Indigenous People and Their Environment

From David Spencer's Education Paragon: Helping students develop citizenship, faith, literacy, responsibility and vision
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Aboriginal Education and Native Studies Resources from David Spencer's Education Paragon

  • Connect with Aboriginal elders and educators and join the First Nations, Métis & Inuit Education Association of Ontario formerly the Native Education Association of Ontario Circle (NEAO Circle) and previously The Aboriginal and Environmental Education Circle (AEE Circle). The NEAO Circle was a professional learning and sharing network of educators, teachers, college instructors, university professors, Aboriginal elders and leaders. Through e-mail, they shared First Nation, Metis and Inuit and native studies resources, curriculum and teaching strategies that will help Canadian teachers integrate school curriculum with current cultural, environmental and historical contributions of our Canadian First Nations, Inuit and Metis brothers and sisters.
  • Join the First Nations, Métis & Inuit Education Association of Ontario on Facebook.
  • See photos and read about past gatherings of The Aboriginal and Environmental Education Circle (AEE Circle).
  • Join the First Nation, Metis & Inuit Education Association of Ontario (FNMIEAO) the Ontario Ministry of Education recognized provincial subject association for teachers and educators of First Nation, Metis & Inuit Studies and Native Languages. From 2011 to May 2014, this subject association was previously called the Native Education Association of Ontario (NEAO). Special thanks to Marg Boyle for her three years of leadership, encouragement and support.
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Indigenous People and Their Environment

Indigenous People in Canada and around the world have a very special respectful connection with the earth, wildlife and local environment. The following are some resources and connections for exploring the Indigenous perspective.


  • In Canada Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) transfers responsibility and control over lands, resources and the environment to Aboriginal people and Northerners through land claim and self-government agreements and devolution to territorial governments. At the same time, AANDC fulfills an important role in developing natural resources and protecting the environment in most First Nations communities and the territories.
  • The 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk raised awareness of the need to take care of the water and to help Mother Earth survive. It called attention to the sacred gift of water, the source of all life. The Mother Earth Water Walk asked “What will you do for the water?” The 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk united all the waters of Mother Earth. Water was gathered from the four directions- from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson Bay. It was gathered in copper pails and is being carried by Anishinawbe Grandmothers and women to its final destination on the shores of Lake Superior. As givers-of-life, these women are responsible for protecting and carrying that sacred water. (Source:)
  • Steve and Roddy Powley Story
    On October 22, 1993, father and son, Steve and Roddy Powley killed a bull moose just outside Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. They tagged their catch with a Métis card and a note that read “harvesting my meat for winter”. One week later, the Powleys were charged by Conservation Officers for hunting moose without a license and unlawful possession of moose contrary to Ontario’s Game and Fish Act.
    The Métis Nation of Ontario decided to use the charges against the Powleys as a test case, providing full political and financial support throughout. At both the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, the Métis National Council, on behalf of the entire Métis Nation, intervened in support of the case and provided financial support.. The Supreme Court of Canada said the Métis were included as one of the “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” in s. 35 to recognize them, to value distinctive Métis cultures, and to enhance their survival. Specifically, the Court set out the test for establishing Métis harvesting rights protected by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Court applied this test to the Sault Ste Marie Métis community and to the Powleys and found that the Powleys were exercising the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community’s constitutionally protected right to hunt.(Source: Métis Nation of Ontario

Education Perspectives

D3. Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts
depictions of nature, of people doing things together, or of people at work; … Aboriginal textiles, ceramics, and petroglyphs

Native Languages (2001) Although no overall or specific expectations explicitly address environmental education, in each of the strands the learning context (e.g., a topic or thematic unit related to the environment) and/or learning materials (e.g., books, websites, media) could be used to foster in students the development of environmental understanding. Learning about aspects of Native culture and communities may provide for students opportunities to make connections with local places. An example in the following expectation in the Writing strand provides an opportunity for environmental education. Writing • write for a variety of purposes using different forms (e.g., … write a story

describe Aboriginal perspectives on sustainability and describe ways in which they can be used in habitat and wildlife management (e.g., the partnership between the Anishinabek Nation and the Ministry of Natural Resources for managing natural resources in Ontario)

Visual Arts
Carl Ray’s paintings use symbols in the Woodland style of Aboriginal art to tell a story;

Understanding Life Systems: Biodiversity
flooding of traditional Aboriginal hunting and gathering areas as a result of dam construction

Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing
the meaning of animals such as the orca in Aboriginal clan symbols or the Inukshuk in Aboriginal art