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Rethinking Canada 150

This Canada Day will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and will be celebrated across the country with $500 million in federal government funding. But for many Aboriginal Canadians, this day is not one for celebration.

In recent years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has challenged us to take a hard look at the mythology at the roots of the concept of Canada. Now Rethinking 150 is asking Canadians to reflect on our country’s historical relationship with First Nations people. Now more than ever, teachers are invited to provide students with opportunities to critically examine how Canada came to be, how it was settled, and who paid the price for the subsequent prosperity of our country.

As well, teachers are invited to examine how to live up to Canadians’ shared belief that we are an inclusive and caring nation. This can lead us to a positive outcome when we think of the many collective actions we can take to truly acknowledge and support the Indigenous people who made up the many nations that inhabited Turtle Island before European contact.

What can you do?

Here’s a partial list of classroom resources and workshops for teachers:

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  • Blanket Exercise, Deconstructing Myths and Infusing Aboriginal Content are workshops you can do with your students. The materials are all free and downloadable from the BCTF website. These workshops will all be presented at the Super Conference in October.
  • Gladys We Never Knew: The Life of a child in a BC Indian Residential School offers in depth and engaging lessons on the life of a child who attended Kamloops Indian Residential School, and died there at age 12 of tuberculosis.
  • The Secret Path: The Role of an Ally (based on the story The Secret Path a Downie-Wenjack Project) is a workshop being developed for the coming year.
  • Are you aware of the abundance of resource materials you can access through The Project of Heart ebook? This online book provides more than 50 links to videos and research materials.
  • For fun, read stories from authentic Aboriginal voices with your students.
  • Have you noticed the increasing number of novels by prominent Aboriginal authors who give voice to the Aboriginal experience of Canada? Here are a few outstanding titles: Birdie by Tracey Lindberg; Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese; The Outside Circle by Patti Labourcane-Benson; Three Feathers by Richard Van Camp; Seven Generations: A Plains Cree Saga by David Alexander Robertson; Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson; and Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson. Some excellent non-fiction works are Unsettling the Settler Within by Paulette Regan and Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel.
  • Ryan McMahon’s documentary film Colonization Road, and his CBC podcast, 12-step guide to Decolonizing Canada are progressive classroom resources.
  • Find out about Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story; in French and English and have your school order t-shirts (available at cost) for Orange Shirt Day on September 30th.
  • Make connections with local Aboriginal speakers, Elders, and communities through the Aboriginal program in your district or the Aboriginal Education Contact in your local.  
  • Learn about and celebrate Indigenous leaders.
  • Have your class or school participate in a social justice action through the First Nations Caring Society initiatives.
  • Introduce the idea to your class that for some Indigenous families, Canada Day offers little to celebrate. Ask your class to come up with ideas about how to create a Canada that future generations of Indigenous people will want to celebrate.
  • Why some Indigenous people are calling out Canada 150

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