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FNSS Curriculum Integration Project Click here to download this lesson.
Bill Gilroy (MS-Word format.)

Grade: 4
Lesson 2: The Canada Food Guide and Traditional Secwepemc Foods
Time: 3 40 minute lessons

Topic: An examination of the connections between traditional Secwepemc foods and the Canada Food Guide. (The content of this lesson is such that it may form one component of a larger unit in nutrition or one in a larger Secwepemc unit. Thus, the overall time taken could be days or weeks.)

Rationale: Nutrition among Canadians has long been a concern by Health Canada. More recently, nutritional needs of Aboriginal peoples have been of particular concern. Fourth graders are old enough to share responsibility in their nutritional decisions. This lesson provides the opportunity for students to become familiar with the Canada Food Guide and where traditional foods obtained by the Secwepemc fit into it.

Material and Resources

  • Canada Food Guide – internet printout, Health Canada (print)
  • Canada Food Guide – passport to healthy living poster, B.C. Dairy Foundation (print)
  • Traditional Secwepemc Foods – guide and poster – Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (print)
  • Plants of the Southern Interior British Columbia, Parish, Coupe. Lloyd (1996) Lone Pine Publishing (print)
  • Keepers of life: discovering plants through native American stories and earth activities for children, Caduto, Michael, J. and Bruchac, J. (1994). Fulcrum Publishing (print)
  • The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Spellenburg, R. (1988). Bitterroot Flower Photograph (print)
  • Teacher researched Images of plants and animals eaten by the Secwepemc (print)
  • We are the Shuswap, Siska, Heather Smith. (1988). Secwepemc Cultural education Society. (print)
  • Teacher’s Notes, included

Vocabulary

Secwepemc
The Shuswap word for Shuswap and the language they speak. Aboriginal people in British Columbia whose traditional territory extends from the upper Fraser and North Thompson Rivers in the north, to Lower Arrow Lake in the south, and from the Fraser River in the West, to he Alberta border in the east.
Canada Food Guide
Guide produced by Health Canada that recommends daily intake and portions from the four food groups.
Traditional Foods
Wild animal and plant foods obtained and eaten by aboriginal peoples prior to contact with Europeans.
Bitterroot
A low growing, early-blooming plant with fleshy roots and pink and white flowers that open only in direct sunlight; an important traditional early spring food of the Secwepemc.
Hunter-gatherer
Someone who hunts and collects food from wild animals and plants, rather than keeps domestic plants and animals for food purposes.
Nutrition
The process of being sustained by ingesting and using food.
Balanced Diet
The ingesting of food in a manner that utilizes all the food groups in proportion depending on age, sex, physical condition activity level and other factors.

Main Concepts

  • To generate an understanding of the Canada Food Guide and how traditional Secwepemc foods fit into it.

Intended Learning Outcomes
Science

  • relate dietary habits and behaviour to an organism's health.

Social Studies

  • demonstrate awareness and appreciation of various Aboriginal cultures in Canada.
  • demonstrate understanding of contributions of Aboriginal people to Canadian society.
  • analyse how people interact with their environment, in the past and in the present.

Career and Personal Planning

  • classify foods into groups, including the food groups identified in Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, Revised.

Assessment/Evaluation

  • In groups, students create a poster of traditional foods using the Canada Food Guide as a reference.
  • Students (individually) perform a group work self-assessment.
  • Students (individually) generate a one-day menu using traditional Secwepemc foods.
  • Students generate a journal entry about the value of nutrition and how they feel about traditional foods.

Planned Learning Activities

  • Show Canada food guide and poster
  • Write categories: “grain products”, “vegetables and fruit”, “milk products”, “meat and alternatives” and “other foods” on chalkboard or flip chart paper. Ask students to provide examples of foods from each category (some explanation of “other foods” will be necessary). Record these.
  • Emphasize the concept of servings, i.e. how many from each food group daily.
  • Ask students to provide answers about where their food comes from.
  • Ask the students if they would like to hear a native legend about food.
  • Read The Bitterroot legend (from Keepers of life: discovering plants through native American stories and earth activities for children) to the students. Allow them to comment on the story. Show picture of bitterroot plant.
  • Ask the students if bitterroot plant is something we might find in a grocery store.
  • Note that most people today, including aboriginals, purchase their food from stores. Ask the students to provide other ways in which people get their food (hunting, gardening, fishing, berry picking). Note that many aboriginal peoples have a great knowledge of wild plant and animal foods. Introduce the term, hunter-gatherers. Discuss with class.
  • Show the Secwepemc Traditional Food Guide to the class. Define traditional food. Identify and discuss various foods with the class. Pay particular attention to potential student reaction to some foods – stress respect.
  • Note that many Secwepemc people have retained a traditional diet and many others are becoming very interested in traditional foods once again. Much of the store-bought food consumed by all of us is not as nutritional as these (refer to the “other foods” category in the Canada Food Guide).
  • Divide the class into groups of four (to represent four food groups). Each group will be responsible for creating a traditional foods poster by drawing, coloring and labelling images. It will be helpful here to provide various books and/or magazines to help the students.
  • Have students complete group work self-evaluation.
  • When posters are done, students individually create a daily balanced meal plan using traditional Secwepemc foods.

Extensions

  1. Students make a collage of traditional foods using images from old magazines.
  2. Students examine chicken bones before and after they have been soaked in vinegar and explain that vinegar is a weak acid that has acted on the calcium in the bone. They infer why it is important to eat foods containing calcium.
  3. Take the class on a field trip to the Secwepemc Museum at Kamloops, with a focus on traditional foods.
  4. Students search the internet for traditional foods used by other Aboriginal groups.
  5. Discuss with students some of the health risks associated with poor nutrition. Focus on obesity and diabetes in the Aboriginal population.
  6. Make a simple traditional food snack with the class.
  7. Arrange for an elder to come to your class to discuss traditional food.
  8. Make “Indian ice cream,” with soopalalie berries.

Other Integration Opportunities

  • This lesson can be used as part of language arts, for example, journal writing.

Resources Used and Other Supplementary Materials Available

  1. Canada Food Guide – internet printout, Health Canada, www.hc-sc.gc.ca (print)
  2. Canada Food Guide – passport to healthy living poster, B.C. Dairy Foundation (print)
  3. Traditional Secwepemc Foods – guide and poster – Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (print)
  4. Plants of the Southern Interior British Columbia, Parish, Coupe. Lloyd (1996) Lone Pine Publishing (print)
  5. Keepers of life: discovering plants through native American stories and earth activities for children, Caduto, Michael, J. and Bruchac, J. (1994). Fulcrum Publishing (print)
  6. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Spellenburg, R. (1988). New York: Chanticleer Press.
  7. We are the Shuswap, Siska, Heather Smith. (1988). Kamloops, British Columbia: Secwepemc Cultural education Society.

The Secwepemc Museum is an excellent resource. The outdoor section has a walk that provides interpretation of native food plants. The museum staff are very glad to help the teacher tailor a field trip to a specific focus. The local Secwepemc community also possesses a number of resource people, including elders, who may be willing to come to classes to share their knowledge about food.

Traditional Food Internet Resources

  1. Inuit Food Guide, www.turtletrack.org
  2. Association of American Indian Physicians – Native American Food Guide, www.aaip.com
  3. Delaware River Guide – Native Food Plants, www.riverplaces.com
  4. Aboriginal Recipes, www.cookingwiththewolfman.com (has a great bannock recipe)




The Bitterroot Legend

Source: Caduto, Michael, J. and Bruchac, J. (1994). Keepers of life: discovering plants through native American stories and earth activities for children. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing.

The Bitterroot (Salish-Plateau)

It was the time just after winter in the valley of the mountains. There was no food and the people were starving. The fish had not yet returned to the streams and the game animals had moved far away into the mountains. The men had gone out to seek game and they had been gone a long time. It was not yet time for the berries to ripen, and the women had gathered what plants they could find that could be eaten, but the ones that were left from winter were tough and stringy.

In one of the lodges, an old woman was grieving because there was no food for her grandchildren. She could no longer bear to look at their thin, sad faces and she went out before sunrise, to sing her death song beside the little stream which ran through the valley.

“I am old,” she sang, “but my grandchildren are young. It is a hard time that has come, when children must die with their grandmothers.”

As she knelt by the stream, singing and weeping, the sun came over the mountains. It heard her death song and spoke to that old woman’s spirit helper.

“My daughter is crying for her children who are starving,” Sun said. “Go now and help her and her people. Give them food.”

Then the spirit took the form of a redbird and flew down into the valley. It perched on a limb above the old woman’s head and began to sing. When she lifted her eyes to look at it, the bird spoke to her.

“My friend,” the redbird said, “your tears have gone into earth. They have formed anew plant there, one which will help you and your people to live. Se it come now from Earth, its leaves close to the ground. When its blossoms form, they will have the red color of my wings and the white of your hair.”

The old woman looked and it was as the bird said. All around her in the moist soil, the leaves of a new plant lifted from the Earth. As the sun touched it, a red blossom began to open.

“How can we use this plant,” said the old woman.

“You will dig this plant by the roots with a digging stick,” the redbird said. “Its taste will be bitter, like your tears, but it will be a food to help the people live. Each year it will always come at this time when no other food can be found.”

And so it has been to this day. That stream where that old woman wept is called Little Bitterroot and the valley is also named bitterroot after that plant, which still comes each year after the snows have left the land. Its flowers, which come only after being touched by the sun, are as red as wings of a red spirit bird and as silver as the hair of an old woman. And its taste is still as bitter as the tears of that old woman whose death song turned into a song of survival.




Summative Criteria
The Canada Food Guide and Traditional Secwepemc Foods
Group Poster

Criteria Ratings Comments
Traditional foods drawn and placed in proper category 4 3 2 1  
Attention given to poster balance and neatness 4 3 2 1  
Labels accurate and properly placed 4 3 2 1  
Group participation and co-operation 4 3 2 1  

KEY:
4 – Powerful
3 – Good
2 – Basic
1 – Beginning




See How I Worked in My Group!

Date: ________________

Your Name: Other Group Members:
_______________________________ _______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________
  Yes Sometimes No
I participated      
I listened to others      
I encouraged others      
I shared ideas      
I stayed with my group      
I accomplished this task      



Summative Criteria
The Canada Food Guide and Traditional Secwepemc Foods
Daily Balanced Meal Plan

Criteria Ratings Comments
Student demonstrates an understanding of daily dietary balance using the Canada Food Guide 4 3 2 1  
Student is able to connect traditional Secwepemc foods to the Canada Food Guide 4 3 2 1  
Spelling accurate 4 3 2 1  
Menu is neat, clear and easy to follow 4 3 2 1  

KEY:
4 – Powerful
3 – Good
2 – Basic
1 – Beginning




Teacher’s Notes

Nutrition among Canadians has long been a concern by Health Canada. More recently, nutritional needs of Aboriginal peoples have been of particular concern. Fourth graders are old enough to share responsibility in their nutritional decisions. This lesson provides the opportunity for students to become familiar with the Canada Food Guide and where traditional foods obtained by the Secwepemc fit into it.

The Canada Food Guide and traditional Secwepemc foods fall under the umbrella of the larger issues of health and food security. Academic success is partly dependent on health and fitness and thus, is worthy of teachers’ attention. It is important that children become aware of the long-term impacts of dietary choices through active exploration of food topics. The Secwepemc people have produced excellent resources about traditional foods.

Challenges related to diet are of particular concern among Canada’s Aboriginal population. Obesity and type-two diabetes occur with much greater frequency in this group than any other. While it is not within the scope of this lesson plan to address the reasons behind obesity and diabetes in Aboriginals, it is important that the teacher be aware of cultural and possibly factors that promote these. For example, overeating in general is linked to historical practices during times of famine and the over-consumption of nutritionally poor foods is often the result of poverty. The introduction of refined sugars and processed food is a relatively recent event. Because domestic dairy cattle and the consumption of dairy products are also recent events, Aboriginals also tend to experience a high rate of lactose intolerance. (Jack Miller, pers. com. March, 2002). Consumption of traditional foods can be linked to better health among Aboriginal peoples.

With regard to the issue of food security, Canada’s dependence on the global economy is arguably precarious. Many foods, including those of questionable safety or integrity are being both imported into and produced by Canada. For example, genetically altered foods have been introduced very quickly without absolute confirmation of their safety for consumption or environmental integrity. Pesticides not sanctioned for use in Canada are used on foods imported by us. For this reason, many native and non-native Canadians are becoming interested in native plant and animal foods. For Canadian Aboriginals, this interest is not only about nutrition; it is also about rediscovering traditional knowledge. For all Canadians, Aboriginal knowledge about traditional foods could, at some future point, prove extremely valuable to food security.