Authentic Indigenous Content for Early Years Classrooms

As you prepare for another school year, curriculums across Canada are changing to include thoughtful, high-quality Indigenous content. This is a critical shift in Canadian culture, in which you—as an educator—have the power to spark important discussions about where we’ve come from, and where our future may lead.

Written by Indigenous authors, these books give teachers the language and tools to introduce students from kindergarten to grade 6 to Indigenous perspectives.

Books for Bringing Indigenous Ideas into the Classroom

Stories help young children understand the world around them. These books use a storytelling approach to teach elementary school students about traditional and contemporary ways of life in Indigenous communities.

Mothers of Xsan Series

The Gitxsan Nation are Indigenous peoples whose homeland surrounds the Xsan, or “River of Mist,” which is also known as the Skeena River. In the Mothers of Xsan series, author Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) and illustrator Natasha Donovan guide young readers through the life cycles that nourish the land and people. 

The first book, The Sockeye Mother, follows a sockeye salmon fry from its nursing waters, to the Pacific ocean, and back. The second book, The Grizzly Mother, has readers joining a mother grizzly and her cubs as they journey through the Gitxsan territories. Both are available on the HighWater Press website.

Look out for the third book, The Eagle Mother, coming in 2020.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

When Awâsis’s kôhkum (grandmother) asks Awâsis to deliver a batch of her world-famous bannock to a relative, a mishap takes her on a detour through her community. As young readers follow Awâsis on her journey, they’ll encounter the Cree terms that describe her world.

Written by Dallas Hunt and illustrated by Amanda Strong, this charming book uses traditional Indigenous methods of storytelling to help kids practise common Cree words. It also includes a recipe for kôhkum’s world-famous bannock!

Available for purchase on the HighWater Press website.

Nimoshom and His Bus

Nimoshom loves driving the bus for the school children in his rural community. This accessible children’s story brings kids aboard Nimoshom’s bus to learn basic Cree words.

Written by Penny M. Thomas with beautiful watercolour illustrations by Karen Hibbard, kids from all backgrounds will fall in love with Nimoshom. You can purchase Nimoshom and His Bus on the HighWater Press website.

Early-years learners are filled with curiosity about their world and the people in it. With colourful artwork and kid-friendly language, these books can help foster healthy dialogue about Indigenous peoples in your elementary classroom.

Resources for Teachers

In many ways, the methods of teaching are just as important as the content being taught. These resources can help engaged teachers create inclusive learning environments for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony

In 1884, the Canadian Government passed a law to ban the potlatch, the foundational ceremony of the Haida people. However, the ceremony—which was a time to share stories, knowledge, and resources—was too important for Haida Elders to let it die. The potlatch lived on through generations of oral tradition.

Author and educator Sara Florence Davidson grew up learning Haida traditions from her father, Robert Davidson. While Potlatch as Pedagogy isn’t a licence to borrow Haida traditions, it is a robust framework for holistic learning. The book offers an approach to contemporary education that focuses on the relationship between teacher and student.

Order your copy on the Portage & Main Press website.

Ensouling Our Schools: A Universally Designed Framework for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Reconciliation

We want our schools to be places where students feel safe, capable, and supported in their pursuit of learning. The reality, for many students, looks very different. Ensouling Our Schools author Dr. Jennifer Katz believes educators can change our approach to education to foster better outcomes for students. To get there, teachers need the tools to understand and talk about mental health, identity, and diversity.

With an approach that focuses on accommodating differences, Ensouling Our Schools is a roadmap to reconciliation and well-being in our schools. 

You can purchase a copy on the Portage & Main Press website.

Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued their final report, they included 94 Calls to Action. These action items are necessary for healing the wounds left by Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples. In Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools, author Pamela Rose Toulouse asserts that educators have a unique opportunity to take part in this healing process.

With lesson plans for all grade levels, Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools is an accessible book for incorporating the TRC’s Calls to Action into school curriculums. Each lesson contains background information, strategies, and step-by-step plans for restorative learning. 

You can purchase a softcover copy or download the ebook on the Portage and Main Press website.


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