Lesson Plan: The Gaels And The Mi'Kmaq


Social Studies 6, Outcome 2:

Students will analyze the importance of cross-cultural understanding inclusive of Acadians, African Nova Scotians, Gaels, Mi’Kmaq and additional cultures.



To appreciate the benefits of sharing knowledge between cultures.  To recognize commonalities as well as diversity in cultures.


Suggested time

1 hour - 1.5 hours


Anticipated Outcomes

Students will

  • Display an understanding of the difficulties that pioneer Gaels faced upon arriving in Nova Scotia.
  • Understand some of the relationships the Gaels had with other cultures present in Nova Scotia in the early 1800s.
  • Investigate the importance of a knowing and respecting how a people wish to refer to themselves.                                                           



  • What do we call the indigenous people of Nova Scotia?  What do we call the speakers of Gaelic who came here from Scotland?
  • Read the section "Shared Cultures" on the website.
  • Read the story, "The Gaels and the Indians" as told by Mickey (Bean Nìlleig) MacNeil of Iona in "Shared Cultures"
  • Talk about why the two groups may have been suspicious of each other.
  • The Gaels referred to the Mi'Kmaq as Indians.  Why was this?  The Gaels are often referred to simply as "Scots".  Discuss the difficulty in this and the importance of referring to a people as they would have you refer to them. 
  • Divide the class into groups.  Have them brainstorm impediments to cultural sharing and understanding, what can be the result of a lack of understanding and ways to resolve these problems.  Download Gaels and Mi'kmaq Discussion (13 KB PDF)


Review and Reflection

  • Present ideas to the class and discuss.
  • Refer to Nicknames and have students choose a nickname for themselves - nicknames often being feature of the sloinneadh.