Aboriginal Education

Indigenous cultures are rich, diverse and contain profound knowledge and history that has largely been omitted from not only education but from the greater consciousness of all Canadians. For many generations, Canadians were taught profound untruths about Aboriginal peoples, their history, and cultures. Today teachers across the country are unlearning old lessons and prejudices, discovering new truths and perspectives. Together, we are guiding the next generation to a deeper understanding of our shared history, the impact of colonialism and racism, as well as the resilience of Indigenous cultures and communities in Canada.

What's New

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215 Le Estcwicwéy: Honouring the Children buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School
An opportunity to build knowledge and confidence in sharing sensitive topics at age-appropriate levels relating to Le Estcwicwéy, to have a deeper understanding of the hidden history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools, and to develop strategies through reflection, dialogue, and action towards building allyship.
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Say Their Names #MMIWG
By taking collective responsibility for safety, and by educating Canadians about the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, we can effect real change.

Access Fact Sheet Access Colouring Pages

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Siha Tooskin Knows

The Siha Tooskin Knows book series uses vivid narratives and dazzling illustrations in contemporary settings to share stories about an 11-year-old Nakota boy.

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Kuper Island
A documentary about former students of the Kuper Island Indian Residential School. Peter Campbell - Gumboot Productions

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PENELAKUT - Returning to the Healing Circle
A filmmaker returns to an island off the coast of British Columbia twenty-five years after documenting abuse at Kuper Island Indian Residential School.

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Finding Peter Bryce – Story of a National Crime
A documentary film about Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce. "A journalist uncovers the story of his great-grandfather, Dr. Peter Bryce, a man who uncovered health abuses in residential schools in Canada in 1907, and published the long forgotten book: Story of a National Crime."

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Professional Standard 9 - Truth and Reconciliation, Moving Forward Together
Education is key to a true and lasting reconciliation, and educators are essential role models for change.

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Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada Giant Floor Map
This resource will assist you and your students in understanding the past, present, and future of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. There is a wealth of information and diversity of stories and voices on this map.
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View News & Stories from the BCTF on Aboriginal Education


Created through extensive collaboration with Indigenous teachers, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, these beautiful posters express Aboriginal concepts about life and learning that are deeply rooted in land and balanced relation to the territory. This preservation of knowledge offers a different perspective from the Eurocentric worldview that has become dominant over the last 150 years and continues to have devastating effects. These posters help to support a system that integrates our teachings and values so all students will benefit.

Download Printable Poster

Aboriginal Education Lens

The Aboriginal Lens offers a framework for decolonizing our hearts and minds, classrooms, and communities. The lens also serves as a guide to taking up the Calls To Action on education from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It is a powerful tool for, not only, personal reflection but also to infuse Aboriginal education in the classroom.

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The BCTF Aboriginal Education Program

Beginning in 1999 with a major Task Force report and recommendations on Aboriginal Education, the BCTF has been actively striving to improve working and learning conditions for Aboriginal teachers and students in BC schools. To that end we have negotiated employment equity provisions and Aboriginal enhancement agreements with some school districts.

With an extensive network of Aboriginal teachers and an Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee working with dedicated Federation staff and leaders, we are committed to doing our part in redressing the damage of the colonial period and honouring the Calls to Action of the TRC. In addition, the Aboriginal Education Association is a dynamic provincial specialist association that advocates around many issues and hosts a major conference on the annual PSA day every October. 

Resources for Teaching and Learning

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Aboriginal Ways of Knowing and Being – Book Connections

A collection of 12 books to be combined with the Aboriginal Ways of Knowing and Being.

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Siha Tooskin Knows
The Siha Tooskin Knows series uses vivid narratives and dazzling illustrations in contemporary settings to share stories about an 11-year-old Nakota boy.

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Finding Peter Bryce
The documentary Finding Peter Bryce reveals that not all settler peoples were blind to the injustice inherent in Canada’s residential school system.

Standard #9
Educators respect and value the history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada and the impact of the past on the present and the future. Educators contribute towards truth, reconciliation and healing. Educators foster a deeper understanding of ways of knowing and being, histories and cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

“Educators critically examine their own biases, attitudes, beliefs, values and practices to facilitate change. Educators value and respect the languages, heritages, cultures and ways of knowing and being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Educators understand the power of focusing on connectedness and relationships to oneself, family, community and the natural world. Educators integrate First Nations, Inuit and Métis worldviews and perspectives into learning environments.”


The BCTF invites all members on a journey of professional knowledge and personal self-discovery through Aboriginal history, culture, and pedagogy. Teachers can accompany one another on this journey as we relearn our shared history and act upon our contemporary responsibilities to students, families, and colleagues — Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike.

Note: These workshops are only available in-person.

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Project of Heart

This is an amazing inquiry-based, hands-on, collaborative, intergenerational, artistic journey for seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. It examines the history and legacy of residential schools, honours the students who survived, and commemorates the thousands who died. As well, it prepares students to engage in social justice activities that contribute to the developing truth and reconciliation movement.

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BC Blanket Exercise: Exploring Historical Relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples

This experiential workshop helps participants understand how colonization of the land we now call British Columbia impacted those who have lived here since time immemorial. Participants explore the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, how this relationship has been damaged over the years, and how we can work toward reconciliation.

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UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In 2020, the BC government made history by being the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass Bill 41, legislation enshrining the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This workshop explores the important principles contained in the Declaration and the educational implications of the new law.

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The Sixties Scoop

Long after the doors of the last residential schools closed, governments in Canada continued to remove Aboriginal children from their homes and families in disproportionate numbers. From the late 1950s onwards, thousands more Aboriginal children were fostered or adopted out, creating further generations of “stolen children.”

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Deconstructing Myths

Here’s a chance to dig into historical documentation and oral testimony that debunks the archaic misinformation and fabricated narratives that for far too long have been taught in Canadian schools. Teachers are invited to join in the effort to seek truth through deconstructing myths in curriculum.

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Infusing Aboriginal Content & Perspectives

While teachers express interest in incorporating more Aboriginal content in their classrooms, they are sometimes unsure of where to start and how to find authentic materials. This workshop is designed to create awareness around integrating Aboriginal perspectives and quality Aboriginal resources in the classroom through hands on activities.

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Their Voices Will Guide Us

This workshop builds knowledge around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), while reviewing historic events leading up to the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls final report. Educational resources such as Their Voices Will Guide Us are introduced, as well as The REDress Project initiative.

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Disrupting Anti-Indigenous Racism

Anti-indigenous racism is the issue of our time. The history of colonization in Canada was based on stealing the Land and developing social-political attitudes that justified theft and abuse.  COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to look squarely at the racism responsible for marginalizing First Nations, Métis and Inuit, residential schools, impoverished reserves, the Sixties-Millennial Scoops, boil-water advisories, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, environmental degradation, and more. This workshop will explore this history and energize the movement to end the ongoing genocide.

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Education for Truth and Reconciliation: Using the Aboriginal Lens

This workshop will explore the seven “R” concepts of the Aboriginal Lens, help educators challenge the current Eurocentric practices that have silenced other ways of knowing and being, discover ways to apply the lens in a variety of circumstances, and highlight the importance of evolving our practices and demonstrating commitment to educating for reconciliation.

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Employment Equity for Aboriginal Teachers Action Plan

The Employment Equity for Aboriginal Teachers Action Plan workshop is a follow-up to the Introduction to Employment Equity for Aboriginal Teachers workshop. Participants will learn about facilitating discussion and problem-solving on the issues, and building an understanding of employment equity for Aboriginal teachers. This workshop provides locals with the tools to create an action plan.

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Gladys We Never Knew Cross Curricular Lesson Modules for Secondary Schools

Gladys We Never Knew Cross Curricular Lesson Modules for Secondary Schools

Gladys Chapman, a student at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, died of tuberculosis at the age of 12. The spirit of Gladys is at the heart of this workshop that provides a cross-curricular module of lessons for teachers who want more ideas to help meet the ministry mandate of infusing Aboriginal content and perspectives at the secondary level. Like the intermediate module, participants will have the opportunity to engage with the activities and speak with the module developers.

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Gladys: The Life of a Child in a BC Indian Residential School

Designed for the intermediate grades, this teacher and student-friendly, ten-lesson module was written with the New BC Curriculum in mind. While learning about the true-life story of Gladys, a local Aboriginal girl from the Nlaka’pamux Nation in Spuzzum, BC, students are taken on a local, land and place-based journey of inquiry and ethical judgement. Students are encouraged to connect personally to Gladys as they work together to examine and evaluate a wide range of primary and secondary resources.

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Gladys: The Life of a Child in a BC Indian Residential School
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Indigenous Perspectives

This workshop briefly examines key events in settler-Indigenous relations in Canada, raises awareness of the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous people, explores Indigenous perspectives on child rearing and education, and examines our assumptions and how they impact our educational practices and what should change.

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Introduction to Employment Equity for Aboriginal Teachers

The letter of understanding between the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers' Association was signed over 10 years ago yet Aboriginal teachers remain vastly under-represented in our public schools. We must redress this under-representation through well-established proactive employment practices. This new workshop will revisit the challenges we must confront to address equity for Aboriginal teachers.

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Secret Path: Building Indigenous Allyship Honouring the Memory of Chanie Wenjak

This workshop explores the story Secret Path, examines the role of an ally through Gord Downie’s contribution to Truth and Reconciliation, and investigates and applies the Principles of Allyship and the BCTF Actions of Indigenous Allyship.

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215 Le Estcwicwéy: Honouring the Children buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School

This workshop brings together lessons and strategies for teachers to help students come to terms with the shocking evidence of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of Kamloops Residential School.

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Important Dates

Education for reconciliation is not an easy task, but it is one we are mandated to undertake by the standards of our profession and a duty to active citizenship.


Have a Heart Day:

Have a Heart Day is a child and youth led reconciliation initiative that encourages action to address the deep inequities in funding for services to children living on reserves compared to children in other parts of Canada.


Jordan’s Principle:

Jordan’s Principle arises from a landmark ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that governmental delay or denial of services to First Nations children was discriminatory. It’s named after Jordan River Armstrong, a Cree boy who died in hospital at age five without spending a single day in his family home because the governments of Canada and Manitoba spent years arguing over who would pay for home care.


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day to reflect on the truth of the Survivors’ experiences, and to acknowledge that this was a genocide, involving the forced removal of children from families, placing more than 150,000 children in those institutions to try to “take the Indian out of the child.” It is a time to be steadfast in our values that every child matters.