Indigenous Perspectives

Kookum’s red shoes

Author(s): Peter Eyvindson and Sheldon Dawson


Social Justice focus: Residential Schooling

Synopsis: As a child, Kookum was a victim of residential schooling. Prior to her attendance at a residential school, Kookum lived a happy life with her brother and family. One day, she was shopping with her parents and came across a beautiful pair of red shoes that she loved and adored. Although her parents explained to Kookum the red shoes were too expensive, she came home one day a few weeks later to find her red shoes sitting on the kitchen table. She tried them on, and they fit like a glove. Shortly after, Kookum was taken away from her home and brought to a residential school where she was forced to adapt to a different way of living such as attending church and speaking only English. When Kookum was finally able to go back home, she threw her heavy black boots out of the truck and said she wanted to wear her new red shoes. However, when she gets home, she finds the red shoes that she loves and adores no longer fit her. This story runs parallel with the famous Wizard of Oz with respect to red shoes and the fact that there is no place like home. Several times throughout the story, connections to the Wizard of Oz are made such as a tornado, Dorothy in Kansas, the yellow brick road, a tin cup, a lion, and a scarecrow. Kookum’s red shoes are symbolic to her loss of innocence as they no longer fit her once she comes back home, and she never received the opportunity to wear them. The end of the story reveals Kookum as an adult and it explains how it took a long time for her to feel comfortable back at the reserve. It ends off with Kookum explaining that she loves the school that is across the street from her home, and is happy to become involved with the students, ensuring that they always feel as though they belong.

Lesson Plan: Meg Krumins

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Indigenous History/Residential Schooling

Grade: 8

Lesson: What is the focus of this lesson in relation to the unit?

The purpose of this lesson is to educate students on the topic of residential schooling. As an introductory lesson, students will read a story about the experiences of a young child and residential schooling. They will reflect on the impact of the residential school system on one’s emotional well-being by reflecting on their own emotions.

Curriculum Areas: What are possible connections to other curricular areas?


Strand A. Creating Canada, 1850-1890 & Strand B. Canada, 1890-1914: A Changing Society

Overall Expectations

A1. Application: assess the impact of some key social, economic, and political factors including social, economic, and/or political inequalities, on various groups and communities, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, and on the creation and expansion of the Dominion of Canada, between 1850 and 1890.

A3. Understanding Historical Context: describe various significant people, events and developments in Canada between 1850 and 1890, including the Indian Act, treaties between Indigenous nations and the Crown, and the residential school system, and explain their impact

B1. Application: analyze key similarities and differences between Canada in 1890–1914 and in the present day, with reference to the experiences of, major challenges facing, and actions taken by various individuals, groups, and/or communities, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals and/or communities

Specific Expectations

A1.2 assess the impact that limitations with respect to legal status, rights, and privileges had on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals and/or communities in Canada between 1850-1890.

A3.3 identify some key factors that contributed to the establishment of the residential school system and explain the impact of this system on Indigenous individuals and communities

B1.2 analyze some ways in which challenges affected First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, families, and communities during this period, with specific reference to treaties, the Indian Act, the reserve system, and the residential school system

Curriculum Expectations:

Language Arts

Strand: Oral Communication

Overall Expectations

1 listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes

Specific Expectations

1.2 Active Listening Strategies – demonstrate an understanding of appropriate listening behaviour by adapting active listening strategies to suit a wide variety of situations, including work in groups

Strand: Writing

Overall Expectations

1 generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience

2 draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for purpose and audience

3 use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively

Specific Expectations

1.2 Developing Ideas – generate ideas about more challenging topics and identify those most appropriate to the purpose

2.5 Point of View – identify their point of view and other possible points of view, evaluate other points of view, and find ways to respond to other points of view, if appropriate

3.1 Spelling Familiar Words – spell familiar words correctly

Learning Goal(s): What are students expected to know, do and understand? We are learning to….

  • Reflect on the impact of the residential school system on students and their emotional well-being
  • Identify the emotions Kookum was feeling throughout the story and why
  • Express my opinion during large group discussion

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal? I can….

  • Determine the difference between my own school and a residential school
  • Write a reflection about a time where I felt one (or more) of the emotions Kookum might have been feeling

MODIFICATIONS / ACCOMMODATIONS: How will I meet the needs of my students? Have I addressed any IEPs?


  • Story will be read aloud to the students
  • Students will visually see the pictures within the book as it is being read as the pictures create a powerful visual representation of the story
  • Students will be able to look through the book on their own time, at their own pace
  • Provide students with an audio version of the book where they can pause and replay if required
  • Students can share and express their emotions in a way that is best for them (written, orally, visually, etc.)


  • Lessons and materials will be modified for students based on the individual needs of each student and their Individual Education Plan.


Minutes: 15 minutes

Task: To begin this lesson, I will read the story Kookum’s Red Shoes to the class. Once this is completed, students will be asked to discuss with their elbow partner how the school Kookum was forced to attend (a residential school) is different from their own to have them begin to understand what a residential school is.

Assessment: Assessment for Learning. As I read the story to the students, I will be observing their attentiveness. While they share their thinking with their elbow partners, I will be observing and listening to their dialogue regarding the question that was asked.


Minutes: 35 minutes

Task: As a class, students will be asked to think about some of the emotions that Kookum might have been feeling during the story. I will record their answers on the board in a chart or graphic organizer for the students to refer to and reflect on throughout the lesson. Some questions that I might ask to prompt their thinking on how Kookum felt:

  • How might Kookum have felt to leave her parents and brother?
  • What do Kookum’s red shoes represent?
  • What was a symbol of hope for Kookum in the story?
  • What is the relationship between Kookum’s Red Shoes and the Wizard of Oz?
  • What happened to Kookum’s father in the story?
  • How do you think Kookum felt when she tried to put on her red shoes to find that they no longer fit her?

After students have shared some of the emotions Kookum might have been feeling, I will ask the students to think about a time when they have felt one of the mentioned emotions. The students will then be required to write about that time and the emotion that they were feeling to truly reflect on the types of feelings that Kookum might have had as a victim of residential schooling.

Assessment: Assessment for Learning. As students discuss the emotions that Kookum might have been feeling, I will observe the kind of language and vocabulary they use with respect to her experiences and residential schooling.


Minutes: 10 minutes

Task: At the end of the lesson, I will ask students to share the differences between the school Kookum went to (a residential school) and their own that they discussed at the beginning of the lesson. Students will also have a cue card on their desk. They will be asked to share any questions that they still have about residential schooling or Kookum’s experiences that we can address the next class.

Assessment: Assessment as Learning. Students will reflect on what they already learned today as well as what they are curious about and would like to continue to learn about with respect to the topic of residential schooling. Once they have recorded these thoughts, I will be able to review their interests and gain insight on what to include in future lessons based on their interests and the curriculum.


  • Picture Book: Kookum’s Red Shoes
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • White board
  • White board markers
  • Cue cards

REFLECTION: Questions to determine the success of your lesson:

  • Were my students successful in meeting the learning goals and success criteria? How do I know?
  • Did my instructional decisions meet the needs of all students? If not, what are my next steps?
  • What worked well and why?
  • What will I do differently in the future when teaching this lesson? For the subsequent lesson?
  • What are the next steps for my professional learning?


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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