For the classroom

By Ron Robert, nation Indian Art-I-Crafts of Ontario

Over the years I have worked with many teachers, teachers’ organizations and students in our efforts to meet our organization’s goal: to assist the teaching of Native Studies. In most jurisdictions, insufficient resources have forced teachers to do their own research and make their own materials.

Consequently, I was delighted to learn that the National Film Board of Canada is helping to close the information gap with lesson plans written by experienced Aboriginal teachers on how to best use NFB films in Native Studies classes.

The National Film Board, one of our country’s most prestigious, well-respected institutions, has put together a number of titles which will, I believe, go a long way in helping teachers. The Aboriginal Perspectives section of Documentary Lens ( is a rich online resource of documentaries and lesson plans

The films, a proven teaching media, explain and SHOW important aspects of Aboriginal heritage and culture, bringing these topics to life for the classroom. The use of film in teaching about Canada’s First Peoples is most appropriate since many of the topics would be very difficult, if not impossible, to explain.

The use of visual aids is certainly not new, but it is in keeping with traditional Aboriginal teaching methods. Many of our art forms were developed for passing on knowledge and were used in conjunction with our storytellers.

Aboriginal Elder/Outreach Program
Aboriginal Elder/Outreach Program
Courtesy of Saskatchewan Learning

The Aboriginal Perspectives material is organized by theme: The Arts, Cinema and Representation, Colonialism and Racism, Indigenous Knowledge, History and Origins, Sovereignty and Resistance, and Youth. These topics are very relevant to social studies curricula across the country.

This resource will greatly assist teachers to address many controversial and often misunderstood issues facing the Aboriginal community. The films and suggested activities will give students an understanding of the Aboriginal tradition of celebrating differences and help to eliminate the fear of the unknown in relation to the peoples of Mother Earth. Equally important, the materials should help erase many stereotypes about Aboriginal people and create an awareness of problems encountered by other peoples that make up a multicultural Canada.

Students at First Nations SchoolNet Program
Students at First Nations SchoolNet Program
Courtesy of Keewatin Career Development Corporation

Having had the privilege of reviewing the topics, I was very impressed with the overall package, and I am somewhat envious of classroom teachers who will have the chance to present the material to their classes. This valuable resource is sure to generate an interesting dialogue. To continue the dialogue, teachers and students can send their comments to

I applaud the efforts of the National Film Board in helping to fill the knowledge gap about First Nations issues.


Ron Robert, a Métis of Mohawk and French descent, heads Indian Art-I-Crafts of Ontario, a non-profit Aboriginal organization that organizes and coordinates the Canadian Aboriginal Festival as well as other events and programs such as Aboriginal Teaching Circles. Ron is a former broadcaster and was assistant to former Prime Minister Trudeau.


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