Cultural Calendar Ideas for November
November is a time when the weather is becoming colder, and our section of Mother Earth is freezing over. Animals are getting ready to hibernate and plant life is sparse.
In Hul'qumi'num November is referred to as “Tth’al’xwumutsun” - this is the time when the ground is glistening from frost or ice.
In Sencoten it is “Weselanew” which translates to falling leaves.
The Chilcotin people refer to November as “Benen Lhiz-Qwen-Yex Ts’enish” - meaning it usually snows in November. Historically this is when the Chilcotin people would move into underground houses.
The Kwakwala people refer to it as “Gwaxsam” - meaning Dog Salmon time.
The Nisga’a refer to November as “Gwilatkw” - blanketing of new snow.
The Cree people refer to November as "Iyikopiwipēsim" - the Frost Moon.
With the addition of warmer clothes November is a great month for adventures in the outdoors to witness all of the changes happening out on the land! Can you think of places near your community that would be great places for children to experience the seasonal changes?
It is also a great time to take children to see examples of traditional language being shown in community. Elders or Knowledge Keepers can accompany to give the teachings of the meanings! This can be on hospital signs, welcome signs, First Nation’s Govt offices, arenas, schools etc.
Do you have places in your community to walk with the children to see traditional language signage? Which Elders could you invite?
Special Days in November:
At AHSABC we are grateful to have Inuit Knowledge Keepers such as Elder Diane Metuk incorporating the important teachings of the Inuit people.
“I love working at Treasure our Young Ones, Aboriginal Headstart program. It is like revitalizing the culture, every time I enter here, I want to learn about different ethnic groups. I grew up in Panituuq, Nunavut. I love teaching the children one word a week in my language Inuktitut, also sharing stories and songs in Inuktitut.”
National Inuit Day: November 7th, 2023.
National Inuit Day is a day to celebrate Inuit people and honour the accomplishments they have made to protect and promote the Inuit way of life. It is also to make sure their voices continue to be heard as the heads of the Inuit Circumpolar Council that work to promote Inuit rights, protect the arctic environment and safeguard the Inuit way of life.
How does your program reflect Inuit culture in the classroom? What materials are provided to children and families of the program to learn about Inuit culture?
Does your community have an Indigenous veteran or veterans to celebrate? Do families have an Indigenous veteran they would like to honour?
National Indigenous Veterans Day: November 8, 2023.
First commemorated in 1994 Indigenous Veterans Day is a Memorial Day to honour the service of First Nations, Metis and Inuit veterans who have served and made monumental contributions to the war efforts - unfortunately due to the Indian Act, the process of recognition was delayed.
Remembrance Day: November 11, 2023.
Memorials and ceremonies to honour Canada’s veterans will occur across the country. Share places in the community that families can take their children to take part. Remembrance Day
Louis Riel Day: November 21, 2023.
The Metis Nation of BC. commemorates Louis Riel Day on November 21st of every year! Louis Riel was a Metis leader who led the Metis resistance and was hung for his actions.
We asked several AHSABC Metis Elders why Louis Riel Day is important…here’s what they said:
"Louis Riel was the leader of the Metis an educated man as well as a politician. He was a visionary who was able to bring Indigenous nations together to fight against the government of Canada. He was feared by the government because of this, which is why he was hung for treason." -- Jo White (Talking Little Feet)
"Louis Riel was the leader of the Metis movement in Manitoba, he and his followers are the reason there is a Metis Nation today. He was a lawyer, in a sense, the first president of the Metis Movement, and he advocated for women's rights years before anyone else. He was inclusive of all Metis people; I wish it were so today. He gave his life for the people."
-- Jean Lloyd
"We celebrate Louis Riel as it was important Indigenous people had someone to stand up to keep our Indigenous languages and to keep our right to be out on the land with the animals to hunt and keep our traditional lively hood... He gave up his life to stand up for these rights so it is important to celebrate him!" -- Phil Gladue, MNBC Senator and AHSABC Elders Council
"Louis Riel was a political man of vision, a great Metis man who was unjustly hung for treason November 16,1885 for being the leader of the Red River resistance and the battle of Batoche. It is important that we commemorate his life and acknowledge his courage and the sacrifices he made in fighting for the rights, language and culture of Metis people."
-- Linda V. Sas Natsadle Elder
This month we have gathered ideas based on the weather, changes to Mother Earth after the fall equinox, seasonal cultural teachings and teachings that reflect the important dates in November!
What are ways programs can celebrate Louis Riel Day with children, families and Elders?
Does your program celebrate Louis Riel Day?
In honour of Louis Riel Day, AHSABC will be gifting each BC. based program a collection of items - these items will help incorporate Louis Riel Day and Metis culture into your classroom. A big thank you to Pat Calihou, Strong Nations (Lori J) and Achilles from Good Minds/Indigenous Reflections for helping to secure the resource items needed!
Science Topics to Explore for the Month of November:
Process of water turning to ice: How does ice and icebergs form.
Snowflakes: How do they form? Have children examine snowflakes under microscopes, if possible.
Why do animals hibernate: Which specific animals hibernate? How do animals stay warm?
Why is the weather getting colder?
Use large pieces of black paper, white chalk, white paint, glue sticks, silver and blue glitter, white tissue paper, holographic paper, foam pieces, foam snowflake stickers, magazines that feature foods, people, arctic animals, arctic animal and snowflake stencils, cotton balls, popsicle sticks, cardboard pieces etc. Hang pictures of log cabins, different images of snow flakes, photos of children playing in the snow from the previous year, arctic animal photos in the art area at the children’s level to encourage creativity.
Items from nature can be used to make seasonal 3D décor that children can arrange, decorate or paint.
These can be made with plaster of paris or a hardening clay and molded into shapes, such as trees to represent the sacred spruce and pine, or a snowflake, a pair of mukluks, moccasins, mittens or anything else you can think of.
Pinecones can be decorated with glitter and white paint to be made to look like snowy pinecones.
A variety of items can be offered to children to have them create pinecones into woodland forest creatures.
Have water, ice cubes and arctic animals in the water table. Let the children see the ice melting in the water.
Freeze plastic items into ice cube form put in the sensory table or on trays with cups of warm water, plastic butter knives and let children try to get items out of the cubes.
Make tabletop sensory bins with arctic animals, foam balls in different sizes, cotton balls, clear glass marbles, fake snow, foam snowflakes, tweezers, spoons, etc. Individual tabletop sensory bins are a great activity for children to have some time for reflection and quiet play!
Cooking / Food Prep / Gathering:
This is a great month for lots of warm foods for little bellies! Ideas such as cornmeal or stone-ground oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts for breakfast, warm breads full of grains to accompany soups and stews with traditional ingredients for lunch and hot out of the oven fruit/veggie loaves and muffins with low sugar content and traditional items such as mountain blueberries, freshly grown corn, low and high bush cranberries, saskatoons, acorn squash and huckleberries that were picked and frozen.
Stone Soup Cooking Activity:
Thank you to Sheena Rogers for submitting this idea from Little Moccasins and Little Mukluks in Williams Lake.
At our program we would read the story of Stone Soup at circle time. After we would take the children out to choose a rock, we would boil the rock, so it was sanitized or purchase a rock that looked real. The next day, we would let the children bring in vegetables if they wanted but also had vegetables on hand for the children to contribute to the soup. The children would help cut the vegetables; we would add all the ingredients to the pot. The Chef would then cook the soup and we would serve it the next day for lunch.
Building Block/Construction Area:
Add baskets full cotton balls, cotton batting, arctic animals to the block area. Kayaks, dog sled, skidoo and red river cart toys can be added if they are available. Move the block area close to windows so children can watch falling snow, rain, etc.
Dramatic Play Area:
Make your dramatic play area look like a warm and cozy log cabin. Have rocking chairs, a kitchen play area, warm and cozy clothes for the children to dress in robes, slippers, traditional mukluks, moccasins, hide mittens, capotes, fur and other traditional style hats. Empty hot chocolate cans, tea boxes, baking powder, salt containers, oil containers for children to pretend making cocoa and Bannock. Tea set, pot, wooden spoons, soup pot, plastic potatoes and other veggies to make soup.
Move your reading area to a quiet cozy place in the room. This could be under a loft in a nice quiet corner of the room away from busy traffic areas, add furs, fuzzy blankets, large pillows etc. Feature books about life in the arctic, the Inuit people, arctic animals etc.
The weather is getting colder! Gather donations of warm clothing and feature a sharing bin this month for families to select items they need!
Depending on location, the sleds and toboggans may be ready to come out close to the middle or end of the month. Have parents, Elders, volunteers over to do a sliding day on a safe and accessible hill, take the children out on toboggans for a walk around the community etc.
Take the children out to witness frozen ponds and other changes to the land. This is a perfect time to have elders introduce new words in traditional language. For example: snow, the word for November, ice, words related to temperature change etc. Invite families to get language teachings outdoors with the children and staff.
Have traditional tea and hot chocolate outside! Invite Elders to sit and have tea with the children and tell stories outdoors.
Have active gross motor games outside: such as duck, duck, goose, red light, green light, the farmer in the dell, jumping jack contests etc. All these games will not only help keep children warm they are great games to switch words into traditional language for children to gain familiarity through repetition.
Circle Time Area:
November is a great month to give teachings about our traditional healing trees such as the cedar, spruce, pine.
Invite Parents/Elders/Knowledge Keepers, community members to share teachings and stories on these sacred trees and others that may be specifically sacred to your local nations.
Post pictures of the trees! Bring in spruce boughs, pine needles and cedar for the children to smell and touch! Read books that feature these sacred trees. Show traditional products that are special to Indigenous groups such as cedar hats, cedar rope, pine needle boxes and birch bark canoes and baskets.
Have Elders and Knowledge Keepers in to teach the children how to make bannock, traditional soups and stews, baked and fried fish and other recipes especially those traditional food recipes that contain large amounts of vitamin C perfect for fighting off the cold and flu season.
Have Elders compile a cold weather recipe book to send home to families!
Invite Elders to come dressed warm so they can do teachings in the outdoors. Check in with Elders to see if they need assistance to gather warm winter items! Have Elders plan teachings on the sacred trees that are important to their nation(s).
Parent Involvement Ideas:
November brings dry air indoors and the cold and flu season. This is the perfect month to boil traditional medicines such as cedar and spruce and burn medicines such as sage and sweetgrass for air purification in your program! Let parents and children know this is what you will be doing and the traditional teachings as to why!
Send medicines that are used by local nations home with families with instructions included that were created by a knowledge holder or Elder.
Have Elders/Knowledge Keepers host traditional medicine workshops with families for common illnesses that are popular in the winter months.
Gather parents bi-weekly to get together and work on traditional crafts for the upcoming gifting season. Have a health nurse attend the PAC meeting this month to answer cold and flu questions and concerns!
Outreach / Activity kits:
November is a great month to celebrate and highlight your programs cook! Traditional food is the star of every community at events and feasts and in homes and that is also the case in our programs! Every cook and child has their favourite recipes. Send home a favourite recipe with ingredients as well as a picture and introduction of your program chef/cook.
Hang white canopies to replicate falling snow! Add twinkling lights and snowflakes! Have warm furs under the canopy and traditional stories, and stories with snow and snowflakes. A fire made from felt or other craft items can go in the middle of the furs!
Resources & Related Articles:
Book of the Month:
Title: The Most Amazing Bird!
Author: Michael Kasugak
Illustrator: Andrew Qappik
Renowned Inuit storyteller Michael Kasugak tells a story about a young girl’s discovery of natures wonders and hidden beauty! Experience the different season changes in the Arctic through the eyes of an Elder.
Recommended Children’s Books / Resource Books:
In honour of National Inuit Day and Louis Riel Day in BC. we have chosen the following books to recommend for the month of November!
Author: Deborah Delaronde
A little boy and his grandfather go back in time to experience the fur trade and the Metis Resistance.
Author: Nadia Mike
Children learn about the winter darkness in the arctic and the traditional activities that happen during this time.
Author: Monica Ittuksaarjuat
Learn Inuktitut through the lifecycles of the caribou.
Author: Leah Marie Dorion & Norman Fleury
A retelling of a traditional Metis story about giving and receiving!
Recipe of the Month: Breaded Boneless Goose
Goose breast and leg muscles
1 cup flour
1 Shake n’ Bake bag or seasoned fine breadcrumbs.
1 bag (for flour)
Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut goose into bite-sized pieces or thin strips and cook in pot on low temperature 2 on stove-top burner for about ½ hour. Drain water from goose, put goose into a bag with flour, shake it well, discard leftover flour. Stir eggs in bowl. Mix goose in eggs, then transfer goose into Shake ‘n Bake bag, shake well. Put goose into oven and cook to desired crispness, 15 minutes minimum. Tip: for thick and crispy coating of Shake ‘n Bake, repeat step 4 with another bag.
For more Northern inspired recipes from Inuit home cooks from Nunavut please check out:
Traditional foods and wellness link of the month: Nunavimmiut Cookbook