This database of Native law cases between 1763 and 1978 was compiled by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan Native Law Centre in the 1980s. Although it only includes cases up to 1978, it has the potential to be a strong resource for examining the legal side of the interactions between the Crown and First Nations and Métis populations that have influenced more contemporary perspectives, attitudes, and situations. The main page of the database does provide a link to another external database that contains information about more recent cases. The case records can be either browsed from a list organized by volume or searched using key words, making the database user friendly for various types of research.
Keywords: decolonization, research methodologies, colonization, law, traditional knowledge, Indigenous youth, curriculum, technology, language, culturally responsive education
This documentary film touches on important issues pertaining to the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Centered around paddleboarding as a vessel for action, we see how some Aboriginal youth in Bella Bella learn to make paddleboards in school as a way to connect to the land and to make something purposeful. Their engagement in evident in the way they speak about the boards and their connection to place. Their personalized boards, and they way they speak about them demonstrate how important their culture is to them. In connection with elders in the community, the youth are inspired to take action against the potential of oil spills on the Northwest Coast as a result of the Northern Gateway Pipeline by speaking at cultural gatherings and participating in a hunger strike. As the youth make their paddleboards and take action, it becomes evident that this is a project that is culturally responsive.
Pictures of the boards:
2. Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom:
This is the BC Ministry of Education’s 2015 document on Aboriginal worldviews in the classroom. Pages 39-57 focus on “Attributes of Responsive Schooling”. As an educator, this section of the document is less theoretical and more practical. It consists of participant responses to each principle of responsive education, with advice and suggestions to support educators. What strikes me with regards to this document, is the difficulty in which I had to find it on the BC Ministry of Education Website. Although Aboriginal education is integrated throughout the revised BC Curriculum, this document provides educators with practical information which lends to the visualization of responsive schooling.
3. In Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker, the following concepts are introduced for culturally responsive mathematics education: grounded in place, storywork, focused on relationships, inquiry based, requiring social consciousness and agency. Simon Fraser University’s Math Catcher Outreach Program uses the concepts of place, storywork, and inquiry to engage students in mathematics. They also offer classroom visits, workshops, and summer camps for Aboriginal children. The digital resources include youtube videos in English and one or more Indigenous languages and are all based on real life situations. They could also act as a math catalyst between school and home. I wonder how these resources are being implemented in the classroom and if they are being used with the other concepts of culturally responsive mathematics ed.
4. In the following TEDx talk entitled Aboriginal math education: Collaborative learning, Stavros Stavrou explains how he takes an “anti-oppressive math education” approach. He co-teachers with an Aboriginal teacher and attempts to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and principles of knowing with mathematics. Watching his lecture, his approach seems to echo the concepts of culturally responsive math education as outlined by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker in Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education. As an educator, this sounds like an amazing situation, where a non-native teacher specialist is able to collaborate and co-teach with an Aboriginal teacher. Stavrou provides an example of how he connected with a student on a cultural, mathematical, personal level. He illustrates for us what we hear echoed in the messages of Inuit youth in Alluriarniq – Stepping Forward, students are motivated and engaged when teachers connect with them personally.
4. Designing Games with First Nations Youth
This is a project, entitled Skins, conducted by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) (Concordia University), where Aboriginal youth, in partnership with game experts learn to create digital games based on stories from their communities. Upon reading the paper, it becomes evident that much thought has been put into this project through consultation and connection with the Aboriginal community. Protocol is important as noted in the article and in the references which demonstrate depth of research around appropriate methodologies. There is evidence of the principles of culturally responsive education: “ 1) flexible curriculum, 2) a dedicated instructor connected to the community, 3) defined roles, and 4) creative freedom”. In addition, upon completion of the project researchers were able to conclude that, “Stories from the community came alive for the students in both the telling and discussions about them, and, ultimately, in the game itself. They were then able to synthesize their own original story, and furthermore, transform that narrative into a gamespace and gameplay.”
The topics I explored in this module relevant to our course are decolonization, research and intellectual property. My research interest, traditional stories, connects to all these areas, and I was curious what practical resources related to these topics are available to storytellers and educators in the media age.
(1) This week! July 20-21, 2017: First Nations Language Conference, Vancouver
Stories are told best in their own language. What decolonizing language initiatives are out there? This week’s Language Learning on the Land conference presented by First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) in Vancouver, BC might have some answers! Here is the summary:
The First Nations Education Steering Committee is pleased to present the First Nations Languages Conference, which is a major networking and professional development opportunity for BC’s school and community-based First Nations language educators and advocates. Together, we will explore the conference theme, Language Learning on the Land, and engage in workshops about First Nations languages teaching methods, assessment tools, advocacy, and technology.
The FNESC is a collective organization focused on “advancing quality education for all First Nations learners” that appears to be very active in organizing a vast array of initiatives, events and programs, such as the upcoming First Nations Language Teacher Mentor-Apprentice Program, Science First Peoples Workshop and Annual Aboriginal Education Conference.
This resource deserves its own mention. The First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association partnered up in 2011 to produce a publication of authentic materials. After an open call to Canadian publishers, BC educators developed an annotated list of resources. The guide defines authentic First Peoples texts and helps educators “make appropriate decisions about which of these resources might be appropriate for use with their students.” Updated in 2016, it asserts copyright under Canadian law. Within the document, it gives extended credit to authors, illustrators and contributors under each annotated listing, acknowledging communities and traditions. The free download is available here; printed copies may be ordered.
It seems appropriate as we move into our instructor’s readings, to cite one of Dr. McGregor’s relevant previous works. Decolonizing Pedagogies is a Teacher Reference Booklet prepared for the Aboriginal Focus School at the Vancouver School Board in March 2012. Fortunately for teachers in British Columbia and beyond, it still lives online. It is intended to explore:
What does “decolonizing pedagogies” mean? Why are decolonizing pedagogies important? What have educational scholars said about decolonizing pedagogies in Aboriginal education? How can decolonizing pedagogies be used in history education? What are the challenges of using decolonizing pedagogies?
What is the difference between revising content and pedagogy? As explained in the document:
Revising the content of education to better reflect Indigenous perspectives is often the focus of curricular reform. However, revising pedagogy used to produce and transmit Indigenous curriculum content can be equally important to effectively changing educational practice to make it more inclusive, holistic and reflective of Indigenous ways of teaching and learning.
A primary takeaway at the end of the document is to remember that decolonizing education is not only about integrating Indigenous content; it is about examining power relationships. The Resources list at the end provides further reading for examination.
How is research evolving and decolonizing in Canada to include Indigenous methodologies and perspectives? I looked at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Aboriginal Research page to find out. Among many links, it lists tools to support applicants working in Aboriginal research, such as:
- SSHRC’s definition of Aboriginal research
- Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research
- Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada
The page also links to resources for those involved in Aboriginal research, including: Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal Peoples, Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Universities Canada principles on Indigenous education, Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences: Reconciliation and the Academy and Parks Canada Indigenous Affairs Branch.
SSHRC is active in current research funding, as evidence by its March 16, 2017 press release titled, “Government of Canada Invests in Indigenous Research Projects.” Watch this space!
(5) Law, Research and Working Papers on Intellectual Property (IP)
Here are a few sources I discovered related to IP and cultural appropriation:
(i) First, the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project was a seven-year international research initiative based at Simon Fraser University (2008-2016) that explored “rights, values, and responsibilities of material culture, cultural knowledge and the practice of heritage research.” The project is a practical resource and a network of support for communities and researchers. IPinCH does not appear to have materials after 2016, but does contain excellent articles such as “The Appropriation of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage: Examining the Uses and Pitfalls of the Canadian Intellectual Property Regime” published in November 2015. This project was funded by the SSHRC.
(ii) Moving back in time, Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights is a paper published by the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament of Canada in 2004. It addresses:
- how Indigenous traditional knowledge differs from western science;
- why and how to protect traditional knowledge;
- limitations of the intellectual property rights regime; and
- international initiatives in protecting traditional knowledge.
(iii) Finally, for historical context, I discovered “Intellectual Property and Aboriginal People: A Working Paper” published by the Research and Analysis Directorate of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Intellectual Property Policy Directorate of Industry Canada in 1999. Almost 20 years on, it may not be a current legal resource, yet many of the fundamental principles remain, and such a document can provide a reference to understand how far we have (or have not) come in regards to IP law reform.
For current legal advice on IP matters, it is advisable to turn to Indigenous practices within law firms, and Indigenous law firms such as OKT, whose central philosophy is that “there will be no real justice until Indigenous peoples have control over their own fates and futures” and works for clients who want to use Canadian law as a means to help achieve this goal and achieve success on their terms.