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Defenders for Human Rights
Karihwakè:ron Tim Thompson

Karihwakè:ron Tim Thompson Equitable Education for All

GRADE LEVELS = 5 to 12  /  SUGGESTED TIME = Four 60 minute class periods

Preparatory Set

Recommended for Grades 7 to 12

Ask students to view the six short videos where Tim Thompson deconstructs the complex and political First Nations education issue in a manner and language that is user-friendly. You may also wish to access the written transcript of the six videos.

  1. How many First Nations’ students attend school on reserves? (0 min 45 s)

    Transcript - First Nations Students (Part 1 of 6)

  2. The Government of Canada provides transfer payments to every province and territory to help fund the public education system in Canada. So why do these transfer payments not include funds for first nations education on-reserve? (3 min 55 s)

    Transcript - Education Funding (Part 2 of 6)

  3. Why are Indigenous students on reserves, and students off reserves in Canada, funded a different amount for their education when education is a guaranteed right to every child in this country? (3 min 57 s)

    Transcript - Inequitable Funding (Part 3 of 6)

  4. If I’m a First Nations’ student, going to school on reserve, what does my education look like? (2 min 17 s)

    Transcript - First Nations Education (Part 4 of 6)

  5. What do you think First Nations’ education should look like? What would be your ideal classroom system? (2 min 17 s)

    Transcript - The Ideal First Nations Classroom (Part 5 of 6)

  6. What do you think it’s going to take to get there? (1 min 47 s)

    Transcript - Where do we go from here? (Part 6 of 6)

Activity 1

Recommended for Grades 9 to 12

Karihwakè:ron Tim Thompson states that the Indigenous community has been asking for parental/community control of First Nations education since 1972. This lesson deals with this social, political and economic issue that is of critical importance in Canadian society.

  1. Group students so that each of the groups research one of the six questions, along with Tim’s responses, to find out additional information from a historical, human rights and current perspective.
  2. Once students have done the research, ask them to prepare a class presentation on the question they chose to further inform others on the issue of First Nations education.
  3. Some recommended sources for research purposes are:
    1. 100 Years of Loss Timeline, offers a chronology of key events that have shaped Aboriginal History. You can download this resource for free.
    2. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) – TRC findings
      On June 2, 2015, at the end of their mandate, the TRCC issued their findings, including 94 recommendations. Of particular interest are those recommendations dealing with Education, Language and Culture, and Education for Reconciliation.
    3. Assembly of First Nations – Overview of Education
      Education, Jurisdiction and Governance
    4. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern development Canada
    5. First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada
    6. Speak Truth to Power Canada – Moments in Time Timeline
    7. Speak Truth to Power Canada – Legal Instruments

Activity 2

Recommended for Grades 5 to 9

  1. The video, Heartspeak about Shannen’s Dream, reminds us that education is ultimately about students in schools. Have the class watch the following video and discuss the issues that arise.
    Heartspeak, Shannen’s Dream, (11 minutes)
  2. Hi-Ho Mistahey!, full-length version (1 hour, 39 minutes)
    Hi-Ho Mistahey! short version (59 minutes)
    In this documentary, Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Shannen’s Dream, a national campaign to provide equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children. Strong participation in this initiative eventually brings Shannen's Dream all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.
  3. Ask students to write a reflective piece on the inequity of education for every child in Canada, and how these inequities contravene the legal instruments and the rights of every person.
  4. Ask students to take part in Shannen’s Dream, or any other First Nations Caring Society project aimed at increasing the awareness of inequity among First Nations children in Canada.

Activity 3

Ask students to listen to the song Red Revolution; an Indigenous Anthem as sung by Ila Barker (4 minutes, 20 seconds)

“Red Revolution” states that, “it is time to unite; it’s time to fight for Indigenous rights”.

Using one or more of the Arts (visual arts, music, movement or drama) create a presentation that fights for Indigenous educational rights by tying it to one of the legal instruments.

  1. The presentation is to be a minimum of 1 minute and a maximum of 3.
  2. Students may write their own melody or use any melody in public domain (over 75 years old). Permission from owner must be sought for any melody not included in public domain.
  3. Students may work in groups or alone. Each student must have a participatory role in the presentation.
  4. Students may enhance their performance by using a variety of techniques such as:
    • Soundscape
    • Wapikoni
    • Ostinato
    • Word Percussion
    • Covering a song (with the owner’s permission)
    • Costuming

Activity 4

Linking to the Moments in Time section of this resource, under the theme of this lesson plan Equitable Education for All:

  1. Ask students to research one of the moments identified under.
  2. Ask them to write a short opinion piece that includes the following in their reflection:
    1. Media and other events surrounding that particular period and issue (e.g. In 1857, the Gradual Civilization Act required that all Indian males over the age of 21 who could speak, read, and write English or French renounce their Indian status and become a British subject.)
    2. Was this particular human rights moment in time perceived as an advancement or a setback at the time? Please explain.
    3. Today, would that same moment be perceived as an advancement or a setback? Please explain.

Culminating Activity — From Reflection to Action

Indigenous education needs further changes. The history, culture, language and achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit must be included, affirmed and treated with equality throughout the curriculum, the books and the media.

  1. Ask students to examine their school textbooks and novels in order to determine:
    1. The degree to which First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples are included and how they are portrayed.
    2. If the textbook publishers should be contacted to relay your findings and ask for change.
  2. Ask students to visit the school library and make an assessment of novels and other resources that address First Nations, Métis and Inuit issues and are written by Indigenous authors.
    1. Depending on the findings, students could encourage the school administration to purchase additional Indigenous resources relevant to classroom discussions and learning.
  3. Ask students to think of other ways they could embed Indigenous culture within their learning day.

Extension Activity

  1. Invite an Elder into your classroom so that students may learn about culture, history and language from a first-hand experience.
  2. The Assembly of First Nations is releasing a comprehensive teacher toolkit for Canadian classrooms in autumn 2015 called It’s Our Time – First Nations Education Toolkit. Additional information on this resource will be made available as soon as it is received.