Thursday, December 21, 2017

Edmonton schools push to preserve Indigenous languages

First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and curriculum together

Melissa Purcell
 supervisor of First Nation, Métis and Inuit education with the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB)
 said all of the district's schools are working to include more Indigenous language content in lessons. Two schools
 Westmount and Prince Charles
 offer Cree language and culture classes during regular school hours. Amiskwaciy Academy also offers conversational Cree, and the district caters to students with other Indigenous backgrounds, such as Dene and Blackfoot.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Some online video resources to peruse

Here is some video content to watch over the holidays

Take some time to browse the many Aboriginal streaming video resources listed below. (Some will require a district ID and PW to access). ​


Learn 360  (Sign in with


Click on the link below, login, and come back and click again to find the show


Creative Native

Native Peoples Series


Words of the Elders

Residential Schools: Truth and Healing


National Film Board (Free Content only - any films marked "CAMPUS" require a paid account)

Aboriginal Themes


Discovery Education (Sign in with your email and password)

Aboriginal Content



​ - ​
Cultural programming

Reel Insights

Wild Archeology

Dene Journey

All Our Relations

Back in the day

Catch the Dream

Moosemeat and Marmelade


Monday, December 18, 2017

The Blanket and the Bighouse

"Ray Harris of Stz'uminus and Wendy  Grant-John of Musqueam, speak about  currency before contact, the meaning of wealth, the relationships between men and women in the old Coast Salish society, equality and survival, and the important role of blankets to the community. (Note: In modern-day Coast Salish longhouse ceremonies, the speaker calls witnesses and they are handed two quarters – 50 cents – in recognition of their role to remember and share the work about to take place. Those two quarters were once the price of a Hudson's Bay blanket in the early days after European contact.)"


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Canada's Residential Schools on Google Earth

​Stories and Places​
​ ​

A Google map that allows users to see the number of schools and their distribution across the country, along with quotes from survivors. 

"The residential school system is older than Confederation itself, having lasted from 1831 to 1996, and represents a dark aspect of Canadian history. These government-sponsored, church-run schools aimed to assimilate Indigenous children by taking them away from their families and forcibly eradicating their cultural identity. Residential schools have left a horrible legacy that survivors, communities and families are still struggling to overcome and heal from to this day."


Monday, December 4, 2017

Musqueam Teaching Resource

​Learn more about this local First Nation​

​From the kit:
  • "Learn about Musqueam culture and history from Musqueam people. 
  • "Understand the important role of language and stories in communicating knowledge through exposure to hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ stories and place names. 
  • "Familiarize yourself with Musqueam's ancestral territory, our ancient roots, and the efforts we continue to exert to safeguard our home and our future.​

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Finding Focus: Framing Canadian Métis and First Nations on Film

A Resource Guide for High School Educators

​This is an excellent resource for capturing student interest - the book includes a DVD.​

This book features 15 chapters, each focusing on a short film 30 minutes or less, dealing with Métis and First Nations issues. Topics for discussion are included in Before ViewingDuringViewing and After Viewing sections with a focus on established Curriculum Connections.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Explore traditional Aboriginal sports

 cultural traditions, athleticism, and personal well-being in today's Aboriginal youth

Warrior Games is a youth-oriented television series that explores traditional Aboriginal sports through the eyes of gregarious host and apprentice, Steve Sxwithul'txw. Each week, Steve travels to a new territory and meets with Aboriginal youth who mentor him in their traditional as well as contemporary sports. As Steve trains
, he also discovers a deeper understanding of the culture, history and identity of the youth he eventually competes against. Warrior Games will showcase the extraordinary cultural traditions, athleticism, and personal well-being in today's Aboriginal youth.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

"Culture is not a costume."

​Halloween is a teaching opportunity ​[2].pdf

The VSB offers some tips for addressing cultural appropriation and costuming ideas:

The autumn season is upon us, and soon it will be Halloween. This time of year brings with it decisions on costume
​ ​
choice. While dressing up is meant to be fun and exciting, it also runs the risk of offending others with costumes
​ ​
that are offensive to other cultures. Halloween offers the
​ ​
opportunity to discuss costume choices with both
​ ​
colleagues and students We need to encourage others not to mimic cultural,
​ ​
racial or
​ ​
ethnic groups.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Coiled, Twined and Woven: Weavings of the Coast Salish People

he relationship between environment, natural resources and tradition

​From the Glenbow Museum ​lesson plan archive:

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
 Look critically at artifacts to compare and contrast various ways of weaving.
 Understand that the relationship between environment, natural resources and tradition in the Coast Salish culture.
 Experiment with various materials to create a woven artwork


Monday, October 2, 2017

Significant and richly informative archaeological studies

Archaeology of the Lower Fraser River Region
(PDF - SFU Library Digital Publishing)

Synopsis:  a number of significant and richly informative archaeological studies have been conducted within the Lower Fraser River Region of southwestern British Columbia. As a result, a great deal has been revealed and learned about pre-contact period and early post-contact period human occupation, settlement, and use of natural resources.  These have been consolidated in an ebook (PDF) from SFU digital publishing. Read the book online, or download the PDF.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Orange Shirt Day, Every Child Matters

Show your Support on Friday, September 29

Show support for those who attended residential schools across Canada. As September 30th falls on a Saturday this year, organizations are encouraged to show their support on Friday, September 29th. I encourage everyone who wishes to participate to wear orange next Friday and show your support! 
For more information visit
​ ​"


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Artist Talk with Marianne Nicolson | City of Surrey

Artist Talk with Marianne Nicolson - October 26, 2017


Marianne Nicolson will talk about her practice in relation to her new work developed for UrbanScreen, The Way In Which It Was Given to Us. She will be joined in conversation by writer Siku Allooloo. The event will open with Semiahmoo welcoming remarks by Roxanne Charles.


Surrey Art Gallery, 13750 88 Avenue

Date & Time:
October 26, 2017 
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM




Monday, September 25, 2017

First Nations Research Guide

​Accessing the BC Archives ​

This guide is intended to help researchers locate material on British Columbia First Nations at​ ​the BC Archives as well as to provide referrals​ ​to related resources available elsewhere. It is not​ ​meant to be a general research guide on the subject, which is both broad in scope and complex
​ ​
in terms of the records available. Some introductory works and general​ ​guides are listed
​ ​as well as some useful internet resources. Call numbers have been provided for items in our​ ​collection. The urls for linked items can be found in Appendix 2.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Phyllis Webstad speaks about Orange Shirt Day

of Residential school

Orange Shirt day is an annual event held each September 30th in remembrance of the Canadian Residential School system and the impact of this government policy on First Nations. Phyllis Webstad presents her memories of Residential schools and the meaning of Orange Shirt Day.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Michif Language Project 2013

An early childhood Michif immersion project

"An educational concept which began in the fall of 2012 has now turned into reality and with its launch an imaginative learning tool for young Michif learners. The Michif Language Learning Project began with the concept that the younger you are the easier it is to learn language. Repetition is required and access to Michif speakers can be problematic in many communities. It was this lack of early learning resource that prompted Marilyn Bean and Jan Ovans of the Cowichan Valley Métis Association, to apply for a Canadian Heritage grant, to develop an early childhood Michif immersion project.​" 


Digital Resource for Teachers - "It's Our Time"

First Nations Education Toolkit on iTunes U

The Assembly of First Nations' digital education resource It's Our Time First Nations Education Toolkit is now on iTunes U. The free, downloadable package for iPad is a resource for teachers, providing culturally relevant, accessible, hands-on educational tools on First Nation culture and history.

​" ​
There are 21 modules available through the Toolkit's iTunes U Course. AFN has currently worked with education technology company Ebou Learning to enhance each module with six interactive textbooks:

    • Cultural Competency
    • First Nations Holistic Lifelong learning Model
    • First Nations Performance Indicators Checklist
    • The KAIROS Blanket Exercise
    • Residential School
    • Role Models

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meet the "People of the River"

Sq'éwlets - A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community

Visit this multimedia-rich site about the Sq'éwlets Nation and their traditions.
he ancient home of our Sq'éwlets community is where the Harrison River rounds the bend and flows into the Fraser River. Sq'éwlets, in earlier times and documents, was spelled 'Scowlitz'. At the heart of this website is our Sq'éwlets history. We tell both our sxwōxwiyám and our sqwélqwel. These are our origin stories and the true stories that tell our history.

These stories were once passed from grandparents to grandchildren in our language, Halq'eméylem. They were shared beside the fire in the longhouse. They were shared at our fishing rocks as we stood side by side with our lines and nets. Now they are passed in these ways and by other modern means. They are shared through books, video, audio, and the internet.
​ (This site is also available in French.)​


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017 North American Indigenous Games

he largest sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous Peoples in North America

​his website is available in French and English.

The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are expected to be the largest sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous Peoples in North America. ​It will host more than 5,000 participants, 2,000 volunteers and countless spectators for 14 sport categories being held within world-class venues located across the Greater Toronto Area, including the Region of Hamilton and Six Nations of the Grand River.​ ​The Games provides Indigenous youth, aged 13-19, an opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities through 14 sport​s ​​​and to celebrate their heritage through numerous cultural events​. ​Participating teams include all 13 provinces and territories of Canada, as well as 13 regions from the United States.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Circle of Caring - Short Animated Films

 from Elders

Available in both French and English
Watch our animated short films starring the Capsule Families produced especially for Indigenous families, and schools. The films are also available on DVD in our Circle of Caring toolkit.

They can be viewed in seven Indigenous languages or in English or French. Each film includes an introductory segment with teachings from Elders and discussion guides to help jumpstart dialogue and change for safe, strong and free families and communities.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Hide & Seek - the story behind the video

​Urban Voices speak​ out

​The N'we Jinan project involving a handful of Surrey Schools high school students has had a profound impact on how they see themselves, and how they speak about their identity and culture. This video gives us a window into the hearts of students and their parents as they share the impact of the project. 
See the full video of the song here:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Handbook for Aboriginal Mentoring: what. why. how. who?

​Helping Youth survive
 and flourish

​his handbook, prepared by Alberta Children's Services, offers perspectives and strategies for supporting Aboriginal youth using mentoring.
Aboriginal wisdom suggests that there are certain things without which young people cannot survive and flourish. Mentoring is one of them (Weinberger, 1999). Although the term mentor is uncommon in Aboriginal communities, the concept of mentoring is not. Mentoring preserves a way of life based on spirituality, sacredness, reciprocity, education and social responsibility by helping to integrate cultural factors that preserve and protect the health and well-being of the young (Weinberger, 1999). Mentoring is a primary intervention to prevent or address many of the problems that youth face today. By supporting and redirecting young people, mentoring focuses attention on successful behaviours and encourages the attainment of potential, provides direct assistance to young people, promotes school achievement and helps youth to avoid violence and abstain from drugs and alcohol.


Plans to rename National Aboriginal Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day

A ​
milestone in building the nation-to-nation relationship.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked National Aboriginal Day by promising to strip the name of a residential schools proponent from a federal building and to rename the annual occasion as National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Trudeau also formally announced that 100 Wellington St. in Ottawa, a heritage building and former U.S. embassy, will become a space dedicated to Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities. 

During an event outside the building located across from Parliament Hill, Trudeau said there has never been a space dedicated to Indigenous peoples.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Indspire hosted Webinars on Indigenous Education

how to integrate Aboriginal culture

​Multiple archived webinars on a range of topics of interest to those working to integrate Indigenous content and perspectives into their instruction.

Topics are wide ranging:
  1. Supporting Métis content
  2. Cree language revitalization
  3. Aboriginal literature
  4. Lifeskills
  5. Medicine Wheel teachings
  6. Canoe as a teaching tool


"Indigenous Canada" free course @ University of Alberta

plore key issues facing Indigenous peoples today

Build your understanding
​ and deepen your knowledge about Aboriginal issues:​

Indigenous Canada is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. 

From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

Indigenous Canada is for students from faculties outside the Faculty of Native Studies with an interest in acquiring a basic familiarity with Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relationships.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

KAIROS Blanket Exercise Resource Centre

n interactive learning experience
​that is often misunderstood

​Find out more about this powerful activity that helps participants understand the impact of contact on ​Indigenous peoples. (There is also an intro video on the site.)

Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator (or narrators) and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. Ideally, the exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Indigenous Music Awards 2017

​And the winners are...​

​on't know what ​musicians to follow? This page reviews the winners and the categories so you can be "in the know."

Hosted by country artists Kimberley Dawn and Jerry Sereda, the event kicked off with an exclusive red carpet entrance and treated the audience of 1,400 to performances by Crystal Shawanda, Northern Cree, Fred Penner, Mariame, Felipe Gomez, Christa Couture, and Chante Assiniboine and the Spirit Horse Singers. All told, 15 awards were handed out, including a much-deserved lifetime achievement honour for traditional powwow group Northern Cree.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shared Understanding - a Presentation for Leading the Learning

"Why Aboriginal Education? and why now?"

(Use the "cog" to open the speaker notes for links and further information.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

REDPATCH - the story of an Aboriginal soldier in WWI

Inspired by the thousands of Aboriginal and First Nations soldiers

​A playlist of video shorts about this play:

REDPATCH is a historical drama that tells the story of a young Metis soldier from the Nuu-chah-nulth nation of Vancouver Island who volunteers to fight for Canada in the Great War. Set in both Canada and the battlefields of France, REDPATCH follows the experiences of this young Canadian soldier as he endures the First World War.
​ ​
Inspired by the thousands of Aboriginal and First Nations soldiers who fought for Canada during the Great War, Hardline Productions' dynamic new show is graciously supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage's World War Commemorations Community Fund.

Produced by Hardline Productions
With the generous support of Presentation House Theatre
Co-Written by Raes Calvert and Sean Harris Oliver


Senator Lillian Dyck comes to Surrey

Senator Lillian Dyck will be coming to speak at two of our secondary schools on Wednesday April 26th.

In the past, she has spoken about issues such as her own experience as a bi-cultural woman (Aboriginal and Chinese), residential schools, the work of a senator and other relevant topics.

Here are some links about her life and work:


14,000-year-old ice age village discovered

​lder than the Pyramids

A coastal village dating back to the last ice age has been discovered by researchers in western Canada.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

N'we Jinan - ‘We Live Here, We belong Here’

​Music video production comes to Surrey BC.​
​ ​

​n March of 2017, N'we Jinan came to Surrey and worked with high school and elementary school aged students to produce two remarkable music videos. The students themselves found the process to be life-changing, and the final product speaks volumes about the realities of living out Aboriginal identity in an urban setting.
The N'we Jinan Tour Is A Music Initiative
​ ​
that brings a mobile recording studio and a video production team into schools and youth centres across First Nation and Native American communities. The program offers youth the chance to create an original song and music video that explores relevant issues and topics while promoting positive messaging, community engagement and collective voice.


Monday, April 3, 2017

EMS & Semiahmoo Pow-Wow

A great opportunity to experience culture.

If you didn't have a chance to go to the Pow Wow at Earl Marriott this year, visit this link to watch the archived video of the morning activities from last Friday. Many good teachings and explanations from the MC, Francis James.

Looking for a book on Pow-Wow? Many school libraries have these two titles:

  • The song within my heart -  David Bouchard
  • The drum calls softly -  David Bouchard

Some additional online resources:

  1. My summer on the Pow Wow Trail (PDF)
  2. Canadian Encyclopedia
  3. Welcome to Pow-Wow Country
  4. Native Drums site

Monday, March 27, 2017

What is a Métis sash? Can I use one to teach in my class?

Bringing Métis culture into your classroom.

I've been asked about the appropriateness of using a Métis sash in the classroom, especially if the teacher is not sure about the provenance. My response is that any finger woven ceinture fléchée can be used to explain what the sash looks like. If you purchased it from a recognized Métis organization, then it is authentic, otherwise it can still help students understand what you are talking about.  (You can read my more complete take on the issue here).


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March is Aboriginal Reads Month at Fraser Heights

​ aboriginal literature in school​.​

​Read the complete blogpost on "fhlearn" to ​find out more: (with links to handouts and materials.)

Fraser Heights applied and received an Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN) Spiral of Inquiry grant to promote aboriginal literature in our school. The aboriginal support teacher Brenda Sampson and I chose to do this partly by way of a reading contest. For the past 3 years, we have run a contest called "Aboriginal Reads Month at Fraser Heights". 

During this month all of our aboriginal resources are on display everywhere for quick easy access. We include everything from novels, picture books and graphic novels to non-fiction books about First Nations art, traditions, experiences and  issues. We also create posters and bookmarks promoting our aboriginal collection.


My Seasonal Round - Unit of study

Integrating​ Social Studies and Science

Integrating ​
Studies and Science​,​ ​this resource ​looks at
​ ​
seasonal rounds in the four geographic regions of BC, through the perspective of Aboriginal groups​ ​(past and present) who live in these regions. 
(Includes ​blackline masters, tools, rubrics and this website which​ ​both teachers and students can use.​)

Downloadable PDF: