Emotional literacy among First Nations students


Allow teachers to foster emotional literacy among their students through concrete activities and with helpful tools.
Emotional literacy among First Nations students

Brief description of the issue

Through gendered socialization and gender stereotypes, children learn that girls are sensitive, emotional, and that boys don’t cry, are tough and don’t show their emotions. This impacts boys’ and girls’ emotional literacy: as young as the age of 7, girls are already able to name more synonyms to a diversity of emotions whereas boys can only find some to anger (BBC, 2018). Increasing students’ emotional literacy, especially among young boys, can not only help them feel better, but can also create favourable conditions for learning (Blanchet, 2019).

As Blanchet (2019, p. 26) states in an article on social and emotional learning among First Nations students in Quebec, many studies have shown the benefits of including these types of learning in schools’ curriculum (Shanker, 2014; Taylor, Oberle, Durlak et Weissberg, 2017). She adds that in many indigenous educational institutions, the implementation of a positive and caring classroom environment is essential to students’ well-being and academic success. As some of them grow up with a lack of emotional security and experience intergenerational trauma, they need sustained attention (Clarke, 2007).

Teaching children how to express their emotions is a day-to-day challenge, but investing time in it will foster the development of the emotional dimension of the child, create favourable conditions for learning (Blanchet, 2019), as well as improving the child’s relational behaviours, decreasing his or her stress and increasing his or her learning capacity (Taylor et al., 2017).

The Jasmin Roy Foundation, in collaboration with the Centre des Premières Nations Nikanite and the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones, has put together pedagogical tools to foster social and emotional learning among Quebec’s aboriginal students. You will find in the documents section below two posters that you can put on your classroom walls to help students deal with their emotions as they arise. The posters are available in English, French and Mi’gmaq (as well as other indigenous languages), and customizable versions are also available. They come with a teachers’ guide, available in English and French.

Note that you can also download this page in French in the documents section.


Needs poster [EN]
File size: 669 KB (image/jpeg)
Emotions Poster [EN]
File size: 579 KB (image/jpeg)
Emotions Poster [Mic]
File size: 618 KB (image/jpeg)
Customizable Needs Poster [EN]
File size: 591 KB (image/jpeg)
Customizable Emotions Poster [EN]
File size: 592 KB (image/jpeg)
Affiche des besoins [FR]
File size: 168 KB (image/jpeg)
Affiche des émotions [FR]
File size: 613 KB (image/jpeg)
Affiche des besoins personnalisable
File size: 614 KB (image/jpeg)
Affiche des émotions personnalisable
File size: 596 KB (image/jpeg)


Blanchet, P. (2019). Social and Emotional Learning Among Indigenous Students in Quebec: an Educational Tool Adapted to their School Realities. Journal of Perseverance and Academic Achievement for First Peoples, 3, 26-29. https://core.ac.uk/reader/224994304#page=26

Jasmin Roy Foundation. (2019). Alphabétisation des émotions chez les Premières Nations. https://fondationjasminroy.com/en/initiative/alphabetisation-des-emotions-chez-les-premieres-nations/

Clarke, H. (2007). Programme de compétence et de sécurité culturelles dans la profession infirmière autochtone. Vivre dans la dignité et la vérité. Ottawa, Canada : Association des infirmières et des infirmiers autochtones du Canada.

Taylor, R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A. et Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects. Child Development, 88, 1156–1171. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12864