History and Citizenship Education, Secondary III

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The first occupants1

Long before the arrival of the Europeans, North America was occupied by Native (Amerindian and Inuit) populations. Although their social and territorial organizations varied, these populations shared a conception of the world with a similar relationship to the universe. This conception of the world was represented by the image of a great circle, which symbolized the interdependence of the different aspects of life and the fundamental interconnectedness of all beings, animate and inanimate. The designated focus for the study of the social phenomenon The first occupants is The connection between conception of the world and social organization.

The concepts prescribed by the program are not explained by means of specific statements. It is through the appropriate use of historical knowledge related to the social phenomenon studied that students develop their understanding of the following concepts: circle of life, conception of the world2, culture, Elders3, environment, issue, oral tradition, society, spirituality, territory.

The table below shows how some historical knowledge has been reorganized.


Reorganization Progression of learning
  • Economic activities

This element of knowledge has been moved to Secondary IV.

Secondary IV:
Economy and development
First occupants

  • 1. Trading networks
  • Migration flows
This element of knowledge has been moved to Secondary IV.

Secondary IV:
Population and settlement
First occupants

  • 1.1. Migrations
  • Social relationships
This element of knowledge is associated with the social phenomenon Culture and currents of thought in Secondary IV, but studied in Secondary III.

Secondary III:
The first occupants

  • 2.5. Social relationships

Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.


Student reinvests knowledge.

3 4
  1. Native people in Québec today
    1. Names the federal law which applies to Native peoples: the Indian Act
    1. Names Native political institutions (e.g. Grand Council of the Crees, Makivik Corporation)
    1. Describes the demographic situation of Native communities (e.g. high birth rate; population with a majority of young people)
  1. First occupants around 1500
  • 2.1.   Language families
    1. Names the three Native language families in Québec: Algonquian, Inuit, Iroquoian
  • 2.2.   Conception of the world
    1. Indicates the term used to designate the Native people’s conception of the world: circle of life
    1. Gives characteristics of the circle of life: interdependence of the different aspects of life and fundamental interconnectedness of all beings, animate and inanimate
  • 2.3.   Expression of the sacred
    1. Indicates times connected with the expression of the sacred for the first occupants (e.g. funeral rites, rites of passage)
    1. Names objects associated with the expression of the sacred for the first occupants (e.g. masks, dreamcatchers)
  • 2.4.   Relationship to the Universe
    1. Describes the beliefs linked to the first occupants’ conception of the world:  animate and inanimate beings forming a circle of life; time represented as a cycle
    1. Names one way in which the conception of the world was transmitted among the first occupants: oral tradition
    1. Identifies the main group responsible for transmitting the conception of the world, myths and stories among the first occupants: the Elders
  • 2.5.  Social relationships
    1. Describes the roles assigned to women and men in a Native group (e.g. among the Huron, women were responsible for agriculture and men were responsible for hunting)
    1. Indicates how the consideration granted to the Elders by the first occupants was reflected in their political structures: the Elders played a key role in decision-making
    1. Describes the methods used by the first occupants to select leaders (e.g. women Elders designated chiefs among the Iroquoians; the bravest hunters were designated as chiefs among the Algonquians)
    1. Indicates the decision-making method used by the first occupants: the council
    1. Describes how the first occupants considered the territory they occupied and its resources: everything was shared between the members of the community
  1. Native claims and the recognition of rights in Québec today
    1. Indicates Native demands (e.g. respect for Native rights and treaty rights; political autonomy)
    1. Indicates what is stipulated in the Indian Act concerning the ownership of reserves and the powers of band councils: the reserve is owned by the federal government, but managed by the band council which ensures the observance of law and order
    1. Names some of the Fundamental principles of peaceful co-existence expressed by the Assembly of the First Nations of Québec and Labrador: the right to self-determination; the right to freely determine their political status; the right to enter into treaties on a nation-to-nation basis
    1. Names the categories of Native rights recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982: Native rights, in other words, land rights that have not been ceded by treaty or extinguished by law, and treaty rights
1.  The first occupants were the Amerindians and Inuit.
2.  Central concepts are indicated in boldface.
3.  Historical concepts appear in italics.

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