Indigenous Languages and Secret Path: Resources for High School Educators

 In Events, Resources

The school year hasn’t quite begun, but many educators are planning what they will teach this year. To help prepare for Secret Path Week, we are sharing new resources we created over the summer for high school educators.

The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund: Secret Path Resources

Once again, we’ve teamed up with our friends at The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund to create a series of free resources based on Secret Path, the multimedia project by Gord Downie, retelling the story of Chanie Wenjack’s flight from residential school. This project includes a graphic novel, album, and animated film. 

Incorporating Language Revitalization

In honour of the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, the resources position Chanie Wenjack’s story as an opportunity to explore Indigenous languages and how they relate to Indigenous rights on a local, regional, national, and global scale.

As learners complete the activities in this kit, they will develop literacy, research, communication, and empathy skills. They will learn about various Indigenous languages and revitalization efforts. Learners will share what they learn with others in their communities. This kit is best suited for high school level Indigenous studies, English language arts, and social studies. 

Legacy Schools Program

We will provide the Indigenous Languages and Secret Path resource kit to educators participating in The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund’s Legacy Schools Program. We hope this kit acts as a catalyst to bring Indigenous languages, cultures, histories, and perspectives into classrooms. Access the complete resource kit through the links below. 

Indigenous Languages and Secret Path Resource Kit

Educator Guide

This Educator Guide will help you position Chanie Wenjack’s story and Secret Path as starting points for exploring Indigenous languages in Canada and worldwide.

Indigenous Languages and Secret Path

Did you know that the United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages? What connections can we draw between Chanie Wenjack’s experiences at residential school and language revitalization today? Let’s think about the importance of Indigenous languages and rights as we watch a Secret Path movie clip.

Finding a Secret Path: Mapping Activity

In Secret Path, Chanie Wenjack can not read the map he takes on his escape from residential school. How do you think he felt? This mapping activity helps us reflect and discuss how language and language loss affect finding our place in the world.

Indigenous Languages in Canada: KWL Chart and Infographic Analysis

The residential school system interrupted the transmission of many Indigenous languages between generations. Still, many of these languages survive and thrive. Let’s explore how Indigenous Peoples continue strengthening and revitalizing languages today.

Indigenous Languages: Worldviews and Revitalization

Why do Indigenous languages hold so much meaning for the people that speak them? Wahiakeron Gilbert and Diane Labelle from Kahnawake speak about the importance of Kanien’kehá:ka in their worldview. They discuss the effects of residential schooling on the language and how people are teaching and learning the language today.

Research Activity: Indigenous Languages Here and Now

How much do you know about Indigenous languages in Canada? How about in your region or community? Research Indigenous languages and create a visual representation (infographic or fact-sheet) to teach others what you learn.

Indigenous Languages Inquiry Project

What do you want to learn about Indigenous languages and language revitalization? What do you think other people should know? Take positive action and direct your learning. Choose an inquiry question, plan your research, and present your learning to the people around you.

Annotated Bibliography: Indigenous Languages and Languages Revitalization

Reconciliation asks that educators listen, learn, and grow with their learners. This educator handout offers a starting bibliography of Indigenous perspectives to help you continue past Secret Path and deepen your knowledge of Indigenous history, education, and languages in Canada. You may even want to share these resources with your learners!

Resources for Middle School Learners

We also created a resource kit for middle school learners around Storytelling and Secret Path. It guides learners through different forms of storytelling to express themselves and honour stories like Chanie Wenjack’s. 

We hope you enjoy these resources and use them in your classes. If you plan to include Secret Path in your instruction or address reconciliation with your class, sign-up for the Legacy Schools Program from The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. This program provides educators with a free toolkit to address the topics of residential schools and reconciliation. 

How did you use these resources in your class? Let us know.

Our team shares travel experiences to communities."Cree" by William Burnstick (2019)