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Musqueam Teaching Kit—Teacher Resource

xwməθkwəyə̓ m: qwi:lq̕ wəl̕ ʔə kwθə snəwe̓ yəɬ ct
Musqueam: giving information about our teachings

Lesson: snəw̓eyəɬs tə xʷəlməxʷ—Teachings of the Community
(Grades 3–7)



Lessons from the Musqueam Teaching Kit use the Teacher’s Resource PDF (available in French and English) and Teaching Kit website. The kit is written from the perspective of the community and provides an opportunity for students to learn about the land on which most of Vancouver, including the Museum of Anthropology, is situated. Learning about Musqueam directly from Musqueam community members is extremely important. Today, we continue to learn as our ancestors did, from experiences and stories.

Lesson Background

We know who we are. We are an intelligent and wise people with generations and generations of knowledge and wisdom, which we continue to pass down to our youth and children. We have a strong culture and ancient traditions that help guide us and carry us forward. Our teachings have been passed down from our ancestors to our elders and to our families.

As Musqueam, we have been educating our own people since time immemorial—about our traditions and culture and about the everyday skills needed to survive and prosper. The Indian Residential School system drastically impacted how our people were educated and continues to influence how we address our own wellbeing today.

Learning, for us, supports the whole person: our emotional, physiological, spiritual, cultural and artistic selves. Our people also recognize that learning needs are unique for each individual and that success in education requires participation from parents, elders, guardians, caregivers and community members. We learn by doing and succeed when we undertake our traditional learning approaches.

We continue to remember who we are through storytelling, photos and encouraging traditional and cultural protocols. Our teachings are both formal and informal. They include everything from learning how to catch and prepare fish and learning about our genealogies from elders, aunts and uncles, to learning our language at home and in school and understanding and applying the values of our community. Our teachings encompass all things.

In this unit, we focus on how learning takes place in our community. We encourage you to listen to our words and learn from our experiences. 

Big Ideas

We ask that you approach learning about Musqueam with an open heart and mind. It is important to learn about us from us.


Students should understand that learning from the experiences of others is a very valuable form of education.

First Peoples Principles of Learning

  • Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities
  • Learning is embedded in memory, history and story.

Part 1: Initial Journal Reflection 

Invite students to write down (or record them speaking) their responses to the following questions:

  1. Where do you learn new things?
  2. List as many places as you can in which you think learning could take place.
  3. Did you learn something new today? If so, what did you learn and how did you learn it?

Part 2: Learn from Musqueam Community Members

Have students read the three quotes on p. 42 of the Teacher’s Resource PDF in preparation for their class meeting around the ‘tablecloth,’ explained below. 

Learning from Community

The tablecloth symbolizes one way that knowledge is shared in our community—in our homes, around our kitchen tables. The late Dominic Point said that people need to be sq̓əq̓ip (gathered together) to pass on knowledge. Many important discussions and lessons begin at the kitchen table.

Activity 1: ‘Gather’ and Share

  • Organize a class meeting on your class’s digital platform of choice to host a ‘gathering’ around the tablecloth (perhaps arrange a series of smaller meetings with smaller student groups for more effective exchange).
  • Review the three quotes from community members together with students this time and explain the significance of the tablecloth as a symbol of learning.
  • Go around the ‘table’ and invite each student to share something about themselves that they think is important for others to know. Invite students to respond, reminding the rest of the class to listen to what is being shared without judgement or response. Alternatively, have each student get ready to tell a short story from their own lives that had an impact on them.

Activity 2: Inquire, Listen and Present

Learning from family experiences and stories is a valuable practice.

  • Invite students to interview an older member of their family about their life, lessons they have learned and the types of teachings they would like to pass on. Students may practice retelling the lessons and stories they learned to another member of their family.
  • After completing the interview at home, students can report to the class in writing, in a presentation, or through a creative project. 

Activity 3: Closing Journal Reflections

  1. How do you think oral histories are sustained?
  2. What role do you play in keeping your family stories alive? What role do your parents and extended family members play?
  3. In what ways do your parents or family members pass on their teachings to you?
  4. Why do you think people share lessons they have learned with others?

Many more related lesson plans and resources are available in the Musqueam Teaching Kit Teacher’s Resource PDF.