CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: A Question of Identity

History, Political Science, Social Studies
1 to 2 lessons
To understand the link between Aboriginal culture and the land, to support an opinion
Using a variety of web-based resources, students will research and form an opinion on the extent to which the Canadian government should be open to aboriginal land claims. They will use presentation software to share their information.

Lesson Plan


For years, Aboriginal Peoples have been negotiating with, agitating against, and challenging the federal government in efforts to resolve a multitude of land claims. As settlements have been reached, news reports generally focus on the extent of land ceded to a nation, the amount of money attached to the resolution, and the kinds of programs that will be established to address local needs. There is little attention paid to the root cause for these claims: that aboriginal culture is closely tied to the land. They have a symbiotic relationship with it, involving mutual respect and mutual growth. They need their land to help them salvage their ancient cultures and rebuild their traditions.

The Task

Students will investigate the relationship of Aboriginal Peoples to the land and form a position about rights in relation to aboriginal land claims. As students research, both on the CBC Digital Archives website and on other sites, they should answer the following questions:


What aboriginal traditions exist concerning the use of and interaction with the land?

In what ways are aboriginal peoples trying to recover their traditional connections with the land?

What impediments exist concerning aboriginal efforts to reclaim their traditional connections with the land? Which impediments come from within aboriginal culture? Which come from outside it?

What impact has industry had on the land claimed by the Aboriginal Peoples?

Why do aboriginal land claims tend to be disputed over?

Using the information they have gathered, students will answer the following question: To what extent should the Canadian government be open to aboriginal land claims? They will use presentation software to describe and share their information.

The Process

Students begin their research by reviewing fully The Battle for Aboriginal Treaty Rights on the CBC Digital Archives website. They can then move to other online and print resources they feel are relevant, including the other CBC Digital Archives websites James Bay Project and the Cree and Mercury Rising: The Poisoning of Grassy Narrows.

Students work in pairs, researching different clips and sharing their information and deciding together upon a position. Together, they will use presentation software and determine an effective way to support their position and share their information. Students should cite all resources used.



Have students deliver their presentations to the class. You might set up presentations as a forum on aboriginal land claims, deciding yourself or as a class what the venue might be (for example, a government hearing, a non-governmental organization meeting, a meeting of aboriginal advocates, and so on). As presentations are delivered, discuss aboriginal land claims and connections to the land. Record the main points as a basis for future discussion.

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