Wabasca Community Stewardship

Caring for our land, our people, our communities

Educator Support Resource

Background Support Materials Introduction

The Community Stewardship resource was collaboratively co-created with community. The intent of this enquiry-based resource is to assist educators and students in gaining knowledge of the community’s local history, historical sites and significant locations as well as the stories associated with them. Educators will be required to seek knowledge, support and assistance from community members, Elders, oskâpewak and traditional Knowledge Keepers in order to ensure that information is appropriate, authentic and accurate. Educators are expected to follow appropriate protocol as identified by the community in all their interactions.

Subject Areas/Disciplines

While the resource is intended to support teaching and learning in grades 9 to 12, it can be adapted to all subject areas in all grade levels. It can be taught as an interdisciplinary course, with learning outcomes defined per course or program of study, developed as a Locally Developed Course (refer to guidelines on Locally Developed Courses). The project could also be developed as a Career and Technology Studies (CTS) course or a Career and Technology Foundations (CTF) course. The video clips, activities and lesson plans can be adapted to meet the outcomes or competencies of areas of study such as language arts/English, social studies, science, art, music and media, for example.

Local Protocol

Prior to using this resource, it is advisable that the educator speak to Elders, oskâpewak and traditional Knowledge Keepers from the community to validate the teachings found within the resource and to invite individual Elders, oskâpew or traditional Knowledge Keepers to the first class to provide support and acknowledgement of this curriculum and its intent to convey community knowledge and protocols in relation to community stewardship. Protocol will be demonstrated to the students at this time.

The students and educator are required to participate in the tobacco teachings (see the video clip on tobacco protocol) as identified in the Introductory Unit. Other protocol within the community should be acknowledged and adhered to, based on the situation. Information on specific protocol can be obtained from a local Elder or traditional Knowledge Keeper, who will either share the information and/or advise on an appropriate contact person. (A list of identified community cultural experts, Knowledge Keepers and Elders is provided below and will be updated as required).

Some specific cultural practices identified in the units of study are identified:

SMUDGING is the process of purification and centring one’s body, mind and spirit before continuing with a task, attending a meeting ceremony or just starting one’s day. Various medicines and herbs such as sage, sweetgrass or cedars, as well as others, are burnt to produce the purifying smoke. For more detail and instruction, seek out a local Elder, an oskapew or a traditional Knowledge Keeper.

TOBACCO is the sacred medicine used as an offering primarily to an Elder when asking for advice, support or a blessing.

TOBACCO TIES are tobacco offerings used to ensure that protocol is followed from beginning to end. After the introductory lesson on teaching how to make tobacco ties, it is important that the students understand the process does not end there. The significance between the tobacco offerings is for the students to retain and maintain the knowledge being transferred through spirit. The Elder receiving the tobacco is to show honour and respect to that individual for the sharing with whom they are imparting knowledge.

Steps to making tobacco ties:

  • The student smudges in order to purify the mind, body and spirit.
  • Next, prepare the tobacco offerings. (Review tobacco ties from Unit 1. Students smudge the tobacco ties before offering them to the Elder.)
  • Holding the tobacco tie, the student makes a request to the Elder specifying the matter he or she is seeking advice on. The Elder may take the tobacco and provide the information sought, or the Elder may not accept the tobacco but will give an explanation why he or she doesn’t accept it and the Elder may send you to seek help from another Elder that has that specific information.

Note: Please check with your administration regarding policy on smudging. Some schools may require permission notes signed by a parent or guardian.

There are some community members who may not smudge or accept tobacco as an offering. In this case, it might be acceptable to offer another form of gift instead of tobacco. The students may offer something else, and, basically, anything is open for gifting. It may also be advisable not to have students seek each other’s advice using tobacco ties. It may be more appropriate for students to offer other age-appropriate gifts such as candy.

In teaching this course, the educator must have a person who can authenticate the teachings, either an Elder, oskâpew, traditional Knowledge Keeper or other knowledgeable person from the community. You might even have a resource person within your school that can direct you to someone who can assist. The community resources listing below is also a good place to begin, if you do not already have a community person advising you.

Field Trips

Engagement with the community usually requires leaving the school and visiting individuals and sites in and around the local community. To facilitate this, ensure that jurisdictional and school policies and procedures are followed. Prior to heading out on the field trip, review the purpose of the outing, the expected learning and experiential outcomes and other items that are relevant and appropriate to the students and the situation.

Community Resources

Elders, oskâpewak or traditional Knowledge Keepers play a foundational role in the maintenance and continuation of community knowledge. Much of local knowledge does not reside within the pages of text books, video or online resources but in the collective lived and living memory of local community members. This is true across the world. In order to access this valuable storehouse of knowledge and experience, students and educators need to be not only familiar with protocol but be confident in using it in their daily interactions.

Inviting individual Elders, oskâpewak or traditional Knowledge Keepers into the classroom, school or cultural centre for the first time may be daunting. Assistance can be obtained from local individuals in the school or community. Additional information is also available on the Walking Together: First Nations, Metis and Inuit Perspectives in Curriculum website and from pages 71 to 76 of Our Words, Our Ways: Teaching First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learners. The accompanying list of Elders, oskâpewak or traditional Knowledge Keepers is a preview of the expertise that exists within the community.

BCNEA-OPK & Kâpaskwatinâk Community Resource List

Names Skills, Abilities, Gifts and Interests Contact
Christie Alook crafts, local history, child-rearing practices
Bert Alook local history, past band councilor
Christie Auger craft making: moccasins, knitting, crocheting
Bernard Noskiye syllabics, local history, legends, storytelling, sap making, hunting, trapping
Clement Auger (Cepwam) harvesting berries, fungus and plants, hunting
Margaret Rose Auger brain hide tanning, drying meat, beading, quillwork, fish scales, moose hair tufting
Louis Paul Bigstone net fishing, dream catchers, wall hangings, paintings
Bertha Manybears cooks helper 891-0047
Lillian Manybears local history, craft making, sap making, traditional preparation of fish, ducks, muskrats, etc. 891-4054
Mary Cardinal drying meat and fish, brain hid tanning
Betty Jackson crafts, bannock on a stick
Francis Cardinal crafts (miniature moccasins), earrings, mukluks
Elmer Gambler moose hunting 891-2388
Maurice Oar moose hunting
Lawrence Oar moose hunting 891-3970
Graham Auger ducks and rabbits hunting 773-0775
Paul Gladue Jr. drying fish and meat, syllabics, local history, storytelling
Clifford Gullion trapping, preparing skins of beavers and muskrats, storytelling about life on trap line 891-2000
Ida Houle traditional preparation of meat, fish, ducks and muskrats
Ronnie Macleod sleigh and wagon rides
John Felix Auger net fishing 891-9226
Phillip Nanemahoo drum making/drum group 891-3777
Eli Cardinal drum making/drum group 891-8301
Verna Oar/Ray Yellowknee brain hide tanning, drying meat, traditional food preparation 891-3389
Evelyn Okemow fish filleting, traditional meat preparation
Linda Beaver caterer (traditional foods) 891-2552
Yvonne Alook caterer (traditional foods)
Sandra Cardinal caterer (contemporary and traditional foods) 891-2035
Virginia Rathbone local history, child-rearing practices, drying and preparation of fish and meat 891-3748
Kathy Thunder local history, child-rearing practices, drying fish and meat 891-3295
George Thunder moose hunting, traditional preparation of meat, fish and ducks
Cecile Yellowknee brain hide tanning, caterer (traditional feast)
William Yellowknee brain hide tanning, preparation of meat
Nora Yellowknee-Sawan local history, child-rearing practices, preparation of meat, cook 891-3672
Alvin Young net fishing, oskâpew
Leonard Young local history, past band chief and councilor
Vina Young local history, hide tanning, child-rearing practices 891-2250
Mabel Yellowknee local history, crafts, child-rearing practices, preparation of meat
Albert Yellowknee traditional ceremonies 891-9142
Gerald Auger oskâpew, actor, traditional information, practices and value system
Roger Cardinal oskâpew
Mike Beaver cultural heritage, traditional information, practices and value system, past chief and councilor, pipe carrier, lodge holder, wihkohkew
John Bigstone pipe carrier
Lillian Bigstone pipe carrier
Lorraine Cardinal legend storyteller, women’s ceremonial holder and teachings 331-2914 (Calling Lake)
Julian Ribbonleg drummer, singer 780-659-3893
Denys Auger cultural heritage, traditional information, ceremonial practices, value system, pipe carrier, lodge holder, past band councilor (wheel chair)
Rita Auger crafts, local history, child-rearing practices, cultural heritage, past band councilor (wheel chair)
John D. Nanemahoo storytelling, local history, cultural heritage, hunting, traditional dancing and singing (under care and watch)
Marina Alook child-rearing practices, family history, drying meat and fish (wheel chair)
Donald Yellowknee storytelling, local history, hunting (wheel chair)
Other Community Resources

Contact local school staff to learn about previous projects that have been undertaken in the community.

Contact the school or jurisdiction liaison workers for assistance in contacting knowledgably community members.

Do not forget that good relationships with your students, their parents or guardians and community members are the best ways to learn about and gain access to community resources.

Published Resources

Bigstone Cree Nation and Metis People of Kituskeenow. 1999. Kituskeenow: Cultural Land-use and Occupancy Study. Calgary: Arctic Institute of North America of the University of Calgary. (ISBN: 0-919034-89-6)

Garvin, Terry. 1992. Bush Land People. Calgary: Arctic Institute of North America of the University of Calgary. (ISBN: 0919034691 / 0-919034-69-1, available through www.abebook.ca)

Professional Development

Contact your local Alberta Profession Development Consortia representative for more information.

Internet Resources and Supports


A forestry map of Bigstone Cree Nation traditional territory can be obtained at the Bigstone Cree Nation Administration office.

Language and Culture Sites

Two Internet websites that feature syllabics used in the Cree language are Tavultesoft and Online Cree Dictionary.

The Gift of Language and Culture Project and Four Directions Teachings websites both offer resources and teaching tools.

Note: Refer to local authorities first to learn more about regional variations and writing systems for Cree language and culture.