ICE – Indigenous Cinema Experience: Grade Twelve Social Studies in Action

ICEIdigeneous Cinema Experience

Social Studies in Action

By Kale Bonham


Kale Bonham has been teaching Art and Social Studies at Argyle Alternative High School for the last three years. In 2018, she designed a social studies course geared toward engaging her students actively in their learning. Utilizing outcomes  from Cinema as Witness to Modern History and Current Topics in First Nations, Metis and Inuit Studies , she developed ICE, or Indigenous Cinema Experience. Kale shares the resources she developed when teaching the course and some of the thinking and reflection that went in to the planning.





ICE : Indigenous Cinema Experience

Social Studies in Action

By Kale Bonham

This course was initially designed as a grade 12 option but later expanded to included grade 10 to 12 outcomes as well.  We looked at history and how it impacts the present. We are in a time when the issues of history are still unfolding so we were able to critically engage with current events. We wove together three big areas. First we examined a TIMELINE of events and values and their impact both past and present. Students were then involved in Research and Service projects. Hands-on experience was built into the design of the plan of action. We went out into the community and we offered our time and assistance. Students engaged with their communities and were invited to contribute to its future. The classroom became an enriched environment through a project based approach to learning.

Included in this package is

·        Curriculum Connections and Purpose of Course

·         A course syllabus

·         A link to a sample student project

·         Support material ( list of additional video and websites)


Curriculum Connections and Purpose of ICE

We gratefully acknowledge the teachers, curriculum developers and Elders who have worked throughout the years to develop curriculum documents that guide the planning process. The following ideas are drawn directly from the current provincial document for Current Topics in First Nations, Metis and Inuit Studies available on-line. This document provided a rationale and purpose that gave the development of Ingenious Cinema Experience a solid ground to build upon.

Guiding principles

Education about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples

·         builds bridges of understanding and respect between Indigenous and nonindigenous Canadians

·         promotes personal and social responsibility

·         connects the learner to family and to local, national, and global communities

                                                                                ( page 3)

Indigenous Cinema Experience

“supports the empowerment of students through the exploration of the histories, traditions, cultures, worldviews, and contemporary issues of Indigenous peoples in Canada and worldwide. Students gain knowledge and develop values, as well as the critical thinking, communication, analytical, and inquiry skills, that will enable them to better understand past and present realities of Indigenous peoples. Additionally, exploration of topics such as self-determination, self-government, and language and cultural reclamation allows students to understand and work towards the post-colonial future envisioned by Indigenous peoples.”     ( p. 3)

Indigenous Cinema Experience

Supports personal growth. Learning experiences in Indigenous Cinema Experience will

“facilitate personal growth through a balanced and holistic approach to learning. All aspects of self are addressed through the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions of the learner. “  ( page 3)


Themes to be explored through Cinema include:

 Image & Identity

 Relations with the Government

Toward a Just Society, Indigenous Peoples of the World 


Topics will be explored through:

● Cinema

●       Field trips


●       Visiting speakers

●       Visiting other students

●       Talking Circles

●       Reflection Journals

Projects such as: posters, art, wampum belts, cinema timeline, photo storytelling, film making will be supported.

Ideas for projects:

Reflection Journals

image from How a People Live 2013

image from How a People Live 2013

Talking circle

Winter count                                              

Cinema timeline

Wampum belts     

Beaded Treaty Medallions

Service learning

images from Reconciliation documentary -Argyle School ICE project

images from Reconciliation documentary -Argyle School ICE project

Ink blots- different perspectives

Jeopardy game

Photo stories around oral legends

Short film


People to invite to speak:              images from Reconciliation documentary -Argyle School  ICE project

Places to visit:


Course Syllabus

ICE - Indigenous Cinema Experience

Grade 12 Social Studies


Curriculum Connections

●       Cluster 1: Image and Identity

●       Cluster 2: A Profound Ambivalence: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Relations with Government

●       Cluster 3: Toward a Just Society

●       Cluster 4: A Festival of Learning

Students will be watching a number of documentaries & films about Indigenous populations of North America. Discussion topics relevant to the MB curriculum’s clusters will take place in class meetings and with community members. Students will also participate in creating a timeline of history as told through film, the community and their families.

Course Expectations

·        Regular attendance

·        Completion of all assignments

·        Active participation in projects, field trips and meetings with community members.

Course Evaluation and Completion Requirements

●       All response journals will be submitted through google docs. on a regular basis.

●       Participation in daily sharing circles, class discussions, think/pair/share groups and jigsaws, field trips and meetings with community members.

●       Demonstrated participation and contributions to community project.

●       Interview check-ins on completion of each cluster on negotiated dates


Our school year is split into 7 learning blocks. This creates manageable time frames for students to be able to set learning goals for themselves. Students must complete 4 sections of the course. These expectations can be met in 3-4 blocks.


The film Colonization Road will serve as a beginning point for our course of study. We will watch the film together in class and discuss its themes and content.

A framework for examining film will be discussed in class. Who made it? For what purpose? Who is the target audience? Students will be invited to think about video images with a critical eye.


Project possibilities:


These are suggested possibilities. Other options may be negotiated with the teacher prior to beginning.

●       Make a documentary about reconciliation

●       Collect geographical/historical information to create an app

●       Develop a map of North America that illustrates the English terms for the Indigenous names of places.


Student understanding will be assessed through writing, class discussion, interview and project submissions using the Gather, Process & Apply model in combination with the quadrants.

retrieved on-line from Three Story House

retrieved on-line from Three Story House

Assignment Options

Watch your choice of 10 of the videos below.

Document 3 things you learned, 2 things you found interesting and 1 question for each. You can hand in your response on lined paper or send through google docs to

●       Apocalypto –

●       First Contact –

●       Adam Ruins Everything - Christopher Columbus –

●       Adam Ruins Everything - Population –

●       Adam Ruins Everything - Pocahontas –

●       Shoal Lake 4

·        Drag the Red

●       The Crimes of Shelly Chartier

·        Michael Champagne Tedx –

●       The Oka Legacy

●       MMIW Inquiry

●       Dances With Wolves

●       Canada - A People’s History  EP 1

●       World’s Collide - A History of Us

●       John A. A Birth of a Country

●       How a People Live

●       John Janzen Tedx - Symptoms of Hopelessness

●       Jordan’s Principle

●       Housing

●       Angry Inuk

●       Winnipeg Gangs

●       The Bear Clan

●       Vice - How Indigenous youth are healing each other -

●       Darrick Baxter - Ogoki Apps Saving Languages

●       Bannock Lady

●       United Nations

●       Fast Horse

●       Dene Students Paddle Canada’s Longest River

●       MMA Fighter

●       Woman Who Returns: Adopted into her Haida clan after 30 years away

●       MTV Rebel Music

●       BBC - The Natives - This is Our America

·        John Allen Chau, Missionary -

·        Uncontacted Tribes –

Performative Options:

Plan - Create a podcast that:

●       lists what you learned from watching the films that you didn’t know before.

●       discusses how 2 of those topics are related

●       What were the important points in the films? Why are they important?




Day One Lesson Plan


Introducing the Course:

Place of Beginning

❏     Personal history

❏     Word Cloud of words related to the topic ( see under additional   


❏     KWL

❏     Highlight the course content that interests individuals

❏     Reasons for taking the course and expectations?

❏     Medicine wheel- what is it and ways to check we are using it



Circle of courage - set personal goals and collective goals as a class.

Image retrieved from

Image retrieved from

Vocabulary Words ( words for wordle)

Histories                             Sweat                                      Shoal Lake water

Traditions                           Cultures                                      World views

Contemporary issues       Self-determination                     Self government

Cultural reclamation          Post colonial                              Anishinaabe

Spiritual                              Medicine wheel                          Colonization

Teachings                          Idlenomore                                 Treaty rights

Sergeant Tommy Prince   Identity                                        Land claims

Protest                                Relationship                              Reconciliation

Residential schools           Sovereignty                                 MMIW


Concluding Refection

This course took students out in to their communities and helped them to see themselves as active and engaged citizens.  The hands on aspects of course were very appealing and offered them an enriched experience outside of the walls of the classroom. The quality of the questions they asked as they witnessed history unfolding was very rewarding to see. They made clear connections between the past and the present and shared possibilities for their futures.

For teachers who are considering working this way, my best advice is to create a broad plan and then be flexible. Student input in the process is crucial to the success of this type of project based learning. It is challenging for the teacher, but ultimately very rewarding for all involved.

Sample of Student work

Additional Supports

MFNERC video database:

Email if you want her to mail you a film

Macleans article -

Video Topics for Consideration

 ●      Video about OKA

●       Drag the Red

●       Reel Injun

●       We Were Children

●       8th Fire

●       Smoke Signals

●       Russell Means: Welcome to the Reservation –

●       Rabbit Proof Fence

●       Muffins for Granny

●       Dance Me Outside

●       Rich Hall’s - Inventing the Indian -

●       Atanarjuat/The Fast Runner

●       1491s

●       Charlie Hill

●       Don Burnstick

●       Lovebone

●       Angry Inuk-

●       Revenant

●       Battle at Wounded Knee

●       Hostile

●       Inuit Observations on Climate Change -

●       Big Bear

●       Where the Spirit Lives

●       Mohawk Girls

●       Indian Horse - Richard wagamese

●       The Alkali Story:victory

●       Alanis Obamsiwin

●       Bee Nation - about spelling bees in Saskatchewan

●       The Rez

●       Gord Downie’s Secret Path

●       The Saphires

●       For Angela

●       Red Wolf -Marvel Comic

●       Daughters of our Country -series about Metis

●       Wind River

●       Nfb Video Archive

●       People of a Feather

●       Rhymes for Young Ghouls

●       Keepers of the Game

●       Twilight Dancers

●       Amanda Spotted Fan’s animation shorts

●       Rumble the Indians who Rocked the World

●       The Sun at Midnight

●       Lost in the Barrens

●       Life on Victor Street - nfb

●       Crazyhorse Documentary

●       Run as one- the journey of the front runners - CBC doc

Eric Kapilik