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Module 4: Post #5- Indigenous and Education Issues

On further research into curriculum and resources to teach students about human rights and ways to break down stereotypes and racism towards Aboriginal communities, led me to the explore the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (

This then took me to the following website, Speak Truth to Power Canada ( which includes links to different defenders for Human Rights.

Below are links to biographies, interviews, resources and lesson plans from three Aboriginal Leaders.

Lesson Plans

Wilton LittleChild, Ph.D, Cree Chief, Residential School Survivor and Lawyer

– Truth and Reconciliation resources

Mary Simon, Advocate for Inuit Rights and Culture

– Cultural Identity and Education resources

“Respect each other. Doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re an Inuk, a First Nations, Métis, French Canadian, English Canadian, or somebody from another country. Respect each other, each other’s culture, each other’s identity, and accommodate the differences. It’s a big world.” (Mary Simon,

Karihwakè:ron Tim Thompson, of the Mohawk Nation’s bear clan at Wahta Mohawk Territory, advocate for Indigenous and Education Issues

– Equitable Education for All resources

Module 4: Post #4- Positive Action towards Self- Representation

I had the wonderful opportunity when I was in Regina last week to meet with Phyllis Kretschmer who is my Mother’s good friend.  She is Saulteaux and Cree and a strong activist for Aboriginal issues. She told me stories about her terrible experiences as a student at Residential school. It is very difficult to imagine self-representation or self-determination in a setting where students were strapped for requesting an eraser from a classmate.  Where their braids were cut off without ceremony and where the majority of their week was spent either doing manual labour or absorbing the tenets of the Church in catechism classes, and where the idea of stockings without holes was a fond hope.

Phyllis was able to move forward from these experiences, based on strong family support and being able to find confidence in herself after years of being told by the teachers at the residential schools that she was stupid.

Now at the age of 79, she remains actively involved in educating both Aboriginals and Non Aboriginals about the history of First Nations communities.

She is involved in the Idle No More Movement started a couple of years ago (see articles below) and is a member of the Intercultural Grandmother’s Group organized through the University of Regina. This is where my Mother met her, often partnering with her when they visit Elementary and High Schools to share First Nations knowledge. Students then also see that First Nations issues are cared about by the Mainstream community as well.

Information about Idle No More and Intercultural Grandmother’s Uniting

Morier, Jan. Intercultural Grandmothers Uniting. Community Connection, North Central Community Newspaper. February 2010, page 5. Retrieved from

McDonald, Alyssa. Your Reaction: Queen City Residents Participate in Idle No More. January 11, 2013. Retrieved from:

Sinclair, Niigaan. Idle No More: Where is the movement 2 years later. CBC News. December 7th, 2014. Retrieved from


Module 4: Post #3- Exploring our Environment through Experiential Learning

The lesson plan on the Exploration of Medicinal Plants ( found on the Alaska Native Knowledge Network site integrates Indigenous knowledge with Science curriculum outcomes, giving students experience learning first hand about where and how medicinal plants are used.

At the International School I worked at in Singapore, I had the opportunity to be involved in our Open Minds program which was based on experiential learning outside of the classroom. Holistic connections were made with our natural environment and with examining issues through different perspectives. For example, when I taught Grade 2, one of the sites we visited was the Eco Garden at the Singapore Science Centre. ( where we examined the different uses of medicinal plants.

The next step for this program would be to add in connections to Indigenous cultures, for example working with elders who have knowledge of the local plants and their uses. It is also very important to ensure students learn about Indigenous communities connections to the the land and environmental sustainability.

Module 4: Post #2- Indigenous Involvement in Media

In line with our discussions about the ways that Indigenous communities are using technology, I looked at the involvement of Indigenous Peoples in different media programs. I thought that this article was interesting as it talks about some of the challenges and opportunities faced by Indigenous students in journalism school A comment in the article from recent graduate Frank Molley is the following; “Being a journalist, not only are you standing up for the people,” he says, “it is also a form of justice.”

It was also great to hear that a report done by an online magazine (, counted more than 60 working Indigenous Canadian journalists.

First Nations University of Canada is part of the University of Regina. They have a program called INCA (Indian Communication Arts) which has been running for more than 30 years and have produced many quality journalists.. There are some Indigenous students who transition from this program to the University of Regina’s Journalism Program.

Here is the link to a video documentary produced by students from INCA about the First Nations Summer Games 2013


Avison, Shannon. 2013 FNSG  Legacy. Video documentary produced by students from the Indian Communication Arts (INCA) program at First Nations University in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. April 4th, 2015. Retrieved from:

Troian, Martha. Indigenous Students Meet Challenges of Journalism School: Aboriginals report racism and discomfort but also support. Maclean’s. June 11, 2013. Retrieved from:


Module 4: Post #1- Organizations Working Towards Human Rights

It is encouraging and exciting to learn about different organizations involved in teaching different aspects of Indigenous culture and history and working towards making a difference in terms of education, empathy and understanding. Most importantly, Indigenous people are involved and active in these organizations.

Here is a list of some organizations that seem to be helping to make a difference. The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

  • information on how to get involved in your community and make a difference for equal opportunities to succeed– Lesson plans created by FNCFCS to teach about social justice issues of Heart

  • created by Sylvia Smith to commemorate the Indigenous children who died in residential schools and to find ways to take action and form relationships between Indigenous and non Indigenous people. Teaches empathy through history KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives (unites eleven churches and religious organizations)

  • pursues ecological justice and equal rights Blanket Exercise

  • A simulation exploring relationships between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Participants role play First nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples with blankets representing land to understand the impact of land colonization

** It is recommended that the The Blanket Exercise should always be followed by a talking circle and to be aware that it will likely raise deep emotions. Local First Nations, Métis or Inuit individuals or representatives should be invited to the workshop to honour the traditional territory, to teach, and to begin to build a relationship. ( Legacy of Hope Foundation

  • raises Awareness of the Legacy of Residential Schools and the impacts on First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples

Module 3- Post 5- Equality for All

The more I learn about the history of First Nations in Canada and the continuing inequality of present day education, the more I realize the responsibility we all have as educators in breaking the cycle. I am amazed by the number of ignorant people who don’t seem to understand or care about the reasons why so many First nations students are struggling in today’s system. However, it is heartening to learn about the people who do care and the programs that are in place in order to make a difference to future generations.

Here are some resources that I have recently come across that I think are useful to learn more about Canadian History and it’s continuing effects on First Nations Peoples today.

The following video that looks like it was published by a student at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (The Home of Aboriginal Post- Secondary Education in BC) provides statistics about the differences in education rates and employment between Aboriginals and Non- Aboriginals.

It’s Not an Opinion, It’s a Fact: Aboriginal Education in Canada

In the article found in University of Regina’s Degrees Magazine. James Daschuk talks about the book he has written titled, Clearing the Plains about the damage done by the Canadian Government during the time of John A Macdonald’s national dream.

Daschuk, James. Clearing the Plains (pages 39-40). Degrees, The University of Regina Magazine, Volume 26, no.2, fall/winter 2015. retrieved July 12th, 2015.

In this recent video; Trudeau, Mulcair blast Harper’s record on First Nations issues  (July 8th, 2015) both NDP and LIberal Candidates promise more for Aboriginal Communities than has been delivered by Stephen Harper’s Conservative Govt. Time will tell.



Module 3, Post 4- Inquiry Based Learning

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Alaska Native Knowledge Network

By teaching mathematics through an inquiry approach to learning, students will be involved in hands on engaging experiences applying critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network has a diagram on their website (see above) representing the ‘iceberg’ model of thinking about Aboriginal culture. This is an effective visual when developing culturally responsive math curriculum with reminders about a variety of ways of making connections to deep culture as opposed to only what’s above the surface level. This ties in well with also considering the math concepts being taught and ensuring that math concepts are taught in more depth for greater understanding than at a surface level. By engaging students in authentic, relevant learning engagements, students’ conceptual understandings should also be enhanced. These were the findings in the research done with Canadian Aboriginal youth (Nicol, Archibald & Baker. Designing a model of culturally responsive mathematics education: place,relationships and storywork).  

Below, I have included a diagram from the International Baccalaureate ( showing how Math practices are changing in mainstream classrooms. The curriculum is based on ‘best practices’ such as starting with students’ prior knowledge, making connections between different subject areas and learning through authentic experiences.

How are Mathematics Practices Changing

How are Mathematics Practices Changing- Making the PYP Happen, page 84). retrieved from

The article and link to curriculum below show some wonderful ways of integrating Aboriginal culture into our teaching practices.

Lipka, Jerry & Andrew-Irhke, Dora. Ethnomathematics Applied to Classrooms in Alaska retreived from

Village Math (draft)-


McGregor, H. E. (2012). Curriculum change in Nunavut: towards Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.McGill Journal of Education, 47(3), 285-302.

Nicol, C., Archibald, J., Baker, J. (2013), Designing a Model of Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education: Place, Relationships and Storywork. Mathematics Education Research Journal. 25(1), 73-89.

Module 3: Post 3- Learning through Culturally Responsive Education

Many of the discussions in Module 3 have focused on the importance for students to learn about and through Indigenous pedagogical beliefs. It is exciting to hear about the research being done and the collaborative planning between researchers, educators, elders and other community members. Culturally responsive education and allowing students different ways to share their learning needs to take place not just in the Elementary years but continue through high school and university through the First Nations values of  respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility. One example that I just read about in my nephew’s Queen’s Faculty of Education Convocation Program is the Aboriginal Blanket Ceremony, a tradition established of presenting Aboriginal graduates with The Creation Turtle Pendleton Blanket in recognition of the barriers and challenges faced at post secondary institutions and to acknowledge their potential in being role models for the Aboriginal youth of their communities.

Here are some resources as a starting point to use in elementary classrooms in the development of a culturally responsive curriculum through a transdisciplinary approach across subject areas.

Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC-

This website- includes a link to is an extensive list of books for and about young Aboriginal children. This list was compiled by Dr. Jan Hare PhD, Associate Professor of Indigenous Education in the Department of Language and Literacy Education (UBC). Canadian First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures are represented. Early literacy and numeracy titles are also listed.

Dr. Marker suggested the Alaska Native Knowledge Network as a valuable place to find educational resources. Here are some links from their website (

Guidelines for Respecting Cultural Knowledge

Culturally Responsive Units/Lessons

Online Resources-

Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum

First Nations of Canada

Module 3, Post 2- Shannen Koostachin; Kids Can Change the World

The videos in Week #8; March Point Project, Fraser River Project and Allariarniq- Stepping Forward, demonstrated the challenges faced by your today as well as their courage in taking steps to make a difference. These videos reminded of the courage and commitment of Shannen Koostachin, a young girl from Attawapiskat First Nation who took a stand and worked on trying to convince the Federal Government for better conditions at First Nations School. Tragically, she died in a car crash at the age of 15 in 2010. Her dream has been an inspiration for First Nations communities as well as for non native communities to learn more about the educational conditions and add their voices to making a difference.

Here are some links to learn more about Shannen’s dreams.

Shannen’s Dream- First Nations Child & Family Caring Society Website

Videos made by students to talk about educational inequality

Articles about Shannen being the inspiration for the creation of a new superhero

Aboriginal Multi- Media Society- Article about Shannen

Information to access NFB Documentary about how Shannen’s dream was brought all the way to United Nations in Geneva

Module 3; Post 1 – Defending Cultural Rights

Impersonators have caused aboriginal people great harm

This article published in the Ottawa Citizen on July 2nd ties back to our discussion in Module 2, week #6 when we were examining the ways that Indigenous Peoples are protecting Cultural Rights. It connects to our discussions in Module 3 by demonstrating how action is being taken through technology through commentaries to make people more aware of the damage that can be done by those impersonating aboriginal people for their own personal gain or status . Doug George- Kanentiio gives many examples of the damage that can be caused by impersonators.

“Sometimes the person who makes this claim does so out of a need to belong or a sense of fantasy as to Native culture.  They may do so based upon obscure family tales or because they may have heard a whisper as to a distant aboriginal ancestors somewhere in their past. They may also have other motives such as government grants, academic advancement or securing federal, state or provincial benefits targeted for Natives.” (Doug George- Kanetiio, Impersonators have caused aboriginal people great harm, July 2nd, 2015)

He gives examples of the economic effects of marketing Indigenous Arts as authentic by impersonators. He also talks about the effects of those claiming to have Indigenous ancestry in order to get into academic programs. For every impersonator, there is one less space for Indigenous students, making it even harder for these students to make the next step in their educational careers.

George-Kanettiio, The Ottawa Citizen. retrieved July 2nd, 2015.