24 Tips on Creating Culturally Inclusive Schools

October 18, 2015

In Culturally Inclusive Schools - Why it’s Important we looked at the effect of the comparatively low graduation rate of Aboriginal students and the impact on all Canadians. Here we offer some suggestions for schools to consider in their effort to create a culturally inclusive environment for Aboriginal students.

statement-of-apology-to-residential-school-survivors-on school wall

We are not suggesting the following are a panacea to solving the education gap, but what we are suggesting is that if schools put some effort into creating a culturally inclusive school environment, then they could have a positive effect on the comfort level of their Aboriginal students which could go a long way to those students wanting to stay the course, graduate and carry on to pursue post-secondary education.


  1. All schools - whether there is an Aboriginal student population or not - should consider prominently displaying a framed copy of the 2008 Statement of Apology by Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper to former students of Indian Residential Schools, on behalf of the Government of Canada. The above photo of the Apology is prominently displayed at Stelly's Secondary School in Saanich, BC.
  2. Acknowledge the traditional or treaty land on which the school sits on the school website
  3. Include greeting in local language at all ceremonies – invite an Elder to attend the ceremonies and deliver the greeting/song or ask a student from that community to deliver the greeting
  4. Ensure resources are available for teachers to learn about the local Indigenous community’s history, culture and traditions and more
  5. Ensure resources are available for teachers to learn how historical events relate to the present demographic and economic environment
  6. Include use of local Indigenous language in the classroom - something as simple as having the class learn how to say “good morning” or “welcome” in the local language and start each class with the phrase
  7. Organize Indigenous language classes after school for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students
  8. Don’t expect Indigenous students to speak as representatives of all Indigenous Peoples - recognize and respect cultural diversity
  9. Avoid making any one student a cultural representative
  10. Include treaty education in curriculum if the school is on treaty lands
  11. Realize that some non-Indigenous students come from backgrounds that may have entrenched stereotypical views of Indigenous Peoples - have a school wide code of zero tolerance for stereotypical comments
  12. Ensure school library is stocked with relevant history books – books that address the Indian Act, assimilation, and residential schools
  13. Ensure the school library includes novels by Indigenous authors
  14. Ensure the school library has a copy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report
  15. Ensure there is Indigenous art on the walls by local communities
  16. Include Indigenous games in gym classes – connect with local Indigenous community and find out their traditional games and invite someone from the community to teach the games as part of the gym curriculum
  17. Include Indigenous dance in theatre classes
  18. Include Indigenous films in film study classes
  19. Include Indigenous songs, drumming in music classes
  20. Include Indigenous traditional food preparation in Home Economics classes
  21. Include Indigenous fabric arts in sewing classes
  22. Study Indigenous art and artists in art classes
  23. Celebrate and support Orange Day every September 30 - ensure students understand the history of residential schools and the sensitive nature of the ongoing generational impact of the residential school system
  24. Celebrate and support National Indigenous Peoples Day every June 21- invite Aboriginal (Indigenous) students to help plan the school’s celebration; invite Elders from the community to help plan the school’s celebration

Interested in making a commitment to reconciliation? Download this Pledge and pin it to your fridge and share it with your peers & pals. 


Topics: Indigenous Education

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.
Covenant House logo, photo of Trevor Snider - Commemorating a Reconciliation Ally - Donate today!

About this Blog

Let this blog be your guide to Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®. We have hundreds of articles loaded with tips, suggestions, videos, and free eBooks for you. Happy reading!

Subscribe to the Indigenous Relations Newsletter

Recent Posts

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., provides information on this blog for free as a resource for those seeking information about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Readers looking for more detailed information, or who have questions, can sign up for our fee-for-service training. Also, ICT encourages everyone who reads this information to use their best judgment given their own circumstances, vulnerabilities, and needs, and to contact a consulting or legal professional if you have more specific questions. Join the conversation over on our Linkedin page.