The Sami are indigenous to the arctic in the Nordic countries. In this information brochure, Sweden provides a brief history of the treatment of the Sami people over time and expounds on how the Swedish government is working with the Sami communities to preserve and support a recovering traditional lifestyle. Schools are taught in the Sami language, and skills such as reindeer herding, traditional cooking and handcrafts. This resource can serve as a comparative study between types of government support and legislation for Canadian indigenous communities.
This short heritage minute and accompanying article is a good primer for middle school students, introducing them to Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who died alone after trying to run away home from a residential school. I used this link as a jumping off point to introduce Gord Downey’s album and accompanying graphic novel. There are useful links on the site to allow students to explore further. I am only able to skim the surface of this topic with students as it is so emotional and traumatic but also something they understand is important to learn.
My third entry is the book Wenjack by Joseph Boyden. This is the story of Chanie Wenjack, written from the perspective of the various spirits who inhabited the animals around Chanie to observe his final journey along those railway tracks. With the foundation built in my second link, and some work around oral storytelling and spiritual beliefs, I did this as a read aloud while looking at the music of Gord Downey, videos and writings on the topic. Residential schools, like studying the holocaust in middle school, can be too broad and graphic to look at in general, depending on the group of kids. The approach is to look at the topic through individual characters who experienced it. With the holocaust, it is often told through the story of characters like Anne Frank, for Middle School age students. For residential schools, this book tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, and is a tragic and emotional read, sometimes difficult to get through, even as the teacher/reader.
CBC’s Eighth Fire series hosted by Wab Kinew, is complete with teaching materials, and links for further elaborations. The series looks at the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada, and focuses on how young Indigenous people are changing that relationship. Great for Middle School level or higher.
This is the publically available Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement that gives direction to Vancouver schools and reflects how the VSB is working and taking steps to address the learning of aboriginal students. I work for the VSB, so I am a bit biased, but I think the district is a good example of how public school districts can support both aboriginal learners and teachers to be able to more genuinely support their aboriginal students.