Consider reading through the provided links to articles on Nicholas de Grandmaison with your students prior to the activity.
Divide students into groups of four or five. Tell students that they are to take on the identity of a European aristocrat for the duration of the activity. Prime students for the activity by displaying a stereotypical image of a First Nation’s person that Europeans at this time would expect or want to see.
Give each group the title of one of these portraits – ideally different for each group:
• Blood Indian
• Chief Coldweather, Blackfoot
• Wolf Ear
• Chief Crowfoot’s Daughter
As European aristocrats, invite students to create a portrait that they feel would best represent the European perspective of this first nation’s person. Have students label their portrait.
Teachers may want to inspire student thinking by asking students what the European perspective may have been on the portrait subject’s:
• Facial features
Note: Teachers may want to give students further context on the early European perspective of First Nations peoples first if this has not yet been covered in class.
Have students present their drawings at the front of the room. Reveal the actual portraits attached to these names (as linked above.) Create a class sized Venn diagram comparing the similarities and differences between student “European” drawings and the reality of the portraits. Note any similarities.
Discuss who may have painted the portraits and why he/she did so.
Create table stations. Use a copy of the four newspaper articles listed below and place one at each station. Have students rotate between stations with the newspaper article detailing de Grandmaison’s life or work. Have students pick out elements of de Grandmaison’s identity (nationality, history, immigration status, career etc.) and his reasons for painting the First Nations peoples of Canada and enter the information in chart form.
A printable PDF version can be found here.
After students have completed their charts, discuss how de Grandmaison’s past, namely his experiences in Europe may have led him to identify with the plight of the Canadian First Nations.
Consider assessing student drawings for understanding of bias and the European perspective. Within the chart, students may be assessed on their understanding of how a different perspective (de Grandmaison), may alter the history left behind through primary sources.