This website contains information for First Nations and Métis peoples regarding medical services available in the Saskatoon Health Region. Through online brochures, contact information, and links to other Saskatoon Health Region services, visitors to the site can access mental wellness telephone assistance, information about chronic disease management, and how to find an advocate to support oneself in the health care system. The face-to-face services provided by the department are also communicated, as well as how to access them. Because of the impoverished living conditions facing many First Nations and Métis people in Saskatchewan, this website is a much needed resource to help Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan access necessary medical information, treatment, and support. Links on the site connect to other departments of the health region and external helplines.
These two articles from CBC examine the trends in graduation rates in Saskatchewan. With Aboriginal student graduation rates lower than non-Aboriginal students, other issues raised for discussion include social circumstances and budgetary constraints. Engagement has been identified as a key element to providing a higher quality of education for First Nations and Métis students. These articles help to explain some of disparity in postsecondary attendance rates, and subsequently, opportunities for advancement for Aboriginal youth. The articles also link to similar articles from slightly different perspectives regarding the graduation rate research.
The First People’s Cultural Council is a BC Provincial Crown Corporation formed in 1990 and supported by the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Act with a mandate to assist BC First Nations in their efforts ot revitalize their languages, arts, and cultures.
As my research is focussing on the use of technology for the preservation of language, I was interested to see this site outline First Nations’ language support across various funding categories, including: Mentorship-Apprentice, Language and Culture Camps, the BC Language Initiative, and the FirstVoices resource that I have mentioned in previous posts.
This site is a fulsome resource for many facets of language learning and language preservation including a Language Toolkit for communities wishing to develop language revitalization projects.
This page is not so much a tremendous resource, as it is a great infographic (and who doesn’t love infographics) provided by a company called WinTranslation, which is an Ottawa-based for-profit translation service. Providing language translation is important for many reasons in the corporate, advertising, and communications world, and I was very pleased to see that this company provides peer-reviewed translation services into over 35 of Canada’s Aboriginal Languages.
This Statistics Canada webpage is a summary of information from the 2016 Canadian census and is current as of October 25, 2017. It contains a number of significant highlights including a growth of over 3% in the number of Aboriginal People who could speak an Aboriginal Language over the past decade. So much of what we read speaks of a decline in Aboriginal language use, and more concerning, the growth in the number of Aboriginal languages in Canada that are in danger of becoming extinct – in that light, this census data is encouraging.
The census data also points to young Aboriginal people learning their languages at a younger age, and an uptick in Aboriginal language instruction.
OK, perhaps this is veering off the web-based resource as well, but it is very connected to my research theme, and super relevant to the discussions in the course. I stumbled across this CBC – The National article (and then, as one does, many other articles on the same topic) this week, and was excited to see how film and technology are playing a role in preserving language and culture in this surprising project.
Creating a feature-length film in a language that only a few people speak is both a tremendous undertaking (who can learn and speak the language well enough to fill the roles?) and a significant financial investment. While the first is a logistical challenge, the second represents a pattern of hope in the restoration of traditional languages and can only mean good things to come.
Pathways to technology is a project aimed at bringing high-speed, reliable, and low-cost internet to First Nations. Recognizing that connectivity brings access to health care, education, employment, and economic growth, this project looks to remove some of these barriers for remote, and typically under-connected communities around BC.
The link (in the title) directs towards an interactive map of the 203 First Nations around BC, and displays their name and connection type. As an educator who visits these communities from time to time, this information is more than informative, it directs the kids of supports that we provide, and opens doors to different conversations.
BC has recently revamped its curriculum and one of the main new components is the focus on Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. However, the teacher training and educational resources to support this new curriculum are not all in place. This article from the Tyee Newspaper is a reminder that sometimes the best sources of knowledge and teaching can come from the students. While I would never advocate putting a child on the spot to talk about their heritage in front of the rest of the class, if a student is willing to share his/her personal experiences and ideas on a subject, it often has a much more impactful and intrinsic connection with the students (and teacher) receiving this teaching.
Coming off my last post and in my search for financial support for Indigenous girls in post-secondary education, I came across an Indigenous-led registered charity called Indspire. In addition to it dispersing financial aid, it also provides an online resource for teachers with a variety of lesson plans, online webinars, in-class seminars and links to upcoming events.
In my research so far about the barriers facing Indigenous women in STEAM and tech-related fields, two trends are emerging- funding and teacher education. Funding is one way to support Indigenous students becoming successful in education, but another large indicator for success is the education of teachers and their knowledge and understanding of how to deliver curriculum and better help support Indigenous students. There are two upcoming conferences that will have Indigenous students and Indigenous educators sharing their experiences and practices of what works and providing teachers with some of this knowledge and understanding about Indigenous needs in education.
The first event is coming up this Oct 19th at Simon Fraser University where a panel of 3 Laureates (Dakota Brant- First Nations, Maatalii Okalik- Inuit, and Gabrielle Fayant- Metis), will “discuss issues such as being the first person in the family to go to university or being the only Indigenous student in the class, and how schools can better support Indigenous students.” Registration is still open.
Another upcoming conference is the 23rd Annual Aboriginal Education Conference “Renewing our Relationship” put on by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and happening in Vancouver Nov 30- Dec 1-2 at the Westin Bayshore. As stated on their website this conference will be:
“Showcasing innovative curriculum, inspiring people and excellent networking opportunities, the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) Annual Aboriginal Education Conference draws over 800 educators each year. Our conference theme, Renewing Our Relationship, will explore the role of education in reconciliation as part of the ongoing conversations about Canada’s 150th celebrations and planning for the future of First Nations education in British Columbia. This will include examining how we can work together to transform our relationships in order to advance quality First Nations education.
There are a variety of workshops to choose from and several keynote speakers, including one of the authors from our course readings- Dr. Jan Hare who is the Associate Dean for Indigenous Education (UBC).
Thinking about the recent initiatives set forth by the BC government to recruit and train British Columbians in skilled trades, I wondered if there was an for technology training specifically for Indigenous peoples. It was here where I found out about the 2.2 Million invested into Indigenous skills training for the tech sector.
The Bridging to Technology program was created by the First Nations Technology Council and when reviewing the team making up the council I was pleasantly surprised to see a team full of women. However, I was disappointed to find the board of directors consisted of only men. This was a stark reminder of the gender gap in authoritative roles that women of all ethnicities face.
As the CNET article highlights, the tech industry is already male-dominated:
And this is for white women. The statistics get worse if you’re a woman of a minority. According to a study done by Michelmore & Sassler (2016), “Black women, Latina women, and Indigenous women especially, earn less than white and Asian American women” (Rao & Lunau, 2017).
The dominance of men over women in higher paid, higher power positions is a trend in most sectors but is especially pronounced in the tech sector. As Blanche (2016) highlights “The problem is when diversity programs focus on “women” as a whole, they often fall into the trap of prioritizing the majority: White Women”.
If we truly want to make our tech industry more diverse, we need to analyze the barriers that Indigenous women face specifically. Grants for an example are a start, but while I did find technology grants for women, I was unable to find grants dedicated specifically to Indigenous women
Blanche, A. (2016, December 20). Diversity in tech too often means ‘hiring white women.’ We need to move beyond that. Retrieved October 15, 2017, from https://www.recode.net/2016/12/20/14013610/gender-diversity-women-race-age-geography-initiative
Michelmore, K. & Sassler, S. (2016). Explaining the Gender Wage Gap in STEM: Does Field Sex Composition Matter?RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2(4), 194-215. Russell Sage Foundation. Retrieved October 15, 2017, from Project MUSE database.
Rao, A., & Lunau, K. (2017, April 04). You Can’t Close the Gender Gap in Science and Tech Without Equal Pay. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4xeevp/stem-science-technology-women-pay-gap-equal-pay-day
OISE. (2017, April 11). First Nation Representations in the Media. Retrieved October 13, 2017, from http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/deepeningknowledge/Teacher_Resources/First_Nations_Representation_in_the_Media/index.html
This resource page from the University of Toronto provides links to books, films and videos, podcasts, and websites that center around representations of First Nations people in the media. Having the variety of resource types is important, as the information can appeal to a broader audience and present the ideas in multiple ways. The linked resources come from the voices of both Indigenous peoples such as Wab Kinew or Frank Waln and from organizations such as the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and are contemporarily relevant. Similar to the course resource of Mary Simon’s interview, many of these resources provide readers and viewers with an opportunity to understand representation from an Indigenous perspective and to broaden their understanding of historical and current storytelling in the media.
Macdonald, N. (2016, July 30). Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan-a-special-report-on-race-and-power/
This article published by Maclean’s magazine in January 2015 explores the dynamics involved in leadership positions throughout Saskatchewan. As a province with significant First Nations and Metis populations, the statistics shared in the article show that this raw composition is not proportionately realized in leadership roles. The balance of written text and graphical organizations helps to highlight the most significant pieces of the research while also providing sufficient explanation and contextualization. This resource is especially useful for exploring the realities facing Aboriginal peoples in Saskatchewan as they work to gain more representation and strengthen their communities. Beneath the article, links to related stories point to additional currently relevant issues and events involving and affecting Aboriginal Canadians.
The stated goal of the SICC’s online presence is to enable access to information about Saskatchewan First Nations. Their website offers cultural and linguistic information and multimedia pertaining to the eight main First Nations groups in Saskatchewan, as well as information about upcoming events and programs, and a catalogue of hard copy resources that are available to order. Subdivided under each cultural group, they also offer many links to further sources of information. The SICC is affiliated with the Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations, and as such, the information and resources contained within the site have been shared from an authentic First Nations perspective of representative value. This site is a useful place to gain an understanding of provincially-relevant cultures and to expand upon such research through their further connections.
With our recent class discussions on the cultural neutrality of technology and the difference of educational goals in our Indigenous communities, I realize there is strong evidence for and against Indigenous use of technology and the extent of its benefit. However, for the non-Indigenous community, I believe that technology been an invaluable tool to help increase awareness and understanding as well as helping to promote advocacy for Indigenous communities.
Many have a willingness to learn but not always the tools or resources at their disposal. Technology helps reduce boundaries by increasing our learning networks. One of these learning networks is the MOOC/EdX course run by Jan Hare through UBC on Reconciliation through Education. This free online course starts Oct 16, 2017 and covers the following program outcomes:
- Explore personal and professional histories and assumptions in relationship to Indigenous peoples histories and worldviews
- Deepen understanding and knowledge of colonial histories and current realities of Indigenous people
- Engage with Indigenous worldviews and perspectives that contextualize and support your understanding of the theories and practices of Indigenous education
- Develop strategies that contribute to the enhancement of Indigenous-settler relations in schools, organizations, and communities
- Explore Indigenous worldviews and learning approaches for their application to the classroom or community learning setting
- Engage in personal and professional discussions in an online environment with others committed to understanding and advancing reconciliation
Additionally, another post-secondary resource from UVic sees the revitalization of Aboriginal languages. Technology and western education has contributed to the diminishment of Aboriginal languages, but now it is also being used to revitalize the languages not only with the descendants of native tongue speakers but with the non-Indigenous community as well. While this course, unfortunately, is not free, it does offer courses that are face-to-face with Indigenous community members as well as career opportunities to work in and with various Indigenous communities upon completion of the course. The program outcomes are as follows:
- Learn foundational knowledge and skills in linguistics that are needed to undertake language preservation and revitalization work.
- Build knowledge and skills in language preservation and revitalization.
- Develop your ability to analyze language preservation issues relevant across Indigenous cultures and specific to your own communities.
- Enhance your capacity to develop responsive strategies and programs designed to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages.
- Earn a comprehensive and respected certificate.
- Create a foundation for subsequent academic studies in related areas, such as education, cultural resource management and linguistics.