Aboriginal Curriculum Integration Project


The Apology to the Stolen Generations of Australia:
Relating to Canada's Aboriginal Experience

Teacher Note: Depending on the length of class time available, this lesson may take 2-3 sessions to complete.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

Steps to the Unit

  1. Watch a movie discussing Australia's Stolen Generation and the removal of Aboriginal children from their homes by government authorities. Students complete a Four Quad organizer while viewing video.
  2. Complete a Jigsaw Instructional Activity on three articles discussing how Canadian government policy and legislation have impacted Canadian Aboriginal populations.
  3. Discuss key vocabulary.
  4. Compare and contrast the experiences of Canada's and Australia's Aboriginal populations in response to government policy and action.
  5. Reflect on new understanding.




Students will create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the Canadian Aboriginal residential school experience and the Australian Aboriginal Stolen Generation experience.

Activate Prior Knowledge:

Canada's Aboriginal populations have faced many challenges as a result of federal government policies and legislation that govern Aboriginal life in Canada. In fact, there are many other Aboriginal and indigenous populations throughout the world that have also faced challenges as a result of immigration into their traditional territories. One example is the Aboriginal population of Australia and what has become know as the Stolen Generation.

The experience of the Stolen Generation is one very similar to that of Canadian Aboriginals and the residential school system.

To increase student understanding of Australia's Stolen Generation, students watch the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002, Alliance Atlantis: 90 mins) and complete a Four Quad Organizer while viewing the video. Students should record any new vocabulary words, important events from the movie, important images and pictures, and any emotions or reflections they have while viewing the movie.

Reminder: It is important to stop throughout the video and give students (A/B partners) opportunity to talk or respond to the video.

(Note: Rabbit-Proof Fence may be available at your School District Resource Center. If not, it should be available at most video rental stores.)


Once students have finished watching and discussing Rabbit-Proof Fence, teachers print out and distribute a What's Important and Why fact sheet and information from the European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights website. In A/B partners, students read the information and record the important facts under each heading; discussing the reasons why the facts were important. Facts under the heading What is Being Done should be recorded on the back of the What's Important and Why sheet.


Predict and Question:

Once the students have finished viewing and discussing Rabbit-Proof Fence, students now think about the residential school experience for Aboriginals in Canada and consider the following questions:

What do the students already know about the residential school experience in Canada?
Is the Australian Aboriginal experience similar to Canada's Aboriginal experience?
What are the students wondering about residential schools?


To increase student understanding of policies and legislation affecting Canadian Aboriginal populations, teachers print off the following three articles:

(Reed, K., & Quinlan, D. (1999). Aboriginal Peoples: Building for the Future (p. 44-49). Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada.)

Students break into groups of three and teachers distribute the articles using a Jigsaw format. For more information on conducting a Jigsaw learning activity, please visit the following link on the Jigsaw Instructional Strategy.

(Note: Depending on the size of class, expert groups should be no larger than 4-5 students.)


Students now take the information learned in the previous sections and create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the Canadian Aboriginal residential school experience and the Australian Aboriginal Stolen Generation experience. Students may work in A/B partners or work individually. The Venn Diagrams may be created either on large poster paper or using a graphics program on a computer. Once completed students/student partner groups present their findings to the class.


On the back of their graphic organizers, students write at least two new ideas or questions they have regarding the Aboriginal experience in Canada and Australia. How has their thinking changed?

Extend Learning or Next Lesson

Students view footage of the Australian Prime Minister's Apology to the Stolen Generations. Students complete a What's Important and Why organizer while viewing/listening to the apology and consider the following questions:

Other suggestions to extend student learning include: