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.
As soon as you enter the Makoons Media Group site, they assert that … “THE MAKOONS MEDIA GROUP CREATES DIGITAL PROJECTS THAT MAKES SPACE FOR INDIGENOUS VOICES TO DISRUPT, INSPIRE & TRANSFORM THE WORLD AROUND US.”
The organization is both a content producer as well as a service provider for Indigenous communities. There goal is to create a digital story platform-space that gives voice for new expressions that expose settler culture and the decolonization practice.
As part of their work, they have constructed the portal Indian and Cowboy, which is a website that hosts numerous podcasts and resources for aspiring Indigenous media producers. The site encourages submissions or pitches from members. Below are direct links for some of the featured podcasts with brief explanations. However, I encourage you to check out all of the content. I have highlighted the three that I have been able to listen to.
In this series, Host and comedian Ryan McMahon challenges the notion of reconciliation by arguing that before any reconciliation can happen decolonization must be the placed as the primary discourse for Indigenous communities.
“RED MAN LAUGHING – INDEPENDENT, FORWARD THINKING CONVERSATIONS, INVESTIGATIONS & PONTIFICATIONS ABOUT THE COLLISION BETWEEN INDIAN COUNTRY & THE MAINSTREAM.”
This series focuses on the connections, intersections and inseparability between Indigenous cultures and the land they collaborate with. The series also explores the philosophical difference between settler resource exploitation and Indigenous holism.
“STORIES FROM THE LAND ARTICULATES AND REINFORCES INDIGENOUS WORLDVIEW & INHERENT CONNECTION TO LAND VIA LIVE STORYTELLING EVENTS, LISTENER SUBMISSIONS AND SOUND RICH AUDIO DOCUMENTARY.”
In cooperation with the University of Saskatchewan, Indian and Cowboy have created this mini series for teacher education programs and practicing educators. The series explores the possibilities of Indigenous focused education efforts. The series features educators explaining their experience working with Indigenous youth and explores what they believe to be best practice.
Jarrett Martineau is a digital media artist, and academic whose work is focused on the relationships and interconnectedness of digital media, storytelling and social movements. His academic work focuses on how media can inform political resistance and action.
Though Jarrett’s work is extensive and includes very diverse content, I have posted a few notable projects below.
A record label focusing on supporting the promotion and distribution on Indigenous music throughout Turtle Island. In addition to co-founding this label, Jarrett has also helped to distribute RPM’s music through their own streaming platform.
Is a media producer, blog and apparel company that focuses on supporting community resistance through the reclamation of settler imagery. The goal of this organization is to challenge the false identities of Indigenous through remix culture.
Intercontinental Cry‘s online publication for world indigenous studies is more like a grassroots journal. This site is an excellent example of using technology to connect Indigenous groups around the world.
I explored several of the opinions, news, and editorials that can be found on this website; here are some of the titles covered:
Each of these stories goes into more depth and lead to further links and information on the subject. This type of website offers all Indigenous communities who wish to do so, a platform for expressing their concerns about various subjects that affect their communities. I believe this type of media forum can serve to inform each other and the world about issues, and it can also be used to learn from each other. Perhaps such a platform can also provide Indigenous communities with strength in number and offer them ideas and ways to protect their collective histories and ancestral ways.
Each web news segment also offers the opportunity to blog, with many comments supporting various causes. It is interesting to note that this site provides the Musqueam people the ability to get a worldwide audience to react to their plight. The story on the Musqueam Marpole ancestral burial site under “Canada” was interesting and will be noted in my final paper.
It is my opinion that the Internet was an important tool for the Musqueam people in propagating their issue and in resolving the matter. Thus I conclude that various forms of media: the Internet, blogs, videos, interviews etc. did serve to protect and disseminate their collective history. I also believe that other Indigenous groups can likely use this example as a guide for their own struggles and give them ideas about how to work with government entities to resolve issues.
The CBC has an online category on its news website dedicated to news stories that are relevant to Indigenous audience members. This area of the site includes new articles, blog links, videos, radio links, and opinion pieces. This resource is particularly useful for examining contemporary issues involving and affecting Indigenous peoples and communities in various areas of Canada. The same and similar resources are also available in French through the Radio-Canada branch of CBC. Of note is that the news stories are not simply about Indigenous peoples, but rather for Indigenous cultural perspectives, such as a section on hunting and gathering issues that contains an article about pickerel. This website is valuable for examining currently relevant issues and topics, as well as for recognizing how the media can be connected to and support Indigenous worldview.
From CBC: Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., teen pens song about uncle’s death, garners thousands of views online
This story, published on September 16, 2017, came to my attention from my Facebook feed. Two years ago, a colleague of many years, left Victoria to take a teaching position in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Jasmine has been Michelle’s student for the last two years. Because the community that Jasmine is from is so remote (Sachs Harbour in Inuvialuit Territory), she stays with a host family in Inuvik while attending high school. At the time of the recording, Jasmine was part of a program that takes part on a ship that sails through the Arctic in the summer, visiting communities and taking part in cultural communities along the way. Apparently, a student from my school, Esquimalt High, recently took part in this program as it is open to any student that applies, who falls within the age restriction. Until the song went “viral”, Michelle did not even know that Jasmine was a singer-songwriter! Another layer to Jasmine’s viral social media experience, is her mother’s story of attending residential school. Sending her daughter away to school, however, was not an option for her.
From CBC: ‘A punch in the gut’: Mother slams B.C. high school exercise connecting Indigenous women to ‘squaw’
This story was published September 18, 2017. A Grade 9 teacher, using the Teacher’s Guide, distributed worksheets to their students that had students associate racist nomenclature with the person of origin. Apparently, the motivation was to teach students what the ubiquitous terminology of the day was, however, as the mother astutely points out, the workbook is void of context, and fails to educate students about relevant information regarding the Indian Act and the reserve system, amongst other knowledge. Turning to Michael’s essay from this week; “ Educators must help students conceptually focus the mirror rather than a magnifying glass at native people.” (p. 499) This workbook perfectly exemplifies the magnifying glass approach. What also should be pointed out, is that the teacher in question, was likely trying to incorporate the new K-9 BC curriculum that has attempted to bring Indigenous knowledge into every course. As a BC teacher, I can say with certainty, that there has not been enough (any?) professional development to facilitate this change so that BCTF members can actually teach Indigenous knowledge with confidence. I am grateful that I am taking ETEC 521 so that I can hopefully avoid making one of my students or their parents feel link I have “punched them in the gut.” Most teachers will not be paying $1600, however, in order to take such meaningful Pro-D. Moreover, I wonder how many teachers will simply side step this portion of the curriculum in fear of making a mistake? <Segway to next article…>
Marker, Michael, “After the Makah Whale Hunt: Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse”, Urban Education, Vol. 41(5), 2006, 482-505.
From CBC: Teachers lack confidence to talk about residential schools, study says
This story was published August 20, 2017. Yes. This is me. Or rather, this was me. I feel fortunate to work at a school that devotes a portion of our Pro-D time, every year, to Indigenous education and the well-being of our Indigenous students. But still, I do not feel like I know enough to say too much in class. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission being part of mainstream media, combined with some incredibly meaningful Pro-D, I have begun to say more, however. On Orange Shirt Day 2016, I gave my first talk to my homeroom class about the significance of the day— how could I not? I felt like I had finally broken through my self-imposed, block of ice. It is now three weeks into ETEC 521, and I feel more equipped to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said. I am looking forward to learning more, however, as I know there is much more knowledge to come!
This is Just Us: A Digital Media Documentary
At my high school, we run a course called First Peoples English, in which any student may elect to take this course, in lieu of regular English. Recently, students created the documentary, “This is Just Us.” For whatever reason, I only just learned of this documentary this week (it is amazing what you can find on your school’s website!). It is a bit of a commitment to watch, however, should you have 38 minutes to spare, you will not regret it. In the documentary, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are interviewed. As well, a local Elder, one of our school’s Aboriginal Educational Assistants and the teacher of the course are all interviewed. Topics that are touched on include: Why Digital Media? What is self-esteem? Who are you thankful for? … and more! I was blown away with the students’ candidness, honesty, bravery and wisdom in their responses. The Elder speaks of running away from his residential school, seeking refuge in Washington. This really drove home the reading of “Borders and the Borderless Coast Salish” from last week. As opposed to the educator who ran into trouble when they attempted to “teach” Indigenous knowledge using an inappropriate “magnifying glass”, Ms. Dunn helped her students “conceptually focus the mirror”, with this project. The project would not have been a success without the partnership with Dano, an actor and director from Tsawout First Nation. Dano came in once a week for a couple of months, and after getting to know the students, he decided that the common thread was how self-esteem affects individuals, families and communities.
Indigenous Leaders on How to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day
This page was published on June 20, 2017, on the University of Toronto’s website. It interviews a variety of Indigenous Leaders (a student, an Elder, and the former National Chief, amongst others), who share how they plan to celebrate June 21 and what any Canadian could also do to recognize this day. I would like to specifically highlight one piece from this page, that addresses the Canada 150 celebrations. This summer, there was a heap of dialogue concerning whether we should be celebrating 150 years of colonialism. Many people I know chose to boycott all July 1 celebrations, and they were not afraid to make it known to all who would listen. Reading this piece, you will find Phil Fontaine’s (albeit brief) take on Canada 150. I don’t think everyone shares his perspective, however, it does exemplify the power of the “positive re-frame”. That is, when a situation is not ideal or seemingly “good”, by changing our perspective a few degrees, we can sometimes see opportunity past the darkness.
Pacific People’s Partnership
PPP is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability, peace, social justice and community development for Indigenous peoples from the Lekwungen territory in coastal BC and South Pacific Indigenous peoples. I chose this site because I was able to attend a recent event at the BC Legislature on September 16, 2017, The One Wave Gathering. Five local Indigenous youth won a contest that resulted in their work being displayed on the front of four longhouses that were temporarily erected on the Legislature. The fifth artist’s work was made into a dance screen, as the judges were not able to let his work go unnoticed. Both the Songhees and Esquimalt Nation chief’s spoke at the opening ceremony. Chief Andy Thomas described the history of the land that we were meeting on, and how his Great-Great Grandparents were forced to move their village from Victoria’s Inner Harbour to the Esquimalt Harbour. I was particularly moved by the stories of the young artists and I truly felt the sense of proudness that they had of themselves and that their community had for them. That proudness wrapped itself around everyone in attendance. I will put a couple of my pictures on this blog, however, feel free to check out the Instagram hashtag, #onewavegathering to see other pictures and videos.
As part of my travelogue of research on indigenous storytelling, I ventured into a related direction. Our module’s discussion of self-representation in media inspired me to explore distribution. After all, why tell a story if it can’t be shared? For Indigenous storytellers looking to share stories with wider audiences in Canada and internationally, what are the options? Who are potential distribution partners? Are Indigenous players in the arena? Which distributors support film media? Publishing? New media? Who is helping to develop and share spoken, artistic and printed stories and artwork?
I realized that many oral and dance traditions might be captured with screen-based media and fall into the documentary realm. Although sites such as Native Dance contain over 100 videos of footage and hundreds of images, providing a wealth of information on dance traditions from coast to coast in Canada, they do not lead to any dedicated distribution channel. So far, most astounding to me is typing in “Aboriginal Dance” on YouTube, which reveals a plethora of resources, a never-ending sea of videos uploaded by multiple users – so I credit YouTube as a valuable exhibitor, but not a dedicated one.
Here is a look at some of my key discoveries in the area of distribution:
This is a major report published in October 2013, commissioned by the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival (imagineNATIVE) whose mandate is “to foster and promote the Aboriginal film and media sector.” It was funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation and Telefilm Canada. The report examines all aspects of Aboriginal feature film production in Canada, including funding and distribution, and makes recommendations for further development. The role of government-supported organizations in recognizing and including Indigenous cultures as part of Canada’s identity and cultural landscape appears to be essential to preservation and growth of this cultural industry sector.
This was the only distributor I could locate so far of its kind. IsumaTV bills itself as “a collaborative multimedia platform for indigenous filmmakers and media organizations.” It is a project of Isuma Distribution International Inc., “Canada’s first media distribution company specializing in Inuit and Aboriginal films,” and works in coalition with a range of partners such as producers and non-profits.
Turning to print-based media, the University of Toronto Libraries has published a guide of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis publishers and distributors across Canada. Its focus is on Indigenous-owned publishers, and academic and small presses that publish the work of Indigenous authors. According to the site, “particular effort is made to include publishers of Indigenous language materials. More detail is provided on publishers from Central Canada. While an effort has been made to select publishers working in a good way, this guide should not be understood as an endorsement of any publisher or publication.” Started in 2010 and last updated in 2016, contact information is provided to allow for more updates. The site also links to UBC’s Aboriginal Publishers, Distributors & News Media homepage.
Finally, new media outlets. New Journeys, a Canadian-based online Friendship Centre resource, published a list of podcasts in January 2017. Auditory and sometimes visual in nature (when in video format), podcasts provide new channels for content distribution across digital spaces. Cited on the list is Media Indigena, a weekly Indigenous current affairs podcast hosted by Rick Harp, who himself published An Index of Indigenous Podcasts in July 2016.
As with last time, I found many more relevant sites, but those fall slightly outside the scope of this discussion at this time. Now that I have taken an overview in Module One, and explored distribution in Module Two, my next step will be to narrow my focus to a more specific storytelling medium originating in Canada and research the development and implementation or distribution of such works within Canada and abroad.
On November 3, I had the fortunate experience to take a group of students to We Day, where National Chief, Perry Bellegarde presented. The main issues that he wants to address as National Chief, includes the preservation of First Nations’ languages, education, treaty rights and economic prosperity. As an educational mentor to more than 70 leadership students at my school, I feel that it is important to learn with my students Aboriginal social issues, and come up with strategies in how we can help make changes to better the conditions. Before I lead my students to make change to help others with the healing process, however, I need to first educate myself. I’m starting off with a very basic question: What are the social issues that are endured by First Nations communities? The posts that I am entering for this blog that I am completing for this module will help lead me towards the road to discovery in finding the answers to my question.
To help myself answer this question, I first wanted to get a better understanding of how many different First Nations communities there are in Canada. On the Government Of Canada Website, is a First Nations Profiles Interactive Map which gives viewers a geographical visual of the various First Nations communities across Canada. The map also shows the tribal councils attached to the communities, and when zoomed in, the area of each of the reservations can be viewed. A link to the Inuit Community Profiles Interactive Map can also be accessed, as well, links to websites of the various First Nations communities are listed to determine services available within the communities. What is not listed on the map is what various languages are spoken within the communities, nor is the population of the communities. This information would be helpful for example, to develop a better understanding of the amount of supplies needed for the community members if they are in remote or isolated communities.
Two websites I found to give me an overview of issues include:
The Centre of Social Justicecites general social issues endured by First Nations communities. Although the statistics are nearly 20 years outdated, the issues are well outlined and a good starting point for research. Of the issues mentioned include: poverty/inequality, lack of access to health care, unemployment barriers, lack of sensitivity and inclusiveness in the education system, and the restriction of civil and political rights.
2. Aboriginal Issues in Canada is a Western University project, created in 2015. It is a slideshare video posted on Canada News which acknowledges the various issues that Canadian First Nations communities are confronted with. This video would be a great resource to show students as an introduction to the Aboriginal issues. It is not long, and the statistics are current.
Canada News has many archived videos on Aboriginal issues.
is an article written by Nancy Macdonald, and published in Macleans magazine September 30, 2015. The article reviews issues such as violent victimization, suicide, and missing women. Of particular interest to me was the discussion of Government involvement. This article was written in the brink of the National election and the article quotes the promises of Canada’s political parties to dedicate finances and resources to help Indigenous peoples. Bellegarde is directly quoted in the article, mentioning the $110 million that has been spent in court battles on First Peoples rights. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on solving the problems? Change, according to Murray Sinclair, will not happen overnight, but occur “in neighbourhood by neighbourhood, street by street, and family by family.”
First Peoples Potable Water Issue
Of particular interest to me is the issue of access to potable water within the various First Peoples communities. An article written in the Huff Post on March 9, 2016 by Jessica Chin, titled Canada First Nations Water Issue To Be Fixed: UN, discusses the issue, statistics and politics around access to potable water. Chin cites the United Nations calling upon Prime Minster Trudeau to address the issue because of Human Rights and cultural concerns. Not having all weather roads is a factor contributing to not have access to water. However, access to fresh drinking water is not a problem only to remote or isolated communities but also to those who live on reservations in the lower mainland. The Semiahmoo Nation for example, has become vocal in local media asking for help to solve their water concern. An article can be found here. A summative report written by David R. Boyd, Ph.D., J.D, titled, No Taps, No Toilets: First Nations and the Constitutional Right to Water in Canada contends that the rights of particular Nations from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta “are being violated by the government’s failure to provide safe drinking water, an essential service which is vital to life, health, and human dignity.” Therefore, it will be interesting to see within the next few years how the government plans to take action in correcting his human rights concern.
“There is resistance: in Canada it’s coming from First Nations. But it’s worth remembering that that’s a world-wide phenomenon. Throughout the world, the indigenous populations are in the lead. They are actually taking the lead in trying to protect the earth. That’s extremely significant.”
Noam Chomsky praised Indigenous people for leading the resistance for environmental protection. And as he mentions this is happening world-wide, and has been for quite some time.
The Tribal Voice Project gives smartphones to indigenous people in the Amazon. They use the phones to record their views and perspectives in order to take part in, and impact decisions concerning their land. Here is a sample recording: