FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)

Goal #2: The school has an
environment that is respectful of and
appreciates First Nations, Métis and
Inuit cultures, history and world-view.
Theme 7: Understanding FNMI
Activity: Visual Synectics
Look at the pictures related to FNMI worldview (e.g., traditional
artwork, patterns) and finish the sentence:
____________ is like ____________ because …
You have three minutes to brainstorm around your tables and then
one person from each table must describe one of your ideas.
Then finish the sentence:
__________ is not like ___________ because …
You have three minutes to brainstorm and then one person from
each table describes one of your ideas.
Understanding FNMI Worldviews
Name: Dancer Artist: D J Tapaquon www.firstartcanada.com
Understanding FNMI Worldviews
Name: Mountain Eagle
Artist: Paulo
Understanding FNMI Worldviews
Name: The Sacred Journey www.firstartcanada.com
Artist: Bluesky Crowe
Activity: Sharing Circle
Sit in a sharing circle and discuss:
“What does worldview mean to you?”
Understanding FNMI Worldviews (continued)
People from different cultures have different ways of seeing, explaining and living
within the world. A culture’s worldview is influenced by its values, beliefs and
Values: What things are important?
Beliefs: How does the world work? What is your role in the world?
Behaviours: What behaviours are desirable? What behaviours are
“All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We did not weave the web of
life. We are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
Chief Seattle, Suquamish Nation, 1854
The Importance of Oral Tradition
Oral tradition is fundamental to FNMI cultures. Transmission of information in an oral
culture is a social process that reinforces relationships – those between young and
old, those between ancestors and the living, and those between the living and future
Understanding FNMI Worldviews (continued)
Laws of Sacred Life
Each person is born sacred and complete.
Each person is given the gift of body with the choice to care for it
and use it with respect.
Each person is given the capacity and the choice to learn to live in
respectful relationships.
Each person is given strengths or talents to be discovered,
nurtured, and shared for the benefit of all.
Laws of Mutual Support
People in groups of mutual support are strong. Alone, a person
will not survive.
Identity comes from belonging in respectful relationships with
Agreement on rules enables cooperation and group strength.
Understanding FNMI Worldviews (continued)
Laws of Nature
The natural world provides the
gifts of life and place.
A people’s sense of place and
identity is tied to the land and sea
that has given the people life.
The natural world provides
people with the necessities of
People must live in harmony with
the laws of nature in order to be
sustained by it.
Activity: FNMI Youth Perspectives
Divide into groups and have volunteers read the stories “Live One
Day with Me” and “Instead of Just Pumping Gas” from The Seventh
Generation to the rest of the group. Take turns and record your
answers to the following questions:
• What did you learn about FNMI worldviews from these stories?
• What challenges do FNMI students face in schools today?
• How do FNMI youths’ worldviews differ from non-FNMI youths?
The groups then share what they learned.
Remember that life experiences impact human potential.
Activity: The Laws of Relationships
Divide into groups and create a short skit that illustrates one (or
more) of the laws of relationships. Use the Story/Skit Planner
graphic organizer to plan your skit.
Each group then presents its skit to the others.
Activity: Oral Teaching
Divide into partners or groups and choose a curricular objective from
any subject and take turns “teaching” the objective, using only oral
communication, to your partner or rest of the group. Afterwards,
share your thoughts on the experience, for example:
• What challenges are there with oral teaching?
• What advantages are there with oral teaching?
FNMI Values and Beliefs
Note: FNMI values and beliefs vary from tribe to tribe and
community to community.
A People-centred, Group-centred Society
• Life and thought are centred around people, not things
• There is great loyalty to close friends and respect for one another as
• People are respected for their contributions to the group rather than
individual accomplishments
• Expect that education should make students more able to contribute
to the group
• Close trust and reliance on others is important
FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)
Cooperation and Sharing
• Generosity (with things, time and effort), sharing and helpfulness are
considered the most important character traits
• People should be willing to share rather than work to get ahead or
save for the future
• Helping the community is motivation for education
Respect for People, Especially the Elderly
• Respect for people and their feelings is very important in FNMI
• Personal relationships are based on mutual respect
• Are careful not to be disrespectful toward others
• Seniors are given great respect because wisdom comes with age
FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)
Courtesy, Privacy and Autonomy
• Are taught not to interfere in other people’s affairs or their rights as
• Believe people are not meant to be controlled
• Almost never give advice unless asked
• All opinions should be valued
The Extended Family
• Kinship is identified with even the most remote family tie – all clan members
are considered family
• Aunts and uncles are often considered parents
• Grandparents are often very involved in the raising of their grandchildren
Silence and Concise Expression
• May not be comfortable or used to expressing their own opinions
• Are not used to long discussions or explanations – prefer concise, short
• Silence is never “uncomfortable” and companionship does not require
FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)
Nonverbal Communication and Eye Contact
• Nonverbal communication is often used to control the back and forth of
• Includes head nods, gesticulations, gaze, proximity, voice pitch, loudness,
utterance length, and turn-taking pause duration
• Turn-taking pauses, tone of voice and eye contact differences between
FNMI people and Anglo-Canadians often causes misunderstandings
Time for Thought
• Talk less than Anglo-Canadians and also pause for a longer time between
speakers during a conversation (1 to 4 minutes is normal)
• This pause shows that that you have thought about what the other person
has said before responding
• Even if you have an answer right away, you wait before responding
FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)
Lack of Pressure from Time
• Many FNMI people believe that life should be easy going – EuropeanCanadians say “Time flies”, Mexicans say “Time walks” and FNMI people
say “Time is with us”.
• Many FNMI languages have no word for time
• Believe things should be done when the need arises, not at a particular time
Valuing Leisure
• For many FNMI cultures there is no distinct line between work and play –
they both will bring happiness if in harmony with nature
• Traditionally, FNMI cultures only took from nature what they needed and did
not work to gather more than they could use, so there was more leisure time
• They do not feel guilty, as European cultures do, about doing “nothing”
FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)
Sense of Humour
• FNMI people have always had a deep sense of humour related to life and
inner feelings
• The humour of a culture is often the last thing that is understood
Harmony with Nature and the Environment
• FNMI people have a deep understanding of ecology because their
existence depended on it
• Are not masters of their environment – do not conquer land and are not
concerned with storing, saving, controlling and changing the land
• Chief Seattle said: “Whatever happens to the earth, happens to the children
of the earth. The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.”
Spirituality and Health
• Value spirituality, emotions and feelings as much as logic, science and
• See the world around them as spiritual
• Harmony with nature and spirituality are necessary to good health
• Spiritual beliefs can vary from tribe to tribe
FNMI Values and Beliefs (continued)
Respect for Ceremonies
• Dances, pow-pows and sweat lodges are very important to many FNMI
• Many ceremonies are sacred and should be respected in the same way as
other religious events or holidays
• Telling the truth and keeping one’s word is one of the most important
human characteristics
Bravery, Independence and Emotional Control
• Bravery is a highly honoured trait
• Is often considered inappropriate to express strong feelings in public
Activity: FNMI Values and Beliefs
Divide into groups and review the values and beliefs described on
summary sheet 2 and discuss:
• Ideas that are new to you.
• Examples from your own experience that illustrate these values
and beliefs.
• Other FNMI beliefs and values found in your own community.
Also discuss what difficulties you would have if you were immersed
in the FNMI culture of their community.
The tree drops berries every
fall on my car, which is
ruining the paint. Also, the
shade from the tree makes it
impossible to grow anything
on that side of the yard.
Looking at Perspectives
I love to watch
the birds that eat
the berries on
that tree
throughout the fall
and winter.
That tree turns
bright orange and
then red in the fall.
It’s the only tree on
the block that turns
red – it’s beautiful!
I remember when that
tree was planted. The
previous owner
planted it when his
son passed away. It
has grown so big and
I climb that tree
and can see all
the way down the
block. My friends
and I play games
in that tree.
A man wants to
cut down a tree
that is between
his yard and his
I sit in the shade
of that tree during
the summer and
read. There’s no
other shade in the
That tree is a gift
of nature and
should be
appreciated for its
beauty and grace.
There’s a family
of squirrels that
live in that tree –
I’ve watched
them over the
Activity: Valuing All Perspectives
Review the diagram on summary sheet 3 and discuss the FNMI
community approach as compared to the individualism of EuropeanCanadian society.
In FNMI culture, all perspectives have value – this is based on the
belief of the interdependence of all things.
Then discuss the importance of listening to and valuing different
Activity: Circle, Triangle, Square
Reflect on the following:
What learning will stay with you?
What stood out for you in this workshop?
What learning affirmed what you already knew?

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