Aboriginal Education Resources

DRS Friesen



Featured Books
Canadian Aboriginal Art and Spirituality: A Vital Link
(2006) John W Friesen and Virginia Lyons Friesen

During the late nineteenth century and most of the twentieth century, Aboriginal art, like virtually every other component of the First Nations’ lifestyle, received short shrift in Canadian historical literature. Aboriginal philosophy was mislabeled, Native culture was misunderstood, and Indigenous art was misinterpreted and called craft. Even the spiritual bases of Aboriginal art were discounted or ignored...


Today the scene is changing, thanks to the availability of more thoroughly researched accounts provided by anthropologists, artists, archeologists, educators, and historians, but most of all, due to the efforts of Indigenous researchers. Their historians, poets, artists, and elders have worked hard to set the record straight by describing historical events and cultural practices from their perspective. They have been tireless in their efforts, which are slowly bearing fruit. Aboriginal art is finally being regarded as art in its own right in the best sense of the word.

The book presents a literary and visual journey, reflecting on Indigenous lifestyles and artwork of the seven major culture areas of Canada: Maritime, Eastern Woodland, Plains, Plateau, Northwest Coast, Northern, and Métis. Most of the cited Aboriginal artists are internationally known, and their careers represent a wide variety of artistic undertakings including architecture, carving, ceramics, drama, film, graphic arts, jewellery-design, mask-making, media, painting, photography, print-making, and sculpture.

Canadian Aboriginal Art and Spirituality: A Vital Link, explores history, symbolism, current and historic influences, and the multi-faceted meaning of Aboriginal artistic expression in various Indigenous cultures. From the totem poles of the Northwest First Nations and the flamboyant Red River Jig of the Métis, to the intricate basketry of Maritime tribes and unique architectural design employed by the Inuit, the authors offer a holistic overview of Canadian Aboriginal Art.


"The Friesens' literary journey is actually an educational opportunity of a lifetime, and for educators, students, libraries and others who count on well-documented facts to guarantee accurate results, one that shouldn't be missed. Just as they have in all eight of the titles they've co-written since 2001, John and Virginia Friesen have used thorough research techniques that ensure historical accuracy...It is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship that proves there's nothing more powerful than the written word..."

--John Copley, Alberta Native News, February, 2006

Legends of the Elders Handbook for Teachers, Homeschoolers, and Parents
(2005) John W Friesen and Virginia Lyons Friesen

Legends of the Elders Handbook for Teachers, Homeschoolers, and Parents is a teaching guide to accompany the original four books of the Legends series.


The stories in the series are brought to life through fun and educational lessons that have been designed specifically to promote active student participation for ease of learning. Lessons focus on particular areas of instruction such as Mathematics, Computer Research, Language Arts, and Physical education, as well as an important developmental abilities like Comprehension, Fine Motor Skills, Critical Thinking, and Cooperation.


The Legend Series is intended to encourage students to gain understanding of Native American history, cultures, lifestyles, and heritage through the study of legends. This objective coincides with provincial and state curriculum requirements. The activities included in this Handbook will provide students with a fun, hands-on, historical, and cultural experience.

The Handbook contains an activity and a suggested grade level for each legend from the four books in the series. These activities may be adapted to use with other legends, or at different grade levels.

Each Legend Activity includes an explanation of how to use the material provided and may include some or all of the following components:

1. Tribe/First Nation: identifies the tribe that is acknowledged as narrating a particular legend;

2. Curriculum Connection: addresses required subject matter such as physical education, art, and many others;

3. Grade Level: suggested grade level for the activity;

4. Objective: student goals or teacher objectives;

5. Background: points that need to be clarified to enhance understanding of the legend;

6. Focus Questions: for use at the beginning of the lesson to accentuate student interest, and:

7. Activity: enhances the study of each particular legend and makes learning fun.


Legend Books Series:

"Each book, authored by southern Alberta writers, John and Virginia Friesen, retells many interesting stories form the Aboriginal community and in doing so offers readers a privileged look into the past, to a time when the stories of the Elders were accepted for what they really were, lessons about life.
...an ideal gift item for any child and every adult who loves to read...thought provoking tales and legends...Although the Friesens' books carry just about every type of legend, they don't cross the line when it comes to Indigenous spirituality."

Legends of the Elders Handbook for Teachers, Homeschoolers and Parents:

"As educators, both understood the value that the stories could have for school-aged children and as a result they compiled an interesting and very helpful, Legends of the Elders Handbook for Teachers, Homeschoolers and Parents, a professionally designed 209 page book that provides teachers, caregivers and parents with a hands-on guide that offers procedures, objectives and activities and includes information on where to locate background material in the Legends books.

...a teacher-friendly instruction manual...Games, puzzles, various glossaries and a short introduction accompany nearly 200 pages of instructional text...which provides all the tools they'll need to deliver the interesting lessons that comprise the instruction book."

-- John Copley, Alberta Native News, April, 2006

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