Seven generations thinking | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools

Seven generations thinking

How do our actions impact future generations?

Activity Image
45 mins
Class discussion


Students develop an understanding of how our actions can impact people seven generations from now.


What you'll need

  • "Thinking about our impacts" slides
  • "Thinking about seven generations" worksheet
  • Digital projector and display

  1. Open up and present the "Thinking about our impacts" slides. Show slide 2 and ask your students to decide which of the actions might have the longest lasting impacts. 
  2. Invite students to share their decisions and thinking with the class. As they share, guide a discussion about how the positive and negative impacts of our actions can last for many years. 
  3. Show slide 3 and explain that the impacts of our decisions and actions can have two types of consequences: 
    • Direct consequences: the obvious and most immediate impacts of decisions and actions
    • Indirect consequences: less obvious impacts of decisions and actions that usually last much longer
  4. Ask your students to suggest direct and indirect consequences of at least one of the actions.
  5. Show slide 4 and introduce students to the Seventh Generation Principle by explaining that it is based on a Haudenosaunee teaching that we should think about how our decisions and actions today will impact seven generations from now. 
  6. Organize students into pairs and provide each student with a copy of the "Thinking about seven generations" worksheet. Draw students’ attention to the seven concentric circles on the worksheet and explain that their challenge is to decide which of the actions from slide 3 will impact the most generations. 
  7. For each action, ask students to draw an arrow extending out from the middle of the circles to the number of generations; for example, if “leaving the water running while brushing your teeth” only affects one generation, their arrow would only touch the first circle (see worksheet for example). Remind students to label each arrow with any direct and indirect consequences. Alternatively, assign each group one of the actions from slide 3. 
  8. Invite groups to share their decisions and thinking with the class. 
  9. To conclude the activity, invite students to suggest how they could use the Seven Generations Principle to guide their energy choices and actions. 

Modify or extend this activity


  • Invite students to use the worksheet to diagram the duration of the indirect and direct consequence of other energy choices and actions. 

Curriculum Fit

Grade 5 Science 

Big idea

  • Earth materials change as they move through the rock cycle and can be used as natural resources. 


  • First Peoples concepts of interconnectedness in the environment 
  • The nature of sustainable practices around BC’s resources 
  • First Peoples knowledge of sustainable practices 

Curricular competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest 
  • Identify questions to answer or problems to solve through scientific inquiry 
Processing and analyzing data and information
  • Experience and interpret the local environment 
  • Identify First Peoples perspectives and knowledge as sources of information 
  • Demonstrate an openness to new ideas and consideration of alternatives 
Applying and innovating
  • Contribute to care for self, others, and community through personal or collaborative approaches 
  • Co-operatively design projects 
  • Transfer and apply learning to new situations 
  • Generate and introduce new or refined ideas when problem solving 
  • Communicate ideas, explanations, and processes in a variety of ways 
  • Express and reflect on personal, shared, or others’ experiences of place

Teaching Notes

How this activity was developed

These materials were created with guidance from Indigenous educators, subject matter experts and thought leaders to help draw upon important teachings, learnings, and Indigenous perspectives. 

For centuries, the traditional western view of water has often been focused on its value as a resource. Indigenous people have a unique relationship with the waters of British Columbia. Since time immemorial, water has played a sacred role and is seen as a living entity. How water is used must be carefully considered with a view towards not just the immediate need and impact, but the needs and perspectives of generations to follow.

We are dedicated to deep listening and respectfully highlighting Indigenous ways of knowing in the materials we provide B.C. educators. If you have any feedback for us on these activities, or suggestions for others, please email We would love to hear from you.

About the artist

The design of the worksheets in this activity was a collaborative effort with Indigenous artist Kelli Clifton. Kelli Clifton was born and raised in Prince Rupert, British Columbia and is Gitga’at from the community of Hartley Bay. Clifton is interested in using her artwork as a form of storytelling—especially in relation to her Ts’msyen language (Sm’algyax), her coastal upbringing and her experiences as an Indigenous woman. Clifton currently lives in her home community where she continues to practice her art and teaches Sm’algyax at a local high school. Learn more about Clifton's art on her Facebook page.

BC Hydro’s commitment to reconciliation 

BC Hydro exists to serve British Columbians by providing clean, reliable and affordable electricity. We recognize that maintaining and developing the system has impacts on the lives and interests of Indigenous Peoples. To support our move towards true and lasting reconciliation, BC Hydro will acknowledge past wrongs, listen to Indigenous perspectives and seek shared understanding with First Nations communities and governments. 

Learn more about our Statement of Indigenous Principles.


Throughout the activity, consider how well students:

  • Make accurate observations from text and other sources
  • Use evidence to make decisions
  • Contribute to group discussions


Select the materials you require for this activity or download all

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