Teacher Resources



We are so excited to bring together educators from schools across the Mackenzie River Basin and beyond to educate young people about the health of the river system, according to an Indigenous knowledge framework. 


This project welcomes teachers and students from a diversity of communities, including people who identify as Indigenous and non-Indigenous.


We’ve created this Teacher Package to introduce you to the lesson plans and provide introductory materials for you to reference throughout the project and afterward.

Lesson Plan Overview

These inquiry-based lesson plans are designed to meet learning outcomes for Science 7 and Social Studies 7 (cross-curricular), Science 8, Science 10, and Experiential Science 30 courses in the NWT and Alberta. Lessons meet outcomes for science courses in other provinces and territories as well.


Each lesson clearly outlines the outcomes met, provides lesson resources, and contains options for customization and extension, according to school context and student interest. Many lessons may be carried out either in a classroom or on the land, and instructions for adaptation are included.


For an overview and link to the lessons, view Tracking Change – Lesson Plans for NWT and Alberta Secondary Science Classrooms.

Indigenous Knowledge and the Science Curriculum

Educators in the NWT are accountable for incorporating an Aboriginal Worldview into all subject areas, including Science. For some teachers, this is elemental to thinking and teaching. For others, meaningfully addressing Indigenous knowledge in Science courses is new. This section provides some general information to help teachers who are unfamiliar with Indigenous knowledge get started. Many lesson plans also introduce this information in a student-friendly way!

What is Indigenous Knowledge?

Indigenous knowledge is developed over extensive periods of time through direct contact with the land or environment. It holistically connects knowledge of the land with community livelihoods and decision-making. 


Much Indigenous knowledge harmonizes with western science, involving quantitative and qualitative measures of ecological changes over time. However, its holistic nature means that it also encompasses knowledge relating to a variety of other aspects of life and wellbeing, including food security and sovereignty, culture, community life, decision-making, cosmology, and spirituality. While some Indigenous knowledge may be documented similarly to western scientific knowledge, it may also be passed down through oral histories and practices linked to specific places. Much knowledge is linked with fish camps, travel routes, spiritual sites, sites for healing, and more.


Indigenous Elders and active harvesters are key knowledge holders and experts on changes to the land. It is important for students to conceive of “experts” beyond scientific researchers or theorists and to learn from these experts. People keep and pass on this knowledge because it is relevant to their lives and wellbeing, and it is important in decision-making about the land.


Read more about Indigenous knowledge:

Indigenous knowledge and education – Battiste, M. (2010). Nourishing the learning spirit. Education Canada, 50(1), 14-18

Indigenous knowledge and science – Nadasdy, P. (1999). The politics of TEK: Power and the” integration” of knowledge. Arctic Anthropology, 1-18

Indigenous knowledge and inquiry – TallBear, K. (2014). Standing with and speaking as faith: A feminist-indigenous approach to inquiry. Journal of Research Practice, 10(2), N17-N17

Example of Indigenous knowledge and environmental monitoring – Parlee, B. L., Goddard, E., First Nation, Ł. K. É. D., & Smith, M. (2014). Tracking change: Traditional knowledge and monitoring of wildlife health in northern Canada. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 19(1), 47-61.

Indigenous Knowledge in Science Classrooms

Addressing Indigenous knowledge in science classes should be more than just an add-on! The lesson plans in this package demonstrate how Indigenous knowledge may shape the:

  • orientation of a lesson around Indigenous worldviews
  • methods of inquiry, documentation, and knowledge-sharing
  • content of the lesson, including the voices, knowledge, and data of Indigenous elders and land-users
  • connection of science to decision making, community livelihoods, culture, and wellbeing


Indigenous knowledge is embedded in the Program of Studies for all science courses. For example:

  • Addressing Indigenous knowledge in Science 7 and Science 8 helps students meet the “Nature of Science Emphasis” by examining the “processes by which scientific knowledge is developed and tested, and on the nature of the scientific knowledge itself” (Science 7-9 Program of Studies, p. 7). It also supports the “Social and Environmental Emphasis” by directing student attention “on issues and decisions relating to how science and technology are applied” (p. 7). 
  • In Science 10, students will not only learn to “acknowledge the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to understandings of the natural world” but also “develop the concept of our connectivity to the natural world and the importance of caring for the environment” (Science 10 Program of Studies, p. 2).
  • For students of Experiential Science 30, Indigenous knowledge connects foundational philosophies and culture to students’ inquiry, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities. It is also central to students’ on-the-land experiences, including knowledge-sharing experiences with Elders (Experiential Science, p. 2).


While the lessons have been developed around the NWT and Alberta curricula, they are also relevant to communities in the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, who share the Makenzie River system

Additional Teacher Materials

Introduction to the Mackenzie River Region

These lesson plans are deeply connected to the land, peoples, and knowledges of the Mackenzie River Basin, and they are designed for youth in this region. 


As an overview, the river is known by many names to local communities, such as Dehcho in Slavey, Nagwichoonjik in Gwich’in, and Kuukpak in Inuvialuktun. The Basin stretches across large parts of western Canada and is home to more than 300,000 people, 10% of whom are First Nations, Métis and Inuvialuit (MRBB 2003; GNWT 2010). 


Click here to view a map of the region and learn more about the lands, waterways, and communities connected via the Mackenzie.


Cultural Awareness

To teachers who are new to the Mackenzie River region or who are unfamiliar with the various Indigenous peoples who live throughout the area: welcome! We invite you to familiarize yourself not only with Indigenous knowledge and science but also the cultures, languages, and peoples of the community where you live. It is a good idea to make the most of publications and resources, such as those available on this page. But we also recommend you connect with your community, spend time on the land, and get familiar with your school’s protocols on working with Elders and community members.


Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training videos are available through the NWT: https://www.fin.gov.nt.ca/en/services/diversity-and-inclusion/aboriginal-cultural-awareness-training 


Below are links to Indigenous governments in the NWT. These web pages provide useful background information on communities and their governance systems. However, this is not a replacement for experiencing and learning first hand the community where you live, including the cultures, practices, and ways of being. 


The Akaitcho Territory Government is an Indigenous government representing several Dene groups in the NWT. 

The Dehcho First Nations is a Indigenous government representing the people in the Dehcho region. 

The Gwich’in Tribal Council is an indigenous organization that represents the different Gwich’in Participants in the Mackenzie-Delta area of the Northwest Territories. 

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation was established in 1984 and represents the collective Inuvialuit interests in dealings with governments and the world at large. 

The Northwest Territory Metis Nation is an Indigenous government composed of Métis originally from the south slave region. 

The Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated is a Designated Sahtu Organization (DSO) working on behalf of all the beneficiaries of the Sahtu Land Claim Agreement. 

The Tłı̨chǫ Government is an Indigenous government that represents the Dene people who are a part of the Tłı̨chǫ Nation.

The North Slave Metis Alliance represents the Aboriginal rights-bearing Métis people of the Great Slave Lake area. They also have a Facebook page.

The Kátł’odeeche First Nation is a community based government located on a reserve near the community of Hay River on the south shore of the Great Slave Lake. 

The Salt River First Nation is a community based government who traditionally used and occupied land in the Slave River area, located in the Fort Smith area. They also have a Facebook page

The Acho Dene Koe First Nation is a community based government located in Fort Liard, Northwest Territories.

About the program

Learn more about how our curriculum was developed

Access Lesson Plans

Get details about each of our twelve lesson plans