Category Archives: Module 3

ImagineNATIVE

http://www.imaginenative.org/

ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival is an international festival that celebrates the latest works by indigenous peoples on the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media. Each year in the fall, the festival presents some of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the world. The festival attracts and connects film makers, media artisists, and other industry professionals. The works accept reflect the diversity of the worlds Indigenous nations.

ImagineNATIVE is committed to dispelling stereotypical notions of Indigenous peoples through diverse media presentations from within our communities, thereby contributing to a greater understanding by audiences of Indigenous artistic expression. A youth workshop is offered for Aboriginal youth to learn the basics of machine cinema. There are many other activities that youth can be involved in such as the ImagineNATIVE Youth Video Contest.

This website is interesting for those who would like to learn more about Indigenous film and art. There is an extensive archive that contains many videos and images from past events and festivals.

Internet Technology and First Nations Education

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1RUesqalw4&playnext=1&list=PL96F8DAA1B6BC9C71

This video shows Denise Williams talking about internet technology can strengthen First Nations education. Williams is a youth initiative officer for the First Nations Education Steering Committee. One question she was asked is “How would you like to see internet technology used in First Nations education over the coming years?

Williams mentions that there is hope of being able to use the internet to bridge the gap between the teachers that are available to teach and those subjects areas that are still  in need of instructors (such science, math, and physics). The internet can allow for learning activities that involve video conference and Skype. Williams also mentions that with the internet, there is also hope for sharing resources between teachers and communities.

Another question for Williams is “How does the digital divide manifest itself in First Nations schools in BC?” Williams answers by saying that the digital divide in a community sense is different than the divide in education. She says in education, the divide is in the experience of the student. For example, many First Nations students go to school where they experience mainly textbook based learning with limited access and experience with internet activities that could enhance and further their educational experience.

The third question asked is “How does internet technology improve education for First Nations students?” Williams explains that students who are going to schools with internet connectivity and IT have a different perspective on what is possible in the world. They realize that there are different ways in which they can get their education and that they do not neccessarily need to leave their community to gain education. They also have the opportunity to view the possible careers that they can have that would enable them to work from home (such as webdeveloping and art-related careers). With technology, First Nations youth are able to see many more possibilities out there in the world and explore, for themselves, who they can become.

This video is very inspiring as it talks about the benefits of internet technology to First Nations youth in British Columbia. It would be a useful resource for anyone looking to explore more about the digital divide in BC, as well as the effects of broadband connection in remote communities in BC.

AYM Team – Aboriginal Youth Media Team

http://aymteam.com/index.html

AYM is a British Columbia-based organization that promote and share 21st century literacy skills. They strive to provide youth-friendly training in a culturally-relevant learning environment. The youth can connect with elders, other Aboriginal youth groups, and business mentors. They also strive to promote the diversity of Indigenous languages, cultures, and the ways of knowing and teaching. AYM also claims to decolonize and “Youth-enize” curriculum by including youth and elder voices, Indigenous knowledge, and technology to create a unique and inclusive learning environment.

AYM like to bring in community partners, elders, professional facilitators and guest speakers to teach and co-teach with Aboriginal youth. They encourage youth to put their new skills to work in non-profit organizationa or local bands as writers, reporters, videographers, website designers, and workshop facilitators.

The 21st century literacy skills mentioned above include digital literacy (using various technologies), interpersonal skills (the Coast Salish tradition of witnessing events), cultural literacy skills (re-learning and rediscovering the diversities of indigenous cultural traditions. Learning these literacy skills means that Aboriginal youth will be able to professional create, publish, and promote their own stories, media messages, and art in their own voices and styles.

This organizations sounds like a wonderful resource for Aboriginal youth in the lower mainland of BC. There is easy access to podcasts, online articles, videos, stories, and surveys. AYM reminds me somewhat of Module 3s video where a group of youth traveled down the Fraser River to explore and learn about culture and heritage. This organization seems to be able to do the same with youth.

Aboriginal Youth and Internet Technologies

http://arago.cprost.sfu.ca/smith/research/fncr/Youth.pdf

This paper is written by the First Nations Connectivity research team at SFU. It discusses aboriginal youth and internet technologies and the issues affecting remote communities of British Columbia. The article puts emphasis on youth as the wealth and wellbeing of young people will directly shape the future of all British Columbians. This reminds me of Module 3 where the topic of aboriginal youth and cultural preservation were discussed.

Broadband connectivity can play an important role in these various youth programs, as it helps remote communities work together to tackle major problems. This article also connects a range of youth issues to broader Aboriginal movements in BC, in order to demomstrate the interconnectedness of broadband uses in remote communities. Developing the infrastructure and knowledge-base needed to fully exploit the internet’s potential is largely inseparable from grassroots Aboriginal movements and initiatives.

This article would be useful for someone who is interested in investigating technology use in remote communities in British Columbia. It would also be interesting for someone who is doing research on Aboriginal youth and the effects of technology on cultural preservation revitalization.

Decolonizing Our Schools

Decolonizing Our Schools: Aboriginal Education in the Toronto District School Board

Report presented: September 30, 2010.  Written by Aboriginal scholar Dr. Susan D. Dion, along with Krista Johnston and Dr. Carla Rice

In this report, the authors describe the work of the Urban Aboriginal Education Pilot Project (UAEPP) in Toronto District schools (TDSB) between April 2009 and September, 2010. It’s interesting to note that the goal of the UAEPP is to deliver education that is “worthy of our children and our ancestors” in a large, diverse urban context.  Much of the report is based on the research findings of the Talking Stick Project.

The research confirms what Aboriginal parents, students, and educators already knew: institutions of formal schooling are failing to provide Aboriginal students with the educational environment and experiences that they need to achieve success. Urban Aboriginal students face a number of unique problems – they are unable to find suitable connection with cultural knowledge and do not see themselves represented in the curriculum.  They are “encouraged to attend school in the spite of a long, negative, and hurtful relationship between Aboriginals and schooling.”  School employees in urban settings face unique challenges in first of all recognizing Aboriginal student populations and then delivering programs when FN students are dispersed across a range of schools.  Additionally, almost all educators lack the requisite knowledge and training for meaningfully teaching Aboriginal subject matter.

After interviewing and studying approximately 200 students, parents, teachers, administrators, community members, and other stakeholders the following four key findings were generated:

1. TDSB must recognize the importance of understanding and responding to Aboriginal students, youth, and their learning needs

  • reject narrow definition of learning and success in the form grades in favour of a focus on well-being

2. Meaningful incorporation of Indigenous issues must be supported by providing thoughtful pro-d for teaching staff

  • educators need access to expertise and training to understand Aboriginal culture and appreciate their role “inheritors of a colonial legacy.”  This is part of the larger process of Decolonization and Indigenizing.  Teachers must be prepared to take on this challenge and must be supported in their attempts to do so.

3. Schools must be transformed in order to Decolonize and Indigenize learning spaces

  • Aboriginal students and Aboriginal education thrive in safe environments

4. Aboriginal Education must be supported at all levels and prioritized by establishing internal and external partnerships

Some of the many other recommendations:

  • sustained funding is needed
  • Aboriginal teachers need to be recruited
  • Student well-being should be the center of educational approaches
  • Aboriginal history and culture, including the history of colonialism, should be taught at multiple points in curriculum
  • Board must require all principals to participate in decolonizing and indigenizing professional development
  • Board must require all departments to demonstrate a plan for integrating Aboriginal Education

———– Decolonizing our Schools is as powerful an educational research report as one will ever read. The authors pull no punches and directly challenge the stereotypes and misguided thinking of those who declare that Indigenous education should be compartmentalized or marginalized because Aboriginals are a minority in their classrooms/schools. This report reminds us that were all the products of a colonial legacy that has ravaged Indigenous practices.  In many ways, the report is a refreshing departure from the non-committal babble that emanates from school district research departments.  Of course, it has to be…the topic is simply too significant for any lesser approach.

You Belong Here (Parts 1 and 2)

This short film explores the bond between Aboriginal youth and Elders and unites them in talking circles with the goal of sharing of words of wisdom.  Elders from the Dene, Cree, Blackfoot, and Metis from across Alberta helped provide the guidance that was central to the program.  The relationships were coordinated by the Alberta Native Friendship Centers Association and the Alberta Aboriginal Youth Council.  This summary of their work was filmed in Jasper, Alberta – August, 2007.

The film begins by reminding us that Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population and facing a strong set of challenges.  Like their ancestors overcame, the conviction is conveyed that through belief in their culture, in their own self-worth, and through a sense of belonging, these difficult times will be overcome.  Through the guidance of Elders (always capitalized), Aboriginal youth are coming to know their culture and appreciate their traditions and customs.

A focus on emotion characterizes much of the film.  Many of the youth require emotional guidance and have been subjected to discrimination. Many Elders mention that lack of spirituality – lack of a belief in a power greater than yourself – is harming youth and getting them caught up in the material world that is full of ills such as violence, drugs, alcohol, and disengagement

One girl describes being the only one of 8 in her family who does not drink or do drugs.  This is a sobering reality for some in the Indigenous community.  Becoming human and humble and moving away from the arrogance that characterizes substance abuse is described as a healing quality that needs to be spread among the youth.  This type of wisdom is passed on during hours and hours of informal discussion with Elders.

It’s interesting that most of the Elders featured in the film were women and many of the participating youth were teens in crisis.  The ability of the women to be both nurturing and candid seems to have played a role in helping the youth who are interviewed to move away from harmful behaviours.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3_e6M-Lulo&feature=related[/youtube]

Module 3: Intellectual Property and Indigenous Knowledge

http://portal.unesco.org/es/ev.php-URL_ID=6220&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

Simply marrying up science and traditional/indigenous knowledge is not an option.  Too often, science has sifted through the sandbox of traditional knowledge and taken what was seen as valuable (bio-active ingredients in plants that can be used for profit) and discarded the rest.

Often discarded was the cultural and spiritual base of traditional knowledge.  Science has long claimed to be culture free, and logical and thus the best world view, when in fact this in itself is a cultural assumption!  We need to “listen to our own historians and philosophers of science, then we must acknowledge that science has another face that is not the one most commonly presented for public consumption. Science has its own historical, social and cultural context. From its very origins, science is anchored in a dualistic worldview that separates Culture and Nature, sets humans apart from other living organisms, and opposes the rational and the spiritual. This will to separate, reduce and compartmentalise is both science’s force, as witnessed by enormous advances in Western technology, and its weakness” as can be seen by the problems that modern science has gotten us into recently!

What also needs to be considered are the intellectual property rights of the owners of the knowledge.  Just like the patent of a drug must be respected, even though it can save lives, so to must the intellectual property of a group of indigenous peoples.

Module 3: Daniel Wildcat, Indigenous Students and Science

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmgFSu-owxU&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

In this video, Daniel Wildcat explains two unique ways that science and indigenous knowledge are working together to combat/adapt to climate change.

The first is a research project at the University of Kansas that is looking at the movement and changes of ice sheets using satellite imaging.  The University of Kansas asked the Haskel Indian Nations University to partner up on this project, and Wildcat’s idea was to have students and academics on the research team helping to explain how culture and land coexist.

The second had students at the Haskel Indian Nations University and Northwest Indian College working directly with technology to understand and solve local issues.

Both of these projects are valuable ones to the Native and non-native communities, not to mention all of humanity.  The first project has First Nations people explaining the link between land and culture and how and why this is necessary.  Perhaps if Westerners had more of a connection to a region, there would be more regard for the land.  The second project skips the middle man–the non-native researcher–and has the First Nation people working directly with the technology to solve real problems that affect them daily.  This has many positive repercussions in my mind, including, but not limited to celerity of problem solving, relevance of the issues being solved, bolstering of the local FN economy, bolstering of the local autonomy…

Module 3: Winds of Change and Daniel Wildcat

http://www.cbp.ucar.edu/documents/Winds_of_Change_ClimateChange.pdf

This pdf is a bit of a review of the discussions and events at the Seven Generations Conference in 2008.  Of particular interest to my research is the interview with Daniel Wildcat who is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas.  His specialty is in Indigenous knowledge, technology, environment and education.  The epiphany he describes through story in this interview is my thesis for my paper.  While working with NASA and remote sensing satellite images of Earth, he decided that First Nations people were “local sensing” experts and that the two forms of knowing–scientific and indigenous–work together to create a larger, more accurate picture.

Indigenous knowledge can certainly give scientists more specific, holistic information about what is happening at ground level or “in real life” (as opposed to in satellite images on on pages of data), but the rapid rate at which things are changing, and the extreme nature of the changes often renders the problem solving skill set of the particular indigenous knowledge ill equipped to deal.  Thus, scientists and indigenous thinkers need to collaborate in order to problem solve and troubleshoot the solutions to this massive issue.

Suicide Prevention for Aboriginal Youth

The high rate of suicide within the Aboriginal youth population is greatly concerning. The Honouring Life Network website is working towards preventing suicides within the Aboriginal Youth population by providing a network in which Aboriginal youth can share their experiences and gain access to numerous suicide prevention resources. These resources are also available to Aboriginal communities and youth workers. The site receives funding from Health Canada and is an Aboriginal-run entity. The Honouring Life Network website displays a way in which Aboriginal communities are working towards improving Aboriginal youths’ lives by connecting and educating them through the use of technology.

http://www.honouringlife.ca/site