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Middle Years
Health Education

Middle Years Health Education

Middle Years Health Education from a First Nations Perspective: Video Series and Lesson Guide offers a journey into a First Nations holistic perspective on health and well-being.

The resource includes a five-part video series that connects Traditional Health Knowledge of First Nations with Manitoba Education’s Physical Education and Health curriculum for Grades 5–8.

Each five- to ten-minute video features excerpts of interviews with Elders and Knowledge Keepers from each of the five First Nations in Manitoba: Cree, Dene, Dakota, Ojibwe, and Ojibwe-Cree.

Providing a “living library,” this resource also includes the full interviews in their entirety, which share the unique history and culture of Manitoba’s First Nations as related to health studies.

MFNERC and Manitoba Education partnered to create this resource.

video series and lesson guide

Lesson Guide

For each video’s specific topic area, the lesson guide includes discussion questions, activity suggestions, and further resources. 

Teachers will find this resource useful for exploring health topics
from a First Nations perspective in the middle years’ grades (Grades 5–8 in Manitoba). Educators in various settings can use this resource with discretion for all middle years’ age levels (adolescents aged 10–14).

Teachers can easily incorporate the videos into the classroom through use of the lesson guide, which includes activities based on interviews with First Nations Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers. In keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, incorporating First Nations Traditional Knowledge into all classrooms is of utmost importance. In Manitoba, there are 63 First Nations representing five language groups. First Nations students attend schools across the province, and it is important to have First Nations culture and ways of life reflected in the classroom.

Educators have an opportunity to incorporate video content into health education in a way that ignites conversation, inspires curiosity, and extends engagement within the classroom.

Following the videos with face-to-face conversation encourages students to reflect, dig deeper, and further explore their thoughts. Whole-class discussions may not allow every student to share their opinions, so the use of journaling, talking circles/small- group discussions, and other forms of communication will help each student get involved and express themselves. Encouraging students to explore their thoughts and opinions in a safe, inclusive space enhances overall learning. Educators may want to involve Elders and Knowledge Keepers in the learning process, as they excel at sharing knowledge and teachings in an effective way that encourages intergenerational learning in the classroom.

The Elders and Knowledge Keepers interviewed focused on five health areas within the Manitoba Physical Education and Health Education curriculum. The five health areas will provide students with a broad exploration of First Nations’ perspectives on health and well-being. Furthermore, there are specific learning outcomes identified for each GLO for Grades 5–8 to help students learn about an active, holistic lifestyle. Most of the video content focuses on three specific GLOs: Safety, Personal and Social Management, and Healthy Lifestyle Practices.

Community forms the centre of strength for First Nations Peoples. Manitoba First Nations are rich in language, culture and traditions based upon five diverse language groups. This map shows the Locations of First Nations in Manitoba (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada).

Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and other community members provide
a vital link to First Nations Traditional Knowledge. Educators in First Nations can incorporate visits and sharing from those in the community to support and enhance health studies.

Educators working in provincial school divisions and other settings can also develop relationships with First Nations when possible to gain a greater understanding of the culture and history of the area. Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and community members are often happy to visit classrooms and share their knowledge with students.

Studies relating to health and well- being cover challenging and sensitive topics, such as the Human Sexuality and Substance Use/Misuse strands. Though vital, such learning, and any discussion involved, may be particularly triggering and possibly harmful for First Nations students. Educators will benefit from speaking with a First Nations community member or colleague to seek clarity on the best way to share content with students. See Manitoba Education’s Treatment of Potentially Sensitive Content (pages 3–5) for alternative delivery suggestions.

Educators should have prior knowledge of First Nations Peoples, their histories, and the colonial history of Canada before introducing the videos in the classroom. If necessary, educators can consult It’s Our Time: First Nations Education Tool Kit, Teacher’s Guide (National and Manitoba), and other recommended materials in Additional Resources, for further learning. Also, as a health teacher, it is important to have the contact/website information for surrounding supports and resources for students, such as the nursing station/health centre and help agencies. See recommended Resources at the end of each health area/video section.

Search Resources

Elders and Knowledge Keepers

When you are approaching an Elder or Knowledge Keeper, explain who you are and what you are asking of them. If you are asking them for guidance, knowledge, teachings and/or their time, it is respectful to provide an honorarium and/or tobacco to acknowledge their time and energy. The honorarium for an Elder or Knowledge Keeper varies, so it is important to speak to your school administrator and to ask the Elder or Knowledge Keeper what their honorarium rate is based on their experience and teachings. Aside from an honorarium, most Elders and Knowledge Keepers will expect tobacco as an offering in exchange for your request. It is important to ask how they would like the tobacco to be presented to them, as some Elders prefer a pouch of tobacco or ceremonial tobacco in a red fabric tie.

For students approaching Elders and Knowledge Keepers, Elders Eleonore Veuillot and Dave Courchene Jr. share in their interviews on how to connect in a respectful way. In the full interview with Eleonore Veuillot, she shares the importance of building trusting and respectful relationships with others and nature. In the full interview with Dave Courchene Jr., he discusses the importance of young people seeking mentorship with Elders to explore their identity in a supported environment.

Middle Years Health Education

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Healthy Relationships

There are many kinds of relationships. With ourselves and with others—Elders, family, peers, and with the land we live on. When we walk the Seven Sacred Teachings (Anishinaabe), we’re walking the good life.  “Old people are important people because they bring with them the history of the Nation, history of the family, history of the …

Middle Years Health Education

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Human Sexuality

Acceptance and respect of all identities and bodies in our community are important because all life is a sacred gift from the Creator. In the middle years, the topic of human sexuality grows increasingly important for students. In Manitoba, Sexuality Education Resource Centre, or SERC, provides valuable information and services, and SERC developers consulted with MFNERC …

Middle Years Health Education

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My Body

Our bodies grow and change throughout the life stages. As stressed in First Nations teachings, approaching wellness in a holistic way encourages us to thrive. One’s wellness depends on more than exercise and eating a balanced diet. Each person has five aspects of self—physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. When all five aspects of self are …

Middle Years Health Education

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My Nutrition

Since time immemorial, First Nations peoples have been living and thriving alongside Mother Earth: the water, air, land, and spirit. Traditional foods provide naturally nutrition-rich subsistence for humans and animals to flourish. Traditional foods include items such as wild rice, saskatoon berries, moose, caribou and trout fish.  Main ideas in the video: Additional Resources

Middle Years Health Education

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Substance Use / Misuse

In our journey throughout life, we’re all likely to cross paths with substances such as alcohol and drugs. It’s pivotal to discuss Substance Use/Misuse with middle years’ students as they traverse through the wandering life stage (see My Body video) and require guidance on decision making and problem-solving. Approaching Substance Use/Misuse from a harm reduction approach allows space for …

Middle Years Health Education

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Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc. (MFNERC) and Manitoba Education gratefully acknowledge the following individuals who helped develop the videos, interviews, and lesson guide.

Elders and Knowledge Keepers Interviewed:

Martha Peet
Irma Harper
Florence Paytner
Eleonore Veuillot 
Rob Apetagon
Wandbi Wakita
Marcel Mason
Fred Denechezhe
Dave Courchene Jr.
Dan Thomas 

In particular, we recognize the late Elder Doris Pratt and Elder Don Robertson who shared their wisdom in interviews for this resource. 

Elders and Knowledge Keepers who provided information during resource development:

Alice Thomas
Eileen Roulette
Shirley Roulette
Elaine McIvor-McKay (Dennis McKay)
Dorothy Crate
Suzette Young
Flora Young
Mary Stevenson
Lizette Denechezhe
Linda Eastman
Gloria Eastman
Jean Eagle
Mary Wood
Marie Wood
Joe L. Wood
Lucy Knott
Edward Chaske
Mervin Demas

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