• There are diverse teachings about sweetgrass, wiingaashk, one of the four sacred medicines that coalesce with tobacco asemaa, sage shkodawabuk, and cedar, keezhik.  Sweetgrass leaves after harvesting, are arranged into three groups of seven, in honouring the seven grandparents that are love, respect, truth, wisdom, honesty, courage, and humility.  The processes of  educational decolonization will assist in the braiding of sweetgrass that will promote Indigenous educational reclamation displaced by colonialism. Traditions, ceremonials, languages, and experiential learning are all integral parts of the learning processes that connects and enables the gifts, visons, and spirit to emerge individually and most importantly, collectively.

    In addition, the sweetgrass braid represents three postures which is gentleness, love, and kindness for the people.  This framework was developed to assist in creating relationships that guides educators in developing a reconciliatory curriculum that uses a paradigm and framework of a sweetgrass braid.

  • Sweetgrass braids with fire.

    Fire-Sweet Grass

    Leah Fontaine 2022

Past: Spirit/Orality-Relationality

  • Butterfly wings swirling.


    Leah Fontaine 2022

  • Everything in life begins with a thought, an experience, learning and a belief system through a personalized filter of the individual.  It begins by relating some personal and professional background information. Engaging in a good way, the understanding and awareness of a culturally sensitive approach in curriculum development is integral.  It honours and considers all levels of knowing that produces interest in educators and learners his/herstories. This is an Indigenous foundation that develops wholistic educational worldviews of interconnectedness encompassing diverse societal orality.  

The third style of story is relating personal experiences or the experiences of other people. As I talked about near the beginning of the book, Elders often use experiences from their own or others’ lives to help counsel or teach.
Wilson, Shawn (2008). Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Fernwood Publishing.


The following is an activity that will enable teacher and learner to share story that that will assist in renewing identity reclamation that will enable engagement and ongoing relationship building with learners toward academic achievement.

Title: Story


Educators and learners will learn how to engage and compose story/spirit, through pictures (mental), auditory, (words), and kinesthetic (emotional) connections and feelings that will assist in academic achievement, reclamation of identity and a sense belonging with learners. 


How learners will prepare for learning?

Explore learner’s prior knowledge of orality.  Discuss the relationship between oral traditions and connection to land by sharing a story, an involvement of an “event”, a memory of who we are and our belonging. 


What strategies facilitate learning for groups and individuals?

Have learners to research their own story through orality or experiential learning that would provide them to understand how traditional environments transform stories that accommodate culture and land by braiding the past, present and future.


How will students demonstrate their learning?

Learners will express their personal story (depending upon availability of materials), visually, orally and/or written with the following four questions, who am I, where do I come from, why am I here and where am I going? 

These four tenets provide educator and learner a balance of well-being of the physical, mental, emotional, and mental self. These four facets provide educator and learner, a sense of belonging, a sense of meaning, purpose of their daily lives and hope for the future. 

Facilitator will acquire skills and abilities toward creating a positive, inclusive learning environment that promotes dialogue.

Present: Body-Responsiveness

  • Indigenous knowledges are not from books. It is about experiential learning. Concepts and principles aligning with curriculum could be a transferred from a tradition of orality.  Further, curriculum development must consider composing the four tenets of human development as well, principles such as spirit/story, emotional, physical, and mental (intellectual). These four tenets can empower a positive and wholistic experience for educator and learner with a sense of belonging and well-being. Separating these four tenets in reconciliatory pedagogies can create an unhealthy balance that can promote misinterpretation and misappropriation of spirit.  If you are using an Indigenous perspective, please be cognizant that the combination of Indigenous Knowledges (IK), can be confusing.  One local cultural world view is sufficient. Methodologies and frameworks must not pan-Indigenized with other Indigenous ways of knowing.  There are multiple cultural frameworks and paradigms, and it is important to consult with an Elder or Knowledge Keeper to determine the curriculum that is utilizing both Western and Indigenous pedagogies are united wholistically, ethically, and culturally respectful to the educational goals of the nation that is being represented. 

  • Tobacco


    Leah Fontaine


Title: Picture’s up

Going over is complete; cameras will roll on the next action.

UN General Assembly, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 2 October 2007, A/RES/61/295, available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. United Nations., University
of Manitoba. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada., Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada., & United Nations.  (2015).  Truth & reconciliation: Calls to Action.  Available at:  https://nctr.ca/records/reports/


To develop an understanding and awareness of the relationships between Canada, Canadians, and the Indigenous peoples through the colonial historical legacy using images and/or symbols and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Calls to Action (2015).  


How learners will prepare for learning 

Learners will be provided with 2 creative and interesting symbols or images in group work, that reflect a past and present relationship between Canada, Canadians, and Indigenous peoples.  Prior knowledge will be presented by learners and educators through discussion about which image is more powerful in the representation of the relationship that will use the lenses of the four tenets of human development.  


What strategies facilitate learning for groups and individuals?

Session will begin with a phrase ”A picture is worth a thousand words” and ask what the image(s) and/or symbol represents first as a group, and then with the entire class. Educators and learners will describe through visual representation and narrative about the relationship between, Canada, Canadians, and Indigenous peoples.


How will students demonstrate their learning?  

A sharing circle will be conducted with an Indigenous scholar or    
Knowledge Keeper in facilitating and guiding discussions about
their images. 

Scholars and educators will learn to design innovative  approaches and methodologies that will culturally promotes and enrich curriculums with diverse perspectives, and/or discipline approaches.

Future: Mind-Responsible

  • Cedar


    Leah Fontaine 2022

  • In the past, many Eurocentric perceptions have imposed their perspectives in Indigenous frameworks that have devalued and diminished the principles of the Indigenous world views. Syllabi must demonstrate responsibility that enables restoration of Indigenous orality and knowledges. Syllabi should validate and recognize Indigeneity to be expressed with truths that must be accountable in teaching and learning. Approaches and utilization of framework/methodologies must have consent with permission to use via cultural protocol(s).  First, consult  with an Elder or Knowledge Keeper to make sure that an approach using Western and Indigenous pedagogies walk side by side wholistically and ethically.

UM Learn Inclusive Syllabus
The Centre (CATL), have developed a template and guide which suggests ways to create a more inclusive syllabus design. Please refer to the following link for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity syllabi.


Using both Western and Indigenous pedagogies in new and innovative approaches creates many hoops that interconnect many relational aspects of spirit, emotion, physical and mental human development with diverse learners and educators. Relationality is a value and principle that is fundamental in Indigenous education. Responsible pedagogies will enable educators an opportunity in building successful connections with all learners and colleagues toward restoration of Indigenous ways of knowing and academic achievement. This paradigm is a representation of a sweet grass braid for education. Braiding is a social act and signifies a cultural connection, the coming together of spirit, body and mind that promotes gentleness, love, and kindness for all people in higher education of learning.  

Mitakuye Oyasin,
All My Relations

About the creator of this resource

  • Headshot of Leah Fontaine.

    Leah Fontaine

  • My world is my Indigenous identity, where the star people, little people and sasquatches reside, the ones who watch over us, our protectors.  A reality that has contributed to an Indigenous ethos, and not considered as a dissociated world.  There is no ‘othering’ in the Indigenous world because all manifestations of our beliefs and aspirations have a sacred and safe place that remains together. 

    Although, many Indigenous peoples have achieved education from a university, employed in a colonial job, and living in an urban reality, we achieve balance in two worlds where colonial schooling has instructed and imparted a segregated knowledge as being “othered”. 

    There is no “othering” in Indigenous systems, and we do not sectionalize our knowledge systems into fragmented pieces, because we believe that achieving respectful relationships in education is wholistic and relational teaching and learning reinforces interconnectedness.  It promotes reconciliatory praxis designed for distinctiveness and inclusivity.