Idle No More Texbook

Photo from APTN

Here are a couple of assignments I have given my Grade 9 Social Studies class and my Grade 11/12 Law class. I would love for your students to take part!

Canada in the Contemporary World Assignment

Law Assignment

Here is my attempt at creating an interactive and evolving Idle No More textbook for educators and students across the country. A major goal is to engage all in higher-order thinking and writing about this historic movement. As per my previous post, I find this a critical time to examine our collective history and see what we need to do to move on. With any issue, there are many perspectives and many which are ill informed. In order to think critically about any issue and to seek out what is significant, we need to have a basic understanding of the forces at work. Over the last few days, I have put together a few resources to help us understand, at a basic level, what Idle No More is, what Bill C-45 is, what Canadians are saying, and what First Nations leaders are saying.

I hope that we can build this resource over the next few weeks. Please feel free to comment below and suggest links that would be useful. I also welcome the thoughts on Idle No More from students and teachers around that world that are constructive and are meant to construct knowledge.

What is Idle No More?
9 Questions about Idle No More
A People’s Movement
What is Idle No More?

Personal Perspectives
I sent leaders and community observers within the Idle No More movement some questions to answer. More responses are on the way. I would like to thank the respondents for their time and candour.

Waub Rice from CBC Ottawa (Community Observer) Sheila North Wilson from Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (Leader) Niigaan Sinclair, Professor at the University of Manitoba on CBC Radio (Leader) (The whole interview can be found here: What are Canadians Saying?
Cross Country Checkup
MacLeans Magazine

Critics and Critiques of Idle No More
Christy Blatchford, National Post
Ezra Levant
Toronto Star on the Audit
Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail
Andrew Coyne (former SJR student) on Idle No More

Critics of Liberalism
Globe and Mail

International Media Coverage
Democracy Now
Al Jazeera
The Guardian
Similar events around the world

Legislation (National & International)
Indian Act
Canadian Human Rights Commission
United Nations
Bill C-45
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

Pre Friday Meeting Resources
Meeting on the Verge of Collapse
Lack of Transparency Harming Chief’s Cause
Fickle Spence CBC on the Meeting – GREAT RESOURCE!! 
GG to meet with FN – Sort of
Harper and Chiefs to meet
5 Things to Know about Today’s Meeting

Post Meeting News
Chief Spence to Meet with GG
AFN 8 Points of Consenus
Harper and Atleo Agree
Jonathan Kay Comment

Editorials on the Saturday Following PM Meeting
Evan Solomon’s Essay
Globe and Mail Editorial
Andrew Coyne
Winnipeg Sun

Teaching Idle No More

The Idle No More movement speaks volumes as to our understanding of our history and our relationship with each other. John Ralston Saul suggested that we are a small “M” métis nation; one shaped by our indigenous roots –  but this history was rewritten in the 19th and 20th centuries. If this is the case, perhaps the Idle No More campaign is a wake-up call to this relationship and to the reality that Canada needs to fess up to some ugly truths. Our story is complex and involves a lot of players; the solutions may be equally perplexing and painful.

As an educator and someone who likes to read history, Idle No More is of great interest and personal investment. Many of my friends are of First Nation descent, and I am grateful for being included in their stories. I am sure they are equally overjoyed to be part of my European-mutt-Roma story.

Over the winter holidays, I have struggled as to how to investigate such a movement in my classroom and within my own consciousness. Where do I start?

The first step I have taken is to solicit the input of leaders in Canada within the movement. I have sent the following questionnaire to Sheila North Wilson of CBC Manitoba, Waub Rice of CBC Ottawa, Michael Champagne of CKUW’s Inner City Voices, and Niigaan Sinclair from the University of Manitoba. My hope is that the podcasts created by these participants will shape a would-be textbook and provide us with an inside look at the motivation and inspiration of the movement.

Now for the pedagogy…

There are two main issues when dealing with such a movement in the classroom: the social and the cognitive. They are interrelated, but both need to be addressed in order to provide an educative experience that is both positive and transformative. By social I refer to the attitudes, expriences, and baggage we bring into a learning community – both as teachers and students. Can we get past the point of “the other” in order to reconcile our stories? I think that as teachers, this comes down to developing the imagination within each student in order to create an empathetic learning environment. Simply stated, how do we move beyond fundamentally racist attitudes, whether established at home or through other experiences, and create opportunities for critical thought and reconciliation? There is a clear gap in this development, given the material which showed up at the #idlenomore rally in Winnipeg on December 31st (photo tweeted be Sheila North Wilson). The example below is extreme, but there are far more subtle examples of historical resentment present in all facets of our society. As teachers, can we constructively deal with attitudes from students and teachers which ignore the fact that we are a métis nation? Can we help students get beyond the idea that “Indians get all this free stuff?”

By the cognitive, I refer to the critical thinking and rigour involved in furthering our understanding of our collective stories. Idle No More represents a huge idea and sub concepts which could dilute any message. As January 7th approaches (the first day back following the holidays), I need to create an environment whereby we can attack the BIG questions and answer them with rigour. By rigour I refer to William Doll’s explanation: “purposely looking for different alternatives, relations, connections” (Doll, 1993). I find often that inquiry and project-based learning can  attack huge ideas whereby they are watered down and simply become an exercise in free-for-all-ism. What I want to do, particularly with my Grade 12 Global Issues class, is to pose 3 or 4 major questions that get to the essence of this movement. I suspect the rigour will take care of itself once these questions are established and the learning is directed by the community.

In all, I want this investigation to inspire empathy, critical thinking, and an understanding of “the other” and of each other’s stories. I want to teach my students how to look at certain movements with logic, compassion, and not to immediately polarize debates. Part of this success will be based on my openness to have my assumptions challenged. Perhaps, as Idle No More has, this educative experience will bring more Canadians together and will help perpetuate a constructive dialogue between colonized, colonizer, and everyone else.

To be continued….