Lesson Plan: Indigenous Veterans (Part I)
By: Paul Wiper, with contributions from Charlene Camillo
A graduate from Western University (B.Ed, 2006), Paul Wiper teaches History and Law in the Thames Valley District School Board, in London, Ontario. Paul first began engaging with the history of Indigenous veterans when a mentor introduced him to the story of Francis Peghamagabow as a young Infantry Officer in the Canadian Forces Army Reserves (2001-2012).
As an Afghanistan veteran, he brought his military experience to the classroom and has been grateful to continue to learn from and collaborate with Indigenous colleagues in developing recognition for Indigenous veterans in schools during veterans week and Remembrance Day ceremonies. Paul has also been involved in local writing projects to help implement curriculum revisions aimed at fulfilling the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In his classroom approach, Paul tries to engage students’ sense of justice in examining the history of this country in an honest way.
Charlene Camillo is from the Moose Cree First Nation and of Italian heritage. She is a teacher and coach in the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB).
From 2016-2022, Charlene was the Learning Coordinator in TVDSB for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education. In this role, she led professional learning for staff and helped to develop various opportunities for Indigenous students. She also created lesson plans and resources for use in classrooms, and shared best practices in bringing Indigenous content into schools.
Charlene taught multiple subjects from 2010-2016 at Saunders Secondary School in London, ON. In 2022, she returned to Saunders and has been teaching History and Indigenous Studies while coaching Girls Basketball and Girls Hockey, and supporting the Indigenous Student Association.
Charlene has been fortunate to work with multiple First Nations as a teacher and a coach. She continues to take feedback and learning from Indigenous students and families to provide opportunities for staff and students to enhance their knowledge of Indigenous experiences.
Recommended Grade Level
This lesson and activity can take place in two 60-75 minute periods.
- Handouts – Peggy and Mike Mountain Horse’s War Robe,
- Computer, projector, and speakers to play a YouTube video,
- Access to the internet to view website article and database, and
- A copy of This Place: 150 Years Retold or the podcast version (Peggy episode), available here.
Prior Learning and Experiences
- Previous learning in class about terminology,
- Some context of First and Second World Wars, and
- Some knowledge of treaties and treaty relationships.
- Expand knowledge of Indigenous role models and resistance, and
- Continue to build on understanding of contributions of Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Veterans (Part I) Slideshow
Note: A Google Slides version of the slideshow is available here with all speaker notes.
Mike Mountain Horse Handout
- Welcome students and complete any opening routines you usually do as a class.
- Have the slideshow ready to go on a computer and projector.
- Provide some context for the participation of Indigenous people in the First World War by explaining the nature of recruiting via slides 2-7 (see speaker notes). Show them slide 8 and ask the students to consider why they think so many First Nations people enlisted. (Have them discuss with partners or small groups some of the possibilities.)
- Point out that Indigenous people contributed a lot to Canada’s war effort, but their contributions were often under-recognized. Show students slide 9 and ask them to consider the artifact analysis questions. (You might produce a full-page image of the War Robe for them for this). Then distribute the handout describing Mike Mountain Horse’s War Robe.
- Slide 10 – Discuss how we decide who gets recognition. Does that change during a war? Is it changing now? Why?
- Slides 11-13 – Introduce Francis Peghamagabow and show them the clip from Canada: The Story of Us. Then have the students read pages 82 to 108 of This Place to complete the Peggy handout questions. Student responses can be submitted for assessment or evaluation. (You can also reference the Peggy episode of the podcast version of This Place, available here.)
- Slides 14-17 – Provide more context for the benefits that Indigenous veterans were denied access to and the role they played in advocating with regard to other issues after their return.
- Revisit the idea of recognition by analyzing who is a “National Historic Person.” You’ll need access to the internet to check the database. Try searching “Indigenous” (right now that yields just 16 results). Then have students brainstorm some people who aren’t recognized but could be.
- Discuss what other forms of recognition there are. Then show students the sculpture and song in slides 20-21. You might ask students which they think is the better tribute or recognition.
- Finally, discuss how recognition can be tied to reconciliation. You can reference the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action here as well.
Optional Extension Activities
1. How could Indigenous veterans be honoured at your school on National Indigenous Veterans Day (November 8th) and as part of Remembrance Day (November 11th)? Work as a class to think of ways to engage in meaningful recognition of Indigenous veterans as part of these days.
2. Apply to have an Indigenous person recognized as a “National Historic Person” by submitting an application to the Directorate of Federal Historic Designations.