Indigenous

Giant Indigenous Peoples Atlas floor map gives students a new perspective on Canada

A giant floor map based on the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada has been travelling the country, giving educators and students a chance to take a different look at Canada.

Map helps kids understand 'how long this country has not been Canada, how long it's been Indigenous land'

Jeremy Haines's Grade 5 and 6 class at Sister MacNamara with the giant floor map based on the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

A giant floor map based on the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada has been travelling the country, giving educators and students a chance to take a different look at Canada.

"First and foremost, being an Indigenous person I feel it's very important to provide the true history of this land," said Jeremy Haines.

Haines teaches Grades 5 and 6 at Sister MacNamara school in downtown Winnipeg. Sister MacNamara has a high newcomer population, with students from around the globe.

Haines has been teaching his students about Indigenous history throughout the year, and sent a request to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society — which created the atlas and loans the floor maps to educators for two weeks at a time — to have the map delivered.

Haines has been using the map to teach his students about themes like Indigenous governance and treaties.

"I felt it was very important for the students to look at the original territories of this land and not the boundaries that most maps show of Canada and the provinces," said Haines.

The map measures 11 by 8 metres and has to be packed and shipped inside of a hockey-type duffel bag.

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada was created in partnership with Indigenous educators and consultants. The map doesn't have any provincial boundaries, but showcases things like the numbered treaty territories. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

Students were eager to share what they learned from the map.

Lori-Ann Scott said that she has also talked to her parents about what she is learning inside of the classroom.

"We were learning about the treaties and how we are on Treaty 1 [territory]," said Scott.

David Lobster said it was interesting to see and learn from the map and that there were "lot of things that you can learn about residential schools."

Change through education

Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, joined the students to give an impromptu history lesson. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation was one of the official partners and consultants for the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada.

"What's important is we're seeing kids understand what this country is and how long this country has not been Canada, how long it's been Indigenous land," said Moran.

He sat down in a circle with the students and did a back and forth question and answer session talking about the different territories and residential schools.

Giant floor map gives kids new perspective on Indigenous Peoples 2:17

Afterward, Moran talked about how optimistic he was to see how much the children were learning.

"We can see the change that's happening in the country through our kids and through what they know now, and they're knowing this from a young age," he said.

"They've got more to learn, but they're going to be bringing this through the rest of their education."

Moran said the education system and students like the ones at Sister MacNamara are going to be the ones to create change in Canada.

About the Author

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is the co-founder of Red Rising Magazine and has been an associate producer with the CBC's Indigenous unit for three years. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1