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Research on the Value of Public Funding for Indigenous Arts and Cultures

Video description

This is a presentation about the "Research on the Value of Public Funding for Indigenous Arts and Cultures". This project was a collaborative effort between Archipel Research & Consulting and the Canada Council for the Arts.

This presentation includes an overview of the project including context, methodology, and demographics as well as an overview of the findings of the report related to Indigenous community and arts and culture, the value of public funding and accessing funding opportunities.

Publication date

September 29, 2022

Slide 1

Hello, Bonjour, Kwe, Ey swayel. Thank you for taking the time to watch this presentation about the "Research on the Value of Public Funding for Indigenous Arts and Cultures". This project was a collaborative effort between Archipel Research & Consulting and Canada Council for the Arts. The results of the research, along with the Council's response, can be found on the Council's website. 

Slide 2

We would like to convey our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to all the participants, as well as the Advisory Circle convened by the Canada Council for the Arts, for the contributions to the research in this presentation. 

Slide 3

First just a little bit about Archipel. We are Indigenous owned and women-led. Comprised of qualified Indigenous facilitators and researchers who bring sensitivity, flexibility, lived experience, and ethical rigour.  We have years of cumulative experience facilitating conversations and answering important research questions about Indigenous and Canadian society.

In all of the work that we do we acknowledge that Indigenous community members, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers are the experts in their lived experiences.

Slide 4

*Our Approach to Conducting Indigenous Research*

There are four main aspects of Archipel’s approach to research including,

Sustainable Research, this means ensuring that research is relevant and creates a reciprocal relationship between Archipel, research participants and partners.

Indigenous Involvement, this means including Indigenous people in all aspects of the research.

Accountable Work, this means that Archipel is accountable to research participants fostering transparency and relational accountability.

Lastly, Indigenous sovereignty, this means recognizing and incorporating Indigenous self-determination, worldviews, and governance in the research approach.

Through the embodiment of these principles, we aim to honour the worldviews of Indigenous people, acting with ethical responsibility and sensitivity. 

Slide 5

This presentation includes several sections. First, we will share an overview of the project including context, methodology, and demographics. Next, we will provide an overview of the findings of the report related to Indigenous community and arts and culture, the value of public funding and accessing funding opportunities. Lastly, we will discuss the impacts of these findings in the final sections.

Slide 6

The final report was developed by Archipel Research and Consulting Inc. as part of a national research study conducted in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts on the importance of arts and culture to Indigenous communities and the impact of public funding for Indigenous arts and cultures. 

The overarching purpose of the project was to better understand: 

  • the importance and role of arts and culture to Indigenous communities;
  • the impact of public funding for Indigenous arts and cultures; 
  • ways to strengthen the relationship between Indigenous peoples and public arts funders; and 
  • how to improve access to public funding for Indigenous artists, cultural carriers, Elders, and communities. 

The final report summarizes the findings from interviews, focus groups, and an online survey conducted across Canada from August 2020 to September 2021. 

Slide 7

It is important to consider the historical relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada. This relationship is characterized by forced cultural dislocation, relocation, assimilation, oppression, violence, and attempted genocide. This slide presents a timeline of past seminal reports that describe inequities experienced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

It has been:

  • 56 years since the publication of the Hawthorn Report
  • 26 years since the release of the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
  • 15 years since the United Nations adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • 7 years since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report
  • 3 years since the publication of the Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
  • And 1 year since the Bill C-15 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Actpassed the Senate and received Royal Assent in Canada.

Many have worked to address the inequities between Indigenous Peoples and settlers. This research is a contribution to that effort, focused specifically on the arts in Canada.

Slide 8

This research was guided by Etuaptmumk, a Mi’kmaq methodology and framework known as Two-Eyed Seeing. Etuaptmumk involves starting with the Indigenous ways of learning and knowing and combining it with the Western/academic way, using both for the benefit of all. Engaging in Two-Eyed Seeing is a hybrid approach that allows researchers to combine the value of both Indigenous worldviews and Western academic principles.

The essential principles of Etuaptmumk are mutual research interests, identification of required tools, research co-development, community validation, shared recognition and co-benefits and long-term relationships.

Slide 9

The Indigenous advisory circle oversaw the research and offered feedback throughout the process. The participants in the research included artists, organizations, and arts funders. Participants were engaged through interviews, focus groups, and a survey. 

Slide 10

Instead of breaking down the regions for this project by province and territory, as is typically done, Archipel chose to approach it through the boundaries of Indigenous regions. So, you can see on the map here that this really transcends provincial and territorial boundaries with how Indigenous Nations and regions are spread out across Canada. 

Slide 11

This research aimed to reach three main groups: First, Indigenous applicants and recipients of Canada Council’s programming, Second, Indigenous artists and cultural carriers with publicly accessible information, and lastly, other Indigenous artists and cultural carriers identified through personal networks.

Participants included Indigenous artists, Indigenous organizations, cultural carriers, and Elders.

In total there were 124 interviews, 15 focus groups with 112 participants and 413 survey responses.

Slide 12

Throughout the project, we sought to include diverse Indigenous voices. 73 % of participants were First Nations, 8% Inuit, and 19% Metis.

The demographics were relatively consistent across the interviews, focus groups, and survey participants.

Slide 13

During the research process, participants unanimously expressed that arts and cultural practices are deeply interwoven with the Indigenous ways of being. Participants explained that the benefits of Indigenous arts and cultures include language revitalization, community-building, story-telling, and cultural continuity, among many others. 

The vast majority of participants expressed the role spirituality plays in their artwork. They shared that their art was a way for them to connect to land, ancestors, community, ceremony, the dreamworld, healing, and honouring of the self. Ultimately, participants found that learning these skills and traditions becomes a way of life.

One participant noted, “My work is guided by my ancestors... I don’t create work to please people. I create work because it is a reflection of my experience and how I need to do work to uplift and move and heal what I’m connected to.”- Great Lakes Region Participant

Slide 14

In all aspects of the research process, artists expressed how public funding is integral to the success of Indigenous artists. Many artists spoke of how public funding allowed them to undertake meaningful artistic or cultural work that they otherwise would not have been able to do.

Many artists spoke of how their experiences with the Council had improved over the years. Among more established artists and those who had been working in their field for several decades, participants were pleased to see an overall shift in the makeup of juries and leadership positions at the Council. Over the years, they have seen more Indigenous representation on the Council’s juries and in leadership positions, which they felt was a positive step forward.

One participant stated: "If I were to start to reflect upon the last 10 years, I think [the Council] are doing a much better job of inclusion through a number of their grants, including the [Creating, Knowing and Sharing program.]" - Region 9 Participant

Slide 15

While the report highlighted many positive impacts the Council has had on Indigenous communities, many expressed that there is still room for improvement.

Throughout the research process, participants acknowledged numerous barriers that prevent Indigenous artists from accessing funding for their art.

Themes related to areas of improvement for funding included:

  • Capacity for smaller organizations to apply for funding
  • Funding requirements
  • Gatekeeping and professionalism
  • Barriers for remote communities
  • Need for language support
  • Community support and relationships
  • Identity and funding

As one participant said, "I don't know how to do a 500 word essay on my project. I know I need four moosehide, I know I need canvas, I know I need 20 sets of beads, and thread and needles... But to explain the process of all of it and drag it into a 500 word essay? … These applications are just another part of the colonization process." - Region 12 Participant

Slide 16

The Canada Council for the Arts and other arts funders have a critical role to play in supporting Indigenous arts and cultures. Four themes emerged from the research regarding the responsibilities of funders:


Within Indigenous worldviews, ownership is a collective stewardship and responsibility rather than an individual right. Collective rights extend across generations. Those who steward Indigenous arts have cultural obligation and culpability. Funders can support Indigenous communities by adopting concepts of ownership that encompass these worldviews.


Throughout the research, participants spoke passionately about the desire to strengthen relationships between funding agencies and Indigenous artists and communities to develop accountability. Indigenous artists, community members, and organizations have insisted on the need for arts and cultural strategies to be community based to ensure that Indigenous communities benefit.


When building relationships with Indigenous communities it is important to understand their histories. This is a step that all agencies and organizations must undertake. Developing this awareness among funders is important for improving support for Indigenous artists.


It is important for relationships to develop between Indigenous artists and arts funders. Participants want to know those who work in funding and feel supported by them.

Slide 17

This research illustrates the breadth and depth of the impact of public funding for the Indigenous arts and cultures, as well as some of the gaps that need to be addressed.

Based on these findings, a series of recommendations for the Council were made, which are summarized in the following slides.

Slide 18

To promote collaboration, community connections and ongoing relationship building, the Council should develop partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations, develop mentorship opportunities and increase support for Indigenous arts administrators.

Slide 19

In regard to supporting the North, the Council should develop distinct funding for rural and northern arts organizations and artists, develop a partnership for delivery of funds, address the cultural and regional realities of remote and northern communities.

Slide 20

To further the protection and support of Indigenous languages and cultures, the Council should provide support and additional funding for Indigenous language and resilience, expand funding criteria to include Indigenous language translation, develop funding mechanisms for cultural activities.

Slide 21

To improve funding mechanisms, the Council should further clarify Indigenous eligibility requirements for funding, better support for emerging and exploring artists and organizations, include capital investments for artists and organizations, ensure that as many applications from applicants as possible are funded.

Slide 22

To improve accessibility, awareness and outreach, the Council should create a user-friendly application and guidelines, improve awareness and understanding of and education about the Council’s programs, improve accessibility of the webpage with a focus on guiding applicants, create a system for offering feedback to unsuccessful grant applicants.

Slide 23

To affirm Indigenous rights, reconciliation and decolonization, the Council should: work to answer all arts and culturally related calls of the TRC and the UNDRIP, advocate for the timely integration of UNDRIP at all levels of government, advocate for the answering of all Calls to Action from the TRC.

Slide 24

We encourage you to visit the Canada Council website for more information about the research, including the Canada Council’s response. You may also contact research@canadacouncil.ca if you have any questions about this project.

Slide 25

Wela’lioq! Hoych’ka! Thank you! Merci!