Grade levels: 6-10

Lesson Objective: The Learner Will Be Able To:
  1. Describe some basic ideas regarding First Nations in Canada.
  2. Describe one theory of how First Nations came to North America.
  3. Describe some First Nations theories of how they came to inhabit the land they live in.


  • Computers with internet access
  • Copies of attached worksheets
  • Reference Materials, such as:

McClellan, Catharine
1975: My Old People Say. An Ethnographic Survey of Southern Yukon Territory. 2 parts. [National Museum of Man Publications in Ethnology, Nos. 6(1) and 6(2).] National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.

1987 A History of the Yukon Indians. Part of the Land, Part of the Water. With Lucie Birckel, Robert Bringhurst, James A. Fall, Carol McCarthy and Janice R. Sheppard. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver

Robinson, Harry

Robinson, Harry, Edited by Wendy Wickwire:
1989: Write It on Your Heart: The Epic World of an Okanagan Storyteller Talonbooks/ Northwestern University Press. 1989.

Sturtevant, William, General Editor
1981 Handbook of North American Indians. Volume 6. Subarctic. June Helm, Volume Editor. Smithsonian Institution, Washington.

*There are many great resources available. I suggest talking to your local librarian, or college or university anthropology and First Nations studies offices, or do a web-search. You may specifically ask for materials regarding creation stories of different First Nations, such as Raven and the First Men, from Haida Gwaii

Lesson Process:
1. Begin with describing some of the basic facts of First Nations in Canada - that they are the First Peoples of Canada, and lived for many thousands of years on this land before the coming of the Europeans. Emphasize the diversity of the nations, that each had a distinct language, culture, set of beliefs and practices, world view, and set of relationships with people and the world around them. Use internet and text-based resources to help develop an introductory understanding of the First Peoples of North America.

2. Students use the attached worksheet to do on-line and text-based research to learn about some of the First Nations in Canada. Suggestions: have a list of some specific First Nations that the students can find out about. Ask them to find out about: population, language, where the people live, what they can learn about traditional lifestyle, relationship to the land and to other people, etc. Afterwards, to finish the lesson, students share what they have learned. Model respectful discussion and appreciation of diversity.

3. Options for sharing what they have learned:
  • Poster, using pictures and with information in their own words.
  • Oral presentation of information with pictures or examples of traditional objects brought in.
  • Mural illustration in which students represent what they have learned visually and then explain their mural to the class.
  • Memory Tray: Students compile 15-20 objects or drawings to put on a tray or in a brown bag. These objects must be symbolic of an area they want to speak about. For example, they may bring in a small figurine of a moose or deer to represent large game and hunting as a main food source. Then, the students do an oral presentation - but not a memorized one. They use the symbolic objects to remind them of what they want to talk about or explain.
  • Create a scene using a sheet of heavy cardboard as a base, and then represent as many activities and details of traditional life as they have learned about. For example, they may create a traditional house or shelter, have a storyteller with some people listening, have a stretched hide with someone scraping it, etc. Then, the student must explain the scene to the rest of the class. This is an especially fun and meaningful assignment if students are representing their own culture, and have input from home on their project.

First Nations Introduction Worksheet

Use books, the internet or interviews with local First Nations to complete as much as you can of the following worksheet:

1. The name of the First Nation I am researching is:

2. The language traditionally spoken is:

3. Is the language still spoken today?

4. The traditional territory of this First Nation is: (a map is helpful)

5. A few elements of the traditional lifestyle of this First Nation:

A. Food: Hunter/gatherers, agriculturalists, pastoralists...
List the main foods eaten traditionally:

B. Housing: What were shelters made of? What did they look like? How many people would live in a shelter like that?

C. Clothing:

D. Tools and weapons:

E. Lifestyle: were the people nomadic or settled? What was the yearly routine like? What happened in summer, winter, spring and fall?

F. Relationship with the land:

G. Relationship with other First Nations:

H. Family life - did families move/live together or separately?

I. Gatherings, celebrations:

J Other interesting information :
Find out, if you can, how this First Nation explains how or when they came to inhabit their land. There are many theories and many stories of how First Nations came to inhabit North America. These stories are all fascinating and broaden our understanding of how we all view the past.