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Study Canada Summer Institute for K-12 Educators A Capital view of canada: Nations within a nation . Deborah pelletier July 6, 2012. Outline . Introductions Why do we teach about Native peoples? Considerations for learning and teaching about Native peoples:

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study canada summer institute for k 12 educators a capital view of canada nations within a nation

Study Canada Summer Institute for K-12 EducatorsA Capital view of canada: Nations within a nation

Deborah pelletier

July 6, 2012

  • Introductions
  • Why do we teach about Native peoples?
  • Considerations for learning and teaching about Native peoples:
    • Canada’s colonial legacy – what does that mean in the context of education?
    • Critical thinking approach
    • Tools for Teaching - Selecting appropriate and authentic resources
    • Who are the Aboriginal Peoples in Canada?
    • Terminology
    • Contrasting Aboriginal and Western Worldviews
    • Key notes in history and development of Canada
  • Monitoring and evaluating success
  • Examples of resources (print and online)
  • Dialogue and questions
why teach about aboriginal peoples native americans indigenous populations
Why teach about aboriginal peoples, native Americans, indigenous populations?

Is it about..

  • Commitment to the profession
  • Individual responsibility
  • Social responsibility
  • Equity and social justice
  • Critical thinking - who, how and what impacts our past, present and future in education
  • Decolonization
  • Reconciliation
  • Multiculturalism
  • Pluralism
  • All of the above
consider confronting canada s colonial legacy watters 2007 7
Consider…Confronting canada’s colonial legacy (Watters 2007-7)
  • In practice, colonialism is the extension of a nation’s sovereignty over territory and people outside its own borders in order to secure economic domination over their resources with the intention of enriching the colonizer.
  • In the Canadian context, French and British colonizers were able to extract enormous amounts of valuable natural resources like fur, fish and timber, which were shipped to Europe and sold for tremendous profits.
  • The exploitation of natural resources was facilitated by the militaristic, bureaucratic and ideological imposition on the indigenous peoples of North America.
  • For Aboriginal peoples, it meant:
    • Destruction of knowledge systems, ways of knowing, culture, heritage, traditions
    • Imposition of a foreign ideology, system of oppressive control
    • Entrenchment of a value system intended to legitimize and promote colonial rule on the basis that this system was superior to that of the colonized
    • Education was and still is a natural and effective tool for carrying out the colonial mission
    • Neo-colonialism
consider telling the aboriginal story using critical thinking watters 2007 and others
Consider…Telling the aboriginal story using Critical thinking (Watters 2007 AND OTHERS)


Otherwise :

When pushed to the periphery of curricula, it reproduces Western ideals that devalue Indigenous populations and their struggles

Without basic knowledge of Indigenous populations in North America, it is impossible for cross-cultural understanding to exist as anything other than an ideal

When the Aboriginal story is not told – respected, its absence (or limited approach) constitutes a threat to the moral structure of a current position of privilege

When education conceptualizes Aboriginal peoples as obstacles, beneficiaries, and/or victims of Western development, i.e., “inevitable progress” with limited depictions, it reinforce stereotypes, prejudices and racist thinking

When not presenting the facts about colonialism, it allows us to distance ourselves and our students from the residual injustices and inequities

Critical engagement of Aboriginal issues within an historical context connected to present realities

Aboriginal issues take precedence over others because of unique histories - contemporary struggles are central to the past, present and future

Engage historical and contemporary issues of social justice in an environment that fosters critical questions about privilege, oppression and power

Use content that balances negative aspects with positive contributions.

Replace textbooks/books which relegate Aboriginal issues to the sidebars, visually framing the issues as separate from the main content of curriculum with extensive unit planning (one week to a month for deeper understanding, enrichment and evaluationsor develop entire course

Provide teacher training at college/university and professional development with Boards

tools for teaching about aboriginal peoples in canada
TOOLS For teaching about aboriginal peoples in Canada
  • Confront the legacy of colonization and its impact on indigenous peoples and societies and the prescriptive approaches for citizenship (systemic knowledge)
  • Understand who the Indigenous and Aboriginal Peoples are in North America
  • Know the key points in history
  • Understand historical and contemporary issues in context
  • Know the contributions of North American Native Peoples
  • Recognize bias, stereotypical, prejudicial, racist, Eurocentric, illegitimate attitudes, approaches and content
  • Check attitude, approach and what content is being selected and used in curriculum
  • Select appropriate and authentic resources
  • Incorporate resources into curriculum development and practices
  • Engage Aboriginal community in all aspects of school and community policies, programs and initiatives
  • Monitor and evaluate responsibilities and progress
  • Continue learning to teach and teaching to learn.
who are the aboriginal peoples in canada statistics canada
Who are the Aboriginal Peoples in Canada?(Statistics Canada)
  • The Canadian Constitution of 1982 identifies three groupings of Aboriginal Peoples living within Canada. They are:
    • Indians (First Nations)
    • Metis
    • Inuit
  • These are separate groupings of people who have unique cultures and heritage, languages and systems of knowledge who number approximately 1.2 million in Canada – 4% of the population
  • The past decade has seen a large increase in Aboriginal population, it grew by 45%, six times faster than the 8% rate of increase for the non-Aboriginal population. The greatest increase was amongst the Metis, reaching 389,785 followed by First Nations, 698,025 and Inuit , 50,485.
  • Aboriginal Peoples in Canada are the first peoples, people of the land, nations within a nation and a homeland, who have inherent rights that flow from this recognition, have a unique place in Canada’s history and development, engaged in treaties, not part of the multicultural mosaic.
terminology look to the people themselves national provincial and territorial organizations
Terminology – Look to the people themselves/National/provincial and territorial organizations


  • Aboriginal
  • First Nation
  • Métis Nation
  • Band / Tribe
  • Indian
  • Native
  • Métis
  • Metisse
  • Le(s) Michif(s)
  • North American Indian
  • Indians of North America
  • Inuit
  • Inuk
  • Native North American Indian
  • Indigenous populations


  • Redskin
  • Injun
  • Savage/Sauvages
  • “our” Aboriginal Peoples
  • Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples
  • Canada’s Natives
  • Half-breeds
  • Aboriginal and First Nation are not interchangeable
  • Inappropriate use of umbrella terms
  • Eskimo
first nations

There are 615 First Nations which represent more than 50 nations or cultural groups and 50+ Aboriginal languages

  • The Indian Act outlines the rules and regulations governing First Nations
  • Administrated by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)
  • The Canadian government is responsible and has legal obligations for both status and treaty Indians registered – who can prove descent from a Band that signed treaty.
  • There is no obligation to unregistered, or those enfranchised who gave up or lost status.
  • Reasons for giving up or losing status include, joining the war effort, gaining education, marrying outside of culture, not accepting registration, unable to prove status
First Nations

Registered Indian under The Indian Act






Bill C31(1985)

Bill C3 (2010)


Non status

Non status Metis

m tis

Approximately one third of all Aboriginal people in Canada identify themselves as Métis. Between 1996 and 2006, important political and legal milestones may have encouraged individuals to identify themselves as Métis.  The Métis received significant recognition in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) and have won one important supreme court case related to the recognition of hunting rights (R. vs. Powley, 2003).

  • The Office of the Federal Interlocutor (AANDC) provides funding to support representative Métis, non-status Indian and off-reserve Aboriginal organizations,
  • OFI also participates in tripartite negotiation processes between Métis or off-reserve Aboriginal organizations, provinces and the Federal Government. 

People of mixed First Nation and European ancestry who self-identify and are accepted by Métis nation (leadership). Distinct in language, culture and heritage and history.

No national or legal definition.


The Inuit have a homeland that covers almost one-third of Canada, from eastern Yukon to the eastern coast of Labrador.

  • The Inuit live throughout most of the Canadian Artic and subarctic.: in the territory of Nunavut ("our land"); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik ("place to live"); the coastal region of Labrador, in areas called Nunatsiavut ("our beautiful land") and Nunatukavut ("Our Ancient Land"); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and formerly in the Yukon. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat.
  • In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat.

The word "Inuit" means "the people" in the Inuit language called, Inuktitut and is the term by which Inuit refer to themselves. The term "Eskimo," applied to Inuit by European explorers, is no longer used in Canada. Inuit is not accepted as a collective term. No universal term, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik people.

aboriginal languages

Aboriginal Language Families:

Algonquian, Eskimo=Aleut, Athapaskan, Iroquoian, Siouan, Salishan, Tsimshianic, Wakashane, Na-Dene, Isolates

Some of the 50+ Aboriginal Languages:

Michif, Algonquin, Assiniboine, Atikamek, Babine, Bella Coola, Blackfoot, Carrier, Cayuga, Chipewyan (Dene), Swampy Cree, Plains Cree, Dogrib, Halkomelem, Kwakiutl, Micmac, Mohawk, Montagnais-Naskapi, Ojibway (Saulteaux), Stoney (Nakota), North Slavey Tsimshian, Eastern and Western Inuktitut

Aboriginal language s most viable are Inuktitut and those within the Algonquian Family, e.g., Cree, Ojibway and the Athapaskan Family, e.g., Dene Dogrib Inuktitut.

Aboriginal languages

According to 2001 Census data, of the 976,300 people who identified themselves as Aboriginal, 235,000 (or 24%) reported that they were able to conduct a conversation in an Aboriginal language.

This represents a sharp drop from 29% in 1996,2 and appears to confirm most research which suggests that there has been substantial erosion in the use of Aboriginal languages in recent decades.

indigenous peoples diversity in culture heritage knowledge systems
Indigenous peoples - diversity in culture, heritage & Knowledge systems

Historical and Contemporary Geographical Regions/Territories/Cultural Areas/Lands and Resources


Traditional and Contemporary Languages – Mapping the Ties That Bind

learn about aboriginal peoples worldviews history contributions
Learn about Aboriginal peoples worldviews, history & contributions

Western Hierarchical Worldview

Aboriginal Holistic Worldview

Based on interdependent relationships – people of the land

A matriarchal system

Relationships are based on laws of nature

You are born complete, with knowledge, you embody all knowledge of past, present and future

Equal participation and responsibility is encouraged – harmony, interconnectedness

Knowledge is power

  • Based on a pyramid – one person/being at the top controls
  • A patriarchal system
  • A binary world of good and evil, the challenge is to overcome the inherent evil in mankind
  • You are born with sin, you are ignorant
  • You are not fully responsible for your actions
  • You begin with an emptiness – a cup to fill with knowledge
  • Coming from knowledge is powerful, pedigree
circle of life nurturing identity


Land and Resources are Gifts





Children are a gift from the Creator

Circle of life - nurturing Identity

Sense of belonging, independence, mastery & service

canadian context
Canadian context

Five Cohorts of Students:

  • First Nations who live in First Nations communities and attend federally funded schools in First Nations communities
  • First Nations who live in First Nations communities but attend provincially funded schools under a tuition agreement
  • First Nations who live in the jurisdiction of school boards and attend provincially funded schools
  • Metis who attend provincially funded schools
  • Inuit who attend provincially funded schools

Ministry of Education, Ontario First Nations and Metis Framework, 2009

select resources that are appropriate and authentic

Different forms of bias occurring over time in resources have been identified. These include:

  • Invisibility/omission - some groups may be rarely seen, or not seen at all
  • stereotyping - use of pared down, simplified attributes
  • imbalance - one-sided interpretation of issues or situations
  • unreality - avoidance of in depth analyses of situations and circumstances in life
  • fragmentation/isolation - treatment of gender, age and cultural differences as separate, add on information
  • linguistic bias - language that is patronizing or ignores disability, age, gender differences and cultural diversity

(Diverse Voices. Saskatchewan Education 1995-2)

list of selected resources attached
LIST OF Selected RESOURCES (Attached)

Canadian Aboriginal History: Olive Dickason's Story Part 1. Villager’s Media

Aboriginal History: Did You Know? A four part series, The Sharing Circle, on APTN (YOU TUBE)

community engagement and collaboration
Community Engagement And Collaboration
  • Boards, Schools and Communities
  • Ministries of Education
  • Colleges and Universities
  • “Memory Institutions”: Libraries, Archives, Museums, Interpretive Centres, Arts and Cultural
  • Aboriginal Organizations (National, Prov., Terr., Regional)
  • First Nations, Metis and Inuit Schools and Communities
monitor and evaluate
Monitor and Evaluate

Sound Practices

Indicators of Success/Progress

Correct terminology illustrated in texts, images, language throughout school.

School has implemented division policy to reflect cultural affirmation

Activities are developed to reflect diversity in schools

School has engaged community in planning

Teachers understand and use authentic resources in unit and lesson planning

Two in-service days dedicated to learning to teach

  • Know who Aboriginal peoples are and use appropriate language
  • Develop policies on cultural affirmation and school climate
  • Provide teacher training
  • Share decision-making with Aboriginal communities
  • Actualize curriculum with Aboriginal content & perspective
  • Create benchmarks/rubrics
  • Continue to learn and teach, teach and learn

Library and Archives Canada

Aboriginal Heritage




“If the legends fall silent,

who will teach the children of our ways?”

Chief Dan George My Heart Soars