About this inquiry tool

Netukulimk was developed for Ocean School in collaboration with Elder Albert Marshall, Producer Cathy Martin and artist Shaela Kinting.

This inquiry tool explores a perspective on marine resource use based in traditional ecological knowledge.

Told through animation, Netukulimk presents a history of cod, as inspired by Mi’kmaw storytelling tradition. Little Fish inherits the history of her species from the tales of her Grandmother: from creation story, through thousands of years of “Netukulimk” (harmony with nature), to modern industrial devastation. As Little Fish becomes a Grandmother herself, she continues this oral tradition with a renewed hope for the future… and for the return of “Netukulimk”.

We would like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the traditional territory in which we have collected stories and science for our content so far, as the ancestral unceded homelands of the Mi’kmaq, Passamaquaoddy and Beothuk People.

This video was created with Indigenous artists, Elders, producers, and educators. It is meant to be a starting point for bringing contemporary Indigenous perspectives into classrooms. The lesson below is not a how-to guide for teaching Netukulimk. Instead, the lesson and accompanying video and activity offers an encounter with Indigenous perspectives and should be considered a starting point for building a deeper understanding of this complex Mi’kmaw perspective.

In order for Indigenous perspectives to be deeply embedded in a classroom, it is helpful to have Knowledge Keepers. We caution that Indigenous perspectives cannot be deeply reflected in a single piece of media or written document outside their cultural contexts. We acknowledge this may be a difficult task. We encourage educators to follow these suggestions from the authors of Natural Curiosity:

  • Work whenever possible with Indigenous resource people, including Knowledge Keepers;

  • Be upfront about what we do and do not know;

  • Be clear that Indigenous people, cultures and knowledge are contemporary;

  • Respect Indigenous knowledge as a precious heritage;

  • Be conscious of the complexity of Indigenous peoples' lived experiences.

We strongly recommend the educational resources, Mi’kmawe’l Tan Teli-kina’muemk Teaching About the Mi’kmaq and Natural Curiosity second edition for additional support.

What is Netukulimk?

“Netukulimk explains Mi’kmaw ways of life, tying together social and economic practices with systems of governance through time. Netukulimk is about taking only what we need, and giving thanks for our existence.”

For more information on Netukulimk, as well as Mi’kmaw culture, history and language, see the guide Mi’kmawe’l Tan Teli-kina’muemk Teaching About the Mi’kmaq.

Click here for the pronunciation of Netukulimk provided by the Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre.

When to use this lesson

We suggest that this lesson serve as an introduction to Netukulimk and be used to spark an ongoing discussion in your class about how Netukulimk can impact and change the way we interact with the environment.

Encouraging questioning while conducting this lesson can promote students’ ownership, empowerment, engagement, and allow your students to express their own interests.

As an educator, you know your students best. The lesson provided here is just one way to explore the concept of Netukulimk.

Lesson Objectives

As students complete the lesson and activity Netukulimk, they will:

  • Discuss Netukulimk and its connection to Mi’kmaw culture and traditions

  • Explore connections between Netukulimk and the environment

  • Reflect and plan how to survive by only taking from the land what we need


Lesson 1 - Sharing and knowledge building circles: 75m

Lesson 2 - Living with the land and water: 60 - 120m

Lesson 1 —Sharing and knowledge building circles

75 min

  1. Explain to the students:

    • Today we’re going to explore Netukulimk.

    • To get started, we’re going to watch an animation.

2. Watch the video above, or in the inquiry tool hotpoint of the module you are completing with your class.

Explain - Sharing and knowledge building circle

  1. Invite students to sit in a circle to discuss the animation.

  2. Explain to students that you will pass a talking stick (or another artifact). Review the guidelines for using a talking stick:

    • Everyone waits their turn. The person who has the talking stick may speak.

    • Everyone else is listening to the person with the stick.

    • If a student is handed the stick, they have the right to pass for the first round, and it will come back to them after the stick has gone around the whole circle.

    • When the person with the stick is done speaking they may pass the stick on.

  3. Explain that the discussion will take place in two rounds:

    • In the first round, we will discuss as a whole class what each of us learned and why you feel Netukulimk is important.

    • In the second round, you will discuss in small groups how we can better live in harmony with the environment.

Round 1 - Sharing and knowledge building circle

  1. Display the first question where everyone can see it.

    • What did you take away from the video we just watched?

  2. Pass the talking stick to a student in the circle and ask them to share their thoughts.

  3. The stick is then passed to the next person in the circle. They can add their thoughts and/or respond to what has been shared so far.

  4. Repeat the process using the questions below as a guide:

    • In the video, Grandmother fish says, “Kluscap called upon us fish to come to shore and give up our lives. He only took what was needed, and gave thanks for our existence. We call that Netukulimk.” How can we apply this idea in our everyday lives?

    • Why do you think Netukulimk is important?

    • What are you still wondering about?

Use the introduction to Netukulimk on page 151-153 in Mi’kmawe’l Tan Teli-kina’muemk Teaching About the Mi’kmaq to help answer students’ questions.

Round 2- Sharing and knowledge building circle

  1. Divide the class into groups of 4 and provide each group with a talking stick.

  2. Display the questions where everyone can see it:

    • What is an example of humans taking too much from the environment?

    • What happens to the environment, (both human-made and natural) if we take more than we need?

    • What is something that you can do today to practice what you learned from the video?


  1. Invite each group to share their reflections

Lesson 2 — Living with the land and water

75 - 90 min

  1. Explain to students that they will watch Netukulimk again on the Ocean School platform and complete the activity that follows in Google Classroom.

  2. In this activity, students are invited to create a shelter and a survival plan describing what they would need to survive in your local area. They can only take from the earth and land and must consider factors like season, weather and local habitat and ecosystem.

  3. You may choose to display the activity and discuss and/or model how to approach each part with students.

  4. Invite students to log into Ocean School in their crews and go to the Inquiry tool flag on the module map.

  5. Provide crews with up to 30 minutes to make a plan.

  6. Invite crews to share their plans and give one another feedback, ideas and questions.

  7. Provide students with time to execute their plan either outdoors, virtually, or through found materials, or even on chart paper.

  8. Invite crews to share their projects.

    • You could conduct this part of the activity as a “gallery walk”.

    • Each group has a station where they display their designs and plans. The class moves together from station to station so that each group has a chance to present and discuss their work.

Additional Resources

The resource was designed for anyone who teaches Mi’kmaw history, culture and knowledge. Through the stories and knowledge of Mi’kmaw Elders, educators, and other experts, this volume will share content and teaching strategies for three subject areas for grades primary to nine:

  • Welo'ltimk—Healing

  • Kejitasimkewey Kiskuk—Contemporary Issues

  • Netukulimk—Economic, Social, and Political Life

Pages 151- 206 have several lessons and activities which help to build an understanding of Netukulimk and two-eyed seeing.

This video on youtube together concepts of Netukulimk with Mi’kmaw treaty rights and Two-Eyed Seeing.

The Mi’kmawe’l Tan Teli-kina’muemk Teaching About the Mi’kmaq has discussion questions on page 197 to support.

Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources provides these videos as part of familiarizing educators and students about Netukulimk

This resource provides a rich introduction to Mi’kmaw history and culture—it can be used as additional background for all the units.

The guide aims to bring Indigenous perspectives into the heart of educational settings and provides a framework, along with concrete examples, for an inquiry-based approach to environmental education.

For more information, read the Inquiry tools guide.