Connection to Land

Develop a holistic (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) understanding of Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples’ connection to the land.

To begin, select a category from the menu.

For many of us, land shapes our culture, identity and sense of belonging. This interactive activity, which includes a montage of images and voices, provides an opportunity for you to reflect upon how where we live shapes who we are.

Connection to Land:

Chloe would like her students to learn about the land from an Aboriginal perspective.

A teacher in an urban area, Chloe explains to her colleague Frank that she wants to make plans soon. Frank asks if Chloe has considered a field trip to Blackfoot Crossing, where Treaty 7 was signed. A bus trip there would take them through Crown land, pasture and wheat fields. Chloe wonders if there are any sites closer that hold cultural significance for First Nations, Métis or Inuit. As they begin discussing what land means to them, Frank recalls that these kinds of sites can be found all across Alberta. They wonder if the meaning of these sites is different or the same for all peoples.

When you think about “land” and “home,” and your relationship to these things, which words come to mind?

When I think about “land” and “home,” I think about …

Experience Some First Nations, Métis and Inuit Perspectives

Reflection Statement

While there are differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and practices, all First Peoples share an understanding of their relationship with the land. Expressed by story and a sense of place, the land sustains all things: it provides for our needs and for our survival. The relationship between the land and the people must be maintained to remain healthy. This relationship is not a linear chain reaction, but a complexity of interwoven and interconnected cycles, embracing all things on earth.

How can your classroom practices help students explore and understand their connection to the land?

Narcisse Blood speaks to teachers about learning from the land as a form of literacy for the Blackfoot.

The speakers in these interviews reveal a spiritual relationship to the land. The land is often referred to as Mother Earth.

Select a video.

Narcisse Blood | Kainai | Blood Tribe

During a visit to a sacred site, Elder Narcisse Blood speaks to teachers about learning from the land as a form of literacy for the Blackfoot.

While Narcisse Blood passed in 2015, we are privileged and honoured to still have his words to share.

Mary Konda-Martel | Dené Thá | Dené Thâ First Natino

Mary Konda-Martel, Dené Tha’ First Nation, speaks of the importance of knowing how to live off the land.

Theresa Strawberry | Saulteaux | O’Chiese First Nation

Theresa Strawberry speaks about the comfort and wisdom given by her Saulteaux concept of Mother Earth.

Mary Rain | Nakoda | Paul First Nation

Mary Rain, Nakoda/Stoney, speaks about receiving knowledge of medicinal plants.

John Janvier | Dene Suliné | Cold Lake First Nations

John Janvier, Dene Suliné, describes his ancestors’ use of their traditional territory.

Francis Dumais | Métis | Métis Nation of Alberta Region 2

Francis Dumais, Métis Elder, speaks about the importance of respect, including respect for the land.

A Sense of Place

A Kainai Elder in Residence at Olds High School, Narcisse Blood shares his perspective on globalization with social studies teachers and students. This video, which was recorded and produced by students, documents preparation for a field trip to view pictographs.

While Narcisse Blood passed in 2015, we are privileged and honoured to still have his words to share.

Select a resource type from the list.


While some First Nations, Métis and Inuit experts have recommended these documents, they are not authorized by Alberta Education.

 Traditional Life on the Land. Aboriginal Perspectives

First Nations, Métis and Inuit have developed ways of life to suit every type of geographical environment. This excerpt from Aboriginal Perspectives (Aboriginal Studies 10) provides an overview of the connection to land in the Pacific Northwest, the Plateau region, the Plains, the Eastern Woodlands, the Subarctic and the Arctic.

 The Value of Land. Contemporary Issues

Many people feel a strong connection to the land, but for First Nations, Métis and Inuit, land is central to their culture and way of life. This excerpt from Contemporary Issues (Aboriginal Studies 30) examines economic, cultural, spiritual, educational, social and political values related to land.

 Traditional Governance. Contemporary Issues

For First Nations, Métis and Inuit, the land shapes all aspects of life. Governance often means governance that allows people to live in harmony with the land. This excerpt from Contemporary Issues (Aboriginal Studies 30) relates governance to geography and discusses traditional territories and government, including Métis governance.

 Love Thy Neighbour: Repatriating Precarious Blackfoot Sites

This paper explores responsibility for the care of significant Blackfoot places, particularly those situated in the province of present-day Alberta. The story of how Blackfoot People were removed from their territory to reserves is narrated, and the effect of this on Blackfoot knowledge generation and transfer is interpreted. This essay offers repatriation as a model for authentic Blackfoot participation in the care of the remaining sites and the beings who inhabit them. While Blackfoot acknowledge that the non-Blackfoot newcomers are here to stay, they continue to imagine a future where all that from which they have been dispossessed will be repatriated so that they may meet their sacred responsibilities to their territory and all the beings who dwell there.

 Where are we?

Dr. Cynthia Chambers reflects on her concept of curriculum of place as she has experienced it working with knowledge keepers and eminent scholars across western Canada. In this essay Dr. Chambers describes four dimensions of a curriculum. These dimensions are utilized to initiate discussion about what is curriculum of place, how a curriculum of place influences our day-to-day experiences, and what the significance is of a curriculum of place for education.

Káhsinnóoniksi: Learning from Place

In 2005 Dr. Cynthia Chambers from the University of Lethbridge and Narcisse Blood from Red Crow Community College collaborated to present a graduate course on Blackfoot sacred sites.

This video contains clips from classroom presentations, visits to the sacred sites, and interviews with Blackfoot people who share their understandings of the significance of the sites.

While Narcisse Blood passed in 2015, we are privileged and honoured to still have his words to share.

Káhsinnóoniksi: Learning from Place © Red Crow Community College.