By Georgia Hammond

What is FNMI Literature?

FNMI is an acronym designed to encompass the aboriginal peoples of Canada: the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people. The term FNMI content refers to material about or by any one of these groups and should be integrated regularly into the curriculum.

Why should we include it in our classes?Tree_Climbing.jpg

Inclusion of FNMI content is vital for promoting understanding and cultural awareness among our students. However, the inclusion of FNMI content and discussion should extend beyond the social classroom into all areas of academia in order to create a holistic and welcoming school environment for our FNMI students. It should not be used simply an add-on, however, but should be interwoven throughout the entire curriculum. Ignorance breeds intolerance and misunderstanding therefore it is essential that we teach our students about the many great contributions FNMI people have made to our country. One such contribution FNMI peoples and communities are making now is fantastic literature. The FNMI people are know for their story telling prowess due to an illustrious oral tradition. This has become even more evident as many storytellers have put their stories into print making for incredably rich literature. There is so much out there and should be used by English Language Arts teachers on a regular basis. What better way to teach about a culture than exploring personal perspectives, societal issues, and historical events than through a book? FNMI content should not only be used to inform your non-FNMI students of a different culture but also to give your FNMI students relatable and relevant content.


Resourse Recomendations and How to Use Them/Where to Find Them

The nice thing about teaching English is that it is relatively easy to integrate FNMI content. All you have to do is find a book on the subject or by an FMNI author! There are so many fantastic books out there and a plethora of resources to help us. The Curriculum Laboratory is packed full of such books so finding appropriate resources is a piece of cake if you know how to look. Examples of the fantastic resources available are the two “Literature to Support FNMI Student Success” boxes which can be found in the Curr Lab under the call number “Oversize 970.1 Lit”. There is one box aimed at the elementary levels and another for Junior and Senior High levels. Each box is filled with a vast number of books perfect for teaching at those levels. For a quick overview of the kind of texts that are out there these boxes are perfect.
The Circle of Courage (as seen below) is also a great way of gaging FNMI themes within literature or aspects of lessons you are focusing on.
When searching for FNMI content in the library the most comprehensive search can be done under the keyword “Indian’s of North America”. (Please note that there are terms used that may be culturally insensitive as most libraries use the Library of Congress Classification system which is American.)From there you may try other key word searches until you find the specific resources you are looking for. Another way of finding resources is to go directly to the FNMI collection found on the U of L Curriculum Laboratory page. FNMI Curriculum CollectionThe collection lists all its resources along with a description, grade, and subject appropriateness of each resources and activity in order to help you find specific materials. For other helpful resourses please look to the References section at the bottom of this page.


Intigrating FNMI Content Examples

Intigrating FNMI Content in K-3

A Promise is a Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak -
The story of a little girl from the North named Allashua who learns a lesson on the importance of
keeping promises and dealing with consequences. This is a great book for teaching the little guys
about promise keeping as well as them to Inuktitut words, culture, and legends.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2

The Little Duck - Sikihpsis by Beth Cuthand -
This is a great story about a little mud duck who desperately wants to fit in and become a Cree dancer. The moral of the story is learning to be happy with who you are and the things that are good about you. Even better, the book is written in both Cree and English!
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 5.1

The Moccasins by Earl Einarson -
This is an adorable story about a foster child and what his foster mother did to
make him feel warm, loved, and proud of his heritage. This is a fantastic resource
for talking about family especially unconventional families such as foster families
and what makes us feel special.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.3, 5.1


Intigrating FNMI Content in 4-6

The Curse of the Shaman By Micheal Kusugak - At first glance this book seems to be a good coming-of-age tale but ends up
being so much more. It is jam-packed with cultural information on how the inuit live, the things they believe, their practices and
daily rutines, even their language. For learning about the north in a fun and easy way, no book does it better.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 4.3, 5.1

Shin-chi's Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell - Although it is a picture book this particular storie
deals with some heavier issues like the residential schools and therefore should be used for older children.
It illustrates beatifully the difficulties of the situation so many FNMI families went through from the eyes of a child.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.3, 5.1, 5.2

Lord of the Sky by Linda Zeman-Spaleny - This story is perfect for teaching about legends but also
about the importance of harmony with nature and taking care of our world and those around us.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.3, 5.1, 5.2


Intigrating FNMI Content in 7-9

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - One of the things Sherman Alexie does best is using humour to difuse tension when discussing sensitive issues. This book discusses impossibly hard issues in regards to life on and off the reserve and the clash between two worlds. Yet it does so with so much humour and raw emotion that you wont be able to put it down.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1, 5.2

The Night Wanderer: a Native Gothic Novel by Drew Haydent Taylor - For the vampire-crazed youth of today this book is perfect. This creepy thriller tells the tail of a young girl and her encounter with a vampire, all served up in an Ojibwa context.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 5.2


Fatty Legs by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton - Graphic novels, though they have been around for some time, are starting to see more and
more use in todays classrooms. Fatty Legs is a perfect example of that. The tale is an autobiographical account of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's
residential school experience and all that entailed.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1, 5.2

Intigrating FNMI Content in 10-12

Motorcycles and Sweetgrass By Drew Hayden Taylor - This book is just fun. Much like Sherman Alexie,
Drew Hayden Taylor uses humour as a way of discussing difficult issues and provoking thought without
uneasiness. An example of this is a character raised in a resedential school who defies the priests orders
of only speaking the language of Shakespear by speaking Ojibwa in iambic pentameter.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1

Green Grass Running Water By Thomas King - Set right here in southern Alberta this book is great for
talking about issues affecting the Blackfoot themselves. Nobody tells a story quite like Thomas King. It is a
great book for examining trends in Western Literature and how First Nations are usually portrayed within the
classics. Definitely a must read whether you choose to use it in a class or not.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1

Trickster: Native American Tales A Graphic Collection - Graphic novels are a great medium no matter what you are teaching and this book proves that. The book presents several different trickster legends from many different nations each in it's own short comic. The collections shows the depth and diversity of FNMI cultures while silmultaniously celebrating their similarities. I chose to recomend this particular text under the highschool level but in truth it could be used at any level depending on how you choose to frame it in your class.
Applies to SLOs: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1



Alberta Education, A. S. (2005). Our Words, Our Ways: Teaching First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Learners. Edmonton: Alberta Euducation.

A. T. A. (2008). Education is Our Buffalo: A Teachers' Resource for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education in Alberta. Edmonton: The Alberta Teachers' Association.

First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2012, from Government of Alberta Education:

FNMI Curriculum Collection. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2012, from University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education:

Inclusive Education Support Resources FNMI. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2012, from Inclusive Eudcation Support for Implimentation:

Kanu, Y. (2011). Integrating Aboriginal Perspectives Into the School Curriculum: Purposes, Possibilities, and Challenges. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.