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Books to Build On: Indigenous Literatures for Learning

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit’ada, Taanishi, Hello, Welcome!

You have arrived at an interactive web resource that is designed to assist educators with weaving Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing into their teaching and learning, starting with story. Responding to the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and to current provincial professional standards for education, this resource is intended to help teachers build foundational knowledge and competencies in Indigenous education. Below you will find a searchable database of Indigenous literary texts, as well as some secondary sources, that might be used within education. Our resource has two primary audiences: instructors in the Bachelor of Education program at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, and the K-12 teachers in all stages of their professional journeys, from B.Ed. students up to experienced teachers. However, beyond these audiences, we hope that this interactive resource will be useful to anyone interested in exploring Indigenous texts and expanding their engagements with Indigenous communities.

Our project was sparked by an Alberta Education Partnership Grant and by the primary aim of growing our work in Indigenous education. Werklund School of Education leadership identified Indigenous education as a priority area and supported this project, entitled Innovative Initiatives in First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education within Undergraduate Teacher Education. In keeping with the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, and the Werklund School of Education’s Indigenous Education Task Force Recommendations, we are working as a School to strengthen and enhance our teacher education programs by meaningfully weaving Indigenous content and pedagogy into all undergraduate courses. This website facilitates that growth by offering resources for instructors and teachers. (Please also visit our Indigenous Education Resources home page.)  We know that stories are a powerful way into the relational learning of Indigenous education, as they invite educators into relationships with diverse peoples and perspectives, as well as into increased understandings of their responsibilities. We offer this work in the spirit of building a better future for coming generations.

Initiated by Werklund School of Education leadership, this project was carried out by a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students.  More than 40 current teachers (student alumni) were invited to collaborate on the development of digital content (teaching and learning ideas) to accompany our diverse collection of Indigenous stories. Course coordinators engaged with us around the needs of the Undergraduate Programs in Education course. The website itself was built by Werklund’s Communications team.

This project is significant to Indigenous communities, to communities of educators across the province, and to the Werklund School of Education’s scholarly and professional communities. Rather than having community engagement be a secondary step, this project was built by a diverse team with connections to multiple communities. Over the two-year term of our project, we engaged with members from these communities to conceptualize and design this resource. For example, Undergraduate Programs instructors let us know that they needed support with Indigenizing their course outlines and classroom practices, and in particular wanted ideas of resources to use. Current teachers in K-12 let us know that meaningful connections to Indigenous literatures would inform their classroom practice. Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, educational leaders, and community members let us know how important it was for Indigenous stories to be integrated into classroom practice in respectful ways. We continue to engage with community members around this project. We invite feedback from you on how this resource helps you in your work and further areas for growth. Please contact us at indigenouslit@ucalgary.ca.

The content presented is a collection of more than 250 Indigenous education resources, including literary texts in multiple formats and a range of supplementary texts. While there are hundreds of texts here, this is just a start: there are innumerable Indigenous resources beyond this collection. We encourage you to visit the publishers and websites that these resources are gathered from to aid further searches. Our searchable website also houses more than 150 teaching and learning ideas (e.g. lesson plans) related to these texts. We hope that these ideas will act as seeds of inspiration to grow your own teaching practice. Resources can be filtered individually using the search menus below: school subjects, age recommendations, themes or topics in Indigenous education, resource format, keywords, or a combination of these. We have also included sample lessons for K-12 and/or Werklund’s Undergraduate Programs in Education courses, so you can also search for your course number below (such as EDUC 435) to find resources with lessons tagged for UPE. Again, this content is not exhaustive, but rather is meant to offer a starting place.

We hope that you enjoy this website as a starting place for deepening your engagement with Indigenous literatures for learning.