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Stephen Augustine



Lesson Plan Grade Level

Intermediate (Grades 7-9)

Time Required

2 - 3 hours

Traditional Teachings

Mi’kmaq Creation Story

Student Summary

Creationism, or creation theology, is a non-scientific view on the origin of life. Creationists believe that life energy was transferred to the first human by a deity. Creationism is the belief that humans, life, the Earth, and the universe were created by a supreme being or deity's supernatural intervention. (Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia). Advocates of creationism argue for the existence of a “designer” and most believe the “Intelligent Design” of life on earth to be attributable to God. Many believe in the creation of earth and Man as told in the bible – a creation of Adam and Eve, the plants, the animals, and all life forms in six days, resting on the seventh. This view is widely recognized as a Christian view of creation.

Non-Christian creation theologies exist in various cultures worldwide as well, including Aboriginal cultures such as the Mi’kmaq. The Mi’kmaq Creation Story includes seven levels of Creation originated by the Creator. This story describes how life began for humans, animals and plants as a process of seven stages, or levels, of creation. The sky represents the Giver of Life which created the earth (Level 1). The Spirit of Essence represented by the Sun, together with the Earth, created life in the second level as the Giver of Shadows.

The shadows reflected the identities, characteristics and spirits of ancestors. The Shadows were the joining of earth, matter and the blood of human life (Level 2). Level 2 connected the spirit world to the physical world as human life became the centre. Level 3 of creation was seen in the surface of the area of what they call Mother Earth. The beat of a drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

In Level 4 the first man was created, Glooskap, from a bolt of lightning that hit the earth with him lying in the direction of the rising sun with his feet facing the setting sun and arms outstretched to the north and south. With the bolt of lighting, the life force met with the leaves and plants and feathers, bones, stones and wood so that when lightning hit a second time Glooskap developed fingers and toes, and seven sacred parts to his head (eyes, ears, nose and mouth). At the third bolt of lightning Glooskap was freed to walk and move about, giving thanks to Mother Earth and Grandfather Sun and the South, the West, the North and the East for his creation. Once returning to the east where he was created, Glooskap was visited by an eagle that told him that he would soon be joined by his family to help him understand his place in this world. The eagle dropped a feather which Glooskap caught, giving him strength and serving as a symbol of the link between his people and the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth.

In Level 5 Glooskap met his Grandmother who sat on a rock and taught him to respect her wisdom and knowledge about the stars, the wind, the seasons and the tides, the characteristics and the behaviour of the plants and animals and how to make food and clothing and shelter. For their sustenance, Glooskap took the life of a marten, asking permission of the animal first, and giving thanks to the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth afterwards. Then using the seven sparks from the bolts of lightning that created Glooskap and seven pieces of dry wood, cousin Whirwind was invited to create the Great Spirit Fire. Grandmother and Glooskap feasted to celebrate Grandmother’s arrival into the world.

In Level 6 Glooskap met a young man who said he was Glooskap’s sister’s son, a creation of Whirlwind who passed through the ocean in the direction of the rising sun, causing foam to form and blow ashore. This foam rolled in sand and picked up rocks and wood and feathers, eventually resting on sweet grass. With the help of the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth the nephew was created. The nephew offered vision to the future and came as a gift of the ancestors and a responsibility to Glooskap to guide, as the young turn to the old for direction in life. And just as Glooskap took the life of the marten for survival, the nephew called upon the fish to give up their lives. Glooskap gave thanks, apologizing for taking the shadow of the fish and for taking elements of Mother Earth for their own survival. Again they feasted and continued to learn from Grandmother.

In the final level, 7, Glooskap’s mother appeared, coming first as a leaf on a tree that fell to the ground and collected dew. The Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth made Glooskap’s mother from this dew to bring gifts to her children: the colours of the world, understanding and love, so that her children would know how to share and care for one another. Glooskap had his nephew gather food for a feast to celebrate the creation of Glooskap’s mother. Glooskap was leader, respecting the teachings of the elders, the vision and strength of the young people and the gifts of the ancestors, and the teachings on how to rely on each other and to respect and care for one another. In this way, they lived a good life.

Learner Objectives


  • To understand creation from a traditional Mi’kmaq perspective
  • To reflect, deconstruct and evaluate the Mi’kmaq Creation Story from a scientific perspective, an artistic perspective, and a philosophical perspective.
  • To identify the roles of the elements, humans and animals in maintaining balance in the ecosystem


  • To develop insight as to the circle of life through the generations
  • To identify the gifts of the young and the old in teaching and learning
  • To determine through investigations the factors that contribute to the transfer of energy in the body

Skills/Applications :

  • To formulate operational definitions of the vocabulary terms
  • To develop proficiency in listening, speaking, writing, questioning and negotiating
  • To apply an aesthetic analysis to the Creation Story to interpret images of a theme

Subject Strand Links

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Art
  • Philosophy


  1. Begin discussion with a question, “What is life?” Brainstorm answers on board. Add the question, “Where and how did life begin?” Brainstorm thoughts.
  2. Now ask students to move to one of three areas of the room – one will be the area for those who enjoy art and music, and wish to examine these questions further from that perspective. Others will go to the form a group to work from a scientific and/or chemical/biological perspective. The third group will work together from a philosophic perspective.
  3. Continue the brainstorming with a new lens on to answer this question from the three groups. How would a poet describe life and how it began? How would a scientist? What would a philosopher say? Discuss the differences in the ideas put forth from the three groups. Is there anything all three groups agree on?
  4. Introduce Stephen Augustine, Mi’kmaq elder from the Maritimes, and the Mi’kmaq Creation Story. View Four Directions homepage together as a class to:
    1. View elder video clip
    2. Listen to elder biography
    3. Read “Mi’kmaq Creation Story” (PDF)
    4. Listen to Stephen’s teaching, “The First Level of Creation,” “The Second Level of Creation, “The Third Level of Creation,” “The Fourth Level of Creation,” “The Fifth Level of Creation,” “The Sixth Level of Creation,” and “The Seventh Level of Creation.”
  5. The groups will explore the Mi’kmaq Creation Story from their own perspectives simultaneously:
    1. The scientific group will review how do the bolts of lightning compare to photosynthesis. How does the wind generated by Whirlwind relate to the concept of cellular respiration? What conclusions might you draw about traditional Mi’kmaq views of the ecosystem based on these comparisons?
    2. The artistic group will discuss what the bolts of lightning symbolize. How do the animals relate to Glooskap? What have authors and poets written about the forces of the ocean and the wind? What do these elements represent and how are they intertwined? What art pieces do you know that express the ideas of this story? What conclusions might you draw about traditional Mi’kmaq views of energy based on these comparisons?
    3. The philosophical group will discuss the mythological elements of the Mi’kmaq Creation Story. Who are the main characters? What do the characters represent? Who are the teachers in the story? Who are the learners? What is the moral of the story? What conclusions might you draw about the traditional Mi’kmaq knowledge on how to sustain life?
  6. Wrap up with a reading of the Student Summary above and a selection of discussion topics and/or optional exercises below.

Discussion Topics:

  • Explain the relevance of the Mi’kmaq creation story to the Mi’kmaq people. What knowledge does this story provide in terms of living “a very nice and very happy life”, as Augustine says?
  • How does the knowledge gained from this story impact on our understanding of our ecosystem? To what extent is the relationship between Glooskap and the sea, sweet grass, and the wind a symbiotic one (mutually advantageous)?
  • In what ways is Glooskap responsible for the nephew? What is the significance of their relationship? What universal truths are there in Glooskap’s relationships with his family members? Explain how these connections are representative of the relationships of all families in all societies and in every generation.

Optional Exercises:

  • Conduct a tree or garden planting project. Seek the help of community organizations (see link below) for direction.
  • Illustrate the steps involved in cellular respiration and photosynthesis in flowcharts, identifying all parts and processes clearly.
  • Demonstrate photosynthesis through an experiment using plants, sunlight, and sunlight filters.
  • Contact a local First Nation to identify an environmental representative to present to the school.
  • Tour a wetland or conservation area.
  • Research the definitions of the terms in the vocabulary.


  • Creationism
  • Mother Earth
  • Deity
  • Theology
  • Sustenance
  • Ecosystem

Materials Required



  1. Take a written short-answer form of test
  2. Make an oral presentation from one of the three views presented on the Creation Story

Additional Resources