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Online Course

Indigenous Canada

University of Alberta via Coursera

  • Provider Coursera
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session Upcoming
  • Language English
  • Certificate Paid Certificate Available
  • Duration 12 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

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Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.


-In this introductory module, students learn the significance of stories and storytelling in Indigenous societies. We explore history that comes from Indigenous worldviews, this includes worldviews from the Inuit, Nehiyawak, Kanien:keha’ka and Tlingit peoples.

Fur Trade
-This module discusses pre-contact trading systems between Indigenous peoples of North America with a focus on the geographical region of Canada. We examine the chronological events of contact with Europeans and the events leading up to, and during the fur trade. This module also explores the long lasting social, political and economic ramifications of the fur trade on Indigenous peoples.

Trick or Treaty
-Examines Indigenous and settler perspectives of treaty making. Discusses the variation of treaties in Canada and the unique circumstances surrounding these events. Outlines the temporal and geographical history of the numbered treaties (beginning on the east) and ends with a discussion of the historical events and policies leading up to Métis scrip.

New Rules, New Game
-This lesson begins with a discussion about what is distinctive in Indigenous legal traditions. Explores impacts of policies put in place as British North America attempted to solidify itself geographically and socially. Examines the ways in which the Indian Act contributed to assimilation.

“Killing the Indian in the Child”
-Outlines characteristics of teaching and learning in Indigenous communities, and discusses how relationships were critical in teaching and learning. Traces the development and implementation of the Residential school system in the period after Confederation. Discusses intergenerational impact of Residential school system and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A Modern Indian?
-This lesson examines the burgeoning resistance of Indigenous leaders and the formation of Indigenous-led organizations as the Canadian government employed strategies to encourage assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and communities into mainstream society, specifically relating to urbanization.

Red Power
-In this lesson students will learn about key characteristics of a few different Indigenous political structures and the impacts of colonialism on these structures (e.g. Indian Act, Red Power/AIM, White Paper, Red Paper -Citizens Plus) Concepts explored include self-government, self-determination, and Indigenous resurgence.

Sovereign Lands
-Utilizing contemporary and traditional examples, this lesson connects Indigenous worldviews and traditional ecological knowledge. As well, this lesson traces the historical impacts of settlement. Discusses key concepts of case law associated with Aboriginal title, rights to land and resources. List the on-going threats to Indigenous lands and how these threats and challenges are being addressed.

Indigenous Women
-Exploring Indigenous concepts of gender, and the traditional roles and responsibilities, this lesson then moves into an examination of how colonization can be characterized as a gendered project. Identifies some concrete examples of the impact of colonialism on Indigenous women.

Indigenous in the City
-Looking critically at the statement: “Cities are the place where Aboriginal culture goes to die”, this lesson explores sites of urban Aboriginal agency/active participation, urban Aboriginal governance practices, and urban reserves.

Current Social Movements
-What is an Indigenous concept of community? How do Indigenous people form communities traditionally and today? This module will explain how social and environmental activism can mobilize and create communities. This module identifies key moments such as the Oka Crisis, Idle No More and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are grassroots resistance movements.

‘Living’ Traditions – Expressions in Pop Culture and Art
-Finally, we will explore how geographical location, trading networks and partnerships have influenced Indigenous art in the past. As well, we will examine contemporary iterations of Indigenous art and explore some of the artistic responses of Indigenous artists, musicians, and writers to the impacts of colonialism.

Taught by

Dr. Tracy Bear and Dr.Paul Gareau


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Anonymous completed this course.
This course was a wonderful eye opener for me. It is written for Canadians and includes many First Nations students, but as a white from the US, I found it really taught me so many ideas that I was completely naïve about. Because of family issues, I fell behind and so when I caught up, I missed out on some discussion with other students, but that part was brilliant. Loved the instructors, art, law... everything.
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Anonymous completed this course.
Extremely interesting and comprehensive course. One suggestion would be to include a view of the current economic situations on reserves and elsewhere in the provinces. Maybe profile more people with various jobs, as well.

The graphics were very appealing as were the presentors. My only suggestion here is to sound more spontaneous and less academic. It seemed as though the content was being read.

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Kristina Š
by Kristina completed this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.
As usual, University of Alberta always delivers. I have to tell the truth, my extremely great experience with previous UA courses motivated me to enroll into this one, and I was not disappointed. Even though I've studied some First Nation languages, I never knew about the history of indigenous people in Canada, the injustice, treaties, residential schools catastrophes, and utter unfairness. Usually people only learn about the troubles of Indians in America, but this course shows us the ways of life and hard times of indigenous people in Canada as well. You'll learn about historical treaties, backgrounds, crises, culture, art, modern protests and movements, feminism, and even social media. This course is a gem, and I hope to see a sequel.

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