Middle Years Health

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Middle Years Health

Middle Years Health Education from a First Nations Perspective: Video Series and Lesson Guide

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

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 community,” Elder Don Robertson mentions in the Relationships video. Relationships with others can cause a range of emotions. When working with emotions, it’s best to speak to someone you trust, such as an Elder, Knowledge Keeper, or a loved one. 

Main ideas in the Relationships video:

  • Relationships with self and others 
  • Respecting the land and all that it encompasses 
  • Bullying 
  • Seven Sacred Teachings 

Additional Resources

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 nurtured, one likely feels strong and balanced throughout the life stages. 

Main ideas in the video:

  • Holistic health
  • First Nations’ traditional life stages
  • Appearance and physical activity
  • Self-esteem and spirituality

Additional Resources

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:

  • Traditional and seasonal eating off the land
  • Respect for the land and water
  • Natural/nutritious foods
  • Canada’s Food Guide

Additional Resources

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 students to understand choice. 

Main ideas in the video:

  • Reasons for substance use/misuse
  • Effects of substance use on youth
  • Tobacco vs. manufactured cigarettes
  • Alternatives to substance misuse

Additional Resources

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 on this middle years’ health curriculum.

Main ideas in the Sexuality video:

  • Gender and identity
  • Adolescent development, puberty
  • Sexual relationships
  • Sexual consent and safety

Additional Resources

A Trauma Informed Approach for Adolescent Sexual Health” by Joann Schladale

Elders and Knowledge Keepers


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