Tag Archives: Aboriginal stories

Module Four – Culturally Responsive Inclusion of Stories

Taking into account the importance of involving community members along with educators as co-creators of culturally responsive education with a sense of place, I wanted to explore what resources support or exemplify such partnerships and approaches to learning and storytelling.

(1) Listening to Our Past

With the community support and involvement of sixty-seven Nunavut elders, ten scholars, dozens of students and numerous interpreters, translators and proofreaders, twelve books were made available online on this site, most of which were produced as a research project, Iqaluit Oral History. It is a tri-lingual site with dynamic links to imagery and stories spanning a range of relevant topics. The Francophone Association of Nunavut hosts his website, produced in partnership with multiples parties including the Nunavut Arctic College, the Iqaluit Elders Society, Laval University, the governments of Nunavut and Canada, and many others.

(2) National Film Board of Canada Unikkausivut – Sharing Our Stories

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), in collaboration with a number of Indigenous government and community organizations, selected more than 60 films from its collection that represent all four Canadian Inuit regions (Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and Inuvialuit). Some are available in Inuktitut. Filmmaking reflects multidisciplinary and highly collaborative work, exemplified in some of the traditional stories found on the NFB site. For example, animator Co Hoedeman’s work is represented in films such as Luumaq, The Owl and the Raven, The Owl and the Lemming and The Owl Who Married a Goose. Although NFB is famous for animation and documentary, and many of its Indigenous stories are documentaries, traditional stories, produced in collaboration with a range of community members, are present in the collection.

(3) Culturally Responsive Instructional Resources for American Indian/Alaska Native Students

The Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) is a collaboration of WestEd and CRESST, two American leaders in the standards and assessment field. This page on their site provides an extensive list of resources that support culturally responsive teaching for American Indian/Alaska Native students and whose lessons can be applied to other Indigenous contexts. CSAI defines culturally responsive teaching as “the application of cultural knowledge, prior experiences, perspectives, and performance styles of AI/AN students to develop more personal connections to classroom learning.”

(4) Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching

The Education Alliance at Brown University has published a page dedicated to communicating the principles of culturally responsive teaching. This is a simple and useful reference (with resources) that could be modeled or adapted by educational organizations seeking to define and educate its stakeholders, and hold itself accountable for its own approaches to culturally responsive education. It defines the characteristics that the institution operates according to, by explaining What, Why and How under each of the following:

  • Positive perspectives on parents and families
  • Communication of high expectations
  • Learning within the context of culture
  • Student-centered instruction
  • Culturally mediated instruction
  • Reshaping the curriculum
  • Teacher as facilitator

(5) Miscellany: Publications

The following publications cover a range of pedagogical and social issues that can inform culturally responsive Indigenous education in Canada. They are listed in no particular order, reflecting diverse geographic and social perspectives that contribute to the larger discussion.


Stories: orality and literacy

As I work on my final project, I have been narrowing down my focus to First Nations stories and the impacts of how the stories are told and who gets to tell them.

  1. AICL is a blog that includes reviews of literature that include First Nations peoples in some capacity. It goes in depth into who the writer is, the content and perspectives and ultimately gives it a recommend or do not recommend. As I searched for children’s books to use in the classroom, I found this website to be a valuable resource.
  2. Braiding Sweetgrass starts with a story about Skywoman falling, which I found excellent for understanding context. Both Archibald in Indigenous Storywork and Dion in Braiding Histories underline the importance of understanding cultural perspective in telling stories. Nuances of story and character are easily missed by someone who is not fully immersed or at least well educated in terms of cultural sensitivity. The story of Skywoman and turtle island provide excellent context and understanding of just how different perspectives can influence understanding stories.
  3. The Literacy Seed Kit is a “seed” collection of 76 Aboriginal stories told by Aboriginal writers. It’s called a seed collection because it’s acknowledged as a place to start rather than being a definitive collection. It contains excellent links to fully-developed lesson plans and the Alberta program of studies.
  4. As a language teacher, I have a particular interest in how language is acquired and how this supports children’s literacy development. Given the importance of developing vocabulary in language acquisition, I think that the First Nations’ traditions of oral storytelling has a lot to teach us about how knowledge is transferred. Reading Proust and the Squid I was struck by the factors affecting literacy scores for certain populations, including First Nations children, who may not be exposed to oral language to the level required to prepare for successful acquisition of literacy skills. In addition, I am curious about how supporting these learners in the acquisition of vocabulary in English and in a First Nations language may support their outcomes in school. I am continuing to read specifically about orality in First Nations cultures and how the manner in which stories are shared impact the perception of the story. My concern at present as Archibald posits is that “sharing First Nations stories through Western literacy theories may violate the first nations tradition of sharing oral stories.
  5. PWIM while the method of teaching vocabulary is not specific to First Nations learners, I think that the Regina Board of Education does an effective job of integrating it into classrooms and ensuring that the images used are culturally responsive in that they show First Nations peoples engaged in activities typical of First Nations traditional lives.
  6. Lastly, and not really a source of information but more as something I am personally looking forward to, I am so pleased to have been accepted to a residency at Calgary’s Aboriginal Learning Centre, which will entail working with my staff and students with an elder in our school and making trips to the learning centre to learn. I truly feel that I have learned an enormous amount so far in this class and I used that in writing a proposal for learning that was ultimately successful and I hope will allow me to learn so much more in the coming school year.