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Lesson Plan October 3, 2016

Images and Identity: Analyzing Photographs as Primary Sources



  1. Have you heard the term primary sources before? In what context?
  2. What are examples of primary sources?
  3. What are the differences between primary and secondary sources?


  1. When you hear the term “residential school,” what do you think of?
  2. Why did the Canadian government force indigenous children into residential schools? What was the goal of this educational policy?
  3. What were the conditions in the residential schools?
  4. What was and is the impact of this policy on Aboriginal families, children, and culture?
  5. Are these resources primary or secondary sources?


  1. Look at the photographs and analyze each one. Try to determine
    1. Who created it?
    2. When and where was it taken?
    3. What does it show? (What is it intended to show?)
    4. Why is it historically significant?
  2. Who were these photographs for and why were they taken?
  3. Based ONLY on these images, how would you view the Canadian Indian Residential Schools?
  4. Look at the photographs and analyze each one.
    1. What technique does Daniella Zalcman use in these photographs and why?
    2. What does each photograph show? (What is it intended to show?)
    3. Who are these images intended for?
    4. Why are the photographs and the accompanying interview excerpts historically significant?
    5. What challenges did Daniella Zalcman grapple with while working on this project?
  5. What are the similarities and differences between these photographs?
  6. Based on all the material you read and viewed as part of the lesson, how do you view the Canadian Indian Residential Schools?
  7. How do you reconcile the two sets of images along with the information presented in the background reading?
  8. Why is it important to view, read, or listen to more than one source?
  9. How can people documenting the past incorporate voices and experiences often overlooked in historical studies?
  10. How can a person engage with a person from another culture sensitively? How can we respect other people’s cultural backgrounds and their experiences?


  1. Should the Canadian government mitigate the effect of residential school policy and if so, how does it do that?
  2. How does what you learn today impact how you think about Aboriginal culture in Canada? Does it impact how you think about the Canadian government or religious groups that participated in the residential school system?

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