Indigenous Peoples of Canada Learning Resources
This year our family is continuing to learn about the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and their history, culture, and teachings. We have gathered a variety of resources for our studies that I have shared below.
Along with the resources listed below, we have been actively learning about Canada's indigenous peoples by:
- reading books by indigenous authors
- listening to indigenous stories and music
- hiking at buffalo jumps
- visiting bison at farms and parks such as at Buffalo Pound
- cooking bison stew and burgers
- learning about and foraging for wild foods
- visiting sacred sites, including the Big Beaver Bison Effigy (pictured below)
We also hope to visit Wanuskewin Heritage Park this year and participate in indigenous led learning events and celebrations.
1. Honouring the Buffalo: A Plains Cree Legend by Judith Silverthorne
This book is absolutely beautiful! I highly recommend ordering it from your local library or supporting a local group and purchasing from places such as the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Sask Books, or the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society. The author, Judith Silverstone, has also provided educational materials for use with the book (see below).
We read the book slowly and enjoyed the artwork and discussed what we were learning and feeling as we read. Afterward, sitting in a circle with the book in the center, we used the one page guide at the end of the book (or available here) to further our discussions and learning. In the way of oral storytelling and learning, we didn't write our responses down but incorporated these teachings and our learning into our mind, body, and soul.
"Through the Creator, Buffalo gave themselves as a gift for the sustenance and survival of the Plains Cree people. This largest land animal in North America once thundered across the Great Plains in numbers of 30 to 50 million. They provided shelter, food, clothing, tools, hunting gear, ceremonial objects, and many other necessities for those who lived on the Plains.
But by 1889, just over a thousand buffalo remained, and the lives of the Plains Cree people changed. Buffalo is honoured to this day, a reminder of life in harmony that was once lived.
This is the story of how Buffalo came to share themselves so freely for the survival of the Plains Peoples.
Based on the Plains Cree legend as told by Elder Ray Lavallee; Written by Judith Silverthorne, illustrator Mike Keepness. English with Cree translation and educational resources. Also available in French/Cree and German/Cree."
- Educational Resource Guides for Honouring the Buffalo Book
- One page educational guide with questions and activities to go along with the book
2. The Gabriel Dumont Institute has a wealth of resources for learning about Métis history and culture. We purchased a variety of picture books with narrated CDs and music from GDI. These books are also available through Saskatchewan libraries.
I particularly love the Children's literature guide that you can pair with the books seen in the photo as well as the Métis Alphabet Coloring Book that you can print off. One page has a beautiful image to color and the next has Métis teachings.
3. Royal Saskatchewan Museum
RSM has several indigenous learning resources available. RSM has developed an online "Sacred Teachings" Video Series available on their website and YouTube (below). Along with the videos, there are grades K-8 Teacher and Student Guides broken into grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8; therefore, this could be a great option for family based learning where you watch the videos together then each child works on their associated learning activity.
RSM also has a Tipi Teachings videos available at https://royalsaskmuseum.ca/rsm/education/school-programs-online/the-tipi.
You can also virtually tour portions of the First Nations galleries at: https://royalsaskmuseum.ca/rsm/visit/exhibits/first-nations-gallery.
4. Office of the Treaty Commissioner
The OTC has a wide variety of resources available, including The Learning Circle: Classroom Activities on First Nations in Canada. These learning guides are available free of charge on their website. They will be emailed to you after you check out. The guides are based on age and are separated into: ages 4-7, 8-11, 12-14, and 14-16. Peruse OTC's resources available at: http://www.otc.ca/resource.html.
5. Spirit in the Rocks, Rock Paintings in Northern Saskatchewan DVD
This beautifully depicted documentary begins with a Cree man paddling in Northern Saskatchewan. His clothing is intricate and beautifully made. It’s a serene, picturesque scene. Without narration, you are drawn into his actions as he navigates his way to rock paintings. You can feel the sacredness of the site and his offering of sharing himself and this site with the viewer. He gives an offering and at this same time I say a silent prayer within of thankfulness and respect for his sharing to educate others.
Included within is a booklet explaining the scene of Part 1 of this documentary film. Moving into Part 2, many elders discuss the meaning and sacredness of the rock paintings and how their teachings, knowledge, and culture was fractured but is now coming to the forefront and the Cree youth are yearning to learn about their roots, history, stories, and culture.
This DVD is available through Saskatchewan Public Libraries and also available from the Saskatchewan Archaeology Society at: https://thesas.ca/product/spirit-in-the-rocks-dvd/. There is an accompanying book, The Aboriginal Rock Paintings of the Churchill River, available through the library or at: https://thesas.ca/product/aboriginal-rock-paintings-of-the-churchill-river/.
6. Indigenous Canada Certificate from the University of Alberta
This course is offered online via Coursera. This is a great option for high school students and adults. The course consists of 12 lessons that are made up of videos, readings, and quizzes. The course is offered for free, or to receive a certificate it is $65. Learn more at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada.
"Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies 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. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions."
- Christi Belcourt, Métis Artist
- Indigenous Crafts
- Indigenous Games and Activities
- Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada
- Native Land Map and Teaching Guide
- Saskatchewan Indigenous Culture Centre