pass the feather, aboriginal arts collective of Canada, classroom art and knowledge exchange program, Pen Pal Program

“Pass The Feather To Me!” | A Classroom Art & Knowledge Exchange Program

We are very sorry to report that there is not enough funding to proceed with the program in the fall of 2017.

This exciting program creates exciting friendships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth that transcend logistic and economic barriers and create co-operative and respectful interrelations for future generations.

The ‘Classroom Art Exchange Program’ assists educators to integrate Aboriginal perspectives into new and existing academic curricula by means of an art collaboration. We provide transparent lesson plans that require no additional learning curves on behalf of the teachers. We take the ‘work’ out of including Indigenous subject matter in your curricula.

While initiating creativity and re-visiting traditional teaching, the program encourages healing and mitigates inter-generational trauma. In turn, the inclusion of predominantly non-Aboriginal (or classrooms of mixed cultures) allows for the development of informed opinions on matters relating to Aboriginal peoples and their history and traditions.

“When our children learn cultural equality, our country will learn true achievement.” AACC


The Art & Knowledge Exchange Process

pass the feather to me, classroom art exchange program


Each school year, classrooms will be chosen to participate in the ‘Classroom Art Sharing Program’.

Each Aboriginal classroom will be paired with a predominantly non-Aboriginal or multi-cultured classroom of the same grade level.

Lesson plans will be provided to each teacher and will outline a specific topic relating to Aboriginal culture.

Teachers in Aboriginal communities will modify and complement the lesson plan with their own cultural teachings and may choose to include community members and elders.

Following the lesson, the students will express what they’ve learned by creating an art project of any form (visual arts, music, dance, etc.). The classroom art collaboration will create a “visual study’ that reflects the subject matter.

The collaboration will be packed and mailed to their peers in the multi-cultured classroom.

The multi-cultured classroom will then be presented the lesson plan by their instructor.


lessonplansThis lesson plan will be clearly written, easy to present and will include links and materials required to comprehensively explain the subject matter. The non-Aboriginal instructor will not need to modify or ‘add to’ the lesson plan. It is prepared to clearly represent the views of Aboriginal cultures and is not meant to be modified.

After the lesson, the students will have an opportunity to unpack and discuss the artworks sent to them by their Aboriginal peers.

The second classroom will then create their own artworks based on what they have learned about the cultural topic.


Their artwork will then be mailed to their Aboriginal peers.


The Aboriginal classroom will discuss and determine what the non-Aboriginal classroom understands about the subject matter and the differences of perspective between the cultures.


Ms.Winder'sClass, pass the feather to me, pen palsPen Pals

Our classrooms will introduce themselves to each other by creating individual ‘Bio’ cards. Many of our students are taking ‘selfies’ and printing them. The selfies are glued to a medium such as construction paper and short biography is written underneath.

This is the first step in our Pen Pal connection.

Teachers are welcome to match the children however they like. We encourage hand-written communication and regular mail as opposed to email.



General TimelineClassroom A = FNMI classroomClassroom B = Classroom of mixed-culture or predominantly non-Aboriginal

Classsroom A

Telephone conversation with facilitator of Pass The Feather by September 15th.

Permission Forms sent in by September 30th.

Sharing Circle Feathers will be mailed to classroom by October 1st.

Introductory letters – written and mailed by October 15th (Classroom B responds to letters by November 15th)

Lesson Plan Presentation – completed by October 30th

Art Project Completion – Projects must be packed and mailed by November 30th.


Classsroom B

Telephone conversation with facilitator of Pass The Feather by September 15th.

Permission Forms sent in by September 30th.

Sharing Circle Feathers will be mailed to classroom by February 1st.

Letters – Classroom A writes back by February 15th, (Classroom B writes back by March 15th)

Lesson Plan Presentation – completed by February 30th

Art Project Completion – Projects must be packed and mailed by April 30th.

*All projects are returned to Pass The Feather at year end for exhibition. They will be returned.

*All permission forms must be in by September 30th.

Detailed Timeline

Based on 40 minute classes, this is a suggested timeline. Note: 1st semester (Classroom A = FNMI classroom) classrooms will not have a project to unpack. Their peers will send their projects by April 30th.
Class 1: Intro to program and new friends, review letter writing format, begin introductory letters
Class 2: Finish introductory letters, pack and prepare to mail.
Class 3: Present Lesson Plan
Class 4: Review lesson plan, unpack and explore the projects from First Nations classrooms
Class 5: Review lesson plan and projects, discuss and begin art projects.
3 hours
*Time consideration for completing art projects depends on how much time you have to invest in the program, the degree of difficulty of art project selected, and how close you are to the end of year deadline (November 15th and April 30th). We understand that teachers are very limited to the time spent on voluntary projects.
*If you have an Elder or visiting artist coming to your classroom, please allow at least 3-4 hours.
*Pen Pal projects depend on the efficiency of your peers and interest of your students. This is a self-guided aspect of the program.


Classroom Art & Knowledge Activities

Each classroom will have an opportunity to participate in an art activity that is presented by a traditional First Nations | Métis | Inuit artist or will receive a visit from an Elder of the nearest FNMI community. Please click here for more information about Elder and/or visiting artists.

Classrooms may also have an opportunity to meet their peers depending on fundraising collaboratives on the part of our organization and the participating classrooms. In the 2015 school year, some of our classrooms will be attending the Summer Solstice Gathering to celebrate Aboriginal Day in Ottawa. They will have their very own art exhibition and are invited to talk about their experiences on stage.

The Summer Solstice Gathering receives over 10,000 visitors over the 4 day festival. It boasts Education Days where over 6,000 students and educational administration participate in seminars and art activities.


Commitment & Photos

By registering your classroom with “Pass The Feather” you are committing to a valuable voluntary program. Your commitment to the timeline is imperative for program success. Your commitment will affect not only your students, but the students that they have been matched with. This is a responsibility. If you cannot commit to the timelines above, please call us before registering. Dawn @ 613.847.7692

Pass The Feather requests that in exchange for the facilitation of the project and funding committed to it, teachers take photographs of their students working with donated art supplies, writing letters, creating art or of presentations by Elders (if permitted) and/or artists. Photos are used to apply to funding agencies for sponsorship and on our website and social media pages. Please do not send photos of students whose parents have not completed a permission form.

2016 registration will require that all educators complete and sign a ‘form of commitment’.

Pass The Feather, Pass The Feather to me, Classroom art and knowledge exchangeRegistration

If you are committed to this program, we welcome you to register here.


*Pass The Feather | Classroom Art & Knowledge Exchange Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council. This funding covers art workshops or Elder honourariums, mail fees and art supplies for eligible classrooms.



This project is sponsored in part by: