Present students with the word “revitalize”. Ask students to brainstorm with a partner and come up with a one-two word explanation of what “revitalize” means. Eg. (bring back, refresh etc.) Collect student answers and create a visual of all the words on the board.
Ask the same pairs to come up with an example of when they have seen this word on television, advertisements etc. (eg. face lotion, soaps) Add these examples to the visual on the board.
Ask pairs to now decide on what the term “Cultural Revitalization” means based on our discoveries about the word “revitalization”. Work with the class to come up with a standard definition.
Ask students where they, their families or ancestors came from. Ask students to pick one country other than Canada that they identify with most. Take a poll. Ask students to stand up if the country they identify with is said out loud. List countries until all of your students are standing. Ask students to remain standing after their country has been called.
When the entire class is standing, ask students to rank on a scale of one to ten, how connected they feel to that country and culture. You may wish to discuss what this means. (Practice cultural holidays, sports, wear traditional clothes etc.) Start at one, and ask students to sit when their number is said. If you have any students still standing at ten, ask them what kind of practices keep them close to their culture.
Explain that cultural revitalization is a necessary process when most of the descendants of a culture have been assimilated or homogenized into a new culture.
Introduce students to Nicholas de Grandmaison and his work through the summary found here.
De Grandmaison said: “I Wish More Canadian’s would know their own country.”
Ask students how this quote from de Grandmaison, if true, would lead to the disappearance of cultural uniqueness in our country. (If inhabitants don’t know where they are from, how can they keep the culture?)
Ask students what kinds of elements need to be brought back if a culture is in need of revitalization. (Language, food, ceremony, art, beliefs, sport, dress etc.)
Ask students to brainstorm and list the kinds of people who could help revitalize a culture. (Elders, historians, archivists, etc.)
Provide students with a scenario: They are local historians who are looking to open on exhibit on Southern Alberta First Nations culture. The space provided to them is small, and so they must choose only five artifacts to display in their exhibit and of the five, three must be different mediums. (Painting, newspaper, audio etc.)
Have students go through the online Nicholas de Grandmaison artifacts found here and “collect” the five that they feel best present aspects of First Nations culture.
As students collect their artifacts, ask them to write a paragraph for each explaining their decision. You may wish to guide their response with question such as:
• What is this artifact of/about?
• Who is represented in the artifact?
• What aspect of First Nations culture does this help to revitalize and preserve?
• Why is this artifact important to you to preserve?
Ask students to pitch their exhibit to the class. Have them prepare a short presentation in which they tell their classmates why their exhibit is worth attending and how it helps to protect and preserve First Nations culture.
You may wish to link this activity to previous material. Ask students to complete an exit slip or journal to the following prompt:
• Describe how the Oka crisis is similar to what historians and archivists try to do for an endangered culture.
You may wish to provide students with a rubric for their exhibit paragraphs and assess for depth of understanding of cultural revitalization. The appropriateness of their choices in relating to cultural revitalization, and their understanding of the promotion of culture.