If you're celebrating Thanksgiving this year, it's important to talk to kids about the real history of this holiday.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Be aware of stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, and ensure learners see accurate representations in books, videos, photographs, and other media. One way to do this is to have various books, stories, and representations of Indigenous peoples for your little ones to learn from. Seek out Indigenous creators and authors to help avoid stereotypes and ensure authenticity in the materials you use.
- Be mindful of the verb tenses you use when speaking about Indigenous peoples. Often Indigenous peoples are referred to entirely in the past tense which supports their erasure and dismisses the fact that they are in fact still here. Instead, be intentional about addressing historical events in the past tense and pairing them with present-day information about the Indigenous nation.
- When it comes to crafts and activities, be mindful of what you consider doing with kids who are not Indigenous. Instructors (especially non-Native instructors) should consider if it's appropriate for non-Native kids to do certain activities as they could be unintentionally harmful.
Here are three activities you can engage in with kids:
- Create your own gratitude journal. Draw pictures or write about the things that you’re grateful for each day. Talk about how Native and Indigenous peoples value gratitude.
- Learn about the land you live on. Visit the website Native-land.ca and use this map to learn about the Indigenous peoples who live on the land where you live. If you are Indigenous, use it to learn more about your community and the surrounding communities. You can also use this map to learn about the languages spoken and the treaties that exist in your area.
- Draw your own special place. Think of a place that you really love. Together, share about the places that are important in your life. Is your favorite place outdoors or indoors? Is it close to home or is it further away? What makes this place so special to you? Talk about why places and land can be so meaningful and important. Use this conversation to lead into a conversation about the land you live on and where it comes from.
Here are five books you can use to guide these conversations:
- The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz
- Thanku: Poems of Gratitude by Miranda Paul
- We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
- When We Were Alone by David Robertson
- If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving by Chris Newell
We hope these resources will be helpful for you in navigating these conversations!