Teachers Lesson Plans

Aboriginal Voices in Canadian Contemporary Art


This timeline is adapted from: Native North American Art by Ruth B Phillips, and Janet C. Berlo

  • Recognizable aspects of Northwest Coast style begin to appear.


  • Adena culture develops in Eastern Woodlands.


  • Heightened ceremonial activity associated with medicine wheels on the northern and central Plains.


  • John Cabot’s voyages.


  • Mi?kmaq trade with Jacques Cartier, Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Unknown (Canadian)
Micmac Indians, 1855


  • Huron welcome Champlain, leader of New France, as a guest in their villages; Huron-French trading partnership formed.


  • British victory over French at Quebec.
Robert Houle
Kanata, 1992
© R. Houle


  • Hudson Bay Company establishes trade posts across Northern Plains.


  • Captain James Cook sails along Northwest Coast; contact with Nuu-chah-nulth and Haida.


  • Joseph Brant leads group of Iroquois to Grand River Territory.
William Berczy
Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant), 1812


  • Smallpox epidemic at Haida Gwaii.


  • Potlatch and traditional rituals are outlawed by the Indian Act.


  • National Gallery of Canada presents Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art: Native and Modern.


  • A Century of Canadian Art ((No.288), an exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada for the Tate Gallery, London, includes four model totem poles and two Chilkat blankets.


  • Indian Act is amended; compulsory enfranchisement and potlatch ban are dropped.


  • National Indian Council formed (National Indian Brotherhood, later to be called Assembly of First Nations).


  • Indians of Canada pavilion at Expo ’67, Montreal.
  • The exhibition Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art, held at the National Gallery of Canada, includes work by Aboriginal artist Norval Morrisseau.


  • Chefs-d'oeuvre des arts indiens et esquimaux du Canada / Masterpieces of Indian and Eskimo Art from Canada (Musée de l’Homme and National Gallery of Canada exhibition 1968-70); the first international exhibition of Aboriginal art from Canada.


  • Sarain Stump founds the Ind(ian) Art Project, Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College.
  • Robert Houle (with Domingo Cisneros) helps to establish Manitou College, La Macaza, Quebec.


  • Saskatchewan Indian Federated College opens as first Native controlled college in Canada.
  • Robert Houle hired as Curator of Contemporary Indian Art at the Museum of Man (now Canadian Museum of Civilization).


  • Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry (SCANA) is established with a mandate to open the public, provincial, municipal and federal galleries to the concerns regarding the exclusion of Aboriginal art.


  • The Spirit Sings exhibition, Glenbow Museum is held during the winter Olympics in Calgary.


  • Elijah Harper, Meech Lake Accord; Oka, Quebec.


  • Quincentenary of Columbus's landing in North America.
  • Land, Spirit, Power exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
  • Indigena exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec.

Photo: Patricia Deadman
Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother, Rebecca Belmore 27 July 1991.


  • Installation of Aboriginal art in the Canadian galleries of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.