Tag Archives: Aboriginal Youth

RedWAY BC News

http://www.spiritlinking.com/products-services/redway-bc-news-e-zine

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.

Turtle Island Native Network

I’m not sure what the Turtle Island Native Network (TINN) is exactly (other than an independent aboriginal news network) as I wasn’t able to find a mission statement anywhere or even a clear theme running through the content. I think that may be the strength of the site; it’s got a bit of everything.  It’s almost a “digital refrigerator” with a ton of links to other media sources providers.  If you are looking for information on a contemporary indigenous topic, you will find something here.

I found this site when I was researching urban indigeniety and I came across TINN’s  Spotlight on Urban Aborginals.  Most of the content showcases (usually using video) individual aboriginals who are discussing their lives and challenges. While there are few direct references to the value or risk of using technology, the site clearly is comfortable with new media as a means to strengthen connections and articulate indigenous identity.

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

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5FxYWw0fhM[/youtube]

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.