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Lessons (2002)

Curriculum Framework (2002)

Framework Click Here

This original NAN Healing the Generations Residential School Curriculum was developed in 2002 (lessons below). It was decided at the time that because this was a new curriculum topic that the lessons would be very general for Grades 5-12 depending on where the NAN communities wanted to start teaching this issue.


Section 1: In The Beginning
  • Life Before: Within the NAN territory First Nations people hunted, trapped, and grew their own food. They participated in their traditional spiritual/cultural practices and spoke their own Native language and so on. All of the skills were passed on  as a form of education from one generation to the next generation.
  •  Historical Overview (Grades 5-8) & (Grades 9-12)When Europeans first arrived in northern North America they saw it as empty unclaimed land, but in reality it was a complex environment containing many cultures and communities. there was a new attitude of Europeans superiority over all other peoples and policies in what we now call Canada. These policies, combined with Missionary efforst to civilize and convert Aboriginal people, tore wide holes in Aboriginal cultures, autonomy and identity. One policy was making western education compulsary for all Aboriginal children.
  • In the Beginning: The residential school system had devastating effects upon many First Nations children. NAN communities are still healing from the abuse many of their members suffered at the residential school.

Section 2: Residential Schools Attended by NAN Members
  • Ontario Residential Schools: Students will learn about the 13 residential schools and 4 Mennonite schools in Ontario that have affected NAN Members.
  • Residential School Photographs: Photographs of the 13 Residential Schools and 4 Mennonite schools in Ontario that NAN Members attended.
  • Did you know? Questions & Answers: There are many questions that NAN youth have regarding the topic of residential schools. Questions need to be answered so that there is better understanding and awareness about residential schools.

Section 3: Ways of Education
  • A Typical Day at Residential School: Church-run schools mainly operated on a half-day school curriculum, meaning that only half of the day was spent learning academically and the other half consisted of chores and other work duties.
  • Pockets of Resistance & Punishments: There were many different rules and regulations that NAN students had to abide by when they attended residential school, but some students found ways to resist the strict rules and regulations that guided their lives at school.

Section 4: Impacts of Residential School
  • Abuses Suffered in Residential Schools: For NAN students and all Aboriginal students across Canada who attended residential schools, abuse did flourish. Records show that everything from speaking an Aboriginal language, to bedwetting, running away, smiling at children of the opposite sex or at one's sibling, provoked whippings, strappings, beatings and other forms of abuse and humiliation. In some cases children were 'punished' for no apparent reason at all.
  • Impacts of Individuals, Families, Communities & Intergenerational: Residential schools had a major impact on the individuals that attended these schools at a more personal level, however, these impacts, like a pebble dropped into a pond, had a ripple effect outwards from the victims touch those who surround them.
  • Culture & Language, Then & Now: To encourage students to reflect on how Aboriginal cultures have changed while analyzing the core elements that remain important.
  • What is Genocide? Residential schools are the most obvious form of genocide to Indigenous Peoples of North America. The following lesson will deal with many different definitions of genocide and how genocide still effects us today and how it effects our Aboriginal youth who are trying to find and reclaim their identity.

Section 5: Healing and the Future
  • The Traditional Talking Circle: Talking Circles are useful when the topic under consideration has no right or wrong answer or when people need to share feelings. During circle time, people are free to respond however they want as long as they follow specific guidelines.
  • Self-Care: The legacy left by the residential school system continues to impact Aboriginal communites today. This legacy affects not only those individuals who actually attended these schools, but their families from whom they were separated and their communities with whom they no longer seem to identify. Intergenerational impact refers to family members being negatively affected by a relative's experience at residential school. For example, former students have indicated that they find it difficult to express love or communicate with their children due to their experiences in order to reconcile with them.
  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation: Students will learn about NAN, the organization and how it has been a stepping stone for some residential school survivors with the NAN territory.
  • Church Apologies: The 4 Churches that were involved in the operation of residential schools for Aboriginal children are from various orders. The Churches wished to spread gospel to help young people to survive in a world where the old ways of life seemed to be vanishing. All Churches wished to evangelize, however, whatever the good intentions of the Churches involved, they now admit that the consequences were tragic for Aboriginal people and have since apologized for their wrong doings.
  • The Government of Canada: During the time residential schools operated, the Churches explicitly supported the Federal Government's assimilation goals in running the schools. The government paid for capital expenditures and staff salaries through operating grants. In 1969, the government assumes complete responsibility of all residential schools in Canada, therefore, they were no longer run by the Churches. In 1998, the government of Canada issued a "Statement of Reconciliation" to all residential school Survivors. It was their way to express to all Aboriginal peoples in Canada their profound regret for past actions of the Federal government, one being residential schools.
  • Aboriginal Healing Foundation: In July 1998, Aboriginal people who experienced life at residential school gathered in Squamish, B.C. for an important first step in the healing process - the creation of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF). The AHF was set up in 1998 with funding from the Government of Canada.

Section 6: Culminating Task
  • Community Conference: This history and legacy of residential schools still lives on in NAN communities today. How are our communities addressing residential school issues? Do our communities have residential school projects? Do our communities have residential school Survivor groups? What can you do as a youth to help your community address the impacts of residential schools?

Section 7:

Section 8: