We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process. 

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020COMPLETE
Previous StatusJune 15, 2018COMPLETE

Why “Complete”? (as of Jul 15, 2018)

No funding commitments beyond March 31, 2017. The Canada Council for the Arts Strategic Plan 2016 – 2021 is structured around four key commitments including “Indigenous: Creating, Knowing and Sharing” that acknowledges the cultural sovereignty of Indigenous peoples and respects the concepts of First Nations, Inuit and Métis self-determination.

Canada Council for the Arts Strategic Plan 2016 – 2021

The 2016-21 Strategic Plan is structured around four key commitments including “Indigenous: Creating, Knowing and Sharing” that acknowledges the cultural sovereignty of Indigenous peoples and respects the concepts of First Nations, Inuit and Métis self-determination. The Canada Council through this program, affirms the following guiding principles: 

  • Respect Indigenous worldviews, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)
  • Support and uphold the principles of reconciliation, articulated through the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015)
  • Support artistic activities that respect and encourage First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultural self-determination and the vitality of Indigenous artistic practices and communities
  • Recognize the distinct and unique place of First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists in Canada as creators, interpreters, translators and transmitters of an inherent Indigenous cultural continuity, as well as unique contributions made to Canadian cultural identity
  • Recognize and support customary and contemporary artistic practices by First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists
  • Support and develop a Canadian arts landscape that is deeply ingrained with perspectives, voices, stories, struggles and aesthetics of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada
  • Recognize the distinctiveness of the many unique and self-defining First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in Canada
  • Recognize a wide variety of artistic and cultural practitioners within First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Canada Council for the Arts, working concurrently during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, developed the {Re}conciliation Initiative in 2015, in association with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. The initiative invited applications from First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists, collectives and arts organizations, which include collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists or organizations, for projects that use the arts to encourage dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The program ran for 2 years until the end of fiscal year 2016 to 2017 and delivered $1.8 million in support towards 26 projects. Among the funded projects was the Opening the Doors to Dialogue workshops. Six Nations Cayuga artist Samuel Thomas led 42 workshops in 8 communities across Ontario and Saskatchewan, bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to bead doors in an act of reclamation, healing and reconciliation. In another funded project, the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre of Halifax brought together 50 Indigenous community members to each create a clay tile telling the story they wished other people knew about them. The tiles were assembled in a community mural at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.

In April 2017, the council launched the program Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, for which projects previously funded through the {Re}conciliation Initiative are now eligible. More broadly, the program supports Indigenous individuals, groups, Indigenous-led arts organizations and arts or cultural sector development organizations that foster a vital and resilient Indigenous arts ecosystem.

By 2021, the council is expected to have tripled its investment in Indigenous arts.