Tag Archives: traditions

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]

Wade Davis on Endangered Cultures

My first weblog posting of Module 1 was a TedTalk and I will continue in a similar fashion for Module 2 in our discussions of indigeneity and stereotyping.

“Remote lands of indigenous peoples are not remote at all. They are homelands of somebody.” In his discussion on Endangered Cultures, Wade Davis covers a lot of ground – from language to landscapes, traditional knowledge holders and indigenous peoples who face unknown modernity. He talks Voodoo, not a black magic cult (that’s a stereotype,) but complex metaphysical worldview. He talks of rites of priesthood of the Kogi, which include a strict 18-year inculturation into the values of their society. He discusses the level of indigenous intuition and relation to landscapes in comparison with the emotional disconnect evident in a contemporary resource-based economy. He talks of Indigenous people that say plants “talk” to them and the impossibility of dissect their explanation of plant taxonomy from a scholarly standpoint.

Davis notes that even those who are aware of the endangered nature of many indigenous cultures still view these cultures as quaint and colorful, however reduced from the live-a-day world of western society. He argues that it is not technology or the change technology brings that threatens indigenous societies, it is an overpowering domination to mimic Westernized notions of how technology should be used, and how change should proceed, that is the root of the threat.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL7vK0pOvKI[/youtube]