New Guidebook Adds Métis Culture to Curriculum
- EFN Staff | November 13, 2013
Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) has developed a new teaching guide it hopes will help teachers incorporate more Métis culture into their lessons.
GDI Publishing Director Karon Shmon and Métis Author Wilfred Burton spear-headed the creation of the resource: the Bringing Métis Children's Literature to Life guidebook.
"The guidebook is a resource for teachers to incorporate Métis history, culture, and content into their classrooms using resources developed by GDI," explains David Morin, Curriculum Developer at GDI. "Our resources are trusted by the Métis community to provide a strong Métis voice and perspective to the content available in school libraries."
The guidebook, which targets any teacher or educator in Canada, currently covers 14 books specifically with additional resources, and Morin says the guidebook will continue to grow. As an example, the first book in the guide, Fiddle Dancer, can be incorporated into a variety of subjects. For Language Arts, there are before-reading, during-reading, and after-reading activities. For Arts Education and Physical Education, there is a lesson on jigging that incorporates the story. In Social Studies, there is a lesson to discuss similarities and differences of cultures.
"Métis history and culture is Canadian history and culture, so we feel that our resources can help promote and preserve Métis culture across Canada," says Morin, who hopes the guidebook reduces barriers that some teachers may have for incorporating Métis content into their class, whether it's a time issue, not feeling like they are an expert, or not having the resources available.
"We know that teachers want to be more inclusive, so we are just trying to make it easier for them to include Métis content."
The guidebook is currently in the hands of teachers and resource people across Saskatchewan, as well as some schools in Manitoba. The guidebook was also given to over 200 students currently in the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program.
"Some of the schools have increased the Métis-specific content of their library since the release of the guidebook, which shows an increased desire to include Métis perspectives and content in their programming," adds Morin.
Derrick Morin is one of the Saskatchewan teachers (and also David's brother) incorporating the guidebook into his grade 6 and 7 curriculum at White Fox School. So far he's used it in his Science class, teaching his students about traditional plants and healing.
"They thought it was amazing, because the resource was so neatly put together," he says, explaining that the students particularly liked the flower beadwork on the back of each "flash card" that contains information about the plant, its uses, and a Michif translation.
Morin says he's been sharing the resource with other teachers in the K-9 school, who are also excited about incorporating Métis aspects into their lessons and having access to the guide, which is in the school’s library.
And, Morin says even though he just began incorporating these lessons this fall, he's already noticed an impact on the students.
"Just from the small amount of talking...about First Nations and Métis culture, more are realizing they are Métis, and they are proud to speak up about their culture."
David Morin says that pride of identity is exactly why the project is so important.
"We believe it is important for Métis children to see themselves in the stories in their libraries or in their books at home. We also believe it is important for non-Métis children to be exposed to Métis content in order to promote acceptance of Métis culture and be able to connect what they have learned about the Métis with their own lives."