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

Grade: 7
Lesson 1: Aboriginal Representation in the Media
Time: 2 x 45 minutes

Topic: An examination of the representation of Canadian Aboriginals in the media.

Rationale: Although we live in Canada, where our population includes many ethnicities including Aboriginals, their representation in media is lacking. This lesson will provide students with an opportunity to examine this under-representation as well as to discuss why this occurs and how the situation may be resolved.

This lesson will also teach students how to examine popular culture more critically. Finally, students may discover their own attitudes and assumptions based on Canadian culture that may not be factual or reality-based. This will highlight the overwhelming effect media has on culture.

Materials and Resources
A variety of Canadian magazines (to be supplied by students) such as:

  • Canadian Living
  • Westworld
  • Chatelaine

Main Concepts
To create an understanding for the significant under-representation of Aboriginals in popular culture.

Intended Learning Outcomes
The students will:

  • Identify or clarify a problem, issue, or inquiry.
  • Generate and justify interpretations drawn from primary and secondary sources.
  • Organize information into a formal presentation using several forms of representation.


when a person or group of people stands for or represents a common culture, gender, or interest. Representation also defines how people are “seen” in the media and includes how often a group is shown or represented as a part of a culture or society.
forming an instant or fixed picture of a group of people. Without any other information or experience, stereotypes are used to generalize and exaggerate from this one fixed image.

Planned Learning Activities

  1. The teacher will lead the students in a pre-activity discussion:
    1. What is representation?
    2. What is stereotyping?
    3. What groups/people should be represented in Canadian media sources (magazines, T.V., movies, etc)?
    4. Who is primarily represented as Canadians in media? Who is left out?
    5. Do you think Aboriginals are represented in media?
    6. What does it mean to be fairly/equally represented?
  2. Have students examine a variety of Canadian magazines that have been brought in from home, for their representation of Aboriginals. Have them complete Magazine study worksheet.
  3. Engage students in an after-activity discussion (students will refer to worksheet).
    1. Who/what groups were mostly represented? Who was left out?
    2. Were Aboriginals represented?
    3. In which magazines? In what types of ads?
    4. What does this say about the magazine? About Canadians?
    5. How can we include Aboriginals/make them more visible?
    6. Be careful not to stereotype!
  4. Have students work in groups to create a poster ad that is inclusive of Aboriginals. The poster may “fix” an existing ad, or may be an original creation. It must adhere to said criteria which should be discussed as a class. Important: how can these ads be created without stereotyping the culture?

The students will be assessed on the following:

  1. Participation in the discussion of representation and stereotyping.
  2. Completion of magazine study worksheet.
  3. Production of poster ad according to criteria:
  4. Representative of culture
    Aboriginal merchandise being sold or Representation of Aboriginals in ad
    10 marks
    5 marks
    Creativity 5 marks
    Response to ad (do you want to buy?)
    5 marks
    5 marks
    Total assignment: 30 marks
    (or as determined by the teacher)


  • Students can research which magazines are inclusive: compare and contrast.
  • Students can create more than one ad.
  • Students can examine broader scope of Canadian media: news, T.V., movies, books, etc.
  • Students can create an entire magazine about Aboriginal cultures.

Other Integration Opportunities
Language Arts:

  • Students can write an article for their magazine
  • Students can create a journal and discuss how they feel about representation, how they felt about the lesson, their feelings overall, etc.
  • Students can create poetry based on their journal entries.

Career and Personal Planning:

  • Students can discuss how advertising can be changed to always include Aboriginals.
  • Students can write about how under-representation affects people emotionally in terms of self-esteem and confidence.


  • Students can role-play T.V. ads that are inclusive.
  • Students can participate in anti-bullying skits.

Resources Used and Supplementary Materials Available

  1. Empry, Charlotte. Ed. (2001). Canadian Living: Smart Solutions for Everyday Living, Vol 26, no 5: Transcontinental.
  2. Haseman, Brad, & O’Toole, John. (1987). Dramawise: Heinemann.
  3. Maynard, Rona. Ed. (2002). Chatelaine: Passion, Purpose, Possibility, Vol 75, no 1: Rogers.
  4. Mensies, Yvonee. (2001). “Lesson 1: What is a Stereotype?” FNSS Curriculum Integration Project: School District #58.
  5. Ross, Anne. Ed. (2001). Westworld: Travel and Active Living from BCAA, Vol 27, no 5: Canadawide.
  6. Tarlington, C. & Verriour, P. (1991). Role Drama: Pembroke.
  7. Zinczenko, David. Ed. (2001). Men’s Health, Vol 16, no 7: Rodale.

Name: _________________________

Magazine Study Worksheet

  1. Magazine Name:________________________
  2. Representation of Aboriginals (Tally):

  3. Describe the kinds of ads representing Aboriginals:
    1. What is being sold?

    2. Who is the ad aimed at?

  4. What culture/ethnicity is represented most often?
    1. Describe these ads: what is being sold?

    2. Who is the ad aimed at?

  5. General comments:

Student Name: _______________________

Poster Advertisement Marking Guide

Representative of culture
Aboriginal merchandise being sold or Representation of Aboriginals in ad
10 marks
Offensive? Stereotypical?
5 marks
Creativity 5 marks
Response to ad (do you want to buy?)
5 marks
Spelling, Neatness, Punctuation, Colour/design
5 marks

Total assignment: 30 marks