Musical Resistance to Settler Colonialism


A Modern Indigenous Musical Movement

There are three officially recognized Indigenous groups in the settler state of Canada: the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Within the first nations are over 600 tribes, each with varied and unique cultural and historical traditions.1 While land seizure and the exploitation of Indigenous peoples began with the conquest of the Americas in 1492, settler dominance is maintained to this day. The Canadian government continued to impose assimilatory policies in the following centuries, like the Residential School system and the Indian Act of 1876, which banned most forms of indigenous cultural expression. Indeed, it was not until 2008 that the Canadian government issued a formal apology addressing the Residential School system.2 

Drawing on a deep tradition of Indigenous resistance in Canada, several musicians have created music in the past few years which draws on themes of settler colonialism and indigenous identity. Despite the varied cultural and identity backgrounds that these musicians come from, there is a sense of solidarity in Canada’s Indigenous Music scene. Artist’s collaborations, interrelations, and support for one another create a wide range of Indigenous music today. Recently, there has been a move towards genre-bending experimental music within Canada’s indigenous music scene. Dubbed the Indigenous Music Renaissance, or Indigenous Cultural Revolution, this movement is defined by the intersection of modernity and tradition.3 The use of electronic tools and hip hop elements often combine with traditional songs, language, and culturally distinct music methods.


  1. Government of Canada; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada; “Indigenous Peoples and Communities,” Government of Canada; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, June 11, 2021,
  2.  “Government Apologizes for Residential Schools in 2008 | CBC Archives,” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, June 25, 2018,
  3.  Jesse Kinos-Goodin, “A Tribe Called Red, Wab Kinew, Tanya Tagaq on the Indigenous Music Renaissance | CBC Music,” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, Feb. 21, 2020,