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Critical Indigenous Literacy
Critical literacy recognizes that a sense of credibility, rooted in colonial and Eurocentric attitudes, has often been given to certain perspectives. This has led to the undervaluing of voices of women, BIPOC communities, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ2S+, and other marginalized identities (Norquest College, 2021).
By engaging in materials with a critical lens, Critical information literacy encourages the reader to go beyond the words of a text, and consider the author/creator's motivation behind its creation, and the viewpoint being presented (McNicol, 2016). This means understanding that the author brings their own biases to the text, as does a reader who makes meaning of the work through the lens of their lived experiences (McNichol, 2016).
Critical Indigenous literacy asks us to think about authorship and identity in relation to the stories and teachings we trust as readers. It also asks readers to think critically about Indigenous representations (or lack thereof) within a text (X̱wi7x̱wa Library, 2022).
As shared in the Library’s Respectful Research guide, in a 2020 article, Sara Florence Davidson (Haida/settler), shares some questions she considered when evaluating Indigenous resources to help teachers in public schools with regard to the new BC curriculum.
- Who developed the resource?
- How are Indigenous Peoples represented in the source?
- Does the resource contain traditional Indigenous stories?
- Does the resource contain Indigenous art?
- Does the resource contain references to or depictions of ceremonial information?
- Does the resource honour the diversity of Indigenous Peoples?
- Does the resource portray Indigenous Peoples authentically and accurately?
For more information on Critical Indigenous Literacy
Search the Library Catalogue and limit by Location: "Curriculum Collection"
- Try keywords like "First Nations" OR Aboriginal OR Indigenous
- See First Nations terminology for more keywords and subject headings.
Explore the teaching tools and resources suggested by the BC Ministry of Education.
Use the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada maps to identify First Nations in your geographic area.
- For information about local Nations and communities, check if the Nation of Band has their own website.
- Examples: Tsleil-Waututh | Kwikwetlem | Musqueam | Tsawwasswn | Squamish
Use the Learning Ground database to access books, articles, conference papers and reports on Indigenous education from international publishers.
Books in the Curriculum Collection
- For English Language Arts K: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales.
- For Science 3: Dipnetting with Dad by Willie Sellars, illustrated by Kevin Easthope.
- For Social Studies 6: The Wisdom from Our First Nations by Kim Sigafus and Lyle Ernst.
- For English 10: Moonshot: the Indigenous comics collection, edited by Hope Nicholson.
- For Grade 2-4: Shi-shi-etko, by Nicola I. Campbell
To search the library catalogue for graphic novels by and about First Peoples, combine keywords that relate to First Peoples and keywords for graphic novels. For example, try searching:
- First Nations AND Comic books
- Indigenous AND Graphic novels
Here are a few graphic novels in our collection to get you started:
Elementary and middle school lesson plans
Indigenous Education lesson plans list -- Education Library at UBC
Links to lesson plans. Topics include Indigenous Languages, Science, and Residential Schools.
Secondary school lesson plans
Indigenous Education lesson plans list -- Education Library at UBC
Links to lesson plans. Topics include Indigenous Languages, Science, Math, and Residential Schools.
Full Circle: First Nations, Metis, Inuit Ways of Knowing -- Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation
There is a video and lessons are in a downloadable PDF on the webpage. Subjects include Civics, History, Social Sciences, English, Geography, Business, and Science.
K-12 lesson plans
English language lesson plans related to Aboriginal Education. Topics include Cultural Appropriation, Aboriginal Oral Traditions, Climate Justice, and Aboriginal perspectives on Gender.
Infusing Indigenous perspectives in K-12 teaching -- OISE Library at University of Toronto
Teaching strategies that can be downloaded. Subjects include Business, Economics, English, Geography, History, and Law.
Sample lesson plans -- LearnAlberta.ca
Majority of the sample lesson plans are for Grade 1-9 on subjects like English, Fine Arts, Social Studies, and Science. These can be found on the top tabs of the webpage. There is also a section on High School lessons and the subjects include Art, English, Science, and Social Studies.
Teaching resources-- Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Links to lesson plans and activities for ages 4-16. Topics include First Nations Reserves, Elders, Residential Schools, and Self-Government.
Learning First Peoples classroom resources -- BC First Nations Education Steering Committee
Resources to support teachers in incorporating unappropriated Indigenous perspectives in their courses. Subjects include English, Science, and Math.
Indigenous Education K-12 : Lesson plans & pedagogies -- Xwi7xwa Library at UBC
Links to lesson plans, activities, and more. Additionally, Xwi7xwa Library created specific subject area lesson plan guides for Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Arts.
Residential School lesson plans & resources
Indian Residential Schools and reconciliation resources -- BC First Nations Education Steering Committee
Lesson Plans and activity worksheets on Residential Schools for students in Grade 5 and 10-12.
We were so far away: The Inuit experience of Residential Schools -- Legacy of Hope Foundation
Outlines activities for students (12 years and above) on the Inuit and Residential Schools. The guide mentions watching a video (available on Vimeo) for an activity. There is also a slideshow related to this topic.
Free Truth and Reconciliation content for educators -- OISE Library at University of Toronto
Ffreely accessible materials on Truth and Reconciliation. The materials mostly made by Indigenous people and include films, books, lesson plans, and more.
Teaching resources -- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
List of readings, lesson plans, and activity guides on this Residential Schools and Reconciliation. Includes Teachers Resources and resources for Early Years all the way to Adults.
Streaming video & DVDs
- We Were Children // Nous étions des enfants (also available on DVD)
- Muffins for granny // Des muffins pour grand-maman (also available on DVD)
- We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice
- Kuper Island ~ Return to the Healing Circle [Vimeo]
- What is Reconciliation: Truth & Reconciliation Commission [Vimeo]
- Where Are the Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools // Que sont les enfants devenues? L’Expérience des pensionnats autochtones [Vimeo]
- Finding Heart: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation [YouTube]
- 8th Fire Wab Kinew 500 Years in 2 Minutes [YouTube]
- Canadian Residential School Propaganda Video 1955 [YouTube]
Browse films by the National Film Board:
Photos & images
- BC Multicultural Photograph Collection
- Bill Reid Centre Collection
- Points to the Past: Indigenous Peoples of America
Authentic First Peoples resources
Useful for finding recent, recommended titles. Includes an index with the evaluation criteria used to put the guide together.
American Indians in children's literature
A long-standing blog that is handy for evaluations, especially for current titles.
How to tell the difference
Set of criteria for evaluating children's books with Indigenous materials.
= Openly accessible resources. SFU login not required. These resources may be reused, but check the resource's permissions about altering or revising materials
Requires SFU login; may be used for non-commercial educational purposes, including in your practicum classrooms