Category Archives: Module 1

SAY Magazine: For and about Native Youth

SAY Magazine claims to be the largest national magazine for and about Native youth. They state that there is a need for a magazine for Native youth because the aboriginal population in Canada is projected to increase three times faster than the non-Aboriginal population and Aboriginal youth will represent a much larger share of the youth population over the next decade. They will also account for an increasing share of entrants into the workforce. There is a section on technology on the SAY Magazine website. It presents a number of aboriginal individuals who speak about technology and how it has impacted their lives. Kirk Mann is a member of Peguis First Nation. He also works for Status Solutions. He mentions that technology is important for him in helping out in his community. Brian Bull is another aboriginal individual. He is from the Nez Perce Nation. While there are many other mediums out there, Bull remains dedicated to broadcast journalism because it most closely follows the time-honored custom of oral tradition. He also states that technology is helping many tribes of preserve their history through digital recordings and high-resolutiont scans. Lastly, Scott Grossman is a speaker coordinator from Native Nations Events. He talks about the importance and benefits of technology use in the process of producing conferences. They are able to speak to tribal leaders as well as government officials. If one subsribes to this magazine, access to many more articles can be obtained. This magazine is very useful for those who are conducting research on Aboriginal youth networks and exploring the more topics surrounding Aboriginal youth today.

Technology and Globalisation for Indigenous Youth

This article, written by Jasmine Bruce, discusses the submissions made to the International Youth Parliament’s Youth Commission into Globalisation (IYP Commission) from Indigenous young people and organizations working with Indigenous youth around the world. It focuses on the impact that globalisation has on upon the rights of people rather than a specific issue. On page 87, the role technology in globalisation for Indigenous youth is discussed. It states that “globalisation has both driven and been driven by developments in communication technologies, yet access to these technologies is far from equitable”. Many Indigenous people do not necessarily reap the benefits of developments in technology. When Indigenous young people gain access to technology, the challenge is to give culturally-valid meaning to the use of new technologies. Unless Indigenous people are involved with implementing the integration of technology into their communities, the technology may work against other aspects of their indigenous cultures. The article states that like other aspects of globalisation, technological advancements represent a double-edged sword for Indigenous youth. The technology also opens opportunities for Indigenous youth in the technology and knowledge-based industries and fosters youth Indigenous employment. They can also use technology to raise awareness about Indigenous rights and to create global youth networks. This article is very useful for anyone who is doing research on the impact of technology on Indigenous youth. It presents technology as a positive and negative influence on Indigenous youth globally.

RedWAY BC News

RedWAY BC News is a free monthly on-line magazine.  It has been published since 2003 by Spiritlink Communications.

According to the founder of RedWAY, Kristen Kozuback the mission of the publication is to build relationships based on respect and recognition and to celebrate the diversity of cultures, talents and strengths of Aboriginal people..

Many of the recent efforts by RedWAY focus on ways youth can build media technology skills and develop the experience necessary to start careers or businesses as writers, editors, videographers, and photographers.  RedWAY‘s YouTube channel and video productions (made by youth) can be found here.

Here are some of the regular sections from the magazine:

  • JPEN – Job Postings & Employment News
  • From the Streets and RHR: readers helping readers
  • Smoke Signals: a community announcements page
  • International Indigenous News: often self-governance items

Readership Demographics:  most of the readers and contributors are Aboriginal youths who reside in British Columbia – 85% self-identify as Aboriginal; 80% live currently in BC; over 45% are under age 30; 70% have their own social networking site.

Teaching Tip: In coordination with Spiritlink, RedWAY, and the First Nations School Net Program, 7 youths attended the 2008 Gathering our Voices Conference held in Victoria, May 17-20, 2008.  These youths were provided with hardware (laptops, cameras) + software + brainware (training) + spiritware (encouragement and empowerment) and the result was a significant ‘earning and learning’ experience.

Adele Alexander commented on her reflection the conference in a holistic way.  Her posts describe the influence the conference had on her:

  • intellectually
  • emotionally
  • physically
  • spiritually

I found this to be a very interesting way of having students look back at an experience. It transcends the mere ‘lessons learned’ and gets into a more authentic reflection of any experience.  Researchers looking into innovative, grassroots efforts to empower Aboriginal youth through media should definitely take a look at RedWAY.

First Nations Singer: Jana Mashonee

[youtube][/youtube] This compilation of music and art presents the story of First Nations peoples as presented through the singing of Jana Mashonee. This seems like a good example to present to young students. The blend of current First Nations art and traditional story gives a sense of balance. However, when I googled Jana Mashonee, the first thing that came up was a poster-like representation that definitely had a Pochahontas-feel to it. It certainly has a very commercial feel but the music also seems to present positive messages for First Nations students and she seems to present the image of being a good role-model. This reminds me of the discussion regarding the non-neutrality of the internet. There are always messages delivered on many levels and that understanding them requires sharp critical skills.

Empowering Education

In Aboriginal Education in Rural Australia: A case study in frustration and hope, Anne Katrin Eckerman chronicles the successes and challenges of developing a positive education environment for Aboriginal students and families in rural Australia.  Again the systemic abuse of imparted by the forces of colonialization have wreaked havoc with communities, families and even each individual’s sense of self-worth.  The article outlines some of the steps that have been taken to try and empower the community and develop a sense of ownership by giving people control over their lives and their education.  I think it’s true in many Canadian schools that First Nations students feel completely disenfranchised.  This article will likely make a huge contribution to my understanding of the trauma and challenges that have to be overcome to rebuild communities and students sense of self-esteem and give them the opportunity to determine their own futures. 

Eckerman, Anne-Katrin. (1999)  Aboriginal Education in Rural Australia:  A case study in frustration and hope.  Australian Journal of Education.

Intergenerational Connections

During the discussions we were reminded of the work of Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate that point out the challenges that parents are having connecting with their children.  They attribute this to a general lack of intergenerational exchange in society.  Alana Mitchel’s article in the Globe & Mail (2004)  offers an overview of their findings.  This lack of connectedness is significant to all families but even moreso to First Nations families or even to families of African Americans.  These are families that have been torn apart and uprooted and systemically denied basic human rights over the past few centuries.  Trying to rebuild those connections is an enormous challenge.  When we are planning to introduce technology into the classroom are we ensuring that there are inter-generational opportunities?  While I’m exploring using technology with young children in our schools, I’ll need to see how much of it is peer-to-peer and how much other generations are involved.

Indiginous Commodification (Allen Module 1 #3)

Olympic Mascots

Readings in Module 1 warned us of the possible negative effects that the Internet might have relating to the commoditization and commercial exploitation of indigenous artifacts, values, and imagery. I did some searches on the “indigenous commoditization” and found an interesting article about the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and our attempts to promote “Canadian” culture and soften history.

The author (Adam Gaudry) questions our own human rights record in relation to how certain land acquisitions for the venues took place and then writes of the exploitation and commercialization of mascots and softening of folklore related to them in order “westernize” historical events.

Visit the On-line article

It seems the Olympics are a good example of how  organizations can trade mark and restrict the use of imagery, slogans and even words. Didn’t Donald Trump even try to trade mark the phrase “your fired”?

New Tribe Magazine

New Tribe Magazine

This is a crazy cool magazine geared towards urban Aboriginal youth that is published in Calgary and distributed in Alberta.  It is available for free and online in a highly interactive web presentation.  The magazine is sponsored by the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth that is also based in Calgary.

According to the editor, the mission of New Tribe Magazine is “to promote a positive outlook on Aboriginal living in an urban setting by promoting and sharing information within the community.”

Youth are encouraged to contribute to each edition and judging from past editions there are range of writers who have committed themselves to making the magazine a success.   The publication is filled with artwork, poetry, news stories from the province and abroad, fictional short stories, advice regarding employment, healthy eating, and wellness (to name just a few). Information is provided about local events and opportunities for Aboriginal youth to connect.  In each edition, a young person who is making a difference in the community is profiled (for instance, graphic novelist Mitchell Poundmaker is featured in the May magazine).

Elodie Caron writes a column about Community. Last month, her segment focused on ebooks and readers such as Kindle, Kobo, and ibooks – great stuff !   There are video game reviews, book reviews, and music reviews.  All in all, it is a very comprehensive magazine.

Up to 5,000 copies of New Tribe are printed monthly.  According to the website, New Tribe has become a main source of information and entertainment for the entire Aboriginal community in Calgary and is not just restricted to youth.

This magazine is very well put together.  The online interface is slick and care is put into each edition.  The only concern I noticed was that the magazine has a strong entertainment element and sometimes that gives it a very commercialized and westernized vibe.  Some of the books and music reviewed have nothing to do with Indigneous culture (review of J-Lo’s latest album).  Perhaps, that is not such a bad thing.  After all, current Aboriginal culture does not operate within a vacume.  I am just concerned that the desire to entertain may make the publication less authentic than it aims to be.

‘We Want 2 b Heard’ Aboriginal Youth Perspectives on Homelessness (Video + Study)


This video is a simulation that dramatizes some of the perspectives and experiences of homeless and street involved Aboriginal Youth.

In 2006, the McCreary Centre Society surveyed 764 street involved youth in communities across British Columbia.  A remarkable 54% of the street youths surveyed were Aboriginal.

Interesting quotes from the video:

“Most kids on the street today see themselves in the future with a job.”

“Forty percent of street youths were either living in Foster Homes or Group Homes before they ended up on the streets.  One out of three of these youths are still attending school, even though they don’t have a home to stay in.”

“I don’t want to die here [on the streets] but probably will without help.”

Many of these youths are runaways.  Obtaining food and basic necessities is a daily struggle.  Some of the youth on the street are very young.  Youth reported an urgent need for affordable housing.  More than 1 in 4 reported a disability or debilitating health condition.  These youths urgently need job training (47% wanted this).

Some key findings from the full McCreary Centre report entitled: Aboriginal Marginalized and Street Involved Youth available here:

• A large number of the youth reported leaving home before entering their teen years. 40% of males and 47% of females had first run away at age 12 or younger, and one in three had been kicked out by age 12

• Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth (LGB) were highly over-represented, especially among female participants.

• 47% had gone hungry because they or their parents didn’t have money for food

• Violence was a significant issue for most of the youth. 63% reported having witnessed family violence, and almost 60% having been physically abused.

• 1 in 3 youth had been pregnant or had caused a pregnancy

Only 10% of the street youth interviewed reported having lived on a reserve.  A majority of the youths expressed agreement with the notion that living on a reserve would increase the connection they had Aboriginal culture.

There is so much in this report that is of use to educators.  The fact that kids such as the ones documented in the video are attending school and doing whatever they can to get by is both shocking and tragic.  These marginalized youth come from the most horrific of circumstances and their stories are a compelling reason for reform in social services, education, government policy, and simple everyday human compassion.

One Laptop Per Child Canada

The OLPC has come to Canada.  While touting itself as a highly successful and well-embraced initiative, this controversial pilot program is set to distribute up to 5,000 XO (next generation) laptops to children aged six to twelve in Aboriginal communities across Canada.  The funding comes from major corporate sponsors (Air Canada, Vale, BMO Financial), the Belinda Stronach Foundation, and the government of Ontario.

The slogan of OLPC programs around the world is “it’s not a laptop project, it’s an education project.”  Youth participating in this program will be accessing “culturally relevant” programming with their new netbooks.   The program mentions that Aboriginal youth are the “fastest growing population in Canada,” and have been underserviced through traditional education opportunities.   OLPC has 30 different programs and 8 of them are customized for Aboriginal youth:

  • Owl Vision (Literacy)
  • Swift Feet (Physical Fitness)
  • Healthy Heart (Food & Nutrition)
  • Ekominiville (Financial Literacy)
  • The Meeting Place (Mental Health, Substance Use & Well Being)
  • Calm Waters (Water Safety)
  • Future Generation (Virtual Library)
  • Drum Beats (Science of Sound)

The idea is that children will use the laptops and the culturally designed curriculum above to become more connected with the world, each-other, their culture, and traditions.  Ultimately, this will allow them to be more engaged learners and brighten the future for everyone.

Many of the schools participating in the pilot phase that is set to begin soon are rural schools and spread throughout Canada (13 schools in 7 provinces).   I think the aims of this project are laudable, and some of the books, tutorials, reading links presented in the curriculum are excellent (view here).

I am leery about this pilot because of the history of failure that has marked many 1:1 laptop programs.  The Kelowna school district ran into significant problems when it implemented a 1:1 laptop pilot.  OLPC Canada will have to address all of the concerns (tech support, finances, training) that have plagued past projects plus meet the challenges of being culturally sensitive…that is a tall order for anyone.