Some Considerations for Program Planning in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies
Instruction in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies should help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need in order to achieve the curriculum expectations and be able to think critically throughout their lives about issues related to art, literature, and other forms of cultural expression; history, politics, law, and governance; cultural diversity and cultural identity; the environment; and Indigenous realities around the world. In First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, instruction is effective if it motivates students and instils positive habits of mind, such as curiosity and open-mindedness; a willingness to think, question, challenge, and be challenged; and an awareness of the value of listening or reading closely and communicating clearly. To be effective, instruction must be based on the belief that all students can be successful and that learning in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies is important and valuable for all students.
When planning a program in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, teachers must take into account a number of important considerations, including those discussed below. More information on instructional approaches can be found in the "Instructional Approaches" subsection of "Considerations for Program Planning".
Student Attitudes and Interests
Students’ views of and attitudes towards First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies can have a significant effect on their achievement of expectations. To approach their investigations with an open and inquiring mind, students need to appreciate the relevance of their studies and to understand that the subject matter is more than a body of predetermined knowledge. Students must be given opportunities to use the research and inquiry process not only to uncover knowledge but also to construct understandings and develop their own positions on issues. Learning should be seen as a process in which students monitor and reflect on their development of knowledge, understanding, and skills.
The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum provides opportunities for teachers and students to select topics for investigation within the broad parameters of the expectations. Teachers can tailor topics to suit their students’ interests and readiness to address Indigenous perspectives and contributions to society at local, regional, national, and international levels. It is important that teachers plan their program or units with the end in mind, selecting culturally appropriate content, including issues and examples, and ensuring that students develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills to support this end.
Indigenous Expertise and Protocols
Teachers can provide opportunities for Elders, Métis Senators, knowledge keepers, knowledge holders, residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors, and Indigenous experts in fields such as history, the environment, culture, governance, and law to offer their experience, skills, knowledge, and wisdom to benefit all students. Teachers ensure that the expertise of the community advisers they consult and/or invite into the classroom is well suited to the topic at hand, that cultural and engagement protocols are followed, and that community members are approached in a respectful and appropriate manner. Schools can contact their board’s Indigenous education lead or Indigenous Education Council, or a local Indigenous organization, for assistance in identifying experts in particular areas and determining the protocols for inviting them into the school or classroom.
It is essential that learning activities and materials used to support Indigenous education are authentic and accurate and do not perpetuate culturally and historically inaccurate ideas and understandings. It is important for educators and schools to select resources that portray the uniqueness of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories, cultures, perspectives, and contributions authentically and respectfully. It is also important to select resources that reflect local Indigenous communities as well as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals and communities from across Ontario and Canada. Resources that best support Indigenous education feature Indigenous voices and narratives and are developed by, or in collaboration with, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. Schools can contact their board’s Indigenous education lead for assistance in evaluating and selecting resources.
Connections to Current Events and Issues
Teachers need to integrate current events and issues into their programs to help students make connections between what they are learning in class and local, regional, provincial, national, and global developments occurring beyond the classroom. Examining current events related to Indigenous histories, cultures, and realities helps students analyse controversial issues, understand diverse perspectives, develop informed opinions, and build a deeper understanding of Indigenous contributions to the world in which they live. In addition, investigating current events will stimulate students’ interest in and curiosity about the world around them. The inclusion of current events in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies will ensure that their learning is engaging and relevant.
The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum offers many opportunities for accomplishing the three goals for environmental education in Ontario outlined in Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow: A Policy Framework for Environmental Education in Ontario Schools. The essential understandings may also provide a lens through which students can make connections to real-world inquiries about the environment. In all subjects of the program, students can be encouraged to explore a range of environmental issues. In Expressions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Cultures (NAC1O), for example, students explore various ways in which Indigenous artists analyse the relationship between humanity and the natural environment and reclaim a personal connection to the land through their art. In First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada (NAC2O), students may investigate how First Nations communities put the principles of environmental sustainability and stewardship into practice, and make connections between environmental protection and responsible use of the natural environment. In English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices (NBE3U, NBE3C, and NBE3E), students explore various perspectives on the role of humanity within the natural world, as expressed in oral, written, and media texts.
The central aspects of healthy relationships are discussed in a sub-section of the Considerations for Program Planning. Also conducive to healthy relationships are the character traits, values, and habits of mind that are associated with responsible citizenship and outlined in the citizenship education framework. Specifically, positive personal interactions are grounded in an understanding of rights, responsibilities, truth, fairness, and justice; in the ability to work collaboratively and cooperatively; and in empathy and respect for others. The integration of citizenship education into the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum provides students with multiple opportunities to develop these attributes, which will not only help them become responsible, active citizens but also support them in fostering healthy relationships within and beyond the classroom.
A climate of cooperation, collaboration, respect, inclusiveness, and open-mindedness is vital in the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies classroom, as students grow to appreciate the complexity of the issues, events, and developments they are investigating. Moreover, as they examine issues from multiple perspectives, students learn to respect different points of view. Students develop understanding and empathy as they analyse events and issues from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples in Canada or elsewhere around the world. The attitudes and attributes summarized in the citizenship education framework provide a foundation on which students can base their sense of their own identity and build and maintain healthy relationships. Students may also draw on these attributes to support and promote healthy, respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, such as through active participation in groups that promote reconciliation and reciprocity.
The valuing of equity and inclusiveness is an element of the vision for all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies courses, and encouraging students to understand and value the diversity of Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations is therefore an important focus. The course expectations provide numerous opportunities for students to break through stereotypes to learn how the diverse beliefs, values, and traditions of Indigenous peoples are reflected in the community. Students also investigate various injustices and inequities experienced by Indigenous individuals, communities, and nations, but not through the lens of victimization. Rather, they examine ways in which individuals act or have acted as agents of change, and how they can serve as role models for responsible, active citizenship.
The course expectations contained in this document provide teachers with the opportunity to address a number of key issues related to equity, antidiscrimination, and inclusion. Among these are ways to educate students about the residential school system, treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canadian society.
In the journey to reconciliation and healing, it is important that teachers of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies create an environment that will foster a sense of community. This will allow all students to think critically about issues of concern to Indigenous peoples, to build relationships based on trust and respect, and to deepen their understanding of Aboriginal rights, treaty relationships, cultures, languages, and perspectives.
More information can be found in the "Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education" subsection of the "Considerations for Program Planning".
The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum provides a number of opportunities for students to develop skills and knowledge related to financial literacy. For example, students may investigate specific economic issues that Indigenous communities face, as well as the financial strategies that local governing bodies have implemented to enhance community development. They may investigate financial aspects of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit agreements with governments in Canada, or of economic partnerships between Indigenous communities and business organizations. Students may examine not only how diverse Indigenous individuals, communities, and nations have responded to local, regional, national, or global economic trends but also how they have influenced these trends.
More information can be found in the "Financial Literacy" subsection of "Cross-curricular and Integrated Learning".
Literacy is an essential tool that encompasses a wide variety of related skills, including thinking, expression, and reflection. The importance and scope of literacy in Ontario schools is discussed in detail in the "Literacy" subsection of "Cross-curricular and Integrated Learning.
Many of the activities and tasks that students undertake in the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum support them in their ability to think, express, and reflect in discipline-specific ways. These include researching, participating in discussions, viewing media, communicating with words and with the body, connecting illustrations and text, exploring Indigenous world views and knowledge systems, developing a better understanding by learning from the experiences of diverse Indigenous individuals, respectfully listening to knowledge through storytelling, role playing to create meaning through stories, and – especially important for kinesthetic learners – communicating through physical activity. Students use language to record their observations, to describe their critical analyses in both informal and formal contexts, and to present their findings in presentations and reports in oral, written, graphic, and multimedia forms. Understanding in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies requires the understanding and use of specialized terminology. In all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies courses, students are required to use appropriate and correct terminology, and are encouraged to use language with care and precision in order to communicate effectively.
Critical Thinking and Critical Literacy
Critical thinking is the process of thinking about ideas or situations in order to understand them fully, identify their implications, make a judgement, and/or guide decision making. Critical thinking includes skills such as questioning, predicting, analysing, synthesizing, examining opinions, identifying values and issues, detecting bias, and distinguishing between alternatives.
Students use critical-thinking skills in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies when they assess, analyse, and/or evaluate the impact of something and when they form an opinion and support that opinion with a rationale. In order to think critically, students need to ask themselves effective questions in order to interpret information; detect bias in their sources; determine why a source might express a particular bias; examine the opinions, perspectives, and values of various groups and individuals; look for implied meaning; and use the information gathered to form a personal opinion or stance, or a personal plan of action with regard to making a difference.
In First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, students who are critically literate are able, for example, to actively analyse media messages and determine possible motives and underlying messages. They are able to determine what biases might be contained in texts, media, and resource material and why that might be, how the content of these materials might be determined and by whom, and whose perspectives might have been left out and why. Only then are students equipped to produce their own interpretation of an issue. Opportunities should be provided for students to engage in a critical discussion of “texts”, including books and textbooks, television programs, movies, documentaries, web pages, advertising, music, gestures, oral texts, newspaper and magazine articles, letters, cultural text forms, stories, and other forms of expression. Such discussions empower students to understand the impact on members of society that was intended by the text’s creators. Language and communication are never neutral: they are used to inform, entertain, persuade, and manipulate.
The literacy skill of metacognition supports students’ ability to think critically through reflection on their own thought processes. Acquiring and using metacognitive skills has emerged as a powerful approach for promoting a focus on thinking skills in literacy and across all disciplines, and for empowering students with the skills needed to monitor their own learning. As they reflect on their strengths and needs, students are encouraged to advocate for themselves to get the support they need in order to achieve their goals.
In First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, metacognitive skills are developed in a number of ways. For example, in English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices (NBE3U, NBE3C, NBE3E) students are required to identify and articulate the strategies they use to interpret text forms and to effectively communicate what they have learned. More broadly, in all courses in the program, students reflect on Indigenous ways of knowing and on the importance of identifying, understanding, drawing on, and acknowledging cognitive skills and strategies that are culturally diverse. Students learn that different cultures gather and communicate knowledge in different ways, and that they have a responsibility to be aware of how their own cultural influences shape the skills and strategies they apply to learning.
More information can be found in the "Critical Literacy and Critical Thinking" subsection of "Cross-curricular and Integrated Learning".
Some courses in the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies program also reinforce and enhance mathematical literacy. For example, creating and implementing surveys develops students’ skills in data management. Students may use calculations when interpreting the data they have gathered and graphing to report the results. In addition, clear, concise communication often involves the use of diagrams, charts, and tables. Links can also be made between mathematical reasoning and activities such as using computer drawing programs to produce illustrations, interpreting map coordinates, composing music, or modifying digital imagery.
More information can be found in the "Mathematical Literacy" subsection of "Cross-curricular and Integrated Learning".