Indigenous atlases purchased for Alta. schools
The province has purchased 1,600 copies of the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada for every junior high and high school in Alberta.
“These books are very powerful tools for teachers to incorporate First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspective and experiences in the classroom,” said Alberta Education Minister David Eggen.
Each set contains four books, an interactive website and educational app.
“It’s a really unique project in this country because it’s completely from Indigenous voice,” said Charlene Bearhead, education advisor with Canadian Geographic.
Three of the books cover First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and perspectives.
“The Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada marks our place in history,” said Audrey Poitras, Métis Nation of Alberta president.
“It shows where we began as a nation of people. It outlines where our ancestors lived and thrived during the fur trade and it is where our Métis people are still today,” she added.
The fourth book focuses on residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“And you will learn about the dark legacy of residential schools and the importance of acknowledging Canada’s past and past mistakes. This is an important step forward to the path of reconciliation for Alberta,” said John Geiger, Royal Canadian Geographical Society CEO.
Marlene Poitras, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, wishes this information was available when she was in school.
“I didn’t learn much within that system about our history, you know our treaties, the residential schools.”
There is also a giant floor map available. It highlights numbered treaty territories.
“I’ve seen Indigenous kids on the map saying, ‘This is my community, this is where I’m from,’” said Bearhead. “I think it instills a real sense of pride.”
Students at Ben Calf Robe School had a chance to interact with the map.
“I think it’s cool that we get to have our reserves on a map and our history on a map,” said Grade 7 student Nadya Bigstone, who was able to show her classmates where her parents are from in Calling Lake.
“You don’t usually see these maps anywhere,” she said. “I feel like we’re part of like history now.”
There are also French versions of the atlases available.
“I am pleased that the teachers now will have a collection that will help them, and help us to pass on our stories, our histories, and our cultures,” said Audrey Poitras.