Category Archives: Inquiry

Power of Story – English 10

By Jenifer Barsky, Cariboo Hill Secondary

When I was a student in school, I used to dread those assignments where my teachers would ask me to explore my cultural or ethnic heritage. They’d ask us to share details of our ancestors’ past: birthplace, languages, traditions, dress. I would cringe at the thought of reporting out to my classmates that my grandfather had been born in North Vancouver, the exact city where I currently resided. He spoke English. He ate turkey at Christmas and hid chocolate eggs for his three daughters at Easter. He wore collared work shirts and Levis.

I would marvel at my peers’ ancestry. My friends would come to school, posters in hand, and speak of aunts and uncles who were born in places I’d rarely heard of: Trinidad and Tobago, Senegal, Ukraine, Indonesia. They spoke many languages and celebrated holidays and traditions not listed on the calendar on my kitchen wall. They wore saris, turbans and kilts. I envied how exotic their lives seemed, compared to my tiny, localized experience.

Despite my feelings of inadequacy related to my ancestry, I had always appreciated the stories my grandparents told me, of living through the Depression, fighting in the Second World War, and raising children in the 50s. My Nana would recall going to school in flour sack dresses, with sugar sandwiches packed for lunch. Through the stories of her childhood, I learned about resilience and hope. My Grandpa G spoke of the summers he spent as a fisherman in Prince Rupert. Through his tales, I learned to love and respect the ocean and to remain persistent even in the face of defeat.

My involvement in “Stronger Together,” the Aboriginal Learning Team reminded me of the power of story to connect people to each other and teach important lessons. It reminded me that the history of our families, and their experiences, pushes us to heal, and forgive, and be inspired.

I created an English 10 unit, focused on ancestry and designed to teach personal narrative writing. The texts in the unit – poems, short fiction, and informational text – all related to family. We read a poem called “In Service,” about the sacrifices made by a generation of African American women, so that their children could have better lives. We read a personal narrative called “Fish Cheeks,” about how the traditions of our ancestors don’t always align with our own desires. We read a poem called “Forgiving my Father” and recognized that, though we often inherit admirable qualities from our parents, sometimes we also inherit their pain, their suffering, their mistakes.

photo JB1

In the middle of the unit, Karla Gamble, the Aboriginal Resource Teacher, visited my classroom and presented to my students on family crests and totems in First Nations communities. Through story and images, Karla shared of her own life with my grade 10s, explaining much about the value of family and community among the First Nations. [pic of Karla in class] She guided us through the drawing of a raven, and then students created an ancestral image of their own, which they painted onto a ceramic tile. Each tile symbolized aspects of the student’s family, ethnicity, and/or religion, using shape, colour and design. Students chose their symbols carefully, and worked painstakingly to create pieces they took pride in. [pic of hand working on tile]

One student drew the Ying Yang, turning one side into a sunrise and the other into a sunset. He wrote of how the image represented his family here, and his family in the Philippines – while one awakes, the other rests. He stated that despite their geographical divide, they possess a harmony, and balance, just as the Ying Yang implies. [pic of tile] Another student painted the background of his tile black, but then painted over it with yellow. In his words, “The black represents the pain and suffering of my ancestors, but the yellow covers the black, because they overcame the hard times and became farmers. The yellow is for the wheat they grew. When wheat is ready to harvest, it becomes a bright yellow.”

Now, my students are beginning to write their own stories, the stories of their ancestors. I have read about a grandfather who was a surgeon in Afghanistan, a grandmother who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Scotland. I have read about a father who survived a typhoon in the Philippines, a mother who has raised five children, alone. My students write with passion, with love, with vigour. They want to share with me, and their peers, stories of these people they come from. The words pour out onto the pages, because they know these stories. They have lived them.

I went to hear Richard Wagamese speak a few years ago. He spoke of the writing process, and storytelling in general. He said that stories live in every one of us, we just have to find them, and then tell them. We did. And we are.

photo JB 3photo JB 2

Cross-curricular Connections with Aboriginal Education

Integrating Aboriginal Education Across the Curriculum

By Pat Bathurst, Maywood Community School

I am a true believer in thematic based curriculum and whenever possible I try to integrate student learning into as many subject areas as possible. I also wanted to really embrace “Stronger Together” with my students. For these reasons, Div 1 at Maywood Elementary has been immersed in experiences and projects intended to bring a greater understanding of Aboriginal Culture, beliefs and challenges. The following is a brief snapshot of what we’ve been up to.

In Language Arts, we used the district’s intermediate Residential Schools Lit Circle Kit. This is an excellent resource with novels spanning reading levels from grades four to seven. The novels portray life before and during residential school for a variety of Aboriginal children.

Students met twice a week in same novel groups to discuss the events, characters and meaning they were making as they read. Not only did the discussions indicate that my students were learning about the history of the Residential School system, it was quite evident that they were developing empathy and an understanding of how our early experiences impact our lives. Between Lit Circles, students wrote personal responses. The personal meaning students gleaned from these stories, and the connections they made with the main character’s experiences often awed me. Here are some snippets.

“Another thing I want to talk about is putting myself in the Character’s shoes. To be honest, I would hate to not be with my mom. It would suck because I would not have anyone to talk to and ask questions.”

“This novel made me have feelings. Some parts were shocking, sad and exciting. Sometimes this book made me want to do a little dance, sometimes I wanted to cry and sometimes I had this I’m done, I can’t take it feeling. There are very few books that have a big impact in my life and this is one of those books.”

“This novel has a big impact on what I think of Canadian History and life. The novel is telling me that I should go out more and enjoy nature.”

“My biggest connection is when all the kids were told ‘you can’t do this and you gotta do that and they don’t listen to them’. It reminds me when someone tells me I can’t do something, it makes me more determined.”

“I can make a lot of connections with Lawrence because I wasn’t brave to start with either, but when I moved to Turkey I learned to be strong and stand up for myself. . . . I became more confident. Laurence stood up to the nun and from that moment on he was more confident with himself and he took that confidence home. Just like me.”

Two big ideas that came from our literature circle experience were resiliency and that we shouldn’t judge people, but rather come to understand their life stories.. A lesson given by Mary Hotomanie, Aboriginal Resource Teacher, on the effect of taking children from a community was very powerful and helped to initiate these big ideas..

One of the unexpected outcomes of this experience was the growing sense of community in our classroom.

In Science, we explored the Aboriginal World View. A lesson by Mary led to small groups of students choosing a cycle to explore and illustrate. These included: The water cycle, the rock cycle, the moon cycle, the human life cycle, frog cycle, seasons, the salmon cycle, food cycle, butterfly cycle and the star cycle After completing their cycle, I created a break by attaching a jagged line somewhere along the circle Students then followed the sequence of events that would occur if this cycle was broken. They were encouraged to go as far as they could with the ripple effect on all of life should this occur. Finally they presented their findings to the class. This was a great way to illustrate that:

Everything on earth has a purpose

Everything on earth is connected

Everything on earth is to be embraced

Everything on Earth is alive

Pat B 3

We also had the privilege of spending an afternoon at Central Park with Cease Wyss who introduced students to many of the native plants and their medicinal uses. She definitely brought my students closer to nature and evoked in them a much greater respect. I know they were fascinated and moved. They have retained a lot of their learning as it continues to come up in conversations and for many it sparked the desire to go deeper with this learning in their inquiries. My two students of Aboriginal ancestry were particularly engaged in this activity.

In Social Studies students chose a topic related to Aboriginal Peoples to conduct an in- depth inquiry which they later presented to the class in a format of their choosing. Most students worked with a partner or in a small group that was formed by their interests. The most popular format was power point with an oral script. Topics they chose included:

  • The effect of European settlement on First Nations Peoples
  • The differences between First Nations medicine and today’s medicine
  • Residential Schools
  • Aboriginal people’s participation in the Canadian Military
  • First Nations Sports
  • Comparing First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples
  • Food and hunting methods of the Inuit
  • The Moosimin Band (conducted by a student whose ancestral background is with this band)
  • Aboriginal peoples use of plants and animals and the effect of European settlement on First Nations diets
  • Challenges facing Aboriginal women

Students had a two month window of time in which to conduct their inquiry and put together their learning. Most students were fully engaged in their learning and presented their learning very well. A few were outstanding and a few needed extra support.   If I were to do a similar inquiry activity, I would love to be able to connect my students with a mentor from an Aboriginal community.   I think this would have helped them to develop their questions and take their learning deeper. Overall though, I am pleased with the experience and the results.

In Art we learned about the use of masks in First Nations Ceremonies and students created masks of their own faces using Plaster of Paris gauze. They first made drafts, thinking about what spirit/s they would like present at a ceremony celebrating them and how it could be represented on their mask. After painting their masks, students wrote a short piece describing why they wanted this mask at their ceremony and what it represented.

This was a wonderful activity. Not only was it fun, it built community and enabled students to personally reflect on who they are and what is important to them. I was awed by their engagement and effort throughout this project.Pat b 7Pat b 6Pat B 4

“I would like this mask at my ceremony because it represents me. The red cross represents aboriginal medicine which I studied for inquiry and found it really interesting. It also represents me because it has the four elements and I really like nature like Aboriginal peoples.”

“What I wanted to invite to my celebration was the symbol of peace and justice, and I thought that the perfect way to represent that was to paint two white wings that have the meaning of peace. The clouds represent the negative thoughts while the sun represents the positive. The blue background represents the calmness which means that the positive thoughts are winning over the negative.” 

“For my celebration I’m inviting an eagle with star because I’m celebrating where I’m from. On the Albanian flag (my dad’s flag) there’s an eagle on it. I wanted to represent my mom’s flag too (the Kosovo Flag) so I drew stars on the wings. I added yellow sparks to the eagle’s wings because on the Albanian flag, the wings of the eagle are the biggest things on the flag.”

Over the course of the last two terms, I have learned so much along with my students and feel like it has been a good start to bringing the gifts of our First People’s into the classroom. I know that I still have some learning to do and adjustments to make and I’m thankful for the people and resources provided by the District who I know will help me on this journey.

What’s to come.

With the help of Mary my students will develop a further understanding of the Medicine Wheel and create their own. Mary has also connected us with the Green Team Meet Up Group and on April 23rd we will be attending an invasive species clean up in Central Park.

Learning is embedded in memory, history and story

By Cindy Wong and Alison Atkinson, Moscrop Secondary

Alison and I began our investigation into the integration of Aboriginal perspective with many questions around teaching:  How do we as English teachers both integrate Aboriginal content and the Principles of Learning authentically into our classrooms?  How do we design or re-design classroom activities and assessment through the lens of Indigenous ways of knowing?  How do we as non-aboriginal teachers navigate the teaching of aboriginal content?  How do we create a classroom that is physically conducive to dialogue?

After prolonged discussion, we decided to hone in on the principle of:  “Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.”

To bring emphasis to the importance of “memory, history, and story,” I gave students the following assignment after finishing George Orwell’s 1984:

1984 Story-telling Assignment

Part One

In drawing connections between Thomas King’s notion of the role of stories in society, as well as the different video clips seen in class, how would you define the role of personal stories?

Piece together a life story of one of the characters from 1984.  What experiences has (s)he been through to shape him/ her?  Create a back story for this character that would explain this person’s actions and outlook on society and life.  Base this back story on facts from the novel as much as possible.

For this assignment, you will be using a format similar to PichaKucha.  However, rather than using 20 slides, you will use 10.  Use a combination of images and quotations (5 quotes from the novel and 5 images) as the driving force of your presentation.  The images you choose will lend to the telling of a personal story (remembering the broad definition of “story” as we are referring to it:  a personal experience, a personal anecdote, a story someone hears growing up, a belief, a tradition, a way of living, etc.)

Part Two

Now, take some time to reflect on a story that has had relevance in your own life.   How has it affected your outlook?  How has it affected the way you live?  How do stories shape who you are?

For this portion of the assignment, you will again be using a format consisting of images.  Incorporate any combination of five images, quotes, or objects.  Whatever images you choose however, need to be original.  The visuals you choose will be instrumental to the telling of a personal story (remembering the broad definition of “story” as we are referring to it:  a personal experience, a personal anecdote, a story you grew up hearing, a belief, a tradition, a way of living, etc.)  Create a poster board with these images, and provide a written version of your “story”.  The story as written, will be a maximum of 750 words long.  Your story need not be attached to your poster should you choose not to share it.  You may choose any written genre you like to tell your story (narrative, poetry, rap, spoken word, etc.)  Also, answer the following three questions as pertaining to the story you’ve chosen to share:

How has this story affected your outlook?  How has it affected the way you live?  How does this story in particular, shape who you are as a person?


I was most interested in the stories students would tell for Part 2.  Many were touching and humorous, while others heart-wrenching.  There was a lot of value in validating these experiences for students.  Many shared that this assignment was a therapeutic one and one that they enjoyed.  I will definitely be exploring more ways to have students tell their stories.

Cindy Wong 2Cindy Wong 1

English 12 Exploration of Societal Attitudes

*This blog post is based on a lesson where English 12 students did an impromptu read of a recent Maclean’s article. The students’ responses are raw and show some of their current thinking and experiences. The teacher’s role in such conversations is to carefully challenge some of their ideas so that they have a deeper and wider understanding of complex social issues. The hope after such disc  ussions is that students will continue to explore and challenge their thinking and that of their surrounding communities and society. *pamela smith1

My English 12 classes at Byrne Creek have read and discussed several pieces of First Nations literature throughout the semester exploring spiritual practices and land issues as well as the lasting effects of residential schools. We are now in the middle of preparing for the provincial exam; however, after watching the National on CBC yesterday evening, I felt compelled to share the January 22, 2015 article, “Welcome to Winnipeg where Canada’s racism problem is at its worst: How the Death of Tina Fontaine has finally forced it to face its festering race problem,” by Nancy Macdonald. The article made the front page of Maclean’s Magazine and is causing more than a controversial stir across the country it seems.

As we are preparing for the Provincial English Twelve exam, studying essays and discussing their tools of effectiveness, I decided to read this important article that is causing so many people, including the mayor of Winnipeg, to open their hearts and their eyes and notice that there is a problem in the city, perhaps across the country, according to some of my students.

After reading the article to two classes, one student stated that here in Burnaby where he lives, when police came to respond to a complaint about the Aboriginal tenant in his homestay family’s basement, the officer was overheard saying something discriminatopamela smith3ry regarding the tenant to the landlord.

This student then looked at me and said, “They shouldn’t be saying that.’

Pausing in the middle of the article, after describing how Jenna Wirch was put to work in the sex trade before her tenth birthday and watched two of her friends stabbed to death in front of her, “one with a machete,” painting a graphic image of life for an Aboriginal girl in the North End of Winnipeg known as a mostly native populated area, I asked my students who was surprised to learn this was happening in Canada. Most of them raised their hands.

One young woman expressed her shock and dismay to the class, contrasting her well protected life as a Caribbean Canadian to Jenna’s, bursting into tears in front of the class. She was so full of empathy for Jenna.

When asked what they would say to the people of Winnipeg, students were quick to observe that admitting there is a problem needs to happen before anything can be changed. After that, they said that identifying the real problem is necessary. Other ideas that followed included breaking stereotypes by asking questions about why people take the positions they have. Start a conversation and invite others in, especially in schools. A lot of influence, they noted, comes from people in power, so it is important to educate students but to first educate the adults who are teaching these students and making judgments, according to the article. The rest of the population needs to understand the background of Aboriginal people and put themselves in their positions.

“J.” who arrived in Canada from Kyrgystan in 2011, explained, “I always thought America was the most racist country, but after (reading) this, it just opamela smith2pened my eyes.”

This led us to discuss the question of how to get rid of racism.

“Start at the roots,” someone said. “If parents are racist they need to get rid of their racist attitudes so they don’t hand them down to their kids.”

“It is such an eye opener because here in Vancouver we appreciate Aboriginal culture such as celebrating this at the Olympics, or the English Bay Inukshuk mentioned in the article, but in Winnipeg the way they treat the Aboriginal culture, especially starting at the age of ten there is very disturbing.”

The bell rang and classes ended far too soon, before our growing conversation had a chance to come to a natural pause, for it will continue I have no doubt. Many students stayed to continue the discussion, each expressing gratitude for the article being shared with them.

“That was so powerful,” several told me as they were leaving.

It is reassuring to hear that they are open to exploring this very real concern we have regarding societal attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes of Aboriginal people in Canada.

Pamela Smith

Byrne Creek Secondary

Inquiry Team Session 3

The Aboriginal Education Inquiry Team met for the third session on January 15 at Burnaby North. The session started with English Teacher Denise Ferreira from Byrne Creek Secondary sharing her work with the inclusion of Aboriginal literature in her classroom, which featured a student created Youtube video demonstrating their learning. The session also included a presentation by Shelley Javier and Karla Gamble, Secondary Aboriginal Resource Teachers, regarding the integration of authentic Aboriginal literature and resources in our classrooms. In true inquiry fashion the discussion spiralled into many more questions and rich discussion about how we as teachers can be thoughtful about the integration of authentic Aboriginal literature. Below you will find a link to the presentation slides, as well as links to the resources touched upon during the session:IMG_0281

Session Three January 15IMG_0282

BC First Peoples Learning Resources K-7, FNESC


Exploring Diverse Cultures in a Diverse Classroom

Ms. Ewan, Maywood Elementary School

This is the first time I have taught grade 4, I had to move schools, and our start of year was….unusual. With so much of the Social Studies curriculum in grade 4 focused on Aboriginal pre-contact/early contact, and with everything else that was going on, I was slightly terrified (Will I totally butcher this?). After deciding to divide the year into three big sections (Rich pre-contact, Exploration, and Post contact effects/cultural impacts), I started researching pre-contact and was reminded how rich/diverse Aboriginal cultures and societies were in North America. After consultation with Mary Hotomanie, our Elementary Aboriginal Resource Teacher, we decided to focus on four groups to both celebrate the diversity and keep the topic manageable. Cree, Algonquin, Haida, and Coast Salish became the cornerstones for our term one unit.Melissa 3

What did we do?/How did it go?

Term one was divided into three major sections: (1) What is culture/Aboriginal worldview; (2) The nuts and bolts; and (3) Synthesis and deeper comparison.

During the first few weeks, Mary and I explored the concept of culture and Aboriginal worldview. With such a diverse class it was interesting to discuss many different cultures. We also used this part of the unit to teach basics of non-fiction text features and create interest in the topic. (How many sticky notes can we use in one day?)

During the ‘Nuts and Bolts’ part of the unit, students were put into four groups to work together and build a class bulletin board. Each week, students researched a specific aspect of an Aboriginal Nation and created a display for the class bulletin board, usually I provided a basic graphic organizer to help. Each week the topics and the groups rotated, so that by the end of this section of the unit, every student had experienced or researched an aspect of each Aboriginal Nation. Throughout the unit we continued to teach note-taking skills as well as techniques for reading non-fiction texts. The ESL and LSS teachers supported this aspect of the unit. Additionally, Mary added a rich layer by bringing teachings or stories related to the topics of the week. She spoke about everything from animal symbols to the roles and responsibilities of children. She always tied the weekly teaching into the Aboriginal worldview, which became core to our first term learning. Throughout the term, students would choose to read non-fiction books during silent reading about the different Aboriginal Nations we were focusing our inquiry on, read our bulletin board, and/or explain aspects of our bulletin board to parents and friends in other classes. This bulletin board and literature became powerful ways to share our growing knowledge. Once the bulletin board was complete, we made a class book of the information that is now an important part of our class library.

As often happens, the first two parts of this unit took much longer than expected. Our plan for part three was to have students complete a Venn diagram comparing the different Aboriginal Nations and then look at personal traits/life experiences in order to decide which pre-contact Aboriginal Nation they would have fit into best. I am hoping that if I teach this unit again, I can include this part, but time and class needs prevented me from ending the unit this way. Instead our class did a mini-inquiry about Aboriginal Peoples from around the world. This inquiry project grew out of students wondering if there were Aboriginal Peoples around the world and it seemed like a powerful way to end.

I am generally happy with how the unit grew over the term. The students really connected deeply with Mary and Aboriginal worldview. They are able to express an understanding of the complexity and diversity of Aboriginal culture and society in pre-contact Canada and recognize that there are/were many Indigenous peoples around the globe. Additionally, this unit allowed students to practice reading and understanding non-fiction text both in books and on the Internet. The next time I teach this unit, I will tweak it for timelines and hopefully will know the students even better. I also hope I am lucky enough to have an amazing partner like Mary who helped the students connect with subject in such a personal and dynamic way.

What is next? 

As we move into explorers, Aboriginal worldview will be revisited. As a class we will look at cultural appropriation and exchange. I hope my students will continue to build their understanding throughout the year and feel connected to Aboriginal perspectives as we learn of the deeper history of these diverse Nations.

Discovering Personal Traits

Exploring animal totems to develop a greater understanding of ourselves and others.

A series of lessons taught in a grade 2/3 class.

By Leah Dixon and Clare McGivern at University Highlands

In the fall our teaching trio (student teacher – Rachel VanGassen, myself – Leah Dixon and my teaching partner – Clare McGivern) began working with our class to help them understand their own personal traits, specifically their strengths and weaknesses. We have been exploring the new draft curriculum and personal and cultural awareness is one of the core competencies. We began our series of lessons by reading two wonderful books:

i am raven sharing our world

Using the stories as a springboard, we discussed the characteristics of the various animal spirits and how a totem tells a story about you or your family. Then we worked in partners to discuss our own personal strengths. We shared these personal strengths with the class and emphasized our need to use these strengths in our daily lives. Finally, we thought about the animal spirits we were introduced to and chose the totem that we most closely connected to. In other lessons we created pieces of writing connecting the characteristics of our chosen totems to our own lives.

Finally, we reread the book Sharing our World and we focussed on the artwork. We discussed the shapes and colors used. Each child was then asked to choose 3 colors to use in an art project depicting the animal spirit they had previously chosen. The students then used tracers for the body shapes and freehand cut shapes to embellish their animals. The results were stunning.

To follow up we are planning to look at the medicine wheel, using the Strong Nation reader Greeting the Four Seasons, and do some goal setting for the new year, keeping our strengths and weaknesses in mind as we do so.

top writing top totem bottom writting bottom totem

This Year is Gonna Rock! Using Inuksuks to establish class rules and beliefs


ce vieux sage fait de pierres

nous guide en silence

et nous sert de repère

Classes run smoother when students know what behaviour is expected of them. We built our Inuksuks in September but this lesson could work just as well when you need to fine tune and refresh class rules and routines in January.

Start the discussion with the sensory questions : What does the ideal class look like ? sound like ? and feel like ? using a Y-chart. Students work in pairs then present.


y Chart

From this discussion you ask them to come up with 3-5 rules that they believe in.

Tell them they will build or paint their inuksuks using these rules. The core foundation of the inuksuk are the legs which represent respect and safety.am1

Students use tagboard to do a watercolour wash for the sky. They then draw and label their inuksuks with the consensus rules and beliefs that will help them work together as a community for the rest of the year. A key principle of First Nations learning states that learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.

Restitution empowers students to fix their mistakes and think of how their actions effect others.

I used the kit from the District Library Resource Centre (DLRC) entitled « Chez moi, dans le Grand Nord ».

am 2

Ann Louise Richter


Bonne année à tous

Aboriginal Education Inquiry Team Session 2


On November 20 the Stronger Together Inquiry Team gathered for the second session of the year. Teachers on the team investigated the First Peoples Principles of Learning and the ‘Big Questions’ we have about the Principles and how they can be applied within classrooms for the benefit of all learners. The session also featured rich discussion in book talk groups, as well as a sample inquiry lesson regarding the Tsilhqot’in war. All participants are engaging in commitments to action in their classrooms that promote Aboriginal worldview, perspective and understanding for all learners. Through two sessions it has been a rich experience for all involved!

Session Two PowerPoint Slides

Globe and Mail Article on Tsilhqot’in War

First Peoples Principles of Learning

Ms Ferreira: Byrne Creek Secondary – English 10 & 11

What did we do?

Students chose a focus for their project and plugged it into the question: “How do we overcome _____________ ?” They could choose from a number of different options, but many of them chose fear or trauma or loss.  Some chose to focus on the loss of identity or overcoming stereotyping. It was a good way to look at the notion of resiliency and what it means to be a strong person, especially after a difficult experience.  We looked at these questions in the context of the novel Keeper ‘n Me, which the class loved reading.

How did it go? 

Student conversation and understanding of Aboriginal issues has been strengthened, as well as their understanding of the resiliency and strength found in all human beings – this way, they have been able to connect and understand more intimately.

Two Student Examples:

Maki & Alberta

Matteo & Oliver\

What’s Next?

Currently we are working on a semester-long inquiry with my English 8 class.  Our Essential Question is: “Why is bravery an important aspect of being strong?”

Our class has quite a few different texts and genres, and as part of our study, we have read a number of Aboriginal texts, including illustrated texts (“Shi-shi-etko” by Nicola Campbell, “When I Was Eight” by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and “Home to Medicine Mountain” by Chiori Santiago), short stories (“Borders” by Thomas King and “The Animal People Choose a Leader” by Richard Wagamese), poetry (“I Lost My Talk” by Mi’kmaw poet Rita Joe and “Footprints in the Snow” by Nichola Batzel). They’ve also done a synthesis piece with the story “Borders” and a documentary called, ‘Up Heartbreak Hill’, which is about a group of Navajo teenagers who are living on a reserve and who are all, in some way, trying to find their themselves, their story, their identity, and forge their way in a world that doesn’t always understand or accept them. It’s a darker film, but students connected with the notion of finding our way in a world that doesn’t accept us.

Aboriginal Education Inquiry Team Session 1


Twenty classroom teachers from K-12 spent the first of a series of days discussing the inclusion of Aboriginal worlview and perspective in their classroom practice. The intention of the inquiry team is to enhance the great practices already taking place in classrooms through the inclusion of Aboriginal content, perspective and principles of learning. Each participant will submit a blog post over the course of the inquiry process, which we hope will provide as examples for others in our District looking to do the same. Below are many of the resources discussed during the first session on October 16, 2014. These should assist us in sparking action in our classroom practice.

First Nations War Veterans 

Acknowledgement of Territory Sign

Acknowledgement Of Territory Information

Traditional Territory Map

Books Discussed

One Good Story, That one – Thomas King

We Greet the Four Seasons – Terri Mack

Legends of Vancouver – Pauline Johnson

Other Resources

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

First Nations Education Steering Committee

BC Curriculum Drafts

Project of Heart