At the end of this lesson, students will have experienced collecting oral histories based on local Métis experiences.
1.3: How did First Peoples and Europeans interact in the Northwest and what were the results?
2.2: How did the fur trade, European settlement, and the rise of the Métis Nation transform life for the peoples of the Northwest?
3.1: Why did the Métis resist the westward expansion of Canada and what were the consequences?
3.3: How did Canada’s relationship with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples change after Confederation?
Historical Thinking Concepts:
2. Use primary source evidence
4. Take historical perspectives
6. Understand the ethical dimensions of history
After your students have learned about the development of the LAA and its importance in democracy in western Canada, have students research contemporary issues within the Métis community. Explain that students should gather primary research to see if today's Métis have their own oral histories and stories about the Métis, Red River, Confederation, and francophone culture in western Canada. Refer to Manitoba Metis Federation or www.myPEG.ca.
Ask students to define “oral history.” Perhaps start off with “What is history?” This might take a few classes to establish. Does all history have to be written down?
Now that students have an understanding in their own minds as to what history might be, focus on the concept of oral histories. A great place to start is with the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre or research how to conduct a life story/oral history interview. The staff is eager to work with classrooms, and they offer a wide variety of resources on collecting oral histories. Organize subjects for the students to interview. This could be done through a variety of organizations, such as The Manitoba Metis Federation, The Louis Riel Institute, the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, and other like-minded community groups. If students are not in Winnipeg, is there a local Métis community? Students can you use Skype to make connections throughout the province?
Students will then have to conduct their interviews with someone who has links or connections to the Métis community. This can be done at school, at the Oral History Centre, or in the community, as arranged between the student and the subject. As a learning community, identify questions that might elicit stories of the Métis experience in Manitoba.
In terms of technology, the Oral History Centre has equipment that can be used. Smart phones with Voice Memo will also work. These voice memos can then be placed into a sound-editing program to create a final product. As well, students can create a written transcript. They could then write formal essays telling the stories of the Métis, using the oral history as their primary source. The stories can be brought together as a collection and published in a variety of ways, such as in diaries, journals or blogs.
Once the collection of oral histories has been archived, have students invite subjects to participate in a panel discussion hosted by your students. Students should design the questions, the program, and the advertisement campaign for the event. Have your students invite other schools to come and participate. An essay could also be used as part of the assessment.
One essential question throughout the learning experience might be: Why do we sometimes not value oral histories as much as written history?