Supporting the Integration of Indigenous First Nations Curricula in Northern Classrooms and Learning Environments

Shirley Zouboules

Supervisor: Dr. Sabre Cherkowski

City: Yellowknife, NT

Occupation: Assistant Superintendent

Year: 2019


  • Curriculum
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Other


This personal narrative examines the need for and opportunities to utilize Indigenous First Nations curricula in our diverse Northern schools. As a non-Indigenous First Nations person, born and raised in northern communities, my experiences both in and out of the classroom have shaped my approach to teaching and learning. My roles in our education system have included classroom teacher, Program Support Teacher, Literacy Coach, Principal, and now, Curriculum Coordinator. Through many years of wrestling with the right way to include all of my students in authentic ways, and observing new educators struggle to work with diverse learners and for some whom trauma as a result of the intergenerational effects of residential schooling is a real and on-going reality, and with curricula and history quite foreign to them, I hope to offer a way forward. I currently work in the largest school district in the Northwest Territories, with a population of 2,191 students. The most recent school I worked in had a diverse mix, which included approximately 30% Indigenous students. This group consists of Dene, Inuit, and Metis students.

The context is an important part of understanding the project’s purpose. In addition to reviewing curricular resources from other provinces, I will share research that supports the need for contextualized pedagogy. My project is centred around the integration of First Nations curricula, more specifically, Dene Kede and Indigenous Languages & Education, by non-Indigenous educators and the importance of place consciousness. Finally, I will offer recommendations for authentic integration, identify limitations within curricula discussed, and highlight potential areas for further exploration.

Student Biography

Shirley Zouboules was born in Fort Smith and raised in Northwest Territories, and has a deep-rooted appreciation for the north’s land, people, history – and even the weather! She has been in the field of education since 1989 in positions such as teacher, principal and curriculum coordinator. She is currently the Assistant Superintendent for the Yellowknife Education District No. 1. She is a lifelong learner who enjoys reading (especially Canadian books) and Moodles. She is the proud parent of two grown children.