Tag Archives: school

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.

First Nations School of Toronto & Native Learning Centre Alternative High School

Recently, the Vancouver School Board announced that it is moving forward with its plans for an Aboriginal-Focused School of Choice. This school is scheduled to open, at least partially, as early as September, 2012.  Interestingly, the school will be one of choice and be open to all students, although Aboriginal students may be given priority (more about the school in a future post).  Given this development, I thought it would be interesting to examine a couple of existing First Nations schools

First Nations School of Toronto.  This school was initiated by a group of Aboriginal parents in the 1970’s who were concerned about the high numbers of FN children who were not completing elementary school.  The parents felt that the children lacked self respect and were significantly at risk.  They believed that education was key to teaching them about their Aboriginal heritage, and instilling pride for their identity. The initial school was called the “Wandering Spirit Survival School.”  After joining with the Toronto BOE, the school became the First Nations School. Today, it serves 70 students from JK- Grade – 8 and is located at Dundas and Broadview, sharing a site with public school.

Some of the supports provided to students:

  • Half Time Librarian
  • Full Time Ojibway Teacher (in lieu of French), serving students from K-8
  • Half Time Traditions and Culture Instructor, serving students from Gr 1-8

An Honour Feather Society was created to help build self-esteem. Individual students are recognized for their various successes, and awarded a feather in a traditional ceremony to honour their clan.

Some interesting programs:

  • Diabetes Education Program (including parent component) with Toronto Public Health
  • Dodem Kanonhsa’ Aboriginal Cultural Facility: partnership to access Traditional Elders to support Literacy
  • Antibullying/Anti Gang Workshop

Native Learning Centre Alternative High School (grades 9 – 12)

In October 1998, the Native Learning Centre (NLC) was piloted as a high school program for at-risk First Nations students.  The NLC began with 15 to 20 students in a one-classroom setting, located at 456 Yonge Street.  The school includes an art program, recreational outdoor activities, traditional canoe trips, and cultural excursions led by elders.  The NLC has now expanded its programs and now is able to provide all compulsory credits necessary for students to achieve an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. In November 2005, the NLC received a City of Toronto Access Award (Equity).  The school is now housed within Church Street junior public school. Approximately 40 Native high school students currently attend.

Native Studies courses available to NLC students:

  • “Aboriginal Beliefs, Values and Aspirations in Contemporary Society”
  • Aboriginal Governance: Emerging Directions
  • Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
  • Current Aboriginal Issues in Canada
  • English: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices
  • Issues of Indigenous Peoples in a Global Context

This list of courses goes well beyond the First Nations 12 that is available to BC students and is indicative of a strong commitment towards Aboriginal education by the TSB.

Children of the Earth High School, Winnipeg

As I was researching further into the current project being undertaken through the Vancouver School Board regarding an Aboriginal-focused seperate school for K-12 I started researching other school districts across Canada who have undertaken similar projects. The Winnipeg School District currently offers two Aboriginal-focused school programs. The Niji Mahkwa Elementary School and the Children of the Earth High School. The school district has also recently piloted an Ojibwe Language class for 360+ grade 4 students spread out across 6 schools in the district.

The Belinda Stronach Foundation

http://www.tbsf.ca/pdf/OLPC_Presentation_GENERAL_deck.pdf

As mentioned in my previous post, I would do more research on The Belinda Stronach Foundation (BSF). Interestingly enough, I came across more information about the laptop distribution to aboriginal children across Canada. On its website, The BSF states that it “builds partnerships with individuals, non-governemental organizations, businesses large and small, as well as other foundations who work in Canada and around the world to confront global challenges and innovative solutions”. In February 2010, the BSF release a presentation called “One Laptop per Child (OLPC): Creating a Better Future for Aboriginal Children in Canada using Technology”. The presentation gives an overview of what OLPC is, where it is already in use, and why it should be used in Canada for aboriginal children and youth. This presentation does not go into detail about the outcome for Canadian aboriginal users as the evaluation of the program does not occur until October, 2011. I would be very interested to follow up on this.