5 apps for learning about Indigenous life and history
At-your-fingertips reading, streaming and resources to educate yourself about Indigenous history and life
Our devices can open up new worlds with the download of an app, and there's a growing collection of Indigenous-focused apps that entertain and educate. This roundup includes apps that give you access to Indigenous-made TV and film, university courses and interactive kids' stories.
This app is the streaming service of APTN, the national Indigenous broadcaster. Some TV options include the documentary series Future History, the drama Blackstone and the classic 1990s drama North of 60. Movies include the recent film festival hit The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open and Taika Waititi's comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. There's also music programming, shows in Indigenous languages, and animated kids' series.
Land acknowledgements hit differently when an app can tell you whose land you're on based on exactly where you're standing. Using geographic information system (GIS) technology, you can learn all about the Indigenous territory you're on. In addition, there are videos of land acknowledgements made by people from those communities. Seen as a conversation starter, Whose Land hopes to be a tool of reconciliation.
This educational app makes the complexities of reconciliation easier to grasp. Although meant for public servants, and made by the Canada School of Public Service, anyone can use it to learn about the distinctions between First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. It also shows examples of the federal government's approaches to reconciliation.
Indigenous Canada on Coursera
University of Alberta's 12-lesson massive open online course Indigenous Canada — the one Schitt's Creek's Dan Levy enrolled in and talked about on social media — is taught by Indigenous educators using videos, readings and quizzes. It focuses on topics including Inuit, Cree, Mohawk and Tlingit world views and beyond, as well as the fur trade, land claims and what life is like today for Indigenous people. It takes about 21 hours to complete and is free if you don't need a certificate at the completion of the course.
This app for kids is perfect for early readers. It's a series of interactive books that follows characters like Antle the moose, Kalolin the fox, and Aliet the bear as they learn about powwows, gathering medicine, and spearing eels. A Mi'kmaw glossary at the end describes some of the cultural elements throughout. There are stories for reading in English and multiple Indigenous languages, a silent mode for children to read the story themselves, and a "read to me" option with audio.
Available for iPad.
Kelly Boutsalis is a full-time freelance journalist, based in Toronto. She is Mohawk and grew up on the Six Nations reserve. In 2019, she was named the first recipient of The Narwhal's Indigenous Journalism Fellowship. In her work, she aims to highlight accomplishments made by Indigenous people to carve out a positive space for them in media.