Contemporary Indigenous Arts in the Classroom
This project aims to provide elementary and high school–level teachers with curriculum-linked lesson plans designed by contemporary Indigenous artists. The goal is to build students’ cultural competence and respect for diverse Indigenous peoples, while encouraging critical thinking about colonialism in Canada.
Ottawa-based artists Jaime Koebel (Métis, Cree) and Barry Ace (Anishinaabe) have each developed an art lesson for elementary and high school level students respectively.
The lesson plans below give step-by-step instructions and materials lists, and propose question topics for further reflection and class discussion. The lessons have been linked to the Ontario Arts Curriculum and may be adapted for use in other provinces or educational contexts outside of the classroom.
A printed publication accompanies this online toolkit. For a free download of the full Contemporary Indigenous Arts in the Classroom publication, which includes colour images of each artist’s work and contextualizing essays by Wahsontiio Cross and David Garneau:
You can also purchase the book in print form in the OAG Shop.
Jaime Koebel’s Superhero Plant Trading Cards lesson is designed to teach elementary school–aged students about herbal medicines and the traditional uses of plants. Relating to Jaime’s practice as a storyteller and maker of floral and plant drawings, the lesson teaches children to identify with the natural environment. It encourages them to develop an awareness of their own personal strengths and a respect for the strengths of others, planting a seed of mutual respect and anti-racist thinking and being in the world.
Watch Jaime's Video:
Download Jaime Koebel's Superhero Plant Trading Cards lesson plans by grade level:
Barry Ace’s high school lesson, (re)Mapping Place, delves into the politics of map-making. Students learn about the role of maps in the colonial erasure of Indigenous peoples from Canada’s history. By deconstructing the map of where they live, and re-creating it using symbols from their own cultural heritage and lived experiences, students learn the importance of continually questioning and challenging the established authority of historical knowledge.
Watch Barry's Video:
Download Barry Ace's (Re)Mapping Place lesson plans by grade level:
Download a list of suggested supplementary readings, field trips, videos and online links related to Indigenous identity and colonialism:
We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario. The Contemporary Indigenous Arts in the Classroom project was also made possible by a grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation.