by Joseph Boyden
This lesson is designed to introduce the negative outcomes or “legacies” of residential schooling in Canada through the use of storytelling as told by an authentic Indigenous voice. It can be used in English, Social Studies, ELL, History, BC First Nations Studies. The story “Legend of the Sugar Girl” appears in Joseph Boyden’s story collection Born with a Tooth.
Reading Strategy 1: Access background knowledge.
Reading Strategy 2: Predict what will be learned or what will happen.
Reading Strategy 5: Make mental pictures.
Reading Strategy 6: Connect what you read with what you already know.
Reading Strategy 7: Determine the most important ideas and events and the relationship between them.
Reading Strategy 11: Make inferences and draw conclusions.
Reading Strategy 12: Reflect and respond.
(1) Brainstorm and discuss student responses to the following quote:
“I tell stories to make my mother proud…and to quietly educate others.”
—Joseph Boyden (Indspire Gala Awards Acceptance speech, 2016)
(2) Warn students about the sensitive nature of the content.
(3) Ask students what they know about residential schools in Canada.
(4) Have students write down their ideas individually on paper or sticky notes.
(5) Have students put sticky notes on the board.
(6) Read and discuss students’ comments.
(7) Discuss the meaning of the word ‘legacy’. How can this word have both positive and negative connotations? Share ideas on the board.
(8) Provide copies of “Legend of the Sugar Girl” for those who need adaptations/modifications. Ideally, the goal is for students to listen and pick out details aurally through storytelling.
(9) Read the story aloud to the class. Instruct students to listen for outcomes or legacies of residential schooling from the narrator telling of the Sugar Girl’s experiences.
(10) Instruct students to individually think or write about the following:
a. How the story made them feel
b. What they thought about the Sugar Girl
c. What outcomes from residential school affected her and her family
(11) Discuss as a class what students learned about residential schools from the story.
(12) Write student contributions on the board.
(13) Write the following on the board (from 100 Years of Loss Teacher Guide Book p. 141):
- Inability to parent
- Substance abuse
- Children in care
- Mental health issues
- Chronic heath
- Poor educational outcomes
(14) Ask class how and why these became legacies or negative outcomes as demonstrated through the Sugar Girl.
(15) Review resource from 100 Years of Loss to go through the legacies of residential schooling (p141).
(16) Investigate events leading to residential schools in Canada using resources from 100 Years of Loss.