislation. (Related: The Importance of Land Acknowledgement)

Gain a Better Understanding of Indigenous Communities in Canada

By first understanding your desire to learn about and engage this audience, you can begin to focus on how to address it. Some advanced research which may help you to make educated choices include the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. The summary report and findings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were released in 2015, following six years of hearings and testimony from over 6k residential school survivors and family members.

Indigenous commuinity in Canada

It includes 94 Calls-to-Action to address the "cultural genocide" of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Understanding why these Calls to Action were released and the inter-generational and ongoing impact that layer upon layer of legislation, policy, and programming have enforced is a means to opening your personal awareness.

Why is Indigenous Awareness Training Important?

Every Indigenous Community is different. Each community has their own way of doing things and it is important to understand this. Respecting traditions, language, culture, and the communities way of life will go a long way when it comes to forming positive relationships with Indigenous Communities. What NOT to do when it comes to Indigenous Community Engagement

First impressions will play a big role. How you and your organization approach an Indigenous Community will help set the tone for a potential partnership. Indigenous Awareness Training will help identify what you need in order to approach an Indigenous Community and how to move forward in a respectful manner.

Indigenous Awareness Training can be tailored to comprehensively meet your needs, including best practices, critical path, engagement, and continued learning and respect. There is no simple answer to how long it will take for one to effectively learn. But, with the help of CIPS, the team’s personal support services, and the willingness to have an open mind for learning and growth, successful understanding and relationship-building is within reach.

At CIPS we have decades of direct Indigenous Awareness experience. Our expert staff is 100% Indigenous from different Indigenous Communities across Ontario. We have helped hundreds of businesses and organizations bridge the awareness gap for the best possible outcomes for more positive and sustained relationships. Contact us today to learn more about our Indigenous Awareness Training. Call us at: (705) 657-1126 or by email at:

To book a zoom meeting directly with our CEO to discuss any aspect of Indigenous Awareness Training or Engagement, please click here


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