Twenty-one-year-old Natasha Fisher is a singer-songwriter from Thunder Bay who is using her music and her Ojibwe heritage to inspire young people living on First Nations reserves. Thunder Bay is known for its natural beauty and tranquility, but it’s also known for singer-songwriter Natasha Fisher. Now 21, Fisher spent her first 18 years in Thunder Bay and says her Ojibwe heritage has influenced her music.
Her musical journey began six years ago when Fisher started uploading videos to test the waters. The response was overwhelming with more than 200,000 views. After graduation she started doing hip-hop and R&B covers but has taken her music to the next level with the release of her first album entitled Her.
In an interview with CBC, Fisher said she is passionate about is continuing to cultivate a mentorship role she created when she was just 15. She said she has travelled to First Nations reserves to connect with children and youth on subjects like anti-bullying, while providing songwriting workshops and encouraging children to pursue their dreams and develop their talents.
Having the ability to use social media like YouTube provides a medium by which she can help inspire other young Indigenous artists to express their culture in ways unavailable years ago. Fisher told CBC that Ojibway heritage influences her music, it influences her to be a better person and to inspire youth and with so many people hurting right now in northern communities it looks as if her songs can inspire others to follow their dreams while being proud and promoting their culture.
It will be my intention to include her message and the medium by which she is using in my final paper proving the possibility for Indigenous communities to still preserve their culture while embracing technology to promote it.
Throughout this course I have been really opening my eyes to resources that are coming directly from Indigenous communities or community members, that are being shared out into the “mainstream media”, and that can be utilized in our education system. I have been looking for articles and resources that open up the conversation and that help to bridge communities.
I have been having great discussions with colleagues within my school community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and these conversations include resources, topics for discussion, and areas for further investigation. Taking the time to seek out information and resources has certainly opened my eyes to concerns I was unaware of, and has given me more perspective. I am looking forward to continuing this journey and seeking out additional resources and information to support the curriculum and all of our students.
Post 1 – The Water Walker
This CBC news article, and the book to which it speaks, is helping look at clean water from an Aboriginal woman’s perspective. It is based on actual events that “marries the First Nations’ sense of oneness with the natural world with 21st century concerns for the environment” and written and illustrated by AnishinaabKwe author Joanne Robertson.
This article is from the November 3 Langley Times and brings forward an interesting and controversial topic. When educators are bringing in Indigenous practices, in this case food sources and preparation, into a high school classroom, controversy erupts. One practice is considered “inappropriate” by a group, while many comments (on social media….) support this teachers’ decision. They speak to the hypocrisy that our Home Economics classes can use beef or chicken in their cooking, but when it comes to something such as rabbit, it is inappropriate. Cultural practices collide. I am looking forward to the discussion that evolves from this.
This site provides a number of educational activities to help support children and families. With links to books, digital resources, and films (to name a few), educators have resources to “touch on several topics in Indigenous history and culture, an aim to broaden perspectives and encourage critical thinking”.
Native Lit and Culture is a bi-weekly newsletter on Indigenous literature and culture. While from New Mexico, posts on their website and blog highlight a variety of issues, challenges and opportunities of Indigenous peoples all around the world. They share resources, poetry, books, and other website that share culture and a variety of perspectives to keep conversations and awareness happening.
Post 5 – Youth, Technology, and Empowerment
Continuing with our discussion of youth and technology, I have found several links to stories where Indigenous youth are making a difference and sharing their stories through social media, film, music. These youth are sharing their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives and putting it out into the world.
The Ethnos Project is a research initiative that explores the intersection of Indigeneity and information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as:
open source databases for Indigenous Knowledge management
information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) initiatives
new and emerging technologies for intangible cultural heritage
social media used by Indigenous communities for social change
mobile technologies used for language preservation
The essays found in this site seem incredibly appropriate for our learnings in this course. The founder of The Ethnos Project, Mark Oppenneer, might be a “Wannabe”, however! I tried to learn more about him, only to find that either another person with the same name, or the founder of this page, was fired from his teaching job for inappropriate relations with a student. From Oppenneer’s LinkedIn profile, it appears to be the same person… What intrigues me about this website, is how polished it looks and how interesting the essays seem to be. My question is this: is the founder a “Wannabe” and should this site be not accessed should this be the case???
Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science
Anyone who says that Facebook is a waste of time, is not using Facebook to its full potential.
Recently, I joining a Science Teacher FB group and this group has actually revolutionized my teaching in only 4 weeks. Not only have I adopted something called Two Stage Exams, but someone recently posted a link to this incredible resource, Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science. What is particularly jaw-dropping, is that I saved this link two weeks ago, long before I watched this week’s video interviews. The co-author of this online book is none other than Lorna Williams!!!!
This chapter summarizes a study that was done with Grade5/6 students and Grade 11/12 in a First Nations Studies course. The stereotypes harboured by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students are eye-opening, to say the least. As a science educator, what can I do differently in my practice to help my students see past these stereotypes? Am I do anything that reinforces these stereotypes?
Sask. First Nation chief says tobacco offering from visiting school’s coach a step toward reconciliation
People stereotype, consciously and unconsciously– stereotyping is often due to making assumptions, without taking the time to educate oneself of the truth. However, this was an example of someone taking the time to understand Indigenous culture and showing respect, in an authentic way.
Colorado River should have same legal status as a person: lawsuit
In Week 6 of our studies, we were asked if we thought if cultures have rights to protect themselves?
Should the lawyer representing the Colorado River win his case, he may wish to move on to representing culture in the courts, as well! Although the article is a quick read, spending time listening to the lawyer’s arguments in the interview is recommended as it may provide you with extremely compelling reasons that make it obvious that our natural resources should be protected in court, as if they were a person.
Stop believing this myth: No, Native Americans are not “anti-science”
Although this website is highly irritating with its pop-up ads, the article itself is worth a read. I took some time to learn about the Salon website (you know, to check on something called “Authority”…) and according to Wikipedia (I know my credibility is sinking fast now…), Salon.com is a left-wing tabloid style, media outlet. NONETHELESS, I am posting this article because IF what it says is actually true, this article would be very valuable to anyone wishing to “braid” Indigenous science into their lessons. I would highly advise folks to use this as a stepping stone to research more into the topics it provides.
Last year I had an “aha” moment during a professional development session when we were shown the conflicting viewpoints of the Iranian hostage crisis through Google searches. The difference from Canadian Google versus Iranian Google was profound. Depending on which country you searched from, you would have two entirely different accounts of the event. As a history teacher, I’m aware that all history is biased and will vary depending on who writes it, however in this day and age, I was shocked to see such a stark difference from the same platform provider.
At the beginning of each year (being a teacher my “New Years” is September 1st) I make a personal finance, fitness, and intellectual goal for myself. This year my intellectual goal is to “challenge my confirmation bias”. I feel that I have always been a person open and respectful to others ideas, however, I’ve become more self-aware that my sources of information are from limited sources.
A recent revelation pertaining to this was after watching a Vice HBO Episode titled: ‘Post-Truth’ News & Microbiome. In this discussion, it showed Parallel Narratives of Twitter data surrounding journalism and Clinton/Trump supporters. Following only Clinton or Trump was an indication that your information circles only covered either left wing or right wing topics. As Vice puts more eloquently “[the] support had an effect on a user’s information flow as people seemed to cut themselves off from users who supported a different candidate.”
If “following” is seen as supporting, then it will be difficult to break this segregation of information for fear of reprisals from peer groups. But maybe this is what we need. Following Trump and his supporters may help to bridge the gap in our understanding of each other. While I think (at least I hope) that the same degree of polarization does not exist between Canadians and Indigenous peoples presently, I wonder, are we making an effort to truly understand and “follow” each other?
Bringing it back to our topic; focusing on my goal and engaging in this course has made me analyze my current practices. How can we break free from our singular narrative bubble and actively seek Indigenous community members both locally and nationally to “Follow”? Indigenous Tweets and other platforms of the like might be a good springboard to find new sources of information. Moreover, reviewing and reiterating our current practices for searching for literature. Pivoting from UBC summons and Google Scholar to Indigenous databases and Index’s such as the Indigenous Peoples North America and iPortal: Indigenous Studies Portal databases. Searching through these ‘new’ mediums I found significantly fewer ‘hits’ for the subject matter I was looking for, however, what I gave up in quantity I found in quality with literature that was reflecting a new perspective.
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.
I have not yet decided on a direction for my research in this class, but am sharing what I have come across so far as I consider the readings we have done so far and am beginning to look forward to my own research project:
This collection of essays from indigenous and non-indigenous writers in Canada explores ideas related to the recommendations for truth and reconciliation. It is an eye-opening look at assumptions about first nations and colonization.
Metcalf-Chenail, D. (2016). In this together; Fifteen stories of truth and reconciliation. Victoria: Brindle & Glass Publishing.
This website showcases Tedx-style conversations by members of first nations and settler allies, attempting to shed light on historical and present-day first nations. I particularly like this one because, in addition to sharing first nations perspectives, it also is shared online in a Tedx style that has become familiar to anyone who spends time online: a short, single-camera lecture by one person in front of an audience that then lives online to be shared. The short duration of each video makes them more palatable to online viewers.
A Tribe Called Red is a Juno-award winning group of artists who mix traditional First Nations music with techno, hip-hop and electronica. They are active on social media platforms, interacting with audiences online and selling music via various online platforms. They are leveraging technology to share a modern iteration of First Nations culture
Open Minds is a collaboration between the Calgary public and catholic school boards and private enterprises. Teachers work collaboratively with facilitators to use community sites as a classroom for a week of place-based learning with the intent that the work will form a year-long project.
Many schools with high First Nations populations now offer Cree as a language of choice for students rather than French. This seems to be a logical step in engaging students who have a much closer connection to Cree than they do to French. It’s a way of valuing a culture and allowing students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. These schools engage aboriginal elders who work in the schools. The Calgary Public Board of Education will be formally taking on initiatives to meet the calls for the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In planning for this, Learning Leaders acknowledge that this may lead to a bottleneck in terms of needing aboriginal elders and experts to work in classrooms where demand exceeds the supply. Some tools that may allow classrooms to make first forays into learning include online access to Cree dictionaries and language.
I suppose that I have not yet chosen a topic to research yet because my knowledge surrounding Indigenous Education is severely limited. That being said, I did complete my teacher’s diploma in Australia where many of the courses integrated Indigenous perspectives. I am very interested as to how Indigenous perspectives can be integrated and weaved into more of the Ontario education system- specifically pertaining to the Elementary sector. That being said, I have come across some interesting websites that might help my narrow down my topic of research.
PDF Files- Aboriginal Perspectives: A Guide to the Teacher’s Toolkit
This resource is an Ontario educator’s resource with links to the curriculum for each grade as well as actual strategies and lessons that can be utilized. The resource outlines specific expectations that can align nicely with lessons/units on Aboriginal culture ranging from Grades 1-12. Majority of the lessons fall under Social Studies/History and Language.
Website- Teaching for Indigenous Education
This website is a “digital learning resource” aimed at educators teaching Indigenous/Aboriginal perspectives. Not surprisingly, it is an UBC blog and provides a plethora of information mostly connecting to BC curriculum expectations. It ranges from learning/teaching about relationships to pedagogy and politics. It has a variety of attached resources that one can peruse.
Research Paper– Digital Opportunities Within the Aboriginal Education Program: A Study of Preservice Teachers’ Attitudes and Proficiency in Technology Integration (Dragon, Peacock, Norton, Steinhauer, Snart, Cabonaro & Boechler, 2012)
This paper examines pre-service teacher’s opinions on the effects technology has had on implementing and gaining access to Aboriginal perspectives. It provides insight into how technology has changed Aboriginal education, while paying special attention to how social media outlets have created cause for concern in the Aboriginal community.
Project of Heart is a website that aims to educate people on the history of Aboriginal people in Canada, specifically referring to Indian Residential Schools and the harm that this experience caused to the children and their families. The website provides many resources that give detailed information about the history as well as a step-by-step inquiry based guide on how to lead your students through this tough topic by conducting their own investigation.
TedTalk– Transforming the Teacher in Indigenous Education (Chris Garner)
An inspirational TedTalk with tips for educators on teaching Indigenous Education. While Garner, a South African, is discussing Australian Aboriginals, this still can be transferred to Canadian Aboriginals. He stresses the importance of potential + effort + relevance to own context= success. If students are able to relate to the information being taught (or the ways in which it is taught) the students has a great chance of success.
This website showcases stories and poems written by Aboriginal youth from across Canada. Each year Aboriginal Arts and Stories, holds a contest inviting youth to write about their experiences whether they are fiction or non-fiction. If you teach Aboriginal youth, you should think about submitting their work to this contest. You could also invite students to read the pieces that are featured. One year, one of my student’s from Kahnawake made the top 10 in her age category.
Suicide is now seen as contagious, the good news is that prevention is also seen as contagious. Many Native communities are turning to the #WeNeedYouHere hashtag to spread awareness about how much an individual will be missed if they commit suicide.http://www.wernative.org/
We R Native, is a website that was started in 2012 by Native youth for Native youth. The site contains a plethora of Health and Wellness information, as well as an “Ask Auntie” page in which youth can ask “Auntie” questions ranging from sexuality to mental health.
Life in the Native American Oil Protest Camps
This photo series focuses on life on the Indian reservation . This reservation is the location of the largest gathering of Native Americans in over 100 years. Indigenous people from across the United States and Canada are living in camps on the Standing Rock reservation, they are there to protest the creation of a new oil pipeline that will run through their reservation, not only causing destruction to the land but also destroying their lives forever.
Indspire is a charity for Indigenous people by Indigenous people. When I worked with young ladies from the Kahnawake reserve in Montreal we attended a conference given by Indspire and it was something that none of us had ever experienced before. We had various speakers from various Aboriginal sectors speaking to the students their fields of study ranging from communications, to medicine, to the military. The speakers left the students motivated and inspired about their futures.
Muskrat Magazine is an online magazine whose primary focus is on Indigenous arts and culture. The magazines focus is to exhibit original works of art in various forms and to engage in critical commentary. Muskrat magazine uses both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, wireless technology and the internet to distribute information in an eye opening and interesting manner.
https://fasdprevention.wordpress.com/ is a blog created to increase awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Since I am looking at social media use among Indigenous peoples, I am looking into what blogs are out there and what areas are these blogs in. Healthy and well-being, seem to one of the big concerns among indigenous peoples and many blogs seem to be appearing in these areas for individuals looking for help.
http://www.naho.ca/radio: Radio Naho is a new initiative from the National Aboriginal Health Organization aimed to bring health issues to the masses from a holistic perspective. The goal is to educate individuals with an emphasis to be placed on prevention. This radio station is geared to youth and young adults and wants to educate and influence healthy behavior by bringing on experts, advocates and role models.
An Index of Indigenous Podcasts this post found on Media Indegina website lists various podcasts created by Indigenous individuals. There is no secret that it can be hard to find Indigenous representation in podcasts but this list is start.
Since I am looking into Aboriginals and social media use I found a blog post on the Elevator Strategy blog that listed 20 Aboriginals to follow on Twitter. These accounts are vast and varied, from Reconciliation Canada who are trying to mend the broken ties among Aboriginal who attended residential schools and fellow Canadians (@Rec_Can) to one of my personal favourites @UrbanNativeGirl, Lisa Charleyboy who is from Tsilhqot’in Nation. Lisa is the Editor of Urban Native Magazine and is a well known leader in the Aboriginal community. Keeping readers up to date on media, fashion and music as well as events and news.
The list is varied and interesting. Definitely worth a look.