Glen Thielmann

Recipient of the 2017 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching

November 8, 2017
Canada's History speaks with Glen Thielmann about his award-winning project.

D.P. Todd Secondary School, Prince George (British Columbia)

The Skookum Stories project is about telling a strong story that draws on a student’s history and culture. Skookum means “strong” or “big” — it comes from the Chinook Jargon, a 19th-century trade language on the West Coast. Students begin their research project by engaging with concepts of family, community, culture, and identity. Using heirlooms, documents, photos, journals, and even recipe boxes as prompts, students are encouraged to find one aspect of their history to investigate further, and to which they can apply concepts of historical thinking. There is a deep intergenerational component, as students work with family or community elders to exchange knowledge and research. Finally, the students share their story collection with their peers and celebrate their success with a class feast. One student described the project as a selfie with all his relatives lined up behind him. Through the Skookum Stories project, Mr. Thielmann has helped his students foster intergenerational relationships and uncover diverse, meaningful histories.