Be a Good Ancestor Book Resource: Indigenous Teaching and Practices


Connecting to our environment and Ancestors is a vital Indigenous teaching demonstrating the essential connections needed to grow holistically.

The picture book Be A Good Ancestor by Leona and Gabrielle Prince is a story rooted in Indigenous teachings that asks readers to examine how they connect to the world around them and think deeply about their actions' consequences.

The story looks at environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community making the delivery of a universal message accessible.

Leona and Gabrielle Prince offer an indispensable reminder about the beauty and potential that lives within all of us. The elaborate illustrations by Carla Joseph help support the poem-like flow of the words on each page and portray how a connection to our environment and Ancestors benefits us all.

This book supports the Heart-Mind Well-Being framework through the exploration of connections between humans and the environment, in ways that honour Indigenous ways of knowing and being. The book highlights the necessity for readers to explore how being Compassionate & Kind helps us build connections with the past, present and future. This leads young readers to see how these bonds are essential to bring practices that nurture Secure & Calm into one's life for long-term resilience and peace.

The many layers in Be a Good Ancestor allow readers of all ages to make connections and explore how these teachings are reflected in their everyday lives. The following activities have been created to guide exploration of Indigenous teaching and essential skill development in being Compassionate & Kind and Secure & Calm.

8 Ways to Support Being a Good Ancestor

In preparation for this resource’s activities, take a few minutes to reflect on what it means to be a good Ancestor and what actions you already take to foster this mindset.

Connect with family members and learn your own cultural history Help children build connections with their own identities and get to know more about where they come from. This can include having conversations with family members or exploring genealogy records. Indigenous families can get free support with exploring their family history through the Connection to Kith and Kin program at VPL.

Take care of the land we live on Learn about ways to help take care of the land we live on and support the community in preserving its natural beauty. Invite children to participate in activities that support them in learning ways to become land stewards. This can include participating in recycling programs or community gardens.

Go explore the land Help children build vital relationships with the world outside and recognize its importance. This can include going for a nature walk or having a picnic at a community green space. Children's social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature.

Respect the living things of the land Learn about the animals that live on the land we share and what we can do to help keep them safe. Invite children to pick areas of interest related to the living things of the land and create their own action plans on how they hope to protect their environment. This can include activities like creating projects around their interest or visiting wildlife rehabilitation centres.

Build relationships with your community and neighbours Help children see their footprint by connecting them to their community and neighbours. Invite children to find ways they can outreach and build relationships. This can include taking them to community events and helping neighbours with age-appropriate tasks.

Create space to express growth Invite children to think about how their actions affect not only the present but also the future. Work together to write, draw, collage, or paint how their actions hold consequences. Allow children a respectful space to think about and express their ideas and growing understanding of complex concepts.

Support compassion and understanding Help children see that this path of taking care of others also requires one to take care of their own well-being. Work with children to develop strategies that focus on taking care of their mental and physical health. This can include teaching strategies that embody taking rest when needed, taking time to reflect on tough situations, doing physical activity to feel good, seeking help when things become too much, and eating things that nurture the body. A way to teach these strategies is to model the behaviour you are hoping to see and demonstrate how to make it good practice.

Be a Good Ancestor Invite children to think about ways they can be good Ancestors, and help them make an action plan for one action they can do to work towards this goal. It is also good practice to reach out to a local friendship centre, Indigenous community, or Elder to find a way to become involved.


Teaching Supports:

FNESC - First Peoples Principles of Learning A set of Indigenous Knowledge-minded principles created by Indigenous Elders, scholars and knowledge keepers to guide the development of the curriculum and teaching.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action The Canadian Governments report to support and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.

Youtube - Leona Prince presents Be a Good Ancestor Co-author Leona Prince introduces her work and highlights important areas of reflection for readers to consider as they work through the story.

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  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.