It's a 20-hour drive from Standing Rock, North Dakota to the Secwepemc territory of British Columbia in the best conditions. But halfway through her travels last December, Kanahus Manuel and her four children hit a blizzard in Missoula, Montana. Kanahus called her father, Arthur Manuel, who was in Mexico.

"It looks like it'll only cost me $50 to change my flight," he said over the phone. "I'll come and I'll drive you home. We'll drive home together."

Arthur redirected his flight to Montana, and together, he, his daughter and grandchildren drove through the snow.

"That's around a 10-hour car ride," remembered Kanahus. "We had a 10 hour conversation."

It was Kanahus' last car ride with her father.

he also wanted to teach them that there was another way to live as an indigenous person in Canada.

That 10-hour conversation flitted from indigenous protests in Standing Rock, to on-the-ground fights against Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion in B.C., to the generations of Manuels growing up as a First Nations family.

"We are a huckleberry family," Arthur told his daughter and grandchildren in the car. "I never got to pick huckleberries…we were in the residential schools, my father was always busy."

But Arthur made sure his children got to pick huckleberries and experience First Nations culture.

"My dad brought me to the mountains," Kanahus said about her father. "That's something that I just took for granted, you know?"

"He made a real point of raising us with those things."

"It is time for us to decide if we want to continue to be colonized peoples or if we want to seek self-determination."

In January, Arthur passed away and left a legacy of First Nations activism behind. As a child of residential schools and son of a First Nations politician, Arthur wanted his children to know and experience elements of indigenous culture that he was never able to. But it wasn't just his appreciation of mountains and huckleberries that Arthur shared with his children. Instead, he also wanted to teach them that there was another way to live as an indigenous person in Canada.

"2017 will mark the fact that we have been officially colonized by Canada for 150 years," he wrote in an open letter published in the First Nations Strategic Bulletin just months before his death. "I believe that under the existing colonial system in Canada, indigenous peoples are not Canadian because of the systemic impoverishment we are forced to live in because we are alienated from our traditional territories."

"It is time for us to decide if we want to continue to be colonized peoples or if we want to seek self-determination."

For 150 years, this Canadian colonial system led to First Nations communities losing their land and being forced to assimilate into the culture of their colonizers. Families were split as the residential school system took hold in the late 1800s, forcing indigenous children to attend government-sponsored, religious institutions. Many children were emotionally, physically and sexually abused in these schools and more than 3,200 indigenous children died in these schools, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

More recently, First Nations families were broken up during the "sixties scoop," when aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in foster homes or adopted between the 1960s through the late 1980s.

"I know things. I know sexual abuse. I know alcoholism in the family."

Today, here in so-called-Canada, indigenous adults are overrepresented in correctional facilities, aboriginal young adults have higher reported suicide rates than non-aboriginal young adults, and First Nations employees tend to earn less than their non-First Nations peers when working full time.  

For Arthur, these realities are nothing to celebrate.

"Indigenous peoples need to be careful not to honour the 150 years of colonization because this will validate the racism that is implicit in Canadian colonialism," Arthur wrote in his letter. "Instead, indigenous peoples and Canadians who believe in human rights need to look at Canada's 150th birthday party as a period to undertake a commitment to decolonize Canada and recognize the rights of indigenous peoples."

Now, Kanahus has taken up her father's call to reclaim indigenous independence.

"Canada's planning to be celebrating its birthday but we want to crash that party," she said. "And we want the rest of Canada to wake up and join us."

Kanahus has felt the effects of Canada's colonial history personally. While she explored the mountains and rivers in the Secwepemc territory and Shuswap Country as a child, there was also sorrow in her upbringing. Her father attended three residential schools in Kamloops, Cranbrook and even St. Mary's in Mission — the last residential school to close in the province in 1985.

"The beginning part, a lot of alcoholism, there was a lot of alcoholism like everybody else in our native communities," Kanahus said, remembering her childhood. "I know things. I know sexual abuse. I know alcoholism in the family."

But even with this history, each generation of Manuels strove to make a life that was better for the next.

indigenous people are both expected to live off of this land and allow its resources to be extracted by governments when necessary.

"[My father] came out and became one of the top freedom fighters in our nation," Kanahus said. "One thing [my childhood] has taught me is the impacts of colonization. And it taught me to look at the social conditions of our people and be able to know where that stems from and how that stems from 150 years of colonization and oppression and, really, 150 years of genocide."

In his letter, Arthur spoke to some of these social conditions placed upon indigenous people, particularly with their land and, as he describes it, "colonial dispossession." Arthur said the Indian reserves only make up 0.2 per cent of Canada's land, yet indigenous people are both expected to live off of this land and allow its resources to be extracted by governments when necessary.

"This has led to the systemic impoverishment of indigenous peoples and this impoverishment is a big part of the crippling oppression indigenous peoples suffer under the existing Canadian colonial system," he wrote. "This 0.2 per cent systemic impoverishment is used as a weapon to keep us too poor and weak to fight back."

Arthur's call for indigenous land rights — which he said he saw as the foundation for all reconciliation — included increasing the size of the First Nations "land base" from 0.2 per cent to "accommodate [their] right to self-determination."

"These land-bases need to be large enough to protect our languages, cultures, laws and economies," he wrote. "These larger land-bases will ultimately be part of Canada's economy. It will provide indigenous peoples with the right to make and influence economic development choices because of our increased governance over our larger land base."

As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, Kanahus continues to fight.

For Kanahus, indigenous sovereignty over the land First Nations communities have government-mandated claim to is paramount.

"Every single native person should be rich off the wealth of our territory," she said. "Not that we want to go and destroy everything, but anyone living on an Indian reserve, our people should be very wealthy."

As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, Kanahus continues to fight. She regularly stands against resource extraction projects just as she says her father would. She protested at Standing Rock in solidarity with land defenders in the region, she's spoken out against Kinder Morgan and she consistently campaigns against the Mount Polley Mining Corporation. She strongly believes that indigenous people should be the ones giving consent to have these projects go through and, if they choose to, should have a right to benefit off of these resources themselves.

"Our people are survivors," she said. "We've persisted through the dark ages and now we're elevating ourselves to a state where we're going to reclaim our power back and there will be no stopping us."