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Aboriginal Education Directorate

Revised February, 2015

A Journey from
Cultural Awareness
Cultural Competency
Second Printing
Session 1
Day One - Becoming a Facilitator
Day Two - Becoming a Researcher

The individuals below have contributed while taking the Journeys training to the
preparation of the Supplemental Journeys Training Booklets. Thank you for your
leadership and commitment to the children in your schools and to Aboriginal Education
in this province.
Urban Network Team as of January, 2015
Corey Kapilik

Louis Riel School Division

Lisa Aymont Hunter

River East Transcona School Division

David Delorme

River East Transcona School Division

Renee McGurry

St. James Assiniboia School Division

April Waters

St. James Assiniboia School Division

Marsha Missyabit

Winnipeg School Division

Geraldine Whitford

Winnipeg School Division

Bernadette Smith

Seven Oaks School Division

Rebecca Chartrand

Seven Oaks School Division

Angela Fey

Pembina Trails School Division

Jocelyn Bergunder

Pembina Trails School Division

Dionne Deer

Louis Riel School Division

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House)

Angela Busch

Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate ( N.N.O.C.)

William Dumas

Elder, Knowledge Keeper and Language Keeper

Ross Francois

Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate ( N.N.O.C.)

Wayne Spence

Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate ( N.N.O.C.)

Nadine Yetman

Otetiskiwin Kiskinwamahtowekamik (O.K.) School

Members of Winnipeg Regional

Members of Frontier School Division

Thanks to Niji Mahkwa School for

Senior Management and Trustees

hosting the Winnipeg Regional #1

Winnipeg School Division
Shannon Davison
Mark Fontaine
Lorraine Hart
Shelby Playford
Geraldine Whitford
Seven Oaks School Division
Kaylah Chartrand
Kelly Chinchilla
Allison Cox
Kim James
Bernadine Thompson
Bernadette Smith
Melissa Sigvaldason
Joann Wright
Seine River School Division
Holly Sorenson
Hanover School Division
Wendy Martens

Linda Ballantyne
Marion Pearson
Raymond Beardy
Graeme Montgomery
John Parenteau
Delores Boulette

Area 4
Area 4
Area 1
Area 1
Area 2
Area 3

Kathleen Ettawacappo
Clarence Paupanekis

Area 5
Area 5

Ray Derksen
Chief Superintendent
Don McCaskill
Area 1 Superintendent
Karen Crozier
Area 2 Superintendent
Marti Ford
Area 3 Superintendent
Cathy Fidierchuk Area 2 Superintendent
David Swanson
Area 5 Superintendent
Tyson Mac Gillivray Asst Superintendent
Bradley Hampson Asst Superintendent
Gerald Catanni
Secretary Treasurer
Janina Goldenstein Human Resources
David Morrison
Asst Secretary Treasurer

St. James School Division

Renee McGurry
Frontier School Division
Area 5 Language Team
Brenda Turner
Adele Ledoux
Louise Landygo

Journeys Training Session 1: Two Day Schedule

Day 1

Day 2

Becoming a Facilitator

Becoming a Researcher

What understanding is required to begin the training?

What skills do I need to be able to be an effective
What will I need to develop beyond the training?
9:00 9:30

1. Smudge,

9:00 9:30

2. Opening Circle, Introductions

9:30 10:30

8. Video: Hidden Generation - 60s Scoop

Program Overview - Training Goal,

10:30 10:45 Break

The Manual, Power Point


10:45 12:00

4. The Void Exercise

12:00 1:00

Lunch Break

1:00 1:30

5. Word Splash
Group Activity

1:30 2:30

6. The Gladys Cook Story

2:30 2:45


2:45 3:45

Circle to Debrief the Gladys Cook Story

3:45 4:00

7. Article Discussion

Opening Circle

9:30 10:30

3. Decisive Element

10:30 10:45

What understanding is required to research

Indigenous Knowledge?
What skills do I need to be able to be an effective
What will I need to develop beyond the training?

10:45 11:45 Debrief Video

11:45 12:45 Lunch Break
12:45 1:45

9. Eighth Fire Prophecy

1:45 2:30

Group Activity
10. Seven Teachings Exercise

2:30 2:45


2:45 4:00

Closing Circle - Debrief Angelas Story

and How would you use this article?

Homework: Viewing Garry Robsons Video for Essential

Watch Segments of Garry Robson

Introduce Angelas Story

What did you learn from this DVD?

Why is this important to the teachers you will be working
What information is critical for students to learn?
How do I get this to my classroom?

Homework Reading:
Angelas Story Write a personal reflection on the article
Journaling Reflect on the tools from the day and the
training implications

Journaling - Reflect on the tools from the day and the

training implications

Components of Document
These components of your Journeys Binder have been included in this
supplemental booklet so that you may highlight, scribble in and make
necessary notes so as to leave your binder clean. These pieces when
facilitating Knowledge acquisition with your staffs are helpful if they have
them ahead of time.
In the Binder you may find this material on these specific pages.
1. Questions to Answer

p. 5 and 6

2. Stages of Development

p. 117 and 12 15

3. Training Outcomes

p. 9

4. Training Goals

p. 8

5. Becoming a Trainer

p. 25

6. Becoming A researcher

p. 34

7. Becoming an Advocate

p. 40

8. Becoming an Agent for Change

p. 46

9. Stages of Learning

p. 115

10. Phases of Movement

p. 119

11. The Circle of Courage

p. 120

Within this booklet these components are on the following pages:

Professional Development and Training Goals

Professional Development and Training Outcomes

The Trainers Role

Becoming a Facilitator

Becoming a Researcher

Becoming an Advocate


Becoming an Agent for Change


Circle Helper:
Circle Helper:
Circle Helper:
Circle Helper:


Circle of Courage
Stages of Learning
Stages of Development
Phases of Movement

Professional Development and Training Goals

The training will facilitate the achievement for capacity in the following ways. It will:

foster a growing confidence amongst the participants in their power as a group to create
change or the conditions of change in Aboriginal Education.
move the trainees through the identified stages of development found on pages 23-27
of this document.
assist the trainees with a long term development plan for training and professional
development in Aboriginal Education.
provide and encourage the use of successful tools either from the kit or from the
trainees themselves.
provide information necessary in schools as it relates to Aboriginal Education.
explain about the Aboriginal people of this territory and their contributions, identify
the historical events that have shaped relations between First Nations, Metis and Inuit
and the Canadian government .
facilitate a look at what the future holds for the relations of Aboriginal peoples with
others (in particular in the education systems of our province).

Professional Development and Training Outcomes

The trainees will be able to:

understand the Stages of Development Circle as it relates to them personally and to the
people in their jurisdiction.
realize the long term nature of Aboriginal Education and be able to advocate to
educational leaders the long term planning necessity.
conceptualize that Aboriginal Education cannot be one-shot experiences smattered
throughout a school year but instead must be threaded throughout school functions and
across school plans, subjects, timetables, teams, roles, ages, and learning communities.
recognize the importance of all Canadian learners being involved in Aboriginal Education.
understand how to help learners answer the questions through the information they will
assist division, district, school based implementation and integration of effective
Aboriginal Education strategies.

The Facilitators Role

There are critical questions that need to be asked in order to break through the
misconceptions about work in Aboriginal Education. Becoming a Facilitator for the purposes of
change described above is different then organizing the odd cultural event for the classroom or
whole school. The Facilitators of this manual must be able to impart the necessary information
collaboratively and respectfully. Aboriginal Education requires long term planning, research,
commitment and understanding. Lack of knowledge in anything is an enemy to all peaceful
relations and in particular when there is so much to learn about this topic, it is critical that
educators be afforded the tools to embrace this work with confidence. The workshops planned
for educators in the field must confront the stereotypes about the surface level folklorama
type sharing about Aboriginal people and reveal the truths about what has happened to the
originality of the indigenous people of this territory.
Stephen Brookfield in his model of teaching for adult learners identifies certain principles
required to best facilitate learning and to maximize the potential of those who have come to
participate in the learning circle. He states;
The acts of teaching and learning and the creation and alteration of our beliefs,
values, actions, relationships, and social forms that result from this are ways in
which we realize our humanity.
(Brookfield, 1986)
This work requires the facilitator to be knowledgeable in facilitation processes and attend
these sessions with some understanding of adult learning processes. Both the trainer of this
program and the participants who will go into the field after having received this training need
to be mindful of the following:

The Principles of Effective Practice (Page 21)

Seven Components of Effective Practice in Adult Learning (Page 21 22)
Training and Development Stages (Pages 23-26)
Exiting the Void The questions that need to be answered (Page 17)

The Common Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Language and Culture Programs Kindergarten to Grade 12 may be found at http://www.wcp.ca

Becoming a Facilitator

What understanding is required to begin the training?

What skills do I need to be able to be an effective facilitator?
What will I need to develop beyond the training?








I see myself as a
facilitator of adult
Information shared
during the training may
open my eyes to see the
world in a different way
I will need to be in touch
with my emotions
What I hear during the
training may be brand
new information and
I must process the
information before using
it to help others
What is required to
become a facilitator who
is respectful,
knowledgeable and
I will commit to further
develop my understanding
of my role as trainer
The need for long term
planning with leaders in
my jurisdiction

I recognize the skills

required to be an
effective facilitator
I use my skills to
open the eyes of
I can the learners
assess their learning
I need to listen with
my heart in order to
change how I see the
work in Aboriginal

I can see the areas I will

need to develop to
become an effective
Adapt the kit to
incorporate the most
effective tools for the
various stages in
I will develop my
potential as a change
agent in the jurisdiction
where I do my work

Being able to use the

Program Tools
Where to find what is

A source of tools to
facilitate the goals of
this training that best fit
my style of learning and
Continue to attend
functions where I can
acquire Indigenous
Process that knowledge
so that I my effectively
use this knowledge to
help others

Adult Learning skills

Traditional learning

Becoming a Researcher

What understanding is required to research Indigenous Knowledge?

What skills do I need to be able to be an effective trainer?
What will I need to develop beyond the training?





See Indigenous research

in its own unique light
All knowledge is
purposeful no matter
how it has been
transmitted in the past
What I hear with my
ears physically is only
the first level of
Listening with my heart
opens the doorway to
the spirit
Need to hear knowledge
more than once
There are protocols as
to how to ask for the
There are protocols for
everything we do
Cite where appropriate
and state whom I
received the knowledge
from as I use it to help
Never assume that I
know anything



Identify or see the

place that ancestral
languages hold in
imparting Indigenous

Find Indigenous
knowledge keepers and
opportunities to continue
my own learning journey

Listen with my heart

and not only my ears
Pay attention with my
spirit and my

Feel the knowledge as it is

imparted and trust that
what I cant remember will
be stored for me
I will be able to access
this stored knowledge
when it becomes necessary

Clarify in my own mind

what specifically it is
that I am asking
Make my request in
statements of the
Process the
information acquired
and integrate what I
can into my work
Use proper protocols
when seeking
Indigenous Knowledge

Preparation for events or

activities centered around
Indigenous Knowledge

Identify and use elders

and keepers knowledge
when I need them
Get ready to pass on the
knowledge with which I am
Use the protocols
necessary for the event I
am planning

Becoming an Advocate

What understanding is required to advocate and why it may be necessary to do so?

What skills do I need to be able to be effective advocate where the need for integrated
Aboriginal Education may not be understood?
What levels of advocacy such as leadership, administrative, school team and collegial
realms will I need to involve myself in beyond the training?




I will need to know the

processes and protocols
for moving Aboriginal
Education goals forward

I must be able to
I will collaborate with
assess the learning
the leadership in each
needs and environment
for my jurisdiction
Together with my team I
and inform leadership
will plan work that fits
what work is required
with the learning needs
I will need to
I will need to use
articulate the learning
materials that have a
needs identified by
learning impact which
the educators
invites others to realize
they belong in Aboriginal
I will need to find out I will need to make sure
the learning needs of
that the leadership is
each group that I
part of the journey
work with


I must speak on behalf of

the people who cannot
find the words or who
may not even know the
questions to ask

I will need to work

with my team to
design workshops and
PD days to meet the
needs of each group



I will need to receive

support from my
leadership to do the work
in Aboriginal Education
I will need to work with a
I will need to be the voice
of reason (neutral and
clear) in what is said and
enacted about Aboriginal



I will use the tools of

the kit and integrate
them into our Aboriginal
Education Plans.

Becoming an Agent for Change

What will I need to understanding about using the tools in the kit
Identify skills necessary for implementing these tools effectively
Work with the Stages of Development to see where the people in my jurisdiction are at
and plan accordingly





Timelines and plans

need to be inclusive
and collaborative
I will help learners to
explore their own
reactions to the tools

See the skills that exist

within each learning
Use these skills to
enhance the opportunity
for change

Ask for help from those

who can offer the best
help ie) Knowledge
Keepers, Traditional
Practitioners as well as
material resources


I will listen to the

needs of each learning
I will engage my team
and Knowledge Keepers
to help fill the Void

Plan appropriately for

each learning group
Stretch people
respectfully beyond
their personal comfort

Become familiar with the

tools and their place in
the organization of
learning plans


To ask the questions

that are necessary and
hear what has not been
spoken in the group
Use the group as a
unique opportunity for
Develop mutual respect
in the learning circle
Help learners move
beyond their own heart
to help others in this

Read the dynamics of

each learning group and
adapt the work

Use facilitative processes

that are varied and
consider the adult learner

Facilitate using the

learning circle
Model the experiential
aspects of the tools
Use my team to
implement the
Aboriginal education
plan we develop

Include participants in
developing their learning
Work with a team to help
coordinate the action of
our Aboriginal education



Circle Helper:

Circle of Courage

Dr. Martin Brokenleg has identified the following concepts as key to engaging youth in a
learning environment to help them reclaim their significant role in society. The Circle of
Courage has been adopted as a tool to consider when planning learning environments for
teacher education and professional development in Aboriginal Education circles.


concepts foster respectful relations in the learning process and encourage the
commitment process for engagement in making sure that Aboriginal Education is embraced
as an achievable possibility. The following are an adaptation to facilitation considerations
while working with learners:

Generosity Willingness and innocence

Belonging Finding my place in Aboriginal Education
Mastery Acquiring the tools I need to use
Independence Implementing Aboriginal Education
Adapted for Niji Mahkwa
School with permission from
Dr Martin Brokenleg, 2004.







Circle Helper:

Stages of Learning

The stages of learning occur as the recipient processes the information

received. Each circle of movement moves the learning process from the
head to the heart. When knowledge is felt in the heart the learner has
absorbed the significance of the information and may begin to use it to
help other learn.



The Stages
Of Learning


Myra Laramee, 2003



Circle Helper:
Step 1:

Stages of Development

Helping learners see that they dont know, what they dont know; and what they
dont know puts them in the Void.

Step 2:

Creating the awareness of Indigenous knowledge and making it available

encourages one to take risks in learning more.

Step 3:

When educators see their place in Aboriginal Education their motivation and
commitment to do the work comes from an intrinsic place.

Step 4:

The understanding, skills and development required to facilitate Aboriginal

Education begin to make more sense.

Phases of Movement in Aboriginal Education



Stages of

Myra Laramee, 2003


Being in the

Circle Helper:
The main goal of facilitation is to help others move around the Helper
circle and respectfully demonstrate the phases of work needed to
facilitate Aboriginal Education in meaningful and inclusive ways.
Understanding the How Circle Works




AED, 2003



Tools of the Kit

Session 1:
Days 1 and 2 Agenda
Tool 1: The Smudge
Tool 2:


Tool 3:

Inspirational Statements


Tool 4:

The Void Recognizing The Void

Training and Professional Development Stages
Exiting the Void
The Void Exercise


Tool 5:

The Word Splash

The Word Splash Exercise


Tool 6:

Viewing The Gladys Cook Story

Gladys Cooks Biography in Brief
Gladys Cooks Work
Periods in Gladys Cooks life



Article Discussion
Hidden Generations 60s Scoop Video
Eighth Fire Prophecy
Story of the Seven Teachings Exercise
The Explanation
The Seven Teachings Handout



Power of the Circle
Sharing Circle
Talking Circle


Session 2: Days 3 and 4 Title Page and Agendas

Tools 11-15: Notes on Garrys DVDs and Viewing Rubrics
Tool 16: Lighting the Center Fire Tools Rubric and Webbing
Tool 17: Planning Tools Unit Planning Circles
Tool 18: Aboriginal Education Planning Rubrics



Tool 1:

The Smudge

The practice of Smudging is considered in an Indigenous worldview, a necessity of human

kind. Regardless of the ethnicity, faith, country, language, or traditions, the smudge
practice is required for all humans to remain balanced. Each of the following actions are
ways in which someone may restore balance and clarity.
Indigenous practice in this territory for smudge cleansing will include some type of
medicine; sage, sweatgrass, cedar, tree fungus, etc. and a bowl sometimes a shell, wood,
stone or clay. The medicine(s) are lit and placed into the shell. As the smoke from the
medicine rises each of the following steps are considered as the smoke is brushed by the
hands over each of the areas identified.
Each person of the circle or gathering is included in the practice, but if there are people
who do not wish to smudge and want to stay in the circle they can just touch the shell as it
passes in front of them. Those who dont want to be in the room may step out and return
after the smudging is complete. Those who have allergies or chronic respitory problems
may find this a difficult process. At the same time those who have belief in this cleansing
process will engage a method of clearing their respiratory system.
When amongst people of varied backgrounds, some questions may be posed to help them
understand the global need for people to let go of the issues that are troubling them.
When I asked my Grandmother what the word smudge means, she could only tell that it
is a cleansing process to remove the things which pester us and sometimes can fester into
mental, physical, spiritual and emotional troubles. The questions are as follows:

What do you do to clear the air around you when something is preventing clarity of
your mind?

What are activities that you can engage in when your vision or sightedness of someone
and/or something is blocked or clouded?

What do you do when you have listened to negative words about someone or something?

What do you do when you have spoken negative words about someone or something?

What do you do to restore balance to your whole being?

The response will help people understand that working out, jogging, sitting by a river,
having a hot bath, speaking with someone, going to ceremony, going to church, reading,
offering tobacco, etc. are all ways of smudging. Everyone needs to smudge but we may do
it in a wide variety of ways.
Note: The following Smudge Statement was adopted by Niji Mahkwa School students, parents,
grandpartents, staff and community in 1984 as an understanding of the practice of Smudging.


We smudge to clear the air around us.
We smudge to clean our minds so that we
will only have good thoughts of others.
We smudge our eyes so that we will only
see good things in others.
We smudge our ears so that we will only
listen to good things about others.
We smudge our mouths so that we will only
speak of good things about others.
We smudge our whole being so that we
may portray the good part of our self
through our actions.

It is suggested that you make posters of this to hang on the walls of the school,
administration offices and the homes of parents who would like to do so.

Tool 2:

The Circle

Aboriginal people enjoy a strong affinity with the circle because it symbolizes and
resembles many cycles in the natural world. Some Aboriginal people believe the
power of the world works in circles such as the shape of the world, sun and the
moon, the wind as it whirls in circles, birds as they make their nests in circles etc.
In other Aboriginal communities it is also a symbol of equity where no one person
has an elevated position at a certain area of the circle.
Integrating Aboriginal Perspectives into Curricula (2003)
Black Elk offered his thoughts on the:

Power of the Circle

You have
noticed that everything
an Indian does is in a circle, and that
is because the Power of the World always
works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In
the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all
our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and
as long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The
flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the
four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south
gave warmth, the west gave rain, and the north with its cold and mighty
wind gave strength and endurance. This knowledge came to us from the
outer world with our religion. Everything the Power of the World does is in
a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball,
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls, Birds make
their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes
forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both
are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing , and
always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a
circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything
where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests
of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's
hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great
Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

-- Black Elk in Black Elk Speaks as

told through John G.

Hehaka Sapa or Black Elk (1863-1950) Oglala Sioux Holy Man


The Sharing Circle

The Sharing Circle
The Sharing Circle is a traditional way for First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples to
solve problems. It is a very effective way to remove barriers and to allow people to
express themselves with complete freedom. For this reason, it is becoming more
and more popular in mainstream society. Sharing Circles are usually conducted by
and Elder or cultural teacher, often started with smudging. When adapting this to
a school setting it is more acceptable to refer to this circle as a Talking Stick. It
is for this reason that we will refer to circles in an educational setting as talking
The Talking Circle
The Talking Circle, based on First Nations teachings, is a useful process to create
a safe environment for the discussion of conflicts within the class or difficult
situations or decisions students may face. Talking circles allow everyone to be
heard, teach respect for everyones point of view, and help build consensus as each
student hears the views of others.

1. The ideal size for a talking circle is 10 to 15 students. A larger class will
take more and consideration needs to include this variable.
2. A facilitator chairs the discussion by:
Inviting students to speak in turn by mentioning their names
Acknowledging contributions in a non-judgmental way and clarifying
comments necessary
As students gain experience with the circle, they may take turns serving as
facilitator under the teachers guidance.
3. Only one person speaks at a time. An object such as a rock or a talking stick
is used to signify who has the right to speak. There is no cross-sharing.
4. Participants are expected to listen actively and without criticism. They do
not interrupt the speaker; leave while someone is talking, or otherwise show
disrespect to the group. Whatever is discussed is to be kept confidential.
(Teachers have a legal responsibility, however, to report disclosures of
abuse to school administrators.)

5. Students may say, I pass. Silence is an acceptable response. There is no

Pressure for students to contribute if they feel they are unable to do so.
Until trust is established, the group deals with topics that students feel
comfortable addressing.
6. All comments should address the issue being dealt with. Comments about
another speaker or about what another speaker has said are to be avoided.
The facilitator ensures that participants are expressing their own feelings
and are not focusing on what someone else said or did.
7. Participants are not to put down themselves or others. Put-downs of self
include comments such as, I cant do this ... or You wont think this is
important ... Put-downs of others include, That was a stupid thing to say ...

Adapted from Success for all Learners: A Handbook on Differentiating

Instruction 1996 (pp 7.5-7.6)


Tool 3:

Inspirational Statements

Statements of Truth, Inspiration, and Affirmation are critical to emphasizing and

encouraging certain levels of consciousness. This particular writing came as a gift
of the Summer Institute on Aboriginal Education, 2006 when a student offered
each of the participants a scroll with this on it as part of her give away.

A Decisive Element in the Classroom

These words were given to participants of the 2006 Summer Institute
on Aboriginal Education as part of the emphasis of the importance our
presence in the classroom and how we influence what occurs in that
learning space.

I have come to a frightening conclusion,

I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It is my personal approach that creates the
climate. It is my daily mood that makes the
As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to
make a childs life miserable or joyous. I can be a
tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I
can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal.
In all situations it is my response that decides
whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated
and a child humanized or de-humanized.
Dr. Haim Ginott


Tool 4:

The Void

Recognizing the Void

The Void in Canadian society exists as a silent cancer.
In order to exit this void one needs to know what
questions to ask. These may help start the journey out
of the Void.

Balance with
My rights intact
What would I
recommend for P.D.?

You can have too
much or lack of
Now that I know,
what do I do with the

Myra Laramee, 2008

What I dont know:

Respect and

The Impact
What is it that I need
to know?


Are there things that I
dont know I dont

Tool 4:

Training and Professional Development Stages

The Void has come to be known as a phenomenon described in the Journeys Training to
denote a large vacuum or a huge hole that is empty or void of knowledge as it relates to
1. The pre-contact life of Indigenous peoples of Canada;
2. The life of Indigenous peoples upon contact;
3. The birth of Aboriginal people a Constitutionally defined distinction for First
Nations, Metis and Inuit people;
4. The plight and struggle for Aboriginal people from a sub-human status to the
sovereign people they were always meant to be; and
5. The reclamation of their Indigeneity within the Canadian context and contemporary
life in Manitoba.
These four stages of being for Indigenous peoples of Canada are filled with a vast array of
knowledges. It is the lack of knowledge about these Stages of Being that has been kept from
Canadian schools, education systems and the people who have attended and/or are attending
The following goals depict a range of knowledge held in Canadian society about Aboriginal
people. When considering the work in the field of Aboriginal Education, lack of knowledge
seems to be the prevailing state in which many Canadians find themselves.
Students, educators and Aboriginal people all have contributed to the notion that Aboriginal
Education must be used as a tool for the development of equity for the relations between
Aboriginal people and others in the country. The four areas identified depict the stages that
those entering this learning curve may move through as they develop their individual knowledge
and understanding of the work involved in Aboriginal Education.
Exercises in this manual are intended for leaders to help those with whom they work, to
embrace this development in a more clearly informed way and to become better equipped with
the tools in this training and to be able to use in schools and classrooms in this province.


Developmental Stages out of the Void

Each stage has been explained so that when trainees are assessing the starting points of,
groups they can plan appropriately gauging the need of the personnel involved in their
Being in the Void:
Many Canadian learners are not aware that they are lacking in knowledge related to Aboriginal
peoples histories, lifestyles, traditions, beliefs, customs and worldviews. The historical
relationships and the realities of assimilation and aggressive policies to eradicate the essence
of the First Peoples of this land are not known, realized or understood by most Canadians both
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. The resulting impacts of such aggression have left Aboriginal
people in a state of disparity and have left non-Aboriginal people, new and old without the
benefit of a rich knowledge base found in the relationship with the land and all of nature. The
information that has been shared often is misconceived and only partially understood.
Recognizing the Void:
When learning opportunities have been made available to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
learners alike it is often noted by both learners just how much there is to learn. The Aboriginal
people coming to the learning circle who are exposed to the traditional pedagogies and
information sharing, will often comment that they had never been exposed to such information
or practises. They will often express feelings of sadness, anguish and pain at their limited
knowledge about who they really are. The non-Aboriginal people have an equal shift in
recognizing that there is a new way to look at things and often will share feelings of regret and
anger upon realizing that such information has somehow been kept from them. Both learners in
this recognition also learn about each other find that the common ground that both of them
hold in the void; this recognition becomes a point of sameness for them in this learning process.
Cultural Awareness:
As the learners venture forth on this journey of becoming aware there are stages in learning
that will be necessary to share with them in order that they not become overwhelmed with the
prospect of how much knowledge it is possible to acquire. A tool to help them see this is a
graphically organized circle that has been used in many realms of learning by the writer. This
circle graphic organizer is called the Stages of Learning1 and may be found in Section 7 on
Training Resources: Circles Helpers. The circle covers four main Stages; Knowledge,
Understanding, Wisdom and Healing. Traditional pedagogical beliefs emphasize that all
knowledge is acquired with purpose even if the event, experience or information gleaned from
an occurrence is involuntary. It is the practice of traditional teachers to reap knowledge from
every moment and all that is involved in that particular moment. When the learner wrestles
with the knowledge they begin to realize that not all the information acquired is relevant or

The Stages of Learning is a copyright of Myra Laramee and is included in this document with her permission.


needed, but in the stage of understanding the learner becomes aware of the knowledge they
need to keep present with them. Both become Keepers of Indigenous knowledge.
Information will be shared in a variety of mediums during this training session and these tools
are examples of strategies that have proven to be useful in accomplishing the goals and
outcomes. These strategies and mediums do not preclude the inclusion or substitution of other
tools that trainees have found beneficial to achieving the identified outcomes. In fact the kit
is a starter to the process of moving people from the awareness level to the competency level.
The circle of learning continues into the next stage.
Developing Commitment:
Moving along the stages of learning, the learner may realize that others may have imparted this
knowledge previously in a different way. By recognizing the wisdom and relationships to these
past teachers the knowledge becomes confirmed once again. The information becomes more
meaningful during this stage and the learner is better able to see the purpose behind the
The participants of this training program will travel this circle of learning and move through the
stages rather quickly. It is important to note that when facilitating workshops for others,
more time and varied activities may be required, depending on the level of awareness of the
group with which you are working.
Cultural Competency:
When learners have sufficient means and confidence to impart the knowledge that they have
acquired, the role of the learner intensifies; they are free to use their ability to share what
they have learned with others. Three concepts are critical to the ways in which one imparts or
communicates knowledge and information in Aboriginal Education. There is the fitness of the
mind, body, spirit, and emotions of the facilitator. These facets of the self must be balanced
and remain in a state of wellness, particularly in covering the material about the historical
relations with the Canadian government and the impact of that relationship. Emotional baggage
will need to be checked at the door as a facilitator. Educators and students need facilitators of
learning to have their bias and emotions in check as they create the learning environment.
A facilitator has the power to positively influence whether or not educators will continue on
their journey around the stages of development in Aboriginal Education. Within their
jurisdictions they will encounter people who will disbelieve what they are experiencing and
receiving; there are those who will openly embrace the knowledge and learning processes; and
there will be those who have been confused by prior learning. There are strategies to deal with
all of these scenarios and more.
Culturally competent facilitators will be aware of what they are qualified to cover and will know
when they have sufficient strategies, tools and resources to adequately cover topics that are

important to Aboriginal Education. These same culturally competent individuals will realize what
cultural aspects, teachings and worldviews they can cover and which are better left to a
qualified resource person.
Everyone entering the learning circle will be at different stages and it will be important to
remember this when assessing learning needs. There is no prescription for the work in
Aboriginal Education and due to the volume of information one might incorporate into their
training program, professional development activities or classroom instruction it is important
identify to goals that are achievable, relevant and appropriate. As confidence develops in the
trainers, different ways of transmitting knowledge about Aboriginal Education may be
incorporated into the training packages developed for their respective divisions, districts and
schools. The stages, backgrounds, and expertise of the learners in each group will differ and
the trainer must be able to assess the learning needs of each group without assumptions.

Aboriginal Education

Training and





Recognizing the

Living in
the Void

Stages of Knowledge Acquisition

Stage One

Stage Two

Stage Three

Stage Four

Stage Five

In the






the Void




As part of the training participants will be involved in an exercise that will demonstrate how
individuals may self-assess where they find themselves on this continuum. By participating in
this type of assessment process, learners become involved in their growth process and by doing
so will better be able to gauge how far they travel in the training.
Points of entry may be anywhere along this continuum. It will be important for the trainees to
understand that as new teachers come into the field awareness level entry may be where the
novice teachers find themselves. Veteran educators may also find themselves at this entry
point and both of these learners, the novice and the veteran may find themselves in the Void.
Self declaration seems to be the most beneficial to developing ownership for learning in the
Aboriginal Education learning curve.
Others may come to the learning circle with knowledge and experience. Some of the
experiences may be negative or positive but whatever knowledge they have acquired from these
experiences needs to be recognized. As a facilitator, it is important to try to access whatever
prior learning they may bring.
These words were given to participants of the 2006 Summer Institute on Aboriginal Education
by one of the participants to emphasize the importance of our presence in the classroom and
how we can influence what occurs in that learning space.


Tool 4:

Exiting the Void

Questions to Answer in Aboriginal Education

The Four Goals for each set of Learners (Aboriginal Learners and All Canadian Learners) is
to be able to answer these questions:


Why is Aboriginal Education necessary?

Who needs to be involved?
Why do they need to be involved?
What benefit will occur from their involvement?

Leaders in Education Superintendents, Directors, Principals, Vice-Principals and

facilitators of this program:

What do I need to know?

Where do I begin? - Planning
How do I model?
What indicators tell me Aboriginal Education exists in my place of learning?

Educators Facilitators in school programs

How do I plan for Aboriginal Education?

How do I integrate Aboriginal Perspectives?
Where do I find the resources?
What are the indicators that tell me Aboriginal Education exists in my place of learning?
Can the learners in your school identify what their learning and why it is important?

Aboriginal Learners First Nations, Metis and Inuit

Who am I?
Where do I come from?
What is my potential?
Where am I going?

Canadian Learners all children, youth and adults attend Manitoba schools

Who are Aboriginal people?

What do they believe?
What have they contributed?
How and why to respect them?


Tool 4:

The Void Exercise

The Exercise on the words Aboriginal and Education:

Step 1:

Split your group in two and provide them with a Chart Paper one with the word

Aboriginal at the top and the other with the word Education.
Explain the idea that we as educators have been posed with the task of developing Aboriginal
Education plans without the knowledge or exploration of how difficult it is for the two words to
actually come together.
Each of these words separately contain good, bad and ugly inferences however right or wrong
they may be. It is important to understand these inferences and they influence our
understanding why they have become words that are diametrically opposed to each other.
Once we have developed this understanding it then becomes possible for us to rebuild the
relationship between the two. We then may dream what Aboriginal Education could, should or
would be if we used positive ways of doing the work.

Questions to ask to create an understanding of examples of Indigenous Knowledges

that have been kept from the Canadian public:
1. Why isnt Aboriginal education, Multi-cultural education?
Tell Tess story
2. Where did the Afrikaners of South Africa go to study apartheid policy?
Cite the two examples of the pass law (pass port) and the reserve system
(Bantu Stan).
Tell the story of in 1952 when Myras Grandfather left the reserve what
he had to do: The pass, the date issued, the date he could leave, what he
could carry with him, where he could go, who he could meet with, what he
bring home with him, and when he was to return.
3. What was the name of the apartheid policy that was created in Canada?
Tell the name of the policy, the first definition of Indian An Indian is
considered to be a non-person under the law. (The Indian Act)
4. What happened what Grandpa met more than one other Indian in public?
What law did they break? What would they be charged with?


5. What happened to Grandpa if him and his friends had guns or rifles with
What laws did they break? What would they be charged with? (Treason)
6. What would happened to Grandpa if he was caught carrying his traditional
bundle? (Be prepared to explain the word bundle)
7. What would to parents or grandparents when they refused to send their
children to residential schools?
They were arrested and sent to jail.
These questions help to facilitate the understanding of The Void and that very
little of this information if any was taught to us in school.
Teacher education has only begun in the last decade to include such information in
courses at the universities.
Questions to ask the group with the Void power point:
Step 2:

This part of the exercise is centered around a power point presentation which is

about a 45 minute dialogue about this empty space in Canadian society I have come to coin as
and Education have been diametrically opposed to one another through a tumultuous history with
the Canadian Government. Our role in Aboriginal Education is to change this relationship.

Slide 1:
Circle 1:

Describe the all Canadian learner as those whose ancestors came from another land

and whose children were born in Canada, and as well the Newcomers who have recently (within
the last 30 years).
Circle 2:

Describe the Aboriginal Learner as the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.

Present and Ask What makes these two sets of learners the same? Take some responses from
the participants and then present the notion that they both have a void in the knowledge.

Slide 2:

Again present the words Aboriginal Education, All Canadian Learners and then

Aboriginal Learners.
Present and ask What makes these two sets of learners different. Again take responses from
the participants and present the notion that Each have different reasons for acquiring the
knowledge. See page 2 of the Integrating Aboriginal Perspectives into Curricula for goals for
Aboriginal learners and All Canadian Learners as well as some outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Slide 3:

Present the idea of Educating Aboriginal Children as the title. Present the

question What does this involve? Slowly present the bullets as been brainstormed from people
in the field. Ask your participants what these ideas refer to. The response is, Childrens Needs.
These needs are covered by Special Education or Special Needs funding, not be AAA funding
and are the rights of every child in schools.
At this point you press the mouse to remove Aboriginal from the center of the words Educating
and Children. Triple A or Aboriginal Academic Achievement funding is needed to educate

Aboriginal learners in the development of equity of knowledge, while integrating Aboriginal

perspectives. Their increased level of function in Literacy and Numeracy gives the same
privileges that All Canadian learners are afforded.
While this occurs for Aboriginal learners, All Canadian learners require much of the same
information and will benefit from the Aboriginal perspectives that are required to educate all
learners to respect and honour Indigenous people in this country is a good way to promote
health driven relationships between both sets of learners.

Slide 4:

This slide presents knowledge areas from pre-contact to present day that must

find their way to Canadian classrooms. However one must understand the vision, patience, reason
and motion required when helping learners gather this missing information.

Slide 5:

Both sets of learners will receive information and knowledges that are the same

but the responses to the information will be different.

Slide 6:

The statements on this slide have been confirmed by the many people who have

been part of the Void exercise are truths that are foundational to Aboriginal Education
outcomes. Educators come to acknowledge and realize that Aboriginal Education is just good

Slide 7:

Equitable relations and equity in knowledge are the two main goals of Aboriginal



Tool 5:

Word Splash

Circle words you know the meaning of and underline those you dont.
In pairs discuss the words you know with your partner.
The whole group will come together and discuss the meanings.


Tool 5:

Word Splash Exercise

The words on this sheet are those which educators have repeatedly identified

over the years as words:

Step 1:

they are unsure of the definition,

which are appropriate to use,
they have not heard before,
that are negative, stereotypical or biased,
that create misconceptions or confusion.
Hand out the sheet with the words on it and ask participants, to circle words for
which they know the meaning and underline the ones they dont.

Step 2:

Have the participants pair up and discuss with each other the meanings as they
understand them and write a common brief definition or explanation.

Step 3:

Depending on the group size and/or the time limits the facilitator will ask the
pairs to write on the chart a number of the definitions that they have come up
with and have each pair read them out loud to the whole group.

Step 4:

The facilitator will identify the words that are accurately explained or defined.
For the words which are inaccurate or unclear the facilitator will provide an
accurate definition or clarify where necessary

Step 5:

The facilitator will ask for other words which are problematic for people. The
glossary will be highlighted and an explanation of how to use this tool with others
will be explained.

Materials Needed:

Word Splash Sheet

Chart Paper


Tool 6:

The Gladys Cook Story

Viewing the Gladys Cook Story

The story of Gladys was funded by the Anglican Church of Canada in honour of the
accomplishments made by this Dakota woman called Topahdewin. She is a residential
school survivor and much of the video shows the impacts, her life in the school and the
results of such schooling in this particular womans life.
The video of Gladys Cooks life is approximately 55 minutes in length. It is important as
part of this activity to make sure there is proper debriefing time to follow. It has been
used as a teacher resource for educators to begin their journey of understanding
residential schools. The following is a description of the videos creation, a very brief
biography of Gladys life and some of the work in which she was involved.

The Gladys Cook Story

In the middle of a life of adversity, she struggled to find the Great Spirit of her
childhood within the Christian traditions that called to her heart
Gladys Cook measured less than five feet tall, a tiny 74-year-old sprite of a woman born in
a teepee on the rolling grain fields of the Sioux Valley Reserve, west of Brandon,
Manitoba. Its hard to reconcile this vibrant lady glowing with an inner strength and calm,
with the little girl she once was, frightened, ill and bloody, left on a cold school dormitory
floor after the first of what would become a series of brutal rapes. It was an experience
she wouldnt speak of for over 40 years, her attackers big blue eyes forever burned in
her memory.
Sadly, Cooks story is not unique among Aboriginal children attending Canadian residential
schools during the last century. What is unique is Cooks response to what became a life of
pain and adversity, a response that not only transformed her own spirit, but continues to
bring joy, healing and peace to scores of other people. Topahdewin: The Gladys Cook
Story is award-winning film-maker Lisa Barrys celebration of a faith journey, not just of
one woman, but of the little known history of the Dakota people in Canada and the United
After meeting Cook in 1989, Barry recognized that this quietly determined native woman
was the embodiment of the residential schools story in Canada, the human face of what
has become, until recently, a neglected chapter in our history books. Barry also saw a
woman who survived because of her faith, not so unusual, except that Cook has managed to

seamlessly blend the spiritual teachings of her native heritage with her traditional
Christian Anglican church-going upbringing.
Over the next 13 years, Barry continued to film her subject, establishing a relationship,
and gradually uncovering the details of an astonishing life.
Topahdewin: The Gladys Cook Story begins with Cooks early life in the Dakota farming
community in western Manitoba. Born to hard-working farmers, she was loved and
respected. At age four, as the federal governments assimilation policy dictated, Cook was
plucked from her home and sent to an Anglican-run residential school in Elkhorn Lake,
Manitoba. She lived there until she was 16, allowed only to return home for a few weeks
every summer. In a heart-wrenching moment captured by the camera, Cook remembers her
grandmother giving her a beautiful string of beads before she left home. When she
arrived at school the staff cut her braids and the beads from around her neck, the richly
coloured balls rolling away across the floor. Told to throw the beads away, Cook managed
to hide one in her mouth, treasuring it as a symbol of her familys love.
When she was nine, Cook was raped at the school while she lay ill with the mumps. This was
the first of several rapes by the same residential school staff member. Struggling with
the pain, Cook remembers renouncing her Anglican faith. I didnt want their God. You can
have your God, I said. Ill take the one my parents gave me, a better one, the Great
Spirit. Decades later at a school reunion, despite the fact that he never acknowledged his
crimes, Cook forgave her attacker.
Between the horrifying picture of a frightened young girl and the courageous portrait of a
mature woman lies a lifes journey sensitively captured by Barrys camera. There is a
marriage to an abusive, alcoholic man; an escape back home only to be told she no longer
had one; the struggle to keep and raise her children; and, fuelled by alcohol, the descent
into despair. Barry reflects Cooks story in the history of the Dakota people, a past
marked by betrayal, starvation and incredible resilience.
Topahdewin: The Gladys Cook Story is also a life-affirming account of how Cook
overcame her despair, rediscovering her faith, and, without any initial formal training,
became an alcohol and drug abuse counselor. She describes the pivotal moment when she
finally confronted her own childhood sexual abuse: I began to yell, things were moving
inside me, she says. I felt the same pain in my head and the blood run between my legs.
Barry recounts a faith-driven healing journey, an odyssey made even more remarkable
because of Cooks discovery of her gift to help others heal. Her work with native women,
addicts, prisoners and survivors of abuse is an inspirational look at the difference one
person can make.

With its artful use of archival footage and still photography combined with a haunting
original score, this is a program that should be seen by all Canadians. Intimate and
compelling, it is a story of a woman who has lived through a shameful chapter in our
history, emerging to become an inspiring symbol of healing and hope.
Written excerpt from the YouTube Video

Tool 6:

Gladys Cook Biography in Brief:

Gladys Cook is born in a tent on the Sioux Valley Reserve, west of Brandon, Manitoba. The first
child of Ruth Wasuda Ross and Elijah Taylor, she is given the Dakota name Topahdewin, which
means four steps, the number four representing the four directions of the sacred circle of life
in Dakota tradition. Gladys mother and father are hard-working farmers, devoted both to their
spiritual and cultural traditions, and the teachings of the local Anglican church.

When she is four years old, Gladys, along with her two sisters, is sent away under the law to
residential school in Elkhorn Lake, about 75 km from the reserve. She will leave every fall and
return home every summer until she reaches 16.

Gladys is physically abused and raped at the school while she is sick with the mumps. She will
later be raped three more times.

Gladys leaves residential school when she is 16, discovering, while taking a test to become a nurse,
that her education is only equivalent to a grade four certificate, not the grade eight designation
the school promised. She travels to Yankton, South Dakota where she begins working as a
housekeeper at a hospital. Soon after, she marries Cliff Cook, a Dakota Sioux man from the area,
and has three children.

Gladys returns to Canada with her two children after she and the children are repeatedly abused
by her husband, an alcoholic. She stays with her mother on the reserve, and then is asked to leave
by the Indian agent because she has married outside the band. She begins working at a
residential school in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, leaving her children with family.


Gladys finds another job at a hospital laundry in Portage la Prairie and is reunited with her
children, but life is extremely difficult, and child welfare authorities tell her she must go on
welfare because her children are missing too much school. She has begun drinking heavily by this

Gladys realizes that her children, now in their teens, are developing serious drinking problems
and, desperate, joins Al-Anon. She realizes she must confront her own demons and drinking
problem. She meets a man who deeply loves and respects her, and her last child, a son, is born in

After being away for 18 years, Gladys husband comes to stay with her. They reconcile, and she
nurses him through cancer. He dies 11 years later.

Gladys begins counseling local people on substance abuse and is becoming known in the community
for her work with Al-Anon. She is hired as coordinator/counselor of what will later become the
National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, Portage la Prairie branch.

After a decade of counseling, Gladys recognizes that many of the people she is working with have
been sexually abused as children, and seeks training in this area. In 1988, at a 19-day training
program in California, she finally confronts her own abuse, beginning several years of painful

At a reunion at the Elkhorn Residential School, Gladys confronts the man who raped her, now
elderly, and is able to forgive him.


Tool 6:

Gladys work:

Gladys was, or had been involved with the following groups and organizations: The Crime, Alcohol
and Drug Committee; the Youth Justice Committee, the Quest Group Home for Girls; and the
Womens Correctional Centre.
She also sat on the board of directors of Winnipegs St. Norbert Foundation for substance
She conducted suicide prevention workshops in native communities in Manitoba, and works with
non-native parents who have adopted native children. Since 1990, she and her son Jeff have sat
on the Anglican Churchs Residential Schools Working Group, and participated in an award-winning
video, Search for Healing. She worked with inmates at Portage Correctional Institute and
Agassiz Youth Centre, which renamed its school the Gladys Cook Education Centre.
She also sat on boards that govern Manitobas advisory committee on child abuse and the RCMP
commanding officers aboriginal advisory committee. In the First Nations community, she served
on the National Council of Elders and was twice been recognized with a sacred pipe, a great

Selected awards and recognition:

1996 Governor Generals Award for promoting womens rights

1993 Manitoba Premiers Award for her volunteer work
Recipient of the Order of Ruperts Land
Canada 125 medal for commitment to her people, her community and her country
2003 Health or Safety Promotion Award from the Manitoba Medical Association
2005 Grandmothers Leaders in the Community award from the community of Portage La
2005 Order of Manitoba


Tool 6:

The Gladys Cook Story

As you view this video take notes and identify the information on the topic of residential
schools and its impact on First Nations people using Gladys life story. What information
from this video will help you implement this topic in a classroom setting? In other words,
what information do learners need to know?
Gladys as a Child

Gladys goes to Residential School

Gladys at Residential School

Gladys Leaves Residential School

Gladys in Yankton

Gladys Returns Home

Gladys in Portage La Prairie

Gladys in her Healing Journey

Gladys as an Elder


Tool 7:

Article Discussion

The particular article Angelas Story is a story fabricated from pieces of a number
of scenarios observed by researchers Piquemal and Kouritzen as they visited
schools and classrooms as part of a study. Originally they were going to use this
fabricated story with service teachers in the field, to engage them in a discussion
of issues raised in the story to gather their perceptions and views as to the
treatment of Aboriginal students and their families.
This story has no connection to the film Angelas Story even though a connection
could be made given that the real life of Angela in the video has similarities to the
fabricated Angela in the article. I mention this because it has come up in one of
the Journeys Training.
Further the idea of an Article Discussion as one of the tools of the Kit is
important and could be used to promote pedagogical discussion at the schools in
your division. Choosing relevant articles will promote and enhance the level of
knowledge in your community of learners.
This is short exercise which may occur after school, at noon hour or at Breakfast
Club. It can have many or a few engaged in the activity and may be held at various
times throughout the year. The important piece is about the dialogue and
knowledge acquisition enhanced during the process.
While reading the following article Angelas Story the various pieces of the article
have been colour coded for purposes of this training to shed light on the different
aspect of this learning tool. The following are facets of the research by Piquemal
and Kouriztin (2003) each in a different colour:

The Researchers Intention

The Story of Angela
The Teacher Candidates Voice
Aboriginal Worldview
Analysis of the Researchers.

Please read the article to prepare for a pedagogical discussion.


Angela: A Pedagogical Story and Conversation

(Nathalie A.G. Piquemal, Sandra G. Kouritzin)
Source: Multicultural Education Journal 10, 3 (2003) pp. 33-37

This story is inspired by the recognition that formal schooling has failed, and continues to fail, Aboriginal
students (Armstrong, et al., 1990; Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, 1996; Statistics Canada).
Many theories explain this failure in terms of the cultural discontinuity and cultural resistance manifest in
peoples interaction patterns (uses of language, verbal and nonverbal) and their personal and collective
belief systems (McAlpine et al., 1996).
In order to ensure that education is culturally relevant (Osborne, 1996) for Aboriginal students, it is
important for educators to do more than add Aboriginal perspectives, voices, and stories to the curriculum.
Indeed, merely to do so may be to appropriate Aboriginal knowledge and subject that knowledge to a Western
framework. Rather, it is necessary also to understand ways in which dominant culture teachers and students
perceptions of culturally-based interaction patterns are different from, and perhaps in dissonance with, those of
Aboriginal community members. As teachers, we need to always remember that it is in face-to-face interactions
that educational practices most matter (Urion, 1992).
For these reasons, in Autumn, 2000, the two lead authors of this article composed the following story
for pedagogical purposes for the courses they taught in the social foundations of education, and early years
multi-language development. Concerned with the lack of cultural sensitivity that some of the pre-service
teachers in an early years teacher education program in Western Canada were displaying, the authors used
their combined observations as school experiences supervisors and as co-researchers engaged in a pilot project,
in several urban settings in three Western Canadian provinces to compose the story of Angela.
As Murray and Kouritzin (1997) have done, the two lead authors created a composite character who is
not representative of any one classroom in any particular school. We invite other teacher educators to engage
in discussions around Angelas story, either from the points of view we represent, or from their own points of

Angela, a Grade 4 student in Manitoba Public School #113, is not a particularly well-behaved
child. At recess, she sometimes gets into fights, even with her closest friends. During the parentteacher interview at school, Angelas mother didnt seem to care about Angelas poor behaviour; she
simply stated that it was Angelas difficulty to work out. Angela is often late for school, and sometimes
just disappears during class without taking a buddy which is against the school safety rules. She
appears insolent; for example, when her teacher suggested Angela would you like to open your book
now? Angela replied No, thank you.
Although English is not her native tongue, Angela is perfectly able to speak the language.
Because she often fails to follow printed instructions, the teacher feels that she does not apply herself in
reading. Angela seldom volunteers to answer questions in class, but often needs individual attention
from the teacher before beginning her desk work, and several times while completing individual tasks.
After Angela arrived in class late, yet again, and failed to quietly sit cross-legged on the floor to
hear a story, her teacher whispered to a colleague in exasperation, that child is never here, and when
she arrives, she expects to be allowed to disobey.

After a hurried hallway consultation with several of her colleagues, Angelas teacher has
concluded that Angelas sometimes-hyper behaviour is a result of eating candy at breakfast time.
Wanting to help Angela, the teacher decided to make a home visit after school on a Wednesday
afternoon, when she knew the parents would be home, because Angelas family didnt have a
telephone. Fearing that she might walk in on a drinking party, she arranged for a school administrator
and a social worker to accompany her.
Angelas mother answered the door. Although surprised, she invited the visitors into the front
room and listened to their questions about their family life, work habits, eating habits, and home
behaviour. Her mother seemed to avoid the questions. Angelas father sat quietly at the kitchen table
and did not participate in the group conference. Once in a while he spoke to his wife in language the
visitors didnt understand, but he didnt attempt to join the conversation.
After an uncomfortably long silence Angelas mother started speaking about a ceremony that
had taken place several weeks before. Two White people came that time, she said. we all sat inside
the lodge in a circle. Everybody was so quiet as we went through the rituals, but the two white people
constantly asked questions about what was happening.
When Angela arrived home, she appeared surprised and confused. Angela, a student of Ojibway
ancestry, is failing school. School, an institution of European ancestry, is failing Angela.
In the beginning, it was the intention of the lead authors to analyze this story from a culturally
sensitive perspective, and to share the resulting article with practicing teachers and pre-service
teachers. Then, one of the lead authors (Piquemal) suggested that the story be discussed in our classes,
and that the pre-service teachers be invited to co-author the article. This article was therefore
distributed to the students in the first year of a two-year after-degree program who were in Piquemals
social foundations course, and to students in the second year of the same program who had been in
Kouritzins social foundations course in year one, and who were also in her multi-language development
course at the very end of their second year. This was done during the second year of a new, streamed,
two-year after-degree program; therefore the students were all engaged in integrated, collaborative,
inquiry-driven programs with 24 weeks of field experiences.
Students were invited to discuss the story, and to respond orally or in writing (or both). The
discussions were held during class time, but the responses were shared at a later date, after further
reflection and deliberation. In our classrooms, we all agreed that individual responses would remain
anonymous, but that all students in both classes would be listed as co-authors.
While the students did not, individually or collectively, pick up on all the assumptions and clues
we had written into the story, most of them were able to deconstruct (what one teacher-candidate
called recognizing the multiple red flags) this story very well, from a variety of perspectives, and they
made recommendations for school/classroom change which were consistent with inclusive philosophies
of education (e.g., Nieto, 2002).
Indeed, in deconstructing this story, our student teachers were able to dispel two myths that
affect the success and well-being of Aboriginal students: (1) that Aboriginal students are passive, lazy
and unresponsive learners, and (2) that Aboriginal parents dont take responsibility for their childrens

Because our student teachers did so well, we decided to address the lines in the story in the
same chronological manner in which many of our students did, and to interweave their comments with
ours, creating a polyphonic text. We have made a number of editorial decisions.
First, not all of the students deconstructed this story in a way that we would have encouraged.
A number of students took positions that ranged from believing that Angelas parents inability to parent
caused her disruptive behaviour, to outrage that teachers should try to be accommodating of cultural
difference, while trying to cope with curriculum and inclusion issues.
Some students simply agreed with the story and the voice in which it was told. Because that
was not the purpose of this article, we have left those voices out of this conversation, feeling they are
counter-productive. We have left the teacher candidates words intact, except in instances in which
doing so would have made pronoun references unclear, or would have identified a particular student,
teacher candidate, or school. We cleaned up the grammatical mistakes.
We have also edited out comments in which some of the students identified themselves as
Aboriginal, even though they had never represented themselves that way during the teacher education
program, and other students identified differing racial backgrounds or other unique attributes that
would enable readers to identify particular speakers. In other words, we ask that readers respect the
collective rather than individual wisdom(s) of the teacher candidates.
The rest of this article represents our attempt to deconstruct this story from a non-dominant
culture perspective, and try to suggest some ways that caring teachers can ensure that their educational
practise with Aboriginal students are culturally relevant, and culturally respectful.
As many of our teacher-candidates did, we have structured this article by quoting a passage
from the pedagogical story, and then presenting multiple perspectives on that passage. In each case,
the first comments are those of the two lead authors, explaining what was intended in that passage, and
the rationale for inclusion. The lead authors comments are followed by multiple teacher candidate
comments, sometimes mirroring the intentions of the lead authors, sometimes adding an unintended
layer of meaning.
Angela, a Grade 4 student in Manitoba Public School #113, is not a particularly well-behaved
child. At recess, she sometimes gets into fights, even with her closest friends.
In a different but related context, Smitherman (1998) writes about a routinized insult
communicative practice in the Ebonics-speaking community in which participants employ irony,
exaggeration, indirection, and humour aimed at corrective criticism. It could be deemed oblique, even
rude, by outsiders to the community of practice, but is enjoyed by insider participants who know the
rules for this form of engagement and interaction.
What the two lead authors intended, in their introduction to Angela, was to describe the
behaviour of a young girl, not in her own cultural terms, but in the terms of an outsider in authority.
Like the outsiders Smitherman (1998) cites, the authorities in this case may well be mistaken. What is
taken for bad behaviour and fights, could possibly be a routinized way of interacting differently, based
on a different cultural norms.


If Angela and her parents do not appear distressed by Angelas behaviour, perhaps it doesnt
warranty distress. While this is what we intended, and some teacher-candidates did recognize the
cultural loading and ambiguity of words like bad behaviour, some teacher candidates had other,
sometimes more powerful, explanations:
It is my opinion that kids who misbehave in school are not getting the kind of attention they need
to suit their learning styles/intelligences, or their socio-emotional needs. It is the responsibility of the
teacher to explore and exhaust all alternatives for engaging and responding to the messages that
misbehaviour communicates, before assuming that the child is bad or the family negligent. What
exact strategies has the teacher tried to fix the problem rather than fixing the blame?
Whats the teachers definition of well-behaved? And, along the same lines, is Angela actually
fighting, or is this one way of interacting with one another?
One afternoon, this student and I had a conversation about many things, including his behaviour.
I really wanted to find out why he was giving me a particularly hard time that week. At one point in our
conversation, I made the point that he should try to act nicer towards some of his classmates because
these would be the people he would spend a lot of time with for years to come. He responded sort of
angrily and sort of sadly, and said, why should I make friends. Im just going to living [somewhere else]
next year!
First of all, the story doesnt explain the cultural make-up of the school or the classroom that
Angela is from. If she is the only, or one of a few, student with First Nations ancestry, it would make
sense that she is at odds with students. Racism can be at its height during recess time. When racism
runs rampant, even your friends are not your friends.
Behaviour problems in the classroom and on the playground may also result from this language
barrier. If Angela has difficulty following directions because of a miscommunication, it seems logical that
she does not fully understand rules that are dictated to her either. Difficulties understanding what her
peers are communicating to her on the playground mean that she may be following their requests, their
games, or their play scenarios. Ultimately, she would present herself as an undesirable playmate
because shes not following the rules and social rejection or isolation may occur. This would be very
frustrating for a girl who already feels that school is a difficult place that she is not doing well in. Further
failure at social situations would only exacerbate the negative feelings Angela connects to school and
During the parent-teacher interview at school, Angelas mother didnt seem to care about
Angelas poor behaviour; she simply stated that it was Angelas difficulty to work out.
This part of the story was intended to represent the First Nations ethic of non-interference
(Ross, 1992; Brant, 1990) allowing for individuals to live out the consequences of their choices without
interference one of the most important behavioural norms in Native American ethics.
Ross explains that both interference and confrontation are considered rude in traditional Native
ways. He acknowledges the knowledge of Brant, a Mohawk practicing psychiatrist who offered a
definition of the ethic of non-interference in a speech delivered in 1982:


This principle essentially means that an Indian will never

interfere in any way with the rights, privileges and activities of
another person (). Interference in any form is forbidden,
regardless of the following irresponsibility or mistakes that your
brother is going to make. (Ross, 1992:13)
As Ross stresses, this rule also involves an ethic prohibiting criticism: For many of them,
testifying against someone to his or her face in a public courtroom may well have seemed an even
greater wrong than what was done to them in the first place (Ross, 1992, p. 13).
Even the action of giving advice may be considered as interference:
The advisor is perceived to be an interferer. His attempt to
show that he knows more about a particular subject than the
advisee would be seen as an attempt to establish dominance,
however trivial, and he would be fastidiously avoided in future.
The ethic of non-interference, then, is an important social
principle. (Brant, 1990, p.535)
It is clear that the behavioural norm of non-interference has a great potential to affect crosscultural teacher-student interactions.
Applying this ethic to the story of Angela, we can see a conflict in values at work. Parenting, in
middle class White Canada, is seen to be the careful guidance of children toward making good choices
by explaining the possible consequences of bad choices (e.g., Kouritzin, 2000). A good mother, or a
good father, is one who structures questioning and verbal explanation in such a way that children can
clearly see what the consequences are, and thus avoid making bad decisions. Good parenting then,
includes the avoidance of bad decisions.
In contrast, in many Aboriginal communities, parents follow the ethic of non-interference, which
does not imply that they dont care about their childrens education, but rather that they guide without
interfering. Children are encouraged to make their own choices about many things including school.
While some of the teacher candidates did indeed recognize the ethic of non-interference in this part of
the story, most did not. This does not mean, however, that the teacher candidates were unable to
understand that different cultural values were evidence. They commented:
The teacher generalized the mothers comment that Angela needs to work it out as a lack of
concern for her daughter, and yet the mother demonstrated some degree of concern for her by the very
fact that she showed up for the conference.
This seems to reflect a familial or cultural value that Angelas behaviour is her own responsibility,
not her parents. Thus, the consequences would be hers as well. Differences in the perception of
problem ownership exist within our own culture, so it seems reasonable that the teacher would have at
least considered that possibility. Apparently not.
The communication between home and school in Angelas case was certainly not productive for
either side. The way the home visit: was described made it seem like a home invasion, rather than an
opportunity to conference for Angelas benefit. (And, no one thought to ask Angela for permission to

visit, testimony to their view of Angelas role in her education). The fact that Angelas mother attended a
parent-teacher conference should be viewed as a signal of her interest in Angelas life at school, and an
opportunity for understanding rather than judgments. Its not that she doesnt care about the
behaviour problems, but that perhaps she views her role differently than the teacher expected. The
teacher should be asking about the parents expectations for their daughter, and seeing how these
match with her own expectations for her students; where is the middle ground?
Angela is often late for school, and sometimes just disappears during class without taking a
buddy which is against the school safety rules.
It was our intention to represent Western cultural norms that is, punctuality, and
seeking permission from a teacher, and giving a reason for leaving the room during a class because
these were unwritten rules of conduct that we frequently saw violated by both Aboriginal children and
their parents. Lateness, or even failure to show up, were commonly explained as resistance to Western
schooling, or worse, as parenting deficiencies which resulted from poverty (after all, other parents also
failed to get their children to school on time) and/or from parents partying the night away, and then not
getting up on time.
Only once was another explanation offered, by a social activist who was invited to one of the
leader authors (Kouritzins) social foundations class. Describing a one-year experiment during which
she and several other activists lived on subsistence welfare, she was able to explain how timeconsuming it can be to ensure that children are clothed and fed without proper means. She explained
the processes for getting food from food banks, gaining access to limited free clothing and meals, the
stresses involved in trying to get proper medications, the struggle to forces landlords to do routine
maintenance in a timely fashion, and how simple daily tasks can impinge on parents abilities to get
students to school, how failing health from infrequent and inadequate meals can interrupt normal
sleeping routines.
She critiqued the common misconception that Aboriginal parents, and other parents in poverty,
are unable to manage their time or their finances, demonstrating how very fiscally and timemanagementally able they must be to survive at all. She enabled teacher candidates to understand that
viewing behaviour as cultural might be a convenient label, that such differences might have little to do
with cultural differences but rather they might stem from something else.
On the other hand, one of the lead authors (Kouritzin) is married to a man of Ryukyu (Japanese
southern Indigenous) descent, making her aware first hand that Western values around time and
around independence are not always shared. First, given that the Ryukyu culture developed on small
islands in the South Pacific, everyone knows everyone else. In such an environment, there is little need
for concerns about childrens safety. Secondly, the people in this environment have a flexible
relationship with time, believing that the right time is when something happens.
The two lead authors in this article intended that this part of the story could be interpreted
either culturally, or through the lens of poverty. The teacher candidates did a better job of cultural
relativism than they did of considering other alternatives:
The comments about Angelas arriving late and leaving without a buddy could indicate that she
does not understand the school safety rules. Has anyone bothered to explain the reasoning behind

them? Being prompt is defined differently cross-culturally, and the value placed upon it too white,
European-descended North Americans feel it is very important to show up on time, but much of the
world does not.
While this behaviour may have a cultural basis (self-responsibility and individual agendas), as the
classroom teacher legally responsible for Angela safety, I would find the behaviour unacceptable. I need
to know where she is because if something should happen to her, Im responsible. There are also
learning experiences happening in the classroom, when I would want Angelas presence. Its a question
of expectations and adaptations, and again requires more information than assumptions. Why is she
leaving the classroom? Does it usually occur during a specific activity? Is she having trouble choosing a
buddy and asking for that person to go with her? Where is she going?
Does Angelas culture value independence, or dependency on others? Could this be an answer?
The first thought / question that entered my mind was: Is Angela bored? If so, where does this
boredom stem from irrelevant school learning experiences? Does this explain her lateness?
Poverty, unemployment, poor nutrition, drug and alcohol abuse are also issues which affect
children profoundly. Angelas misbehaviour and friendship difficulties may be connected to hunger or
perhaps, medical conditions. If alcohol abuse has occurred regularly, Fetal Alcohol syndrome and / or
Fetal Alcohol Effects are real possibilities. If Angela is affected by any medical conditions or even hunger,
sitting still or working for extended periods of time would be difficult and even unrealistic. Disappearing
from the classroom may be her way of coping with the expectations placed on her.
She appears insolent; for example, when her teacher suggested Angela, would you like to open
your book now? Angela replied No, thank you.
While the importance of a dialogue is unquestioned, what often goes unquestioned is how
dialogues may have different meanings and implications in cross-cultural situations. The Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) raises the difficulties in communicating in cross-cultural
When Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people meet, exchange
ideas and negotiate, they unavoidably bring to the table their
own modes of communicating and understanding. In other
words, the dialogue becomes intercultural. It would be
misleading to pretend that such a dialogue is always easy and
straight-forward. All sorts of misunderstandings can arise simply
because the partners speak and act in accordance with their
particular predispositions and expectation, which are not
necessarily shared or even understood by the other party. (p.
In a face-to-face interaction between teacher and student, as well as between students and
peers, it is our cultural legacy that dictates ways in which we make sense of others words and acts. As
Ross (1992, p.4) stated: The first step in coming to terms with people of another culture, then, is to
acknowledge that we constantly interpret the words and acts of others and that we do so

subconsciously but always in conformity with the way which our culture has taught us is the proper
In a similar vein, Lvi-Strauss (1969) argued that the process of socialization requires that a
child, who as a newborn possesses all the mental structures available to mankind, retains and develops
only the mental structures and elements which have a functional value in his/her particular culture:
Each type of social organization represents a choice, which the group imposes and perpetuated (p.93).
He further argues that as adults we do not remember the myriad of possibilities that were present in the
infants repertoire; adults, therefore, may see the others practices a puerile and may not question the
fact that there are equally valid reasons for the others behaviour (p.95).
As students discussed this part of the story, they came to the realization that the question
would you like to open your books now? seems to imply that there is an option open to Angela. Her
response then, is not insolent, but rather an honest answer to a yes/no question. This illustrated
Angelas lack of the pragmatic knowledge, the actional aspect of communicative competence (CelceMurcia, Dornyei, & Thurrell, 1995) involved in English language use and points out how different
languages and different ways of using language can create different perceptions of the same experience.
For example, Darnell (1988), working on socio-linguistic research among Cree people, noted that
[T}he expected response of ehe, yes, does not mean I agree with you, only I have heard your
words. It is an important task of the researcher and teacher to discover how these speech acts come to
have social meaning and resultant actions because, as Murray (1998) has commented, we need to be
ever mindful that our discursive practices perpetuate inequalities because they continually reproduce
unequal power relations and social identities (p. 145)
In this particular instance, Delpits (1988) assertions about the culture of power aid in
understanding. Delpit (1988) explains that when white people in the United States, the culture of
power, acknowledge and wish to express power, they are explicit, giving direct orders, whereas, when
they wish to de-emphasize the power relationships, to try to gain an egalitarian footing, they are less
direct in their instructions. Similarly, Heath (1983) explains that when a middle-class White teacher
gives an order, s/he is likely to say something like Is this where the scissors belong? whereas a Black
teacher would tend to say Put those scissors on that shelf (p. 280).
By giving the appearance of choice, White middle-class people divest themselves of power; yet,
everyone who is part of the culture of power understand that this is not a choice, but a command (p.
According to Delpit (1988) and others (e.g., Apple, 1979; de la Luz Reyes, 1992) students who
are not part of the culture of power can benefit from having social conventions (such as that enacted in
this story) explicitly explained to them. In order to do this, teachers must acknowledge their won power
and their own cultural capita, and understand how it is played out in classroom dialogue. Delpit
quotes one parent from the American Black community as saying My kids know how to be Black you
all teach them how to be successful in the Whites mans world (p.285).
If schools are to meet the needs of Aboriginal students, classroom practices should be designed
to make formal schooling culturally respectful of Aboriginal language use. Aboriginal language use often
involves communicative values and skills that are generally in dissonance with those of majority culture

(culture of power) classrooms. Increased teacher and student understanding of each others interactive
styles can help Aboriginal students rely on what they know to learn school discourse. It is in providing
learning environments that are culturally respectful and inclusive of Aboriginal language use that
teachers can help Aboriginal students succeed in school, thereby enhancing the equity of the
educational setting. This, our teacher candidates came to understand:
She appears insolent; Holy, what a loaded word! Labeling children in such a way can only lead to
trouble. How is insolence defined? Perhaps Angela does not understand the purpose behind what
happens in the classroom. She may not be the only child for whom this is true; perhaps she is the only
one who make it obvious.
Teachers should not ask questions if they dont really want an answer. While some students may
answer such a question to be the clown, students learning a second language, or those with a learning
disability may interpret rhetorical questions literally. Angelas response seems insolent because the
teacher doesnt expect it, but Angela actually responds in a polite way. The teacher should try Angela,
its time to open you book, or Angela, please open your book now to page ___.
I do not understand why the teacher would pose an option to Angela, and then imply that she is
defiant because she did not select the right option. Specifically, when the teacher asked, Angela,
would you like to open you book now? I assume that is was not an option to leave the book closed. Yet,
when you pose a question like this to a child, it conveys a message that they have a choice. In this
particular case, Angela answered negatively in a polite manner. Is this really defiance?
Although English is not her native tongue, Angela is perfectly able to speak the language.
Because she often fails to follow printed instructions, the teacher feels that she does not apply herself in
reading. Angela seldom volunteers to answer questions in class, but often needs individual attention
from the teacher before beginning her desk work, and several times while completing individual tasks.
The inclusion of this section of the story was intended to illustrate, from the teachers point of
view, two assumptions often made about students who do not have standard, majority-culture English
as their home language. The first, described best by de la Luz Reyes (1992), is the venerable
assumption that English is the only legitimate medium for learning and instruction (p. 431), and its
resultant belief that linguistic minorities must be immersed in English as quickly as possible if they are
to succeed in school (p. 433).
These two widely-held beliefs are contradicted by over twenty years of research, now generally
accepted for more than a decade, which supports bilingual instruction or minority language instruction
coupled with English second language instruction; allowing students to maintain their own languages
while learning English leads to higher achievement levels in both English and the language of the home
(e.g., Collier, 1989; Cummins 1979, 1981). This is true of students who speak a minority language at
home, and of students like those in Smithermans (1998) article, who speak a non-standard variety of
English at home.
In the pedagogical story, we left clues such as the confusion of Angelas father, and the
mothers references to living within a different cultural tradition, to demonstrate that Angelas home
language was not English. We also wanted to illustrate the lack of validity in the assumption that
Angelas behaviour was a deliberate step toward non-conformity and non-compliance with the teachers

expectations and standards for the classroom, when, in fact, Angela was clearly demonstrating the
distinction between basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language
proficiency (CALP), meaning that she could participate in routine language exchanges, but not in more
cognitively demanding academic ones (Cummins, 1979; 1980; 1981).
Depending on the research being cited, students learning to speak English as a second language
may develop conversational fluency in as little of one to two years, but may require five to seven, or
even up to ten or more years to develop academic speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills (Collier,
While not all of the teacher candidates were able to understand the allusion, the second year
teacher candidates, who were required to complete a multi-language development component in their
second year, were able to make this distinction:
While Angela might seem perfectly able to speak the language, her verbal proficiency in English
is probably ahead of her reading and writing comprehension. This seems to be supported by her failing
to follow written instructions, needing individual attention before and during desk work, and not
applying herself to her reading. These are signals that the teacher should be responding to with
additional and alternative supports, not with dismissing the child as lazy or unmotivated.
Another example is Angelas ability to speak the English language but her unwillingness to follow
printed instructions. This problem may stem from the value placed on oral, in contrast to written,
language in her culture. Furthermore, Angelas hesitation to volunteer answers in class may stem from
shyness, insecurity, lack of understanding, or the child/adult dynamics within her culture.
The teacher could be proactive and make sure Angela knows what shes supposed to do before
she goes to her seat. If it means spending five minutes at the end of her explanation, so be it. The
teacher could set her up with a system to follow, such as a poster, using picture clues. Getting ready to
work: Am I sitting at my desk? Do I have everything I need (book, ruler, pencil, eraser, etc.)? Do I know
what I need to do? Am I sitting beside someone who wont distract me?
Angela is obviously struggling in her schoolwork. Im sure that she is also well aware of the fact
that she is struggling or not doing well in this regard and Im sure it is a situation that doesnt lend itself
to feelings of happiness and comfort at school. Most of these difficulties seem to center around the
intake of information, the intake of language. The printed word is a problem, and when given
instruction, Angela has difficulty understanding the language of instruction, thus the instruction itself,
and in turn is unable to produce whatever it is expected of her.
Although Angela can speak English perfectly, it doesnt mean that she is able to read or
comprehend printed English. As an L2 learner, she has mastered oral communication, but her academic
language proficiency may be delayed for seven years or more. If Angela can read the instructions word
for word, but has trouble knowing what it means, then the teacher should explain the printed
instructions orally, and model the activity (which she should do for everyone anyway). If Angela cannot
read the instructions, she may benefit from targeted reading instruction. She should also be tested to
see if she has a learning disability such as dyslexia, or a visual impairment, that may require other
supports (larger print, different colour of paper, etc.).


This teacher appears not to be knowledgeable about second language acquisition. Basic
communication skills take about two years to acquire, but academic language proficiency takes seven
years to develop. If Angela was exposed to English only when she began school, then she has had only
four years of language learning. Thus, although she is able to communicate verbally, she has not as yet
developed a proficiency in academic language and it will take another three years for this development.
This appears to be the reason why she is experiencing difficulty in reading and writing in English. The
teacher sees Angelas lack of language skills as a behaviour problem.
Angela seldom volunteers to answer questions in class, but often needs individual attention
from the teacher before beginning her desk work, and several times while completing individual tasks.
After Angela arrived in class late, yet again, and failed to quietly sit cross-legged on the floor to hear a
story, her teacher whispered to a colleague in exasperation, that child is never here, and when she
arrives, she expects to be allowed to disobey.
Research with Aboriginal communities from Nevada (Piquemal, 2001a and b) shows that
Aboriginal students learn by observing; they dont question; they respectfully observe those who know.
Silence is not a sign of ignorance, but a skill and a sign of respect. On of the research participants stated:
A lot of our kids sit back; they want to learn by
observing. They learn a lot like that. The teacher
then sometimes says look at me, pay attention,
answer me! The kids are listening, they are
hearing everything; they are not distracted. Its
more of a respect. They are taught like that,
especially if they are taught by their grandparents;
its a cultural thing. You dont look at them straight
in the eyes, because it would be challenging them.
We always laugh about it: Indian people go to a
meeting early so they can sit in the back. Its true.
Also, in our culture, when a kid misbehaves, we
wont call him by his name; well say that one
over there, its like a non-entity. Thats how the
kid would know that he behaved badly. (Piquemal,
2001b, June, 2001)
In the fall of 2001, one of the lead authors (Piquemal) invited an Aboriginal guest speaker to her
Social Foundations class. The guest speaker started his presentation by giving the students an
assignment aimed a sensitizing them to how different definitions of the notion of respect may affect the
way in which one understands teacher-student interactions. Each student had to provide his/her own
definition of the word respect. The students were then asked to share their definitions with the rest of
the class.
Different concepts were used: love, caring, deference to authority, honouring. Our guest
speaker contended that different perspectives on the notion of respect led to different perspectives on

ways to display respect. Differing perspectives are likely to engender disparities in what one expects
respectful teacher-student interactions to look like.
While it is important to recognize that different cultures adhere to different learning styles, it is
equally important to avoid stereotyping; there is no absolute Aboriginal learning style. Generalizing
about Aboriginal people, as non-verbal learners will only reinforce marginalization. Rather, it seems
more appropriate to try to develop a repertoire of different teaching strategies that are consistent with
different beliefs about how children est learn, and designed to access different learning styles. Our
observations point to the need for teachers and the communities they serve to engage in critical
reflection together.
Perhaps children asking questions is not valued in Angelas culture, but remaining quiet and
listening is. Regarding the desk work, most likely Angela couldnt understand the directions when given
to the rest of the class and needed to be walked through the work so she could know what to do.
Angelas seemingly unwillingness to sit quietly cross-legged on the floor may reflect differing
cultural values of a listening space or arrangement. Perhaps Angela is used to sharing circles as the
space for listening. Perhaps shes uncomfortable sitting that way. Angelas disobedience may be an
appropriate level of active participation within her familys original communitys context. We expect our
kids to frequently repress their wills, and preferences for those of an authority figure.
Whos to say that in the girls culture, women do not sit down with their legs crossed? Did the
teacher bother to find this out before getting upset with her?
There is a possibility that our form of education is not an important and valued thing in the
Ojibway community that Angelas family is part of. If this were the case, then Angelas parents would
not be worried about her attending or leaving school. Her failures at school might not be an issue for
this family.
I can only speculate, but I assume that Angelas parents education was much different from the
one Angela is experiencing. Perhaps, their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and/or community
educated them. Likely their education was less about survival and real life. Angelas lateness may also
reflect the cultural value of a more flexible and relaxed time system.
It seems that there is a cultural difference existing within Angelas world that creates further
problems. There is obviously a variety of outside involvements in Angelas family life, yet it doesnt seem
clear or not whether Angelas family fully understand why they are involving themselves, or what they
are trying to accomplish.
After a hurried hallway consultation with several of her colleagues, Angelas teacher has
concluded that Angelas sometimes hyper behaviour is a result of eating candy at breakfast time.
Wanting to help Angela, the teacher decided to make a home visit after school on a Wednesday
afternoon, when she knew the parents would be home, because Angelas family didnt have a
telephone. Fearing that she might walk in on a drinking party, she arranged for a school administrator
and a social worker to accompany her. Angelas mother answered the door. Although surprised, she
invited the visitors into the front room and listened to their questions about their family life, work

habits, eating habits, and home behaviour. Her mother seemed to avoid the questions. Angelas father
sat quietly at the kitchen table and did not participate in the group conference. Once in a while he
spoke to his wife in language the visitors didnt understand, but he didnt attempt to join the
While undoubtedly well-intentioned, the teacher seems to locate the cause of Angelas
difficulties at school within the family itself, illustrated by the fact that there is no hesitation in assuming
that Angelas home environment is somewhat inadequate. This echoes Cummins analysis of an example
of institutionalized racism in practice (1988): There is usually no intent to discriminate on the part of
educators; however, their interactions with minority students are mediated by a system of
unquestioned assumptions that reflect the values and priorities of the dominant middle-class culture. It
is in these interactions that minority students are educationally disabled (p. 132).
This, our teacher candidates were well able to address:
This story really hit home for me because of an experience that I had last year. During my school
experience, I accompanied my cooperating teacher and a Family Care worker to the home of one of our
students. Our visit was to speak with the parents in order to get permission to allow the student into a
programme that would allow him/her to be pulled from class to get some extra help. While at the home
the father did not participate in the conversation, but rather listened from the dining room; apparently,
he did not speak English. They seemed very uncomfortable answering so many questions and had
difficulties understanding what we were saying a times. When the student came home to find all of his
teachers there, he too was quite surprised. It makes me upset when situations like these occur.
Her mother seemed to avoid the questions. As if the home visit wasnt surprise enough! Nobody
wants to be surprised with a barrage of questions from a teacher, social worker, and a principal. The
message is what are you doing at home to cause this behaviour? and the parents feel blamed by the
Why should the teacher go to the home if the mother is willing to go to the school? And, home
visits should also be scheduled to discuss the positives about Angela, and learn more about her likes and
One of my main thoughts is that Angela does not seem to be represented, understood, or valued
in this class because of her Ojibway ancestry. If a child walks into a classroom and cannot find
him/herself as a part of the classroom language or in the books, or on the walls, then I believe that any
child would not feel safe and secure in this environment. This child would not be aching to learn, but
rather aching to find themselves in a world that seems to have forgotten about him/her.
The series of assumptions made about breakfast, the familys social habits, and schedule all
reflect what I think are racist assumptions. What evidence was the teacher going on to support that
perception? Was the family given any warning of the visit? Could the teacher have walked home with
Angela and requested a meeting at some point in the future? I know I would feel pretty defensive if
three people showed up at my door to grill me about my child and my familys life, especially if one of the
people was with social services. Who wouldnt be intimidated by that? Especially when there is a

language and colour difference? Her parents would be in a distinctly disempowered position, and the
fathers choice to stay in the kitchen may have been his way of protesting that. Or, maybe he doesnt
feel comfortable speaking English to the visitors. Or maybe he couldnt speak English at all. What did
the visitors do to include him in the conversation?
Showing up with two guards is not only rude, but it would immediately put the family on the
defensive. Being grilled about their lives, in their home, by uninvited strangers, would be enough to send
me over the top. Fortunately, Angelas parents were not as ignorant as this teacher.
Viewing Angelas father as distant from the conversation (physically and in his participation) and
seeing him as not attempting to join in also suggests a belief that there are parental responsibilities that
are being ignored. Never does it mention the possibility that the father does not speak the language and
therefore cant participate in the conversation. Nor was it mentioned that the school brought in anyone
to assist as an interpreter to ensure that the father could participate in the conversation.
After an uncomfortably long silence, Angelas mother started speaking about a ceremony that
had taken place several weeks before. Two white people came that time, she said. We all sat inside
the lodge in a circle. Everybody was quiet as we went through the rituals, but the two white people
constantly asked questions about what was happening. When Angela arrived home, she appeared
surprised and confused.
In particular, much of the social-linguistic research among Native communities demonstrates
that narratives have the potential for powerful social action. Criticism of others, for example, is
accomplished through metaphor (Basso, 1990).
Ross (1992) offers another possible explanation by developing the idea of a spiritual grounding
for ethical duties; there is a relationship between traditional ethics and a spiritual view of the universe.
Ross gives the example of the ethic requiring that anger not be shown. He argues that the
notion of fighting back is a foreign notion to Native people who follow traditional ethics. Using
examples of court cases, he demonstrates that behaviour respecting the ethic of non-interference does
not necessarily mean that individuals agree with the judges decision:
The patience Native people have demonstrated in not
criticizing us for behaviour they considered repugnant
has been nothing short of astounding. Indeed, it is
perhaps the clearest illustration possible of their
determination to remain faithful to those commandments
forbidding criticism of others and the expression of angry
thoughts. (Ross, 1992, p. 45)
He concludes:
In fact, this failure to stand up and be counted, my flow

from a code of ethics which required not forceful response

but stoic acceptance, a code constructed upon an underlying belief that it is the spirits which are responsible
for things, and that man attempts to force them to change
at his moral peril (Ross, 1992, p. 57)

Rather than avoiding the questions, Angelas mother might have been carefully listening to the
teacher and thinking about an appropriate answer. Indeed, research with Aboriginal people in Nevada
on cross-cultural interaction patterns (Piquemal, 1001b) shows that silence may be perceived as
avoidance or lack of interest, while it is often a time of reflection. As one of the research participants
When someone is telling you something, you sit back and
you listen. And in your mind, youre thinking all these
things and maybe you dont say, No, I dont agree with
you, you are just listening and trying to feel your way.
You dont really want to say anything right away. You
cant really let your emotions get into play. If you dont
agree with something or if you get offended by somebodys
comments, you might not say anything but next time
theres a meeting, you wont go. If somebody is acting
in a way thats inappropriate, you wont tell him
straight to his face, but youll tell him a story about
somebody else; you just have to hope that hell get the
point. (field notes, June 2001)

The mothers story about the white people in the sharing circle seemed to be a quiet but firm
protest about the nature of the visit and the rude behaviour of the visitors. Angela, obviously, had no
prior knowledge of the visit, and should have been both informed and included in a meaningful way long
before the home visit.
The story that the mother tells at the very end of the story is an extremely important part of this
whole story. She has stated that what she and her culture believe has been questioned before. There is
obviously a lack of respect, understanding and acceptance of this culture by the surrounding community.
Under those circumstances, what person would want to conform to the norms and what is expected of
The story of the ceremony illustrated how Angelas culture and family valued learning through
respectful observation rather than what they would perceive as forward, rude, and insulting questionasking. The visitors questions might have been answered if they had taken time to observe and learn
from Angela and/or the family, rather than being focused on their agenda, assumptions, and prejudices.
The teacher never attempted to share her concerns and reach out to Angela. Perhaps Angela never
perceived there was a problem, and so Angela might be wondering why the teacher didnt communicate
her concerns with her first.


I see a parallel that Angelas mother is making at the end of the story. During a ritual practice
they invited or welcomed two whit people. The white people asked a lot of questions about what was
happening. This parallel, although on a smaller scale, is how Angela feels about daily life in the alien
culture that she lives in. Unfortunately, her questions are not seen as important or relevant. Angela asks
the questions that she needs to know, the things that she might not understand. Perhaps its cultural
differences. The difference is that the white people at the lodge were probably given an explanation of
what was going on because it was assumed that they had never been to this ritual. Angela lives daily in
a world where she does not know the rituals. Unfortunately, the teacher and the school have failed to
help her understand the world that she lives in.
Angela, a student of Ojibway ancestry, is failing school. School, an institution of European ancestry, is
failing Angela.
This statement is a reflection of the notion of cultural as disability as used by McDermott and
Varenne (1995). Culture as disability is not about disabled people; rather, it is about the power of a
culture to disable in assuming that there is only one (right) way to be: The problem in assuming that
there is only one way to be in a culture encourages the misunderstanding that those who are different
from perceived norms are missing something, that they are disabled. (McDermott & Varenne, 1995,
Zhao (2001) adds to this analysis by explaining that the construction of disability arises when
educators believe that what they find in the students is what is true in the students (p. 28), but yet
fail to recognize that their own biases and values participate in this process of finding disabilities.
This story is representative of what occurs often in the school system. It clearly demonstrates
the lack of cultural awareness, representation and understanding that is so often a major area lacking
in schools. Is it that teachers dont have the time to become culturally aware? Is it that some teachers
are not even aware that cultural barriers affect education? Or is it that some teachers perhaps cannot
access proper resources to help them understand and embrace cultural diversity?
I cannot express how many times I have encountered situations very similar to this one. Old
stereotypes are constantly being reinforced, and it seems that nobody is willing to change them. A
teacher who cares is not one that makes assumptions and figures that she has the best way to fix things.
A teacher needs to understand and become informed before he/she can make judgments.For almost
two years, I was no help for a young Aboriginal girl with many of the same related problems. I was
constantly disappointed with the stories that would come home from school. She was sent to the
Principals office, she got in a fight, she refused to do her work, etc. Rather than trying to understand her
background and work with her to improve her school behaviour, the teachers and staff simply tolerated
her. No one seemed to be aware of the nature of her home life and the virtual identity crisis that she was
going through. She wasgoing to an all-white school with all white teachers.


The problem we have addressed in this paper arises from the fact that overgeneralized
misconceptions about Aboriginal people remain an obvious shortcoming of our educational system.
Although Angelas story is a fictional account about one teachers experience with an Aboriginal student,
the issues raised within the text speak directly to the many preconceived notions teachers may have
when dealing with Aboriginal students. We invite others to use the pedagogical story of Angela to
illuminate personal biases and misconceptions, either using our unpacking of the story as a point of
reference, or their own. In sum, as one of our teacher candidates wrote:
Being responsive to student needs requires much thought and reflection if the goal is to produce
an environment in which all learners feel represented and safe. Just as important as what the teacher
is teaching, is how, why, and when it is being taught. While educators recognize the need for
Aboriginal philosophies to be incorporated into the current educational system, truly asserting Aboriginal
beliefs and ways is a daily struggle due to the dominance of mainstreams societal view. Is it still a
mystery why Aboriginal children fail within the confines of the present educational system?
Note: At the time of writing this story, the authors were teaching in the Faculty of Education at the
University of Manitoba; Nathalie Piquemal as professor of Cross-Cultural and Aboriginal Education; and
Sandra Kouritzin, as an assistant professor of Teaching English as a Second Language.


Guidelines for Establishing a Safe Environment for Discussing

and Learning about Culturally Sensitive Issues
The ECME Program strives to promote and support a safe environment that is conducive discussing
and learning about culturally sensitive issues. We believe that adhering to the following will support
this philosophy. We believe that
1) Each person can and should contribute to developing a high level of trust.
2) We must all practice respect for one another and ourselves.
3) We must agree to participate in open and honest discussion and debate.
4) Everyone should Respect the views of others even if we do not agree with them.
5) We should practice positive and productive ways in which we can convey our perspective,
feelings or disagreements.
6) Everyone should be willing to make comments or contribute to discussions that will promote

cross-cultural learning.
7) We must listen to others, as well as listen to ourselves to continue to support strong and
healthy communication.
8) Everyone should feel comfortable and safe about asking questions of others.
9) We all need to take time to think and question our own assumptions of others.
10) It is critical that we all practice being accepting and non-judgmental and open-minded.
11) We must remember that no one here is an expert on all cultures, but we should all be

consistently learning new things about others.

12) It is imperative that we understand that no one person speaks as a representative of

the entire ethnic, cultural or social groups to which they belong.

13) We can all help turn around misinterpretations or misunderstandings .
14) We recognize that we are all here to learn and one of the most valuable ways to learn

is from each other.


Tool 8:

Hidden Generation the 60s Scoop

The 60s Scoop is one of the forgotten issues that traumatized thousands of
Aboriginal children who were taken from their homes and randomly handed out to
family members who take them to unknown non-Aboriginal people in foreign countries
without knowledge given to the biological parents.
This is a 3-4 minute video which can be found on YouTube. It presents the voices of
adults who were taken by Child and Family Services during the 1960s up to the
present. If children were fortunate they were given to other healthy family members
and remained in the community.
Other children who were less fortunate were given to unhealthy families and suffered
years of traumatic experiences in countries across the ocean, in the USA, other parts
of Manitoba and Canada.
This phenomenon must be discussed in a sensitive manner and given the time and
respect as one of the legacies that have left Aboriginal people in this country with the
long term effects that are intergenerational in nature and will require the same care
for these survivors as those who were taken away to residential schools.

Tool 9:

The Eighth Fire Prophecy

This prophecy is an example of various messages that have been left for people to try
and understand as visionary from the past in order to live not only in the present but
as a tool to look toward the future. These messages vary from nation to nation but
usually are intended to help guide generation to generation with a good message for
living well.


Tool 9:

The Eighth Fire Prophecy of the

First Nations
In the time of the Seventh Fire,
A new people will emerge,
to retrace their steps and history,
to find what was left by the trail.
Their steps will lead them to many different places,
and to teachers and elders of their nations.
But many of the elders will have forgotten,
or never learned, the teachings.
Some elders and historians will be silent
out of fear and ignorance.
Many more will be overlooked and nothing asked of them...
Their task is not easy.
It will take time, hard work, perseverance, and faith.
The new people must remain strong in their quest...
There will be a rebirth of the Anishnaabe Nation
and a rekindling of the Sacred Fire, which will
light the Eighth and Final Fire...
Of eternal peace, understanding and acceptance
over the entire world.
Prophecy given to Myra Laramee in 1977


Tool 10:
The Story About the Seven Teachings Exercise
As a younger woman I had been asked by my uncle to travel to a community and conduct a
form of mediation between two sets of Aboriginal women. These women were working with
children and could not resolve a situation that had arisen between them. The situation was
causing tension and animosity among the women. It suggested that since they were women,
the healing work through mediation should be done by a woman walking a traditional path.
The actual incident was about not being able to decide between two female Elders to work
with the little children in their care. As I pondered how to best tackle this request I
smoked my pipe and put out tobacco to ask for help from the Spirit World. As always I
was answered how to help these women see a way to deal with this situation.
Using our laws and teachings I saw a way to help others understand that everyone has a
place, a voice and a responsibility and to be as inclusive as possible. I did not know what
would result from using this exercise, but I knew I must put belief in front of me and
trust what I was being told to do.
As a result of the experience the women of this program made a choice to honour both of
the Elder women, stop fighting over them and take advantage of each of their gifts so
they could bring both to the children. Both of the Elders came to work with the children.
One would come one week and the other would come the week after.
Since then, I have conducted this exercise many, many times with many different kinds of
people, across Canada and in other countries. Paradigm shifts and changes in attitudes
have resulted and participants share the powerful ways they have been affected by their
involvement in this exercise. Each and every time I have facilitated this work,

enlightenment, has occurred for both me and the participants. As the facilitator, my
belief in humanity, my faith in the work and my personal growth are continually affirmed.
Interestingly for educators they have been relieved to recognize that this particular
activity is not religious and become excited to take this example back to their colleagues
and classrooms. The following is a step by step direction for implementation of the Seven
Teachings Exercise.


Tool 10:

The Seven Teachings Exercise

Myra Laramee, 1989

This exercise is important in the work of lifting the words from the paper into the hearts
of the people who participate in the activity.
There are ceremonies, medicines, sacred traditional songs, teaching stories, protocols and
life meanings to each of the teachings. The magnitude of meaning found in each of the
teachings takes a lifetime to unfold in its entirety. Some say that these teachings are
what is written on the sacred Birch Bark Scrolls (equivalent in some respects to the
tablets of the Ten Commandments) and are practical truths for everyday life and living.
The spiritual ceremonial aspects of these teachings must remain the right of Aboriginal
people to pass onto their existing and future generations, but these teachings in the
English version are good tools for all nations to live by. It is this universality of each of
the teachings, which the creators of this training manual wish to provide educators as a
tool to use in classrooms. These principles represented in English can provide a
foundational explanation for staffs, students, parents, leaders and communities as to what
Indigenous people of this territory use to guide life and the relationships of living.

Part One:

This should take approximately fifteen minutes to accomplish

Step 1:

Take seven chart papers and write a teaching on the top of each and place

them in the center of the circle with enough felt markers (a variety of bright colours) for
each participant.
Step 2:

Handout the sheet, face down and tell participants not to turn it over until

the count of three.

Step 3:

On the count of three have everyone turn over the sheet and write the first

thought or phrase that comes to your mind.

Step 4:

When everyone is finished ask them to print their thoughts or phrases on

the matching chart paper. Make sure people write their thought even though it may
already be on the chart. Each persons thought is significant to the process.
Step 5:

When they are finished have each chart paper in the same order as on the

handout taped on a wall beside each other.


Part Two:

This should take approximately fifteen minutes to accomplish

Step 6:

Depending on the size of the group ask for volunteers to be part of the

giving voice (read the teachings out loud) .

Step 7:

Arrange the others in the group in an arc facing the charts and have them

seated with eyes closed and hands on their laps with palms facing upward.
Step 8:

Touch the shoulder of the first reader and move through each of the

readings with as little a break in momentum as possible, touching each shoulder to assist
the readers in knowing when to start.

Part Three:
Step 9:

This should take about fifteen minutes to accomplish

Explain the notion of reciprocity and share that giving and receiving is the

check and balance of maintaining a balanced life. Include in the explanation of this part of
the exercises what it means to give voice to belief and the importance of listening with
ones heart.
Step 10:

Ask the participants who read what is was like to give voice to the teachings

and following that ask the participants who listened to share what it felt like to receive
the teachings.
Step 11:

Explain that each participants voice is significant to the magnitude found in

the meaning in each of the teachings. Point out that if the same group was to return and
do this exercise over again next week, month or year that the thoughts shared would be
different due to the fact that time changes us and would make each of us different people
depending on the experiences we encounter.
Step 12:

These teachings have their own ceremonial, traditional practise and are the

inherent rights of Aboriginal to conduct these events. In classrooms activities where

these teachings are used it is important that they are attributed as important values of
which come from the foundations of the Aboriginal people of the past, today and for
future life.
Step 13:

Aboriginal Education strategies can include these Seven Principles due to

their universality, but educators must cite where they come from. This particular set has
been identified by Ojibwe, Cree and Dakota as an important guide for each of their
respective tribes.

Myra Laramee, 1989


Tool 10: Handout

Seven Teachings
To cherish knowledge is to seek wisdom.
To know love is to find peace.
To honour all of creation is to have respect.

Courage is to face life with integrity.

Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave.
Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of

Truth is to know all these things.


Aboriginal Education Directorate

A Journey from
Cultural Awareness
Cultural Competency

Session 2
Day 3: Becoming an Advocate
Day 4: Becoming an Agent for Change


Session 2: Two Day Schedule

Day 3

Day 4

Becoming an Advocate:

Becoming an Agent for Change:

What understanding is required to advocate and why it

may be necessary to do so?
What skills do I need to be able to be effective advocate
where the need for integrated Aboriginal Education may
not be understood?
What levels of advocacy such as leadership, administrative,
school team and collegial realms will I need to involve
myself in beyond the training?

What will I need to understanding about using the

tools in the kit
Identify skills necessary for implementing these tools
Work with the Stages of Development to see where
the people in my jurisdiction are at and plan

9:00 10:00

9:00 9:30

Opening Circle
10:00 10:30 11 - 15 Garrys DVDs
Form 5 groups each with 1 DVD to work on
10:30 10:45 Break
10: 45 12:00 Continue the work on Garrys DVDs using
16. Integration Tools Rubric and Webbing
17. Introduce the Planning Tools
12:00 1:00
Lunch Break
1:00 2:00
Presentations of Unit Building
2:00 2:15
2:15 2:45
Presentations of Unit Building
2:45 3:30
Closing Circle
Homework: Planning Tools: Planning tools will be reviewed
with the intent of looking at the Rubrics which engage participants in
planning Who, Why, When, and How each of the tools will be used
in their division and schools. We will discuss how to use the:

1. Smudge
2. Circle Work
3. Quotation
4. The Void,
5. Word Splash,
6. Gladys Cook Story,
7. Article Discussion
8. 60s Scoop Hidden Generation Video
9. Eighth Fire Prophecy
10. Seven Teachings Exercise
11-15. Garrys DVDs,
16. Lighting the center Fire Tools Rubric and Webbing
17. Planning Tools Unit Planning Circles
18. Aboriginal Education Planning Rubric


Opening Circle

9:30 10:30 18. Using the Aboriginal Education

Planning Rubric
Planning Teams working on Aboriginal
Education Planning Rubric
10:30 10:40 Break
10:40 12:00 Presenting
Teams working on kit tools to integrate them as part of the
Divisional Aboriginal Planning Process
12:00 1:00
1:00 2:45

Lunch Break
Seven Teaching Exercise

2:45 3:30

Feedback on the training session

3:30 4:00 Closing Circle

Tools 11 15:

Garry Robson DVD Segments

Pre-Contact Education
ABCs of Stereotyping
The Clan System
The Tipi


The Use of Video for Knowledge Transmission

Garry offers five particular areas presented over a period of 12 years in a Summer
Institute for teachers in their after degree programs. The areas chosen are not
by any means the only areas Garry could cover but for purposes specificity for
teacher education these were areas identified as important for students learning.
Through the use of videos it is possible to provide essential knowledges to learners
from Elders and Knowledge Keepers whereby the sound of their voice, perhaps the
language they speak and the physical gestures made by them would be available by
the process of videography.
The process of capturing Essential Knowledges for classroom purposes and learning
outcomes was developed to help teachers prepare for their classrooms after
viewing each of the segments. The following descriptions, introduces the
intentions of each of the segments.

Tool 11: Pre-Contact Education

This segment was intended to provide Essential Knowledge about the ways in which
education learning was viewed pre-contact. The pedagogy of those providing
knowledge usually followed a simple but effective process. The learners would look
and listen while the Knowledge Keeper would transmit the particular kind of
knowledge they carried. After this was done the Knowledge Keeper would then
engage the learners in some type of activity whereby, what they had seen and
heard, would be turned into participatory hands-on event so that the learners could
activate the knowledge acquired.
The Knowledge Keepers would typically watch the learners and wait for them to
demonstrate that processing of the knowledge they had acquired and the
Knowledge Keeper would let the learner know that the time spent on this area was
over for now. The Knowledge Keeper would somehow indicate that what they had
learned must now be practiced by the learner as part of their life experience.
In the case of videos, the Teacher becomes the facilitator to activate the
learners knowledge by preparing activities to follow the video. The Teacher would
then make observations and let students know their achievement through
celebration and assessment. In schools students would get credit for their


achievement. In pre-contact learning the achievement was now living the

experiential knowledge acquisition.

Tool 12: ABCs of Stereotyping

After contact was made with those who came to this land from other countries,
certain events took place which reflected negative ways in which First Nations,
Metis and Inuit people were perceived and treated. Some of this negativity took
the lives of Aboriginal people. Garry provides a clear message as to how these
biases, misconceptions and stereotypes play out in contemporary life in Canada.

Tool 13: Treaties

In a contemporary school setting it is expected that some forms of Treaty
Education will occur particularly for the Grade 9 and 11 classrooms. However, when
Garry covered this area there was no From Apology to Reconciliation resource.
The knowledge provided by Garry covers pre-contact treaty relations between
Indigenous nations and those that came as a result of the newcomers and the
negotiations made in Treaty for them to live with us in the territories of Canada.

Tool 14: The Clan System

This particular organizing or structuring of people according to kinships or families
specifically related to the animal world is describe by Garry according to Ojibwe
teachings for this way of seeing how the systems of justice, education, health,
social, etc. played out in a community or village.
Videos with traditional knowledge from communities could be captured as video
projects to be done with students would enhance different levels of learning for
them. The creation of a video about kinship relations and traditional ways of
communal organization could be developed as a research project.
Building capacity in interview skills, creating research project outlines,
brainstorming appropriate questions to ask, protocols around seeking knowledge
from Elders and Knowledge Keepers, besides writing video scripts, learning how to
use the camera, and representing the knowledge in a meaningful way could all be
part of the learning outcomes for such a project.


Tool 15:

The Tipi

This home structure according to the life of the Ojibwe people provided living
space that accommodated their nomadic lifestyle. Garry describes the ways in
which this fifteen pole structure facilitated a place for the Ojibwe people to live
comfortably. During his presentation in this segment Garry makes reference to
the mathematical, scientific, social studies and health aspects examining life in a
Again the videography aspect for classroom projects is expansive when considering
the subject areas available for research in this segment.
Often while educators are viewing resources for use in the classroom, they begin
thinking creatively about their own ideas for units and classroom lessons. They
could implement the knowledge in a video, book or perhaps even an article being
The following rubrics, on pages 54 and 55, have been developed and vetted by both
pre-service and field teachers to assist in the planning processes. The Essential
Knowledges rubric can be utilized to organize information into a linear document
when considering creating units, activities, lessons, or strategies.
When viewing each of the five Garry Robson DVD tools, 11 15, take notes of all
the knowledges that you feel would be good for students in the classroom to learn.
Use a set of Pages 1 and 2 for each of the five segments of the Garry Robson
series and follow the steps outlined for Tools 16 and 17 to assist you in planning
possible units on each of the key concepts.


Tool 11:

Traditional Knowledge

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson
Knowledge Area:

Title: Traditional Knowledge

Pre-Contact Indigenous Knowledge

Essential Knowledges

Page 1

Myra Laramee, 2013


Video _X__ Article___ Book___

Subject Areas


Identifying the subject

areas possible to integrate
into the Center Fire

Effective strategies to apply

during the learning

(Notes from the video)

What the student will learn while
exploring the various knowledges
through the key concepts

Developing and identifying

connections between
knowledges and content


Tool 11:
Page 2

Traditional Knowledge

Traditional Knowledge



Identify a main experiential activity

which will branch out blossoming other
learning activities for the unit

Identify appropriate outcomes covered

from each subject area to be included in
the integration

Plan authentic assessment activities to

include input from teacher and student.
Plan ways to celebrate the


Tool 12:

ABCs of Stereotyping

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Page 1

Myra Laramee, 2013

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson

ABCs of Stereotyping
Knowledge Area: Learning how to view stereotyping in media, textbooks, imagery
Essential Knowledges


Subject Areas


Identifying the subject

areas possible to integrate
into the Center Fire

Effective strategies to apply

during the learning

(Notes from the video)

What the student will learn while
exploring the various knowledges
through the key concepts

Developing and identifying

connections between
knowledges and content


Tool 12: ABCs of Stereotyping

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges
Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson

Page 2

Myra Laramee, 2013

Video _X__ Article___ Book___

ABCs of Stereotyping

Knowledge Area:

Learning how to view negative stereotyping in media, textbooks, imagery




Identify a main experiential activity

which will branch out blossoming other
learning activities for the unit

Identify appropriate outcomes covered

from each subject area to be included in
the integration

Plan authentic assessment activities to

include input from teacher and student.
Plan ways to celebrate the achievements.


Tool 13:


Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson
Knowledge Area: We Are All Treaty People
Essential Knowledges


Myra Laramee, 2013

Page 1

Video _X__ Article___ Book___
Subject Areas


Identifying the subject

areas possible to integrate
into the Center Fire

Effective strategies to apply

during the learning

(Notes from the video)

What the student will learn while
exploring the various knowledges
through the key concepts

Developing and identifying

connections between
knowledges and content


Tool 13:


Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges



Knowledge Area:

Page 2

Myra Laramee, 2013

We Are All Treaty People




Identify a main experiential activity

which will branch out blossoming other
learning activities for the unit

Identify appropriate outcomes covered

from each subject area to be included in
the integration

Plan authentic assessment activities to

include input from teacher and student.
Plan ways to celebrate the


Tool 14:

The Clan System

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Myra Laramee, 2013

Page 1

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson

The Clan System
Knowledge Area: Traditional Governance Video _X__ Article___ Book___
Essential Knowledges
Subject Areas
(Notes from the video)
What the student will learn while
exploring the various knowledges
through the key concepts

Developing and identifying

connections between
knowledges and content


Identifying the subject areas

possible to integrate into
the Center Fire

Effective strategies to apply

during the learning

Tool 14:

The Clan System

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Page 2

Myra Laramee, 2013

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson

The Clan System
Knowledge Area: Traditional Governance Video _X__ Article___ Book___



Identify a main experiential activity

which will branch out blossoming other
learning activities for the unit

Identify appropriate outcomes covered

from each subject area to be included in
the integration

Plan authentic assessment activities to

include input from teacher and student.
Plan ways to celebrate the achievements.


Tool 15:

The Tipi

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Myra Laramee, 2013

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson

The Tipi
Knowledge Area: Traditional Homes Video _X__ Article___ Book___
Essential Knowledges
Subject Areas

Page 1


(Notes from the video)

What the student will learn while
exploring the various knowledges
through the key concepts

Developing and identifying

connections between
knowledges and content


Identifying the subject areas

possible to integrate into
the Center Fire

Effective strategies to apply

during the learning

Tool 15:

The Tipi

Viewing Material for Essential Knowledges

Knowledge Keeper: Garry Robson
Knowledge Area: Traditional Homes

Page 2

Myra Laramee, 2013

The Tipi
Video _X__ Article___ Book___




Identify a main experiential activity

which will branch out blossoming other
learning activities for the unit

Identify appropriate outcomes covered

from each subject area to be included in
the integration

Plan authentic assessment activities to

include input from teacher and student.
Plan ways to celebrate the


Tool 16:

Lighting the Center Fire

Lighting the center fire as a symbolism for introducing an Aboriginal

perspective as the main key concept for planning a culturally
appropriate unit allows one to visualize a center of illumination. As an
Aboriginal education strategy, educators will be challenged to view
planning in a different way paying close attention to the Aboriginal
perspective as the tool for integrating concepts, knowledge, activities,
strategies, subject outcomes and assessment practices. The focus will
be on the knowledge being transmitted, activities of experiential and
hands on engagement, and the strategies most suitable for these
learning experiences. Most mainstream curricular and unit planning
strategies ore outcome-based.
The Center Fire strategy requires and inversion of mainstream planning
practices. The fact is that Aboriginal people think in a circular fashion
and tend to use inclusive and integrated approaches when helping
someone learn. This process of planning requires one to see a natural
flow or movement of learning energy in organizing the knowledge that
students will learn. Planning with the end in mind so units are focused
and manageable is part of how the ideas, information, and knowledges
are organized around the center fire.
The webbing process using the Webbing Framework on page 64 will
help the planner to organize information for the planning circles found
on pages 67 70. These circle help with the flow of information. Once
the information is organized Unit Plans and Lesson Plans may be filled
out and kept for records. The Essential Knowledges Rubrics on pages
52 to 61 can be utilized to organize information into a linear document
when considering creating units, activities, lessons, or strategies
outcomes and assessment practices.


Tool 16:

The following steps are considered when planning with the end
in mind:

Step 1:

Choose an Aboriginal perspective to study.

Research: Gather knowledge by visiting and listening to an Elder

and/or viewing a video, book, or article. Identify from the notes taken,
possible topics from which to build a unit. Choose one of the topics and
place that Main Key Concept at the center of the Webbing Framework.
Step 2:

Lighting the Center Fire Choose the main idea to use as

the center fire. Identify four key concepts that will surround and
support the center fire.
Webbing: Put your central idea in the center circle. Place the four
possible topics one in each of the four directions. Check to see if the
arrangement you have made has a flow from the East to the South
around to the West and up to the North. Rearrange accordingly so that
the progression of the four topics flows and is clear. Here is where
you may decide that another topic from your notes fits better.
Step 3:

Identify the content which will become the light that is

made by the flames of knowledge.

Integrating Knowledges: Starting in the East, move in a circular

fashion and arrange all of the knowledges from your notes nearest the
most relevant Key Concept. Starting in the Eastern direction, each of
the four topics will provide the way to organize the content or
information you have gathered. While you are doing this keep the
opportunity open to brainstorm other possibilities that may come up
while webbing.


Tool 16:

Lighting the Center Fire

The Essential Knowledges
Webbing Framework
Myra Laramee, 2013

Key Concept

Key Concept


Key Concept


Key Concept

Step 4:

Choosing the subject areas which will illuminate the

academic flames of the fire.

Identifying Subject Areas:

As you look at your web of knowledges

identify subject areas that make sense to include as part of this fire.
The fire will feed each the subject area academic outcomes. These
will be searched after the unit has been implemented. This way of
implementing a unit relies on ones faith that the academic and cultural
outcomes are there in the activities and lessons that you implement.
Step 5:

Identify the main activity and other activities to follow.

Plotting a Timeline: Unit planning requires a clear beginning, middle

and an end. Various activities will be planned in each so that the
teacher and students may achieve success in an organized way. The
unit plan involves a main activity which is like the match that lights the
fire. This fire will spark for all the other activities for the unit.
The Main Activity should provide an explosion of subsequent
activities from its implementation. (As seen in Planning Circle 1)
Create or organize a variety of activities which will move around
the planning circle bringing each of the four key concepts into
Step 6:

Choose the best strategies according to student potential.

Strategies to Enhance Learning:

Since not all children learn in

the same way, the facilitator will choose strategies that will best fit
their student population and the activities to be implemented. They will
be plotted within each of the lessons and over the timelines
appropriately as they unfold.


Step 7:

Implement the unit.

Walking around the Circle:

Follow the footprints (topics, content,

activities and strategies) made around the fire as the unit unfolds,
make sure that the appropriate assessment strategies are chosen as
well. Complete the unit activities and lessons to its expected timelines.
Step 8:

Identify the subject area outcomes.

Placing Academic Value: Academic value within the Aboriginal

Perspective is revealed as the subject area outcomes are identified,
teachers, students, and parents will see an educational value within
each of the Aboriginal perspectives used in the unit.
Tool 17:

Curriculum Integration Plan

Creating Curriculum from a
Circular Thought Process into a
Linear Document

The planning circles were created by Niji Mahkwa staff who felt the
need to use a circular graphic organizer to plan units with the
Aboriginal perspective in the Center Fire position. Visually one can see
how this Indigenous way of planning can be organized. At the end there
is a Unit Framework and a Lesson Plan used by Niji Mahkwa staff.
Others may be found in Success for All Learners. This process is
developing a curricular integration plan by using a circular thought
process and formatting it into a linear document.


Tool 17:

Unit Planning Circles

The introductory event in each unit should be one that activates the possibilities
for many other activities to follow.

Assessment and Celebration


Manitoba Education & Advanced Learning


Math / Social Studies / ELA / Science

The appropriate outcomes from

the Core Subjects in the
Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning
Documents will be melded with
the Four Directions outcomes
and the goals for the unit.


These will be determined by the

goals of the introductory activity, as well as
the subject area outcomes.

Teaching Social Studies


This activity should be one
that is
Sage Picking
1. The Trip
2. Food Preparation
3. The Teachings
4. Picking the Medicine
5. Bundling
6. Storage
7. Using the medicine

Unit Planning Wheel

Tool 17:

Areas of Consideration for

Planning, Strategizing and Implementation





Tool 17:

Smudge Unit
Planning Wheel
By Core Subjects






Tool 17:

Cultural Curriculum Lesson Plan

Topic: ______________________________ Grade: ________ Date: _____________

Introduction: Describe the Center Fire and how the four directional key concepts fit around it.
Content: Use the notes taken from viewing and web them appropriately around each of the
Subject Areas: Identify each of the possible subjects with outcomes in the Center Fire.
Activation: Plot the activities on a calendar (approximately 3-4 for each of the directions).
Wrap Up: Have students discuss the benefits of the learning and knowledge acquisition and
how they might apply the knowledge.


Assessment: Plan ways to assess the learning including the learner in the assessment process.
How do we celebrate what was learned?
Resource Materials: Identify what resources will be needed and prepare them ahead of time.
Outcomes: Look through the outcomes for each of the subjects identified and note which
outcomes have been covered.
Comments: Provide yourself feedback and recommendations for future attempts for this unit.


Tool 17:
Lighting a Central Fire
Unit Plan
Center Fire of the Unit:


East Direction Key Concept :


South Direction Key Concept: ___________________________________________

West Direction Key Concept: ___________________________________________
North Direction Key Concept : ___________________________________________

Subject Areas


Materials and


Tool 18:

Indigenous Pedagogy
The Four Ls of Learning
Myra Laramee, 2013
Aboriginal Perspective __________________________

Age Group



Main Activity _________________________________





(What will I see?)

(What will I Hear?)

(What knowledge
will I acquire?)

(How will I activate the



The Four Ls of Learning

Indigenous Pedagogy
Myra Laramee, 2013







Tool 19:

A Journey from Cultural Awareness to Cultural Competency

Tools for Building Capacity



1. Basic Belief

The Smudge
2. Circle Work

The Circle
3. Inspirational

Decisive Element
4. Understandings

Aboriginal Education
The Void Exercise
5. Word Wall

The Word Splash
6. Video as a
teaching tool
Gladys Cook Story
7. Article Discussion
Angelas Story
8. Seven Teachings





Tool 19:

A Journey from Cultural Awareness to Cultural Competency

Tools for Building Capacity



9. Eighth Fire

10.DVD 1

11.DVD 2

12.DVD 3

13.DVD 4
The Tipi

14.DVD 5
The Clan System




Tool 19:

A Journey from Cultural Awareness to Cultural Competency

Tools for Building Capacity



15. Lighting the Center

Rubric and Webbing
16. Planning Tools
Unit Planning Circles


4 Ls of Learning

Planning Rubric

19. Aboriginal
Education Planning