Tag Archives: Indigenous Education

Module 2 – Resources for Teaching First Nations Curriculum

After the last several weeks of readings and discussions, I have become more keenly aware of the resources I use in the classroom, or at least where I look for those resources. My goal is to create a bank of useful resources that are created with an indigenous perspective, or at least in collaboration with authentic cultural input. Some of these links I have posted below are not necessarily teaching resources, but ones to instil a sense of awareness for all educators to be more culturally aware in their practice.

Working Toward Transformation and Change: Exploring Non-Aboriginal Teachers’ Experiences in Facilitating and Strengthening Students’ Awareness of Indigenous Knowledge and Aboriginal Perspectives


This resource is a graduate thesis that includes a discussion about culturally responsive teaching for the non-indigenous teacher. The latter half of the document delves into a qualitative research study about how non-Aboriginal educators incorporate Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives into their instruction. The conclusion falls short of making suggestions or offering resources for use in the classroom (intentionally), but does offer a critical reflection and insight on practices used, including student opinions. It could resonate with many non-indigenous educators who find themselves facilitating lessons that are similar.


Indigenous Principles Decolonizing Teacher Education: What We Have Learned 


I predominantly like this paper for its Figure 1 chart titled “Ways of knowing” which highlights the differences between Euro-American-Centrism/Neoliberalism and Indigenous curricula. However, it is also local, and created in collaboration between non-indigenous and Lil’wat First Nation educators. Figure 2 highlights the Lil’wat principles of teaching, which I see as being valuable to incorporate into a variety of classroom practices.


Website: ineducation.ca

After discovering a few great articles that came from this site, I realized it is a useful platform that is a peer-reviewed, open access journal, based in the field of education. It is also out of the University of Saskatchewan, offering Canadian specific content.


Best Practices for Teaching Aboriginal Students 

Adapted from: Best Practices in Teaching Aboriginal Children: From an Aboriginal and Non- Aboriginal Perspective. By Theresa Wilson, (Master’s Thesis: Conversations with First Nations Educators) 2001 UVic


This short pdf doc is an easy to read, bullet pointed  document that could be shared and distributed amongst teaching staff as a daily reminder to stay mindful of how to differentiate our teaching for indigenous students. I see it being very accessible for everyone.


Beyond Words: Creating racism-free schools for Aboriginal learners 


This BCTF document has a few sections I find particularly impactful for myself, and to share with my colleagues. Three sections serve as a self-reflection on one’s own teaching, as well as one’s school culture:

  • Questions for Teachers to Consider (p. 19)
  • A Self-Assessment Guide for Teacher (p. 25)
  • School Review of Inclusiveness for Aboriginal Students (p. 45)

Module One – Initial Research

My interest lies in indigenous storytelling using new media or traditional platforms within educational and extended community spaces. Even after narrowing the scope to Canada, I find it an overwhelmingly vast – and therefore promising – area of research.

Specifically, I would like to explore storytelling projects guided by expressions within oral, dance or art practices. My findings so far fall into two general categories: (i) featured projects reflecting local manifestations of storytelling within the larger global context, and (ii) general resources reflecting larger missions of a more global scale designed to support work across the country.

Here are five websites that reflect those categories. They are by no means exhaustive; they fall within a broader network that led to their discovery, and lead to so many more!

(1) First Nations Pedagogy Online

This is an online community that provides a wealth of information about best practices, pedagogy and resources including a Learning Centre, in support of First Nations storytelling.

(2) Aboriginal Arts & Stories

This site bills itself as “The largest and most recognized art & creative writing competition in Canada for Indigenous youth.” It contains a teachers’ page with a comprehensive and valuable Teachers’ Kit designed to help educators create safe spaces for expression, handle sensitive issues and support a process using Aboriginal Arts & Stories Learning Tools. The site features links to previous arts and writing winners.

(3) Town of Rigolet Storytelling Camp

One example of local storytelling is Rigolet Inuit Community Government’s UKausiga Youth and Elder Storytelling and Culture Sharing Camp. Digital stories on the website were created in 2009-2010 as a part of the Changing Climate, Changing Health, Changing Stories project, a community-driven, participatory, storytelling project that “utilized digital media to gather place-based narratives, documenting the impacts of climate change on human health and well-being and sharing adaptation strategies.” According to the site, the My Word Storytelling & Digital Media Lab continues to operate and facilitate Digital Storytelling workshops.

I will be looking for projects similar in scale to this one, in communities and schools. If they are digital in nature, my hope is that they will share local stories on a global scale online. Specifically, I hope to find works featuring oral storytelling, art and dance as mentioned above.

(4) The Canadian Education Association’s First Nations Schools First!

This website is home to an event that took place in Vancouver in 2016. This learning symposium’s theme was “sharing successful indigenous learning,” focusing on ensuring the success of all Indigenous students. The event featured workshops, case studies, speakers and networking.

(5) Finally, a two-part bonus, featuring two Canadian foundations that are active in indigenous-focused philanthropy:

(a) The McConnell Foundation states that a principal focus of its granting is Indigenous youth, recognizing that it is the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population and that partnerships with Indigenous communities and others are essential towards everyone’s shared future. The page features a list of grants and initiatives working with a range of relevant partners.

(b) Through the McConnell foundation, I discovered The Right Honourable Paul Martin’s Martin Family Initiative (MFI), whose mission appears to be completely education and entrepreneurship focused in nature. It is an organization with an impressive roster on its team of influential and powerful individuals who are working together on a range of initiatives such as the Model School Literacy Project. The resources page is extensive.

Please watch founder Paul Martin speak about the MFI’s mission to work with indigenous communities here. Other MFI videos are available on the MFI site and its Vimeo channel here.

If I may give an Honourable Mention, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation Useful Links for Aboriginal Education is another site worth mentioning. In a future post, I will feature some of the other notable sites I discovered. I’d love to include them all here, but the list would be much too long!

Lessening the Cultural Divide through the Teaching about Indigenous Culture

In thinking about what my final assignment will be focused on, I have two somewhat differing ideas and routes in consideration. Watching films such as Nanook of the North, however archaic it may be, has me interested in ways in which third-person/outsider narratives can positively contribute to Indigenous identity and self-representation. Of course putting the film-making process into the hands of the culture itself would be most impactful, but it is evident that film-making is not always a self-representation, but rather a representation of an “other.” Therefore, how can we mitigate this misappropriation of cultural identity that inevitably comes from this process?

On the other hand, instead of focusing on the mishandling of Indigenous identity, culture, and values by the media, how can educators help lessen the “us vs. them” mentality that is still perpetuated. Now more than ever, the BC school system is acknowledging the deep-rooted historical legacy and importance of the First Nations in our province, by having incorporated more facets of Indigenous culture into the curriculum. But frankly, teachers won’t always be equipped with appropriate or accurate strategies/knowledge to shed light on this culture in a fruitful way. Educators are part of the third-person narrative that so often harms Indigenous (self) representation. How can we better equip our teachers to offer an Indigenous curriculum that not only discusses the culture based on observation, but relays the feelings and cultural understanding experienced by those that are a part of it.

Module 1 websites for research purposes

In thinking about what I would like to do my research on, I was brought back to a concern or sense of confusion I have about the new BC curriculum. I teach grades 2-3 in North Vancouver, and have several students with First Nations ancestry. In rolling out the new curriculum this year, I have found that the curricular outcomes targeting First Nations content in the primary years are extremely broad, and I’m finding it challenging to find appropriate relevant resources to target those particular outcomes. It would be beneficial to explore authentic, meaningful resources developed by the First Peoples for First Peoples and others.

Here are a few I have come by so far…

Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/aboriginal-education/awp_moving_forward.pdf

  • This document provides useful background information on engagement, a vision for the future, and discusses attributes for responsive schooling, including those of teachers. It falls short of providing classroom lessons and examples of how to role out the process, but offers a more general idea of the way to move forward in the realm of education.

Authentic First Peoples Resources http://www.fnesc.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/PUBLICATION-61460-FNESC-Authentic-Resources-Guide-2016-08-26.pdf

  • An annotated list of resources written by First Peoples for a student audience. It is a collection of informational and fiction works, but is quite language heavy, and would work well for teaching themes and issues in the older grades.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1302889494709/1302889781786

  • Government of Canada resource with links to reading and listening activities, primarily for the younger grades.

In Our Own Words http://aboriginal.sd34.bc.ca/sites/default/files/In-Our-Own-Words-final-Apr-16-web_0.pdf

  • A collection of practical lesson ideas for the K-3 classroom by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (see below)

First Nations Education Steering Committee http://www.fnesc.ca

  • FNESC is a regional (BC) committee of First Peoples who work “at the provincial level to provide services in the areas of research, communications, information dissemination, advocacy, program administration and networking.” As they work in a multitude of areas in the public sphere, one avenue of information dissemination is through schools in the K-12 education system. As such, they provide a variety of links to curricular resources divided into relevant topic areas.


I will keep searching for relevant information and tailor my research interests from here.

Module 1 Weblog- Kirsten O’Coin

I suppose that I have not yet chosen a topic to research yet because my knowledge surrounding Indigenous Education is severely limited. That being said, I did complete my teacher’s diploma in Australia where many of the courses integrated Indigenous perspectives. I am very interested as to how Indigenous perspectives can be integrated and weaved into more of the Ontario education system- specifically pertaining to the Elementary sector. That being said, I have come across some interesting websites that might help my narrow down my topic of research.

PDF Files- Aboriginal Perspectives: A Guide to the Teacher’s Toolkit


  • This resource is an Ontario educator’s resource with links to the curriculum for each grade as well as actual strategies and lessons that can be utilized. The resource outlines specific expectations that can align nicely with lessons/units on Aboriginal culture ranging from Grades 1-12. Majority of the lessons fall under Social Studies/History and Language.

Website- Teaching for Indigenous Education


  • This website is a “digital learning resource” aimed at educators teaching Indigenous/Aboriginal perspectives. Not surprisingly, it is an UBC blog and provides a plethora of information mostly connecting to BC curriculum expectations. It ranges from learning/teaching about relationships to pedagogy and politics. It has a variety of attached resources that one can peruse.

Research PaperDigital Opportunities Within the Aboriginal Education Program: A Study of Preservice Teachers’ Attitudes and Proficiency in Technology Integration (Dragon, Peacock, Norton, Steinhauer, Snart, Cabonaro & Boechler, 2012)


  • This paper examines pre-service teacher’s opinions on the effects technology has had on implementing and gaining access to Aboriginal perspectives. It provides insight into how technology has changed Aboriginal education, while paying special attention to how social media outlets have created cause for concern in the Aboriginal community.

Website- Project of Heart

What is Project of Heart?

  • Project of Heart is a website that aims to educate people on the history of Aboriginal people in Canada, specifically referring to Indian Residential Schools and the harm that this experience caused to the children and their families. The website provides many resources that give detailed information about the history as well as a step-by-step inquiry based guide on how to lead your students through this tough topic by conducting their own investigation.

TedTalk– Transforming the Teacher in Indigenous Education (Chris Garner)

  • An inspirational TedTalk with tips for educators on teaching Indigenous Education. While Garner, a South African, is discussing Australian Aboriginals, this still can be transferred to Canadian Aboriginals. He stresses the importance of potential + effort + relevance to own context= success. If students are able to relate to the information being taught (or the ways in which it is taught) the students has a great chance of success.

Module 1 – Weblog – Tanya Walsh

As mentioned in my introductory post, I am interested in how educational institutions may create spaces and opportunities to honour the spirituality of individuals and communities. Therefore, I am interested in researching how Indigenous people incorporate spirituality into their own educational programs.

The following resources represent my first foray into cyberspace to find out what’s going on out there. (The sites found are listed in alphabetical order by author.)

  • Battiste, M. National Working Group on Education and the Minister of Indian Affairs, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (2002, October 31). Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendations. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada. http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/education/24._2002_oct_marie_battiste_indigenousknowledgeandpedagogy_lit_review_for_min_working_group.pdf
    • This literature review discusses Indigenous knowledge and recommends an educational framework and steps to improve the educational outcomes of First Nations peoples. It admits that in calling itself a ‘literature review’ it is a attempt to describe Indigenous knowledge through a Eurocentric lens. However one must start somewhere, so this is a review of the existing literature on Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy which the author hopes will, in turn, inform educational reform.
    • Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, pedagogy in First Nations education, epistemology, learning processes, cognitive other


  • Bell, N. (2017).  Teaching by the medicine wheel: An Anishinaabe framework for Indigenous education. Canada Education. Retrieved from: http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/teaching-medicine-wheel
    • The Medicine Wheel is a symbol used by many Indigenous cultures to represent the importance of the interrelatedness of all things. In this article, Bell explains how the Medicine Wheel may be used as a guide along an educational journey. In fact, she describes how honouring the gifts of each of the four directions may lead us to different learning processes as we move from standard linear models to the spiraling concepts of (a) awareness (East) with the call to envision or ‘seeing it’, (b) understanding (South) with the call for interrelationship over time or to ‘relating to it’, (c) knowledge (West) with the call to reason or to ‘figuring it out’, and finally, (d) wisdom (North) with the call for movement or to ‘doing it’. Bell then goes on to describe how this pedagogy has been used in practice.
    • Keywords: aboriginal, curriculum, educational change, elementary school


  • Brandhagen, K. (2017, May 24). Book review. [Review of the book The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality, by Blair Stonechild. AdvanceSouthwest.com-Arts & Culture. Retrieved from http://www.advancesouthwest.com/knowledge-seeker-embracing-indigenous-spirituality/
    • This is a book review of “The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality” by Blair Stonechild. The review is helpful because Brandhagen describes its ties to education, specifically to the history of Stonechild’s experience and challenges faced in a post-secondary education environment. It also describes the ‘sacred activity’ of learning and how “creating a new First Nations education system was one of the ways to bring focus back to honouring First Nations culture, community, language, and spirituality after the residential schools had existed for generations for the sole purpose of destroying those very relationships” (Brandhagen, 2017, para. 4). The description of learning as a sacred activity is an important one, as it speaks to the impact of education on individuals and communities. Although written by a Canadian from a Canadian-Indigenous perspective, Stonechild has researched the spirituality of Indigenous cultures from around the world, giving it a relevance beyond our borders.
    • Keywords: Indigenous spirituality, education, oral knowledge, First Nations culture


  • McDougall, C. (2017, February 6). Shawane Dagosiwin: Faculty of Education to co-host national Indigenous education reseach forum. UM Today News. Retrieved from http://news.umanitoba.ca/faculty-of-education-to-co-host-national-%E2%80%A8indigenous-education-research-forum/
    • This is a brief announcement from the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba, indicating that they would be co-hosting the Aboriginal Education Research Forum and the Canadian Symposium on Indigenous Teacher Education. It took place April 24th and 25th, 2017. Of interest to me is that this year’s theme was Embedding Spiritual and Sustainable Wisdom in Education and Research as and Act of Reconciliation. The hope is that by honouring “the need to value Indigenous knowledge traditions…will ultimately positively impact educational outcomes” (McDougall, 2017, para. 3). It is my belief that by respecting students as whole beings with spiritual needs and perspectives will support them in achieving their educational goals.
    • Keywords: Shawane Dagosiwin, aboriginal education research, Indigenous education, spiritual wisdom, reconciliation


  • McDougall, C. (2017, April 26). Conference showcases spirituality in reconciliation. UM Today News. Retrieved from http://news.umanitoba.ca/conference-showcases-spirituality-in-reconciliation/
    • This is the follow-up story to the above announcement. It describes how the keynote speaker’s (Dr. Chantal Fiola’s) spiritual journey not only shaped her identity but also informed her research and teaching practice. She makes the astute comment, “Many people think that spirituality is important to education. It’s just that for several generations, it was a particular kind of religion that was taught” (McDougall, 2017, April 26, para. 4). This not only refers to the sad history of Canada’s residential school system but can also be said to refer to all parochial schools and colleges with religious affiliations. Therefore, the connection between religion and spirituality is not new, it is just now being allowed to be revived in certain communities. So she asks, “What actions are we taking in our classrooms, and in our school systems to make space for different spiritualties?” (McDougall,2017, April 26, para. 6). It is a good and relevant question.
    • Keywords: Shawane Dagosiwin, spirituality in reconciliation, spirituality in education


  • Stonechild, B. (2014, June 12). Bringing spiritual teachings into education. Retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/blog/blair-stonechild/2014/06/4/bringing-spiritual-teachings-education
    • Stonechild has seen the full spectrum of aboriginal education in Canada, from being a residential school survivor to helping develop a First Nation-controlled post-secondary institution. In this article, he summaries his view on the importance of spirituality in education. He explains that aboriginal spirituality is about establishing a health relationship with all things, especially with one’s family, nation, and Nature itself. On this physical journey, learning is a sacred mission. Those who have lost touch with their spiritual roots may forget the importance of maintaining healthy interrelationships and so turn to substance abuse, crime and gang activities. Therefore, researching, writing and teaching about the principles of Aboriginal spirituality is very important at this time.
    • Keywords: aboriginal, educational change, equity, student success, transformation


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Module 1 Websites


Module 1

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada- Education

This site outlines the roles and responsibilities that the Canadian government and First Nations have in regards to education of youth in the communities. It’s a comprehensive site that has specific information about K-12 education, bursary programs, infrastructural investments, etc. As this is the government’s official site it exhibits a clear bias towards portraying the educational conditions in First Nations in a positive light.



Assembly of First Nations- Education Policy Area

This is the official site for the AFN. They outline many of the funding decisions by the federal government. There are areas that focus on Indigenous language preservation. This site also focusses on specific Indigenous initiatives to support educational excellence, such as literacy intervention.



Mushkegowuk Council Education Department

I chose to include this site, as it connects directly with the community where I teach. Mushkegowuk Education supports Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Moosonee. They focus on literacy, numeracy, student success and cultural teaching. This site shows how all of their varied educational resources support the students along the James Bay Coast.



Ontario Ministry of Education Indigenous Education Strategy

This site has all of the relevant Indigenous education documents and policies of the Ontario government. Included are supports for Indigenous populations in urban areas, curriculum documents, as well as policies and procedures that support First Nation student success.



World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education

The WIPCE will be held this year in Toronto. This conference brings educators who specialize in Indigenous Education together from across the globe. I think that it would be fascinating to look at the similarities in lived experience for Indigenous communities, and to look at how different countries are supporting Indigenous education.




Traditional Ceremonies and Traditional Cooking!

My web hunting has yielded a couple of gems in this module.  Two regarding ceremonies, one regarding Métis cooking, one regarding the education of educators, and one last compilation resource that I am not sure about (I would love some feedback on the last one; mishmash, or valuable?)


This video on the Sundance Ceremony shows the preparation that is involved in this ceremony from multiple perspectives.  It also includes elements of history and how they have impacted the way ceremonies are hosted and celebrated today.

This video is about the Blood Tribe of South Western Alberta. Though the piece itself is dated, it speaks of the divide between past and present generations and the ways each has known, and currently knows, the world.  This includes the shift in culture from attending Sundance camps to attending rodeos instead. It also may be something to consider the two above documentaries in comparison to each other.  How do the different groups experience the Sundance ceremony? How are the perspectives shown the same/ different? Why might that be?


This Métis cookbook could be such a great piece of enrichment for an Aboriginal studies course of unit! It contains history in the form of an introduction and as personal recollections distributed throughout the book.  It offers a large variety of recipes from wild game to breads to jellies.  It also offers a comparison of traditional preparations versus how one might prepare a similar dish today. In addition, it contains nutrition information throughout.


This website is a compilation of resources.  It contains categories on a large number of things; from relevant or related news articles, recipes, genealogy, the pow wow circuit, obituaries, and classified ads.  However, I am having trouble identifying the authenticity of this site.  I am hoping for some perspectives on this one!


This resource from UNESCO includes a number of activities which are designed to incorporate Indigenous theories of education and sustainability.  The sites summarizes many aspects of of Indigenous knowledge in its curriculum rationale and explains direct connections between the activities and Indigenous knowledge throughout the program.  The site links to contemporary global issues through an somewhat generalized Indigenous lens.  


Module 4 Entry 4

Brendan Clark

First Nations Education Council

FNECThe First Nations Education Council (FNEC) is an organization which has several mandates.  The website lists seven specific areas of focus, some of which include:

  • To ensure that First Nations regain full control of their education through political action.
  • To ensure respect of the educational rights of First Nations communities.
  • To advance and increase the quality of First Nations educational programs and services.
  • Conduct studies and make recommendations on governments’ decisions on Aboriginal education.
  • Manage educational programs to ensure services are developed for the benefit of the communities.

In addition, the FNEC is also working on training members of the community through online learning and face-to-face classes.  In 2010 the FNEC established the Kiuna Institution, a post-secondary school promoting culture and traditions for the First Nations of Quebec.  This website also has a large collection of position papers, videos and documents which support their position for self governance of Aboriginal education.   Although this organization mainly focuses on the Aboriginal people of Quebec, there is a plethora of information which spans Aboriginal communities across Canada.

To access the information within this website, follow the link to: http://www.cepn-fnec.com/index-eng.aspx

Ronaye Kooperberg (Module 4 – Post 2)