At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify the various groups who lived in the late nineteenth century and be able to empathize with the experiences of individuals who may have lived at the time.

Essential Questions:

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?

Historical Thinking Concepts:

5. Take a historical perspective

6. Understand the ethical dimensions of history


This project is designed to help students see that in every conflict there are many viewpoints to consider; the issues involved are seldom cut and dried or one-dimensional. Tell students they are going to read a graphic novel that underscores the preceding statement.


Introduce a graphic novel such as, Louis Riel which can be found at (http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/9781770461307/chester-brown/louis-riel#.Va0MSEgo6po) by Chester Brown. It tells the story of Riel and the two Métis resistances of 1869 and 1885.

While they are reading the graphic novel, suggest that students keep lists of reasons why Riel and the LAA made certain decisions and what other prominent historical characters were present.


After reading and discussing the novel, ask your students to imagine themselves as someone who lived in Red River at the time. Have them use the Hudson’s Bay Company Archive biographical sheets (http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/biographical/).

Students can also read “The Old Settlers of Red River” (http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/1/settlers.shtml) from the Manitoba Historical Society, which provides an understanding of the groups living in Red River.

Challenge your students to write a graphic novel in the persona of the Red River inhabitant they have imagined. In the graphic novel, each student must explain his or her unique perspective on the complex events unfolding. Each novel should show that a sibling, spouse, parent, is noticing the details about a conflict.

Ask a graphic novelist, such as David Alexander Robertson (http://www.darobertson.ca/), to come into your class and help students identify the elements of a graphic novel.


Give your students several options for presenting their graphic novels. Option might include the following:

  • a one-on-one meeting with you
  • an in-class reading
  • a screencast
  • an ePub that can be shared with the class
  • a book launch or gallery walk open to the class, the school, or the community