Chapter 7: Aboriginal Education
within a Canadian Context
Learning Topics
Aboriginal Issues
Treaty Rights and Provisions
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Resource Selection and Strategies for the Aboriginal Learner
Community Based Learning
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Aboriginal Issues
In Canada, the term aboriginal is inclusive of people of
Native, Inuit, and Metis cultures and ancestry.
The culture of each of these groups within Canadian
society has been affected in both positive and negative
ways through interaction with Euro-centered cultures
that predominate throughout the provinces and some
areas of the territories.
Aboriginal leaders have focused recent attention on the
socio-historical realities (Goulet, 2001) of native and nonnative interactions, with a stress on actions to achieve
social justice as defined through treaty rights.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
An Historical Perspective
on the Issues
 Historically native or First Nations peoples in Canada have been marginalized by a dominant
Euro-centered settlement.
 Social, economic, and geographical development across Canada marginalized Native groups
as expansion westward and economic development followed European models.
 Attempts at political and cultural control of aboriginal groups in the late eighteenth century,
were compounded by disease, resource confiscation, illiteracy in the dominant language, and
a systemic policy of assimilation of the aboriginal culture. Residential schools were an
institutionalized vehicle of assimilation.
 Until the 1940s the trend toward systemic assimilation continued. Aboriginal leaders began
to voice concerns about historical injustices, aboriginal rights, and the horrifying details about
aboriginal wrongs became a focus for social change in Canada.
 During the 1980s and 1990s, Canadian awareness of aboriginal issues became a catalyst in
the national psyche.
 Today, we recognize the need to prepare teachers in Canadian schools to deal honesty and
effectively with appropriate instruction about aboriginal history and current issues and to
prepare teachers to provide effective instruction for aboriginal students in various contexts
across the country.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
In order to teach about aboriginal issued in the Canadian Social Studies
context, teachers will need to address developing themselves and their
students’:
 knowledge about traditional native, Inuit, and Metis cultures
 appreciation for traditional native, Inuit, and Metis cultures
 knowledge about contemporary native, Inuit, and Metis cultures
 appreciation for contemporary native, Inuit, and Metis cultures
 openness and respect for differing perspectives about Canadian
historical events involving interactions between native, Inuit, and
Metis cultures and Euro-centered cultures.
A review of social justice concepts and strategies (Chapter 6) may
help teachers to design curriculum in the Social Studies programs
that can impact these areas of their program.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Treaty Rights and Provisions
 Treaty rights are respected by laws in Canada. Many of these laws
are encompassed in the 1982 Constitution Act, Section 35.
 Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada have rights
under these treaties.
 The non-aboriginal Canadian has access to land and its resources.
 Aboriginal treaty rights, dependent on the particular treaty, may
include things such reserve lands, farming equipment and animals,
annual payments, ammunition, clothing, and hunting and fishing
rights.
By studying aspects of these treaties, teachers can develop empathy
for the aboriginal issues that are part of the Canadian social
experience.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Teachers need to develop awareness about:
 Treaty processes; how and when they developed; how they
are administered presently
 Aboriginal dislocation from traditional lands
 Social policies related to economic development,
education, and language
 Historical and contemporary accounts of racist policies and
practices
 Diversity within Canada’s aboriginal communities and
cultures
 Aboriginal contributions to Canadian and global societies.
(Seixas, 1999)
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
“We cannot afford to leave events in the past,
as this can serve to stereotype Aboriginal
peoples as being peoples of the past.”
(Seixas, 1999)
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
 Canadian treaties with aboriginal peoples have resulted in some common
issues that are part of the heritage and the dilemmas of modern aboriginal
cultures.
 One of these issues is the difference in worldview between native and
non-native cultures in relation to spiritual, educational, economic, social,
political, and environmental directions.
 A second difference is that the predominance of Euro-centered language
practices in Canada puts pressure on the use, viability, and preservation of
native languages and cultures.
 Finally, many of the social issues that characterize aboriginal communities
in Canada can be related to the cultural dislocation, identity
transformation, and colonial policies and practices that are the product of
treaties.
(Seixas, 1999)
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Native Self-Governance
Self-governance serves many purposes in native communities.
Through self-governance, these communities can:
 Take control over decisions that impact the lives of people in each
native community
 Establish effective relationships with other governments
 Capitalize on economic development opportunities
 Improve programs and services available to the community
 Enhance the social and the economic well-being in each community.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Culturally Responsive Teaching
 Effective teaching starts with consideration of the background of the child
and how that background will impact the instruction being planned by the
teacher.
 This is especially true when the culture of the teacher and the student may
be different.
 It is even more truthful when the teacher may be of a dominant culture
and the student from a marginalized culture.
 When the marginalized culture of the student has also experienced
systemic discrimination and acculturation efforts on a national scale, the
teacher must be especially attuned to opportunities to be responsive to
the student’s cultural background and to the ways that background will
influence the student’s learning.
 Culturally responsive teaching will start with a profile of every student to
help the teacher understand the parameters that may influence the
student’s academic and social growth in the school context.
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Examples of some traditional
native teachings include:
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The creation story
Examples of how native people lived together in the pre-contact era
Traditional aboriginal world views
The clan and tribal systems
Aboriginal languages
The interaction of aboriginal language and culture
Social norms within aboriginal cultures
Sewing and leatherwork
Food planting, gathering, harvesting, and preparation
Traditional survival skills
Seasonal cycles and seasonal activities for survival
Story telling
Humility, health, and healing
Holistic health and traditional medicines
Adapted from:
http://www.normed.ca/communities/aboriginal_affairs/general/aspx?id=4102&ekmensel=c580fa7b_214_0_4102
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Teachers can learn more about their students by using
systemically developed class profiles to study the nature of the
class. Class profiles can be developed by considering:
The family, community, and personal background of each child (through school records, interest surveys,
teacher to teacher conferences, parent surveys, class discussions, and observation).
Organizing the information from individual students into a profile of the class (e.g., cultural heritage, interests,
English language skills, aspirations, social skills).
Selecting and designing instructional examples and instructional resources to reflect inclusion of all cultures
represented by the children in the classroom.
Planning inclusively, including plans for differentiation of the content, learning processes, and learning
products, to reflect the class makeup.
Continuous review of efforts to provide inclusive, culturally responsive, and respectful curriculum experiences
that reflect the makeup of the class.
Provision of the learning supports required for success for every child.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Culturally responsive teaching must also be
responsive to the many factors that influence the
academic success of native students in schools.
These factors include:
 Teaching strategies that are appropriate to the cultural background of the
aboriginal learner
 The use of resources that reflect aspects of aboriginal culture
 Curriculum topics that reflect the perspectives and beliefs of the native, Inuit, and
Metis cultures
 The availability and suitability of counseling and outreach services that respond to
native needs
 A school environment that encourages aboriginal students and invites the
engagement of their parents.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Canadian Pluralism
The pluralistic nature of Canadian society demands that
teachers acquire expertise in strategies that support
many cultural backgrounds among our students.
This support of recognition of the role of culture and
learning and the inherent validation of the individual
when the teacher recognizes and models respect for the
culture of the student, creates a classroom climate that
supports learning.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Culturally responsive teaching
includes teaching that:
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Uses the language and the culture of the students in the classroom.
Is knowledgeable about the nature of the cultures in the school community.
Recognizes cultural differences that may influence learning.
Responds to cultural differences by teaching with culturally appropriate strategies.
Recognizes that culture changes and respond to those changes through
adaptations in the curriculum.
Teaches both traditional and contemporary cultural examples when topics are
addressed.
Teaches cultural examples that represent the makeup of the class.
Uses elders and leaders in the cultural community to provide examples of the lived
experiences that exemplify curriculum concepts.
Represents cultural differences as strengths and the student’s experiences in
different cultures as learning assets in the classroom.
Prepares students for living in a pluralistic society while maintaining their own
original culture.
Provides opportunities to learn academic skills (process and product) through
familiar cultural content.
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And…
 Uses authentic approaches; students have a real audience and a real purpose for
their work.
 Uses teaching strategies that are holistic and synergistic (e.g., active learning, outof-class learning, format variations, cooperative learning).
 Happens in a climate of inclusion and respect for all.
 Happens with a strong bond between the teacher and the student (e.g., warmth,
caring, sensitivity, humor, classroom ethos values, trust, high achievement
expectations); the student trusts that the teacher has his/her best interests in mind
at all times.
 Makes use of effective, indirect, non-confrontational classroom management
strategies.
 Includes choice within the content, processes, and products of the learning
themes.
 Difficult and emotional issues are addressed as part of the curriculum of inclusion;
issues of culture, language, historical fairness, values, norms, power and
governance, oppression, marginalization, poverty, and economic viability are
included in class discussions and investigations.
 Includes self-monitoring for habits of mind that are self-aware, tolerant, inclusive,
and respectful (e.g., reflexivity).
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Examine
Similarities in…
 Dress
 Physical appearance
 Names
 Religious beliefs and observances
 Ways of doing things
 Social norms
 Tolerance for safety and risk
 Recreation
 Occupations
 Conflict resolution strategies
 Foods
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Examine…
Differences in…
 Foods
 Laws and rules
 Clothing
 Government roles
 Housing/shelters
 Health issues and needs
 Family structures
 Environmental issues and concerns
 Friendships
 Customs, observances, and traditions
 Community structures and relations
 Arts and crafts
 Values (love, sharing, tolerance,
cooperation, etc.)
 Music and celebrations
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The Seven Cs of Multi-Culturalism
 Celebrations – We learn about the norms and values of other cultures by watching and participating in the
cultural celebrations of the group.
 Curiosity- By studying the culture as both observer and participant and with emphasis on the commonalities
across cultures, we can teach students to examine why cultural practices have evolved.
 Contribution counting- We can examine ways that the practices and ideas from various cultures have
contributed to the pluralistic nature of Canadian culture.
 Case studies- Examining specific instances through case studies allows us to highlight similarities in values
as demonstrated through people’s responses.
 Consciousness raising-We can examine issues through powerful group problem solving techniques such
as brainstorming, six-minute solutions, tutorials/jigsaws, group investigations and reporting, role-playing, inquiry,
etc.
 Communication-
We can study our own communication practices to ensure that interpersonal and transcultural communications are always positive, worthwhile, sensitive, respectful, productive, and responsive.
 Caring- Our studies of other cultures should always seek to promote the self-esteem of others through
personal acceptance, awareness of the assets of each participant, respect for the cultural contributions of each
participants, and acceptance of the challenges of each culture.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Choosing Resources
In selecting resources for Social Studies in the primary and junior division,
teachers face the challenge of finding materials that are culturally respectful,
promote deep understanding, and are still accessible to young students
through the level of language that they can engage for comprehension.
Often, fictional text is most appropriate for young students to help them
understand complex concepts.
When choosing fiction for this purpose in Social Studies, teachers will need to
ensure that:
 historical fact is accurately portrayed
 stereotypical text and pictures are avoided or analyzed to examine their
biases and perspectives
 text allows for examination from different perspectives
 opportunities to reflect on text sources from culturally responsive
viewpoints are provided.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
In selecting text and pictorial resources for
their program in Social Studies, teachers should
consider the following questions:
 Is the source of information presented in this text and the pictures
reliable?
 Are different perspectives on an event presented?
 Does the text/ picture show respect for aboriginal culture?
 Is there any use of inappropriate terms or pictures that show
negative and stereotypical images in use in this source?
 Does the source recognize the differences between historical and
contemporary aboriginal culture?
 Is the source designed to foster deep understanding, inclusiveness,
and respect for others?
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Using Photographs
Selecting photographs for use in Social Studies can be particularly challenging
because they will require close examination to determine the explicit and
implicit messages they convey.
Clark (1999) encourages the use of photographs in Social Studies for their
many advantages.
Photograph study offers learners the opportunity to:
 Appreciate pictures as data sources
 Examine photographic images from a critical perspective by looking for the
meaning underlying the images
 Ask compelling questions about the photos and pictures.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
When selecting photographs
for classroom use…
Consider:
 Detail -Look closely; monitor the perspective.
 Geographical data-Examine the photograph to determine the
climate and landscape.
 Historical data- Look at details in the clothing, hairstyles, furniture
and machinery to determine what these tell you about the times.
 Emotional context- Determine the feelings that are depicted. Ask
“Why?”
 Aesthetic qualities - Identify the photographer’s staging techniques.
Look at how he/she has achieved appeal, the use of colour, light,
texture. Ask “Why?”
 Perspective and purpose -Determine who may have been the
intended audience and what may have been the intended message.
Ask “Why?”
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Some effective instructional strategies to teach to
native students and about native culture include:
 Examination of an issue by assuming the values of another person.
 Host someone from another culture for a classroom visit and investigate how to make the
guest welcome by explicitly recognizing that person’s cultural practices.
 Role play being a guest from several different cultures and having to scrutinize the offerings
of your host (foods, beverages, and activities) for their religious or cultural compliance.
Follow up the decisions of the “guest” with discussion of the cultural background of these
traditions and observances.
 Examine a current events report and ask the question, “Who values what?” to determine the
various perspectives represented in the report. Ask other “Who” and “Why” questions (see
question stems).
 Use puppets to allow students to role play in low risk ways. Using the puppets they can
examine different perspectives without “owning” them.
 Cartoon a scenario after examining several political cartoons to see how exaggeration, satire,
and humor are used to make them effective.
 Develop activity centers in the classroom to allow students to examine and familiarize
themselves with items from other cultures and determine their use and significance.
 Undertake a comparative photo study; examine for similarities and differences across time,
place, and context.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
 Investigate multicultural literature sources.
 Use music from many cultures to manage transition times in the
classroom. Over time, analyze the music for identification of the
instruments.
 Use audio-discs to expose students to stories told about other cultures in
the voices of other cultures.
 Encourage volunteers from many cultures to work in the classroom.
 Hold food related multicultural celebrations to recognize special days in
various cultures represented by the classroom makeup.
 Host a multicultural fair.
 Teach decision making structures so that students understand alternatives,
options, and the complexities of multi-criterion decisions.
 Engage students in inquiry: go beyond a descriptive history to ask “Why?”
questions.
 Provide examples of concepts from many cultures (e.g., family, friendship,
conflict, etc.).
 Teach students to understand ambiguity (“This is black, this is white, this is
grey.”).
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
 Teach students to understand and follow the progress of discussions about
controversial issues:
- This is what I think…
- These are the differences between what each of us thinks…
- These are the reasons for those differences…
- Here is how we can show respect for those differences…
- We want to… because peaceful coexistence is in everyone’s best interests.
- Ask yourself, “What did you learn from considering the other person’s
perspective?”
 Use conflicts and school cultural incidents to examine the values behind the
incidents and teach alternatives to the conflict.
 Teach that culture is multi-faceted and includes many commonalities across
cultures (e.g., values, caring, families, protection, shelter, friendship, community,
love, sharing, compromise, laws, survival, thriving, subsistence, progress, growth,
sustainability, conservation, law, norms, values, cooperation, partnership,
government, recreation, customs, traditions, art, celebrations, symbolism,
language, habits, rituals, myths, stories, birth, death, grieving, offence, fairness,
peace, justice, compromise).
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Community Based Learning
 The term community based learning is often used
interchangeably with the term community service learning.
 Academic work in the classroom is strengthened with
service work in the community, providing opportunities for
the learner to apply their knowledge in community settings.
 This type of community based learning may not always be
possible in elementary schools because of the
transportation and safety issues related to the age of
primary and junior children.
 However, all teachers can introduce concepts related to
community based learning right in their classrooms.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Teachers can support community
connections and the ethos of inclusiveness by:
 Involving students in age appropriate community based projects
 Using resources that represent accurate and unbiased views of aboriginal and other cultures in their
classrooms
 Building classroom displays that help familiarize children with many aspects of other cultures that are part
of their community or more remote communities
 Teaching children greetings from other cultures and using these on a rotating basis in the classroom to
model respect for another language and other cultures
 Including the study of efforts being made to preserve native culture and language as part of the study
about aboriginal peoples
 Including study and practice of aboriginal crafts and arts through thematic units that support topics being
considered in Social Studies.
 Involving students in age appropriate community based projects
 Using resources that represent accurate and unbiased views of aboriginal and other cultures in their
classrooms
 Building classroom displays that help familiarize children with many aspects of other cultures that are part
of their community or more remote communities
 Teaching children greetings from other cultures and using these on a rotating basis in the classroom to
model respect for another language and other cultures
 Including the study of efforts being made to preserve native culture and language as part of the study
about aboriginal peoples
 Including study and practice of aboriginal crafts and arts through thematic units that support topics being
considered in Social Studies.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Causal Reasoning
Causal reasoning seeks to consider what
might cause another thing to happen. A
generic causal question might be posed by
asking, "What would/could/should/did
happen (if/when)…? "
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Causation in Social Studies
will present in two ways:
1. As a hard numerical ( quantitative) data
Examples:
- rainfall amounts causing flooding damage
- tectonic plate movement causing earthquakes
- mobility within a community affecting property
costs
In this example, causation can be determined by
numbers.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
2. As descriptive (qualitative) data
Examples:
 opinions rated on a scale (e.g. , Rate you opinion of the public
services available in this community on a scale from 1 to 5)
 opinions related to feelings (e.g. , Identify you feelings about this
experience by circling one of the faces shown below).
Add sad, neutral, and happy faces here
 agreement circles (e.g. Step into the circle if you have….Step out of
the circle if you have…)
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Chapter Review
 Aboriginal” includes people of native, Inuit, and Metis culture.
 Teachers need to understand the socio-historical background of
issues when they plan the study of historical and contemporary
native societies.
 Aboriginal culture was marginalized throughout the period of
European settlement in Cnada, starting in the early eighteenth
century.
 Aboriginal leaders began to voice concerns about the
marginalization of aboriginal peoples in the 1940s.
 Teachers need to develop their background knowledge about
aboriginal peoples, both historically and contemporarily.
 There are disparities in educational achievement, retention and
access between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students in Canada.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
 Teachers need knowledge and skills to develop curriculum about
and for aboriginal peoples to ensure that it is inclusive, current, and
representative of the social, educational, and economic realities of
various aboriginal groups across Canada.
 Treaty rights in Canada are incorporated into the 1982 Constitution
Act, Section 35.
 Treaty terms are different in each treaty.
 Treaty rights are being claimed by aboriginal peoples to address
their perception of socio-historical wrongs.
 Self-governance of aboriginal communities serves many purposes,
including providing opportunities for aboriginal communities to
determine their own socio-economic direction.
 Colonization in Canada led to the historic and contemporary
marginalization of aboriginal people.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
 Culturally responsive teaching requires that teachers familiarize
themselves with the cultural background of each of their students.
 Class profiles will help teachers become aware of the cultural makeup of
their class of students.
 Teachers need to plan for, and manage, the factors known to influence
student success in schools.
 Culturally responsive teaching is good teaching in any context.
 Culturally responsive teaching includes social justice advocacy.
 Students can study other cultures, including aboriginal cultures, at many
levels of engagement.
 J.W. Friesen (1999) promotes seven strategies for learning about other
cultures.
 Teachers need to analyze historical fiction resources for suitability of
content and perspective when considering their inclusion in a Social
Studies program.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
 Photographs, used carefully, can provide a valuable resource for
learning about the historical background of aboriginal peoples.
 Historical photographs can be staged, include underrepresented
images, be altered, or provide distorted perspectives.
 Many traditional teaching approaches in aboriginal culture are
effective with students from other cultures.
 Teachers can introduce community based learning, in age
appropriate ways, in their primary/junior Social Studies classrooms.
 The spirit of community based learning can be brought into the
classroom through what the teacher models and inter-cultural
experiences made available through the curriculum.
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Chapter 7: Aboriginal Education within a Canadian Context