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Introduction

The study of history fulfils a fundamental human desire to understand the past. It also appeals to our love of stories. In “First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada”, students learn that Indigenous cultures have many stories and that each one is significant and requires thoughtful consideration.

This course provides students with an overview of the histories of Indigenous peoples in the land now called Canada from prior to 1500 up to the present. It conveys a sense of the dynamic and diverse nature of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories, focusing on topics such as interactions among Indigenous communities and between Indigenous communities and newcomers; the impact of social and economic trends and developments and of colonialist political policies; and the struggle for self-determination. By investigating such topics, students learn about the people, events, emotions, struggles, and challenges that have produced the present and that will shape the future. This course enables students to become critically thoughtful and informed citizens who are able to interpret and analyse historical, as well as current, issues, events, and developments, in both Canada and the world. It also helps students develop the knowledge and understanding that can help promote reconciliation in Canada.

In this course, students develop their ability to apply the concepts of historical thinking in order to deepen their understanding of the past and its relationship to the society in which they live. They also develop their ability to apply the historical inquiry process, gathering, interpreting, and analysing historical evidence and information from a variety of primary and secondary sources, including Indigenous knowledge sources, in order to investigate and reach conclusions about historical issues, developments, and events.

The study of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories in Grade 10 builds on the knowledge, attitudes, and skills, including thinking skills, developed in history in Grades 7 and 8 and supports further study in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies and/or Canadian and world studies in Grades 11 and 12.

This course has six strands. Strand A, Historical Inquiry and Skill Development, is followed by five content strands, which are organized chronologically. The six strands are as follows:

A. Historical Inquiry and Skill Development

B. Prior to 1500

C. 1500–1763: The Imposition of Colonialism – Contact, Conflict, and Treaties

D. 1763–1876: Settler and State Expansion and Indigenous Resistance

E. 1876–1969: Assimilation, Encroachment, and Life in the Industrial Age

F. 1969 to the Present: Resilience, Determination, and Reconciliation

Strand A focuses explicitly on the historical inquiry process, guiding students in their investigations of events, developments, issues, and ideas. The content strands (B–F) follow strand A. Although the historical inquiry strand is presented separately from the content strands, in practice students constantly apply the skills and approaches included in strand A, as well as the related concept(s) of historical thinking, as they work to achieve the expectations in the content strands.

Educators are encouraged to refer to the general discussion of the research and inquiry process that appears in the Curriculum Context section Research and Inquiry: A Shared Process for necessary information relating to all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies courses. What follows below is a brief discussion of the historical inquiry process, in the context of the present course. For further information about the historical inquiry process, teachers may wish to consult The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Canadian and World Studies, 2018, p. 105.

In this course, students use the historical inquiry process to investigate events, developments, issues, and ideas of relevance to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories; to gather, analyse, assess, and evaluate historical evidence; to make informed judgements and reach supportable conclusions; and to communicate these judgements/conclusions effectively. In the context of historical inquiry in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, the five components of the research and inquiry process (set out in the link above) must include the following considerations:

Formulating questions 

As students formulate questions in order to identify the focus of their inquiry, they consider the concepts of historical thinking that are relevant to the inquiry, and develop the criteria that they will use in evaluating evidence, making judgements, and/or reaching conclusions. Students are encouraged to use the concepts of historical thinking that are specified for each overall expectation in this course to guide the development of their questions.

Gathering and organizing evidence and information  

Students are encouraged to include authentic Indigenous sources as they gather evidence/information  from a variety of primary and secondary sources. When determining the credibility and reliability of a source, it is important that students consider its purpose or intent.

Interpreting and analysing evidence and information

As students analyse evidence/information, they apply the relevant concepts of historical thinking. It is critical that students learn to identify biases in the materials, including those associated with the historical context in which it was created. It is also important that students determine if all relevant points of view are included in the source materials and identify which, if any, are missing.

Evaluating evidence and information and drawing conclusions

As students synthesize evidence/information to make informed, critical judgements and draw supported conclusions, they may make connections between the past and the present; determine the significance and short- and long-term consequences of events, developments, and/or issues for different individuals or groups; and assess whether an event, action, or policy was ethically justifiable.

Communicating findings

As students communicate their judgements and conclusions, clearly and with all necessary supporting evidence, they use historical terminology and concepts correctly and use appropriate forms of documentation to cite their sources.

In this course, as in all history courses, it is crucial that students not simply learn various facts but that they develop the ability to think and to process content in ways best suited to the study of history. To that end, this course focuses on developing students’ ability to apply the following concepts of historical thinking, which are inherent in “doing” history:

  • historical significance
  • cause and consequence
  • continuity and change
  • historical perspective

Students use these concepts when they are engaged in the inquiry process, whether they are conducting an investigation that involves the process as a whole or are applying specific skills related to different components of that process as they work towards achieving a given expectation. In this course, at least one concept of historical thinking is identified as a focus for each overall expectation in strands B–F. Teachers can use the specified concepts to deepen students’ investigations (for example, encouraging students to apply the concept of historical perspective to look at an issue relating to Indigenous peoples in Canada from multiple points of view). It is important that teachers use their professional judgement to ensure that the degree of complexity is appropriate for both this grade level and the individual student’s learning style and that it does not lead to confusion.

Each of the concepts of historical thinking is described below, with examples of how they can be applied within the context of the present course.

Historical Significance

This concept requires students to determine the importance of something (e.g., an issue, event, development, person, place, interaction) in the past. Historical importance is determined generally by the impact of something on a group of people and whether its effects are long lasting. Students develop their understanding that something that is historically significant for one group may not be significant for another. Significance may also be determined by the relevance of something from the past and how it connects to a current issue or event. In this course, students might apply the concept of historical significance when investigating precontact practices that provide evidence of Indigenous people’s relationship to the land and determining the ongoing importance of such practices; when assessing the impact of the “Sixties Scoop”; or when determining the importance for Inuit of the creation of Nunavut.

Cause and Consequence

This concept requires students to determine the factors that affected or led to something (e.g., an event, situation, action, interaction) and its impact/effects. Students develop an understanding of the complexity of causes and consequences, learning that something may be caused by more than one factor and may have many consequences, both intended and unintended. Students might apply the concept of cause and consequence when investigating the motives for and the impact of treaties between Indigenous peoples and colonial governments in Canada; when ranking the factors that contributed to the rise of the Métis Nation; or when analysing the short- and long-term consequences of the residential school system.

Continuity and Change

This concept requires students to determine what has stayed the same and what has changed over a period of time. Continuity and change can be explored with reference to ways of life, political policies, economic practices, relationship with the environment, social values and beliefs, and so on. Students make judgements about continuity and change by making comparisons between some point in the past and the present, or between two points in the past. For example, students might apply the concept of continuity and change when analysing ways in which interactions with settlers changed the material, cultural, and/or spiritual lives of First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit individuals and communities; how various court cases reinforced contemporary ideas about, and/or led to changes with respect to, Indigenous rights; or the extent to which advocacy and protest in the past fifty years have contributed to changes in the lives of First Nations, Métis, and or Inuit individuals and communities.

Historical Perspective

This concept requires students to analyse past actions, events, developments, and issues within the context of the time in which they occurred. This means understanding the social, cultural, political, economic, and intellectual context, and the personal values and beliefs, that shaped people’s lives and actions. Although students need to be aware of historical injustices and the negative consequences for Indigenous peoples of many historical events, policies, and attitudes, they also need to be conscious of not imposing today’s values and ethical standards on the past. Students also learn that, in any given historical period, people may have diverse perspectives on the same event, development, or issue. Students could usefully apply the concept of historical perspective when examining the attitudes, values, and ideas that underpinned the Indian Act or the pass system; when analysing the responses of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to the Northwest Resistance; or when assessing the views of Inuit and the federal government on the use of numbered identity disks.