Lesson Plan: Indigenous Veterans (Part II)
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 – Solomon Ratt Poem, Ken and Clifford George Reading, and Forgotten Warriors,
- Computer, projector, and speakers to play excerpts form a NFB Film, and
- Access to the internet to view website article and database.
Prior Learning and Experiences
- Previous learning in class about terminology,
- Some context of First and Second World Wars, including Indigenous Veterans (Part I), 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.
A Note on Cultural Safety
Ensure each student is informed in the days ahead of this lesson that it will include the death of Dudley George by the OPP in 1995. Allow students to check in with the teacher in the days prior to the lesson for more information about the content and make accommodations as requested by students. The death of Dudley is a traumatic event that can impact students with connections to Dudley and/or experiences with police brutality.
Indigenous Veterans (Part II) Slideshow
Note: A Google Slides version of the slideshow is available here with all speaker notes.
Forgotten Warriors Handout
Solomon Ratt Poem Handout
Ken and Clifford George Handout
Note: To learn more about Clifford George, read Miles Morrisseau’s article here.
- Welcome students and complete any opening routines you usually do as a class.
- Have the slideshow ready to go on a computer and projector.
- Distribute the Ken and Clifford George reading and the Solomon Ratt Poem handouts.
- Revisit what students remember about what happened with Indigenous veterans after the First World War. Introduce the context of Kettle and Stony Point First Nations and the appropriation of First Nations land via the War Measures Act in slides 2-12.
- Have students read the excerpt about Ken and Clifford George from Peter Edwards’ One Dead Indian: The Premier, the Police, and the Ipperwash Crisis, 2003. (pg 50-53). Discuss the questions on slide 14.
- Students can anticipate why Indigenous veterans volunteered for service in the Second World War on slide 15.
- Show the students excerpts of the NFB Film Forgotten Warriors and have them complete the Forgotten Warriors worksheet as they watch the following minutes:
- Introduce Solomon Ratt’s Poem on slide 16, handout a copy and ask students to consider the most powerful line via slide 17.
- Provide some more context for this injustice via slides 18-19. Then consider the government’s motivations in sometimes highlighting the contributions of Indigenous Veterans via slides 21-22. Examine the story about the famous photo of Mary Greyeyes-Reid, the first Indigenous Woman to enlist during the Second World War. (She is also featured in interviews in the Forgotten Warrior documentary linked above.)
- It’s really important to identify that people responded to the injustices they faced with a lot of resilience. Similar to how Black Canadian Veterans of the Second World War led a lot of civil rights activism in Canada, Indigenous veterans became involved in advocating for change in government policies that discriminated against them. Wrap up with Clifford George’s involvement in protest at Ipperwash and the outcome of the land claim agreement reached in 2016.
Optional Extension Activity
Create a gallery of profiles of Indigenous veterans that you can display in your classroom or hallways.