Aboriginal Perspectives


Responsibilities in the Family

Jessica Wesaquate


Social Studies

Grade Level:


Related Videos:

Glen Anaquod “Video 1: Overview of Tipi Raising”

Alika Lafontaine "Video 14: Describe a day in the life of Alika Lafontaine."

Evergreen Curriculum:


Interdependence, needs, wants, roles, cooperation.


Students will know that family members meet their needs and wants through interdependent relationships.


Students will be able to identify roles and responsibilities within families.

Attitude/Values Objectives:

Students will value their own contributions and those of others within families.

Set (introductory) activity:

Teach students the word “responsibility.” Ask students to guess at what the word might mean. Brainstorm different responsibilities students have at school and at home (taking down the attendance, following the rules, chores at home, etc.)


  1. Show students the Glen Anaquod tipi raising video titled ‘overview.’ Have students listen for the types of responsibilities the children in the video had. Also have them listen for the types of responsibilities Elder Glen had as a child. Have students compare and contrast their home responsibilities to that of the children in the video and of Glen’s responsibilities as a child. You can display the results in a Venn diagram as a class or have students do this activity individually.

  2. You can do a ‘past and present’ style activity to show how the impact of contact from the newcomers affected traditional family responsibilities. Traditionally men in the family did the hunting, fishing and providing for the family. The women were the nurturers, taking care of the children, preparing the tipis and doing small-game hunting. The women were often as a strong as the men. Children engaged in games and activities that would teach them valuable skills such patience and hand-eye coordination.

    The impact of newcomers and the signing of the treaties was tremendous. The Plains Cree were used to roaming the plains, and living and giving back to Mother Earth as their lives went on. With the signing of the treaties where First Nations people were restricted to reserve land, they had fewer opportunities for hunting and fishing. Some families starved and men weren’t able to provide for their families like they were accustom to. Children were sent to residential schools to learn reading, writing and arithmetic – which are important skills, but it also swayed them away from their traditional and cultural ways.

    Now have the students look at their daily lives. How do they learn to be patient at home and at school? What teaches them hand-eye coordination? They can share what types of family responsibilities they have in their homes. You can also look at individual responsibilities in the school setting.

  3. If you have elders available in your community it would be a great opportunity for students to interview them on what their role is. Students can work in partners to brainstorm questions and conduct the interview themselves. You can also have students interview other adults in their lives. You can make a general list of questions for students to use or again have them brainstorm their own.

    To incorporate the video content from our website, you can show students the Dr. Alika Lafontaine video 14: “Describe a day in the life of Alika Lafontaine.” He talks about his responsibilities as a father. How do the students see as a father’s role in a family (be conscious that some student’s may not have a father figure in their lives; can be related to an uncle, grandfather, foster parent, etcetera)?

  4. The concept of “responsibilities in the family” can be taught through literature – a good time to incorporate books with Aboriginal content/written by Aboriginal authors. Take for example the children’s book “My Cree Grandmother” by Lorna Wesaquate. This book teaches about the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother, and then the same young girl’s relationship with her children. Relationships are also responsibilities within families.