Imagery as Cultural History: Creating our own connection to land

Developer’s Name:

Lyn Trudeau, Ph.D. Candidate, Brock University, BA, M.Ed.


Grades 9 – 12


Text-based description of poster.

Lesson Description:

The poster emphasizes different knowledge systems and ways of transferring information and histories. Indigenous People of Canada have always had our own distinctive ways of documenting and sharing stories, passing along ceremonies and traditional teachings on to future generations. We expressed and told of events that were of significance to our ways of life through various natural elements. These natural elements consist of all creation that exists without the intervention of humankind: Land, stone, water, sky, animal and plant life, flyers, crawlers and swimmers – each distinct entity is valued, believed equal, and considered of great importance. Thus, engaging student learners with this lesson, called Imagery as Cultural History: Creating our own connection to land, provokes thoughtful reflection of personal identities and connection to land and artistic expression. In this lesson, Indigenous heritage, the importance of land/place and art to Indigenous peoples across Canada is also explored; thereby, making connections to Nelson Mandela and his dedication, sense of belonging and deep connection to his home and land in South Africa.

The poster “Imagery as Cultural History: Creating our own connection to land” (Lyn Trudeau, 2013) provides a space to open crucial dialogue into Indigenous history, art, environmental and overall human rights issues. The student will take on both reflective and responsive actions to engage their ideas regarding the importance of; the connection to land; and what the concept of being dispossessed from their own respective place of living would mean to them on a personal level.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Understand the Indigenous Peoples of Canada connection to Land
  • Appreciate another culture’s history and transference of knowledge
  • Emphasize the relationship to environmental matters and the human connection
  • Examine what our connection is to land and place
  • Relate the dispossession of land in Canada to Nelson Mandela’s people in South Africa

Relevant Ontario Curriculum:


  • Stress the value and importance in the arts through inviting critical analysis (both individually and as a group) and cultural interaction.
  • Engage students with their own creative processes.
  • Explore how an Indigenous artist represents their own history as opposed to text-laden pedagogies.


  • Interact with another culture’s history. Opening and supporting conversations that examine Indigenous peoples before and after colonialism.

Social Studies (Equity and Diversity)

  • Cultural identity by accentuating the importance of maintaining and possessing your inherent identity. Further, exploring how this fits within greater societies and other cultures; thereby, advocating compassion, inclusion and recognition of all nations.

Environmental Studies

  • Presenting the natural elements as the focal point acknowledges how these natural forces and beings had always, and still provides and sustains the human populace with various means to survive. Students recognize the disconnect from land in modern societies as we do not even have to wonder where food comes from (grocery stores). However, this can initiate critical conversations about climate change and the dire needs of other countries/nations. The land does not need us, we need the land.

Relevant Ontario Curriculum Documents

Human Rights Instruments:

Ontario First Nation, Metis and Inuit Education Policy Framework

  • Policy Statement

“provide a curriculum that facilitates learning about contemporary and traditional First Nation, Métis, and Inuit cultures, histories, and perspectives among all students, and that also contributes to the education of school board staff, teachers, and elected trustees;  (p. 7)

  • Strategy 1.1. Schools will strive to

c.  incorporate meaningful First Nation, Métis, and Inuit cultural perspectives and activities when planning instruction;

e.  implement strategies for developing critical and creative thinking. (p. 13)


United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

  • Article 2

Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.

This poster will support efforts to build capacity to foster identity building – opening up conversations where all students are inherently from (through the connection to land) welcoming inclusivity into the classroom.

  • Article 8
    1. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:

(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;

  • Article 11
    1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
  • Article 15
    1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.


Lesson Plan Details by Stages of African Epistemology:




Reflect and Connect



Art as expression/communication

The arts help to engage students in their learning environments. Often words cannot express what a visual can represent.

Identity Formation

Learning and understanding the significance of connection to land/place and the impact this has on each person’s identity.

Art and Literacy/Overall Success

Research has shown that students engaging in various art forms analyze, read and have overall higher levels of success in and outside the classroom.

Connecting Land in a Canadian context and South Africa

Indigenous people in Canada have been forcibly removed from their traditional lands. This is significant through residential schools. There are similarities to Mandela’s people’s experience in South Africa.

Inclusive Education

Inviting all students in the class to tell their story and history is inclusive and appreciates diversity within classrooms.



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Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility Copyright © by Dolana Mogadime (Ed.) Project Lead is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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