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Indigenous Career Stories

Gwen Healey Akearok

Gwen Healey Akearok

Gwen Healey Akearok

Gwen Healey Akearok

How does this align with my curriculum?

Students explore a variety of STEM-related careers from the perspective of Indigenous professionals.

Summary

  • Students will learn about a variety of STEM-related career paths pursued by Indigenous professionals which may or may not be related to their Indigenous identity
  • Students will explore how a person’s Indigenous identity might inform or connect with their career
  • Students will reflect on how the career paths undertaken by these Indigenous professionals contribute to their understanding of the relevance of STEM careers

Setting the Stage 

Exploring STEM-related careers from the perspective of Indigenous professionals, such as those in health care, business or natural resources, raises awareness of the positive impact that they have on their communities. This contributes to the spirit of reconciliation by strengthening understanding of the contemporary contributions of Indigenous professionals in Canada, and also by building empathy toward and respect for Indigenous people in these spaces.

Examining the career paths of Indigenous professionals allows students to gain additional perspective about the diversity of STEM-related careers, as well as different ways that people make connections between their cultures and their careers. In addition, it allows Indigenous youth to see themselves reflected in these careers.

In this lesson, students will explore careers from the perspective of Indigenous professionals. Students will watch videos and read profiles to learn more about the person’s career path, their motivation and how some individuals might connect their career to their Indigenous identity. Students will reflect on how learning about these career paths impacts their understanding of STEM-related careers. They will then share what they’ve learned through presentations.

Materials & Preparation

  • Computers or tablets with internet access (1 per pair or small group)
  • Indigenous Career Profiles Reproducible (1 per pair or small group) [Google Doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Presentation Checklist Reproducible (1 per pair or small group) [Google Doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Note Catcher Reproducible (1 per pair or small group) [Google Doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Sticky notes (optional)

What To Do 

Activate

  • Teachers could begin the lesson by having students brainstorm which careers might be important to Indigenous people in Canada. Students can write their ideas on sticky notes and put them on the board. In a virtual setting, teachers could have students record ideas on virtual sticky notes using a Google Jamboard. Alternatively, teachers could list student ideas on a board or chart paper.
    • Optional: If students are struggling to come up with ideas or want more information, teachers could display a website with job postings for Indigenous people such as Indigenous Link (Canadian Indigenous Peoples Job Seekers Portal).
    • Note: students may not have a good understanding about Indigenous people and may benefit from prior discussion to clarify their thoughts. Ensure that you address any misconceptions that may arise from the students and to encourage respectful discussion.
  • Once students have come up with a variety of careers, the teacher could point out that some of these jobs are very common and important in every community, (e.g., doctors, electricians, or teachers), and others might be specific to Indigenous cultures or communities.
    • Optional: Teachers could ask students which careers on the list they created are unique to Indigenous cultures or communities and which are not. Teachers could create a T-chart with these two categories and work together as a class to sort the sticky notes.
  • Teachers could ask students which careers use STEM knowledge or skills. Teachers could create four categories: science, technology, engineering and math, and work together as a class to sort the careers into one of the 4 categories (some careers may fit multiple categories). Hint: most careers should be able to connect to STEM in some way, but if students are unable to make a connection with a particular career, it could go into a separate ‘other’ category. The goal is to stimulate discussion among the students that many jobs outside of what you might consider STEM careers (doctors, scientist, engineer, etc.) use STEM knowledge or skills (skilled trades, computer-related, etc.).

Acquire

  • Teachers could inform students that they are going to investigate a few different career paths taken by Indigenous people.
  • Teachers could explain the importance of this activity by connecting it to the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, specifically:

     

    62. i) Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students; and

    63. iii) Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission logo
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission logo
  • Today, students will work on understanding the contemporary contributions made by Indigenous professionals, and building capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect.
  • Each pair or small group of students will develop a short presentation about one Indigenous person’s career from the list on the Indigenous Career Profiles reproducible. Teachers can either assign a person to each group or allow students to choose one that interests them.
  • Students will explore the materials associated with their profiled person through watching videos and reading articles. They will take notes on the Note Catcher reproducible and use it to help plan their presentation.
  • Before students start working, teachers can share the Presentation Checklist reproducible with students and discuss expectations for the presentations.
  • Optional: Teachers could suggest that students assign roles in their group such as presenter, recorder, or timekeeper to help them work together effectively.

Apply

  • Students will present what they learned about their person to the class. Presentations may include a poster, digital presentation or other agreed upon approach.
  • After the presentations, teachers could lead a class discussion that addresses the following questions:
    • Were you surprised by the diversity of careers connected to STEM? What surprised you?
    • How might the Indigenous professionals that we learned about challenge stereotypes people in our community might have about Indigenous people?
    • How can learning about different kinds of careers that Indigenous professionals pursue help us build “capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Why is this an important goal for Canadian society?

 

 

Details

Assessment

  • Teachers will be able to check students’ prior knowledge and correct misconceptions as students brainstorm careers that Indigenous people might have.
  • Teachers can assess and give constructive feedback on students’ presentations using the Presentation Checklist reproducible.
  • Teachers can assess student understanding through the closing discussion questions.

Assessment

  • Teachers will be able to check students’ prior knowledge and correct misconceptions as students brainstorm careers that Indigenous people might have.
  • Teachers can assess and give constructive feedback on students’ presentations using the Presentation Checklist reproducible.
  • Teachers can assess student understanding through the closing discussion questions.

Downloads

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