Tag Archives: youth

Raven’s Children II: Aboriginal Youth Health in BC

Raven’s Children and Raven’s Children II were both published by the McCreary Centre Society (MCS).  MCS is a nongovernment, non-profit organization involved in improving the health of B.C. youth through research, education and community-based projects

In 1992, MCS conducted the first Adolescent Health Survey (AHS) with close to 16,000 youth in schools throughout B.C.  In 1998, MCS conducted the second AHS with approx 26,000 students.  In 2003, MCS conducted the 3rd AHS with over 30,500 youth.  Raven’s Children II, combines the data from responses of more than 4,800 Aboriginal students who took part in province-wide youth health surveys in 1992, 1998 and 2003.

The report was written under the direction of Kim van der Woerd of the Namgis First Nation.  Kim is a Ph.D. Candidate at Simon Fraser University.  Here are some interesting findings from the 2003 AHS that was published in 2005:

  • Most Aboriginal students rate their health as good or excellent.
  • Most Aboriginal students feel strongly connected to their families and school.
  • Nearly two-thirds want to continue their education beyond high school.
  • Almost three-quarters regularly participate in organized extracurricular activities.

The authors of Raven’s Children II noted that while Aboriginal youth have made some progress in rates alcohol consumption, smoking, pregnancy, there are issues that continue to pose a significant challenge for youths, parents, educators, Aboriginal leaders, and government: Problem Areas –

  • One in five Aboriginal students experienced racial discrimination.
  • Too many Aboriginal youth think about or attempt suicide and rates have not improved in the past decade.
  • Too many Aboriginal students, especially girls, continue to experience sexual and physical abuse.
  • Fewer youth reported feeling safe at school in 2003 than in 1998.

Raven’s II is a very comprehensive report, but it’s also very easy to read.  I recommend it for anyone who is searching for up-to-date and extensive information about the health of BC’s Aboriginal children

Module 4- Do you speak my language?

The youth of the We’koqma’g First Nation community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia examine why a lot of the youth are not speaking the Mi’kmaq language. In doing so, the youth interview both the children as well as the elders of the community to get a glimpse into the present day culture. Some suggestions point to the influence of current technologies such as gaming and media as a reason as to why they are losing their language. The original music and technological competencies displayed by the youth are awesome!

Do You Speak My Language? from First Nation Help Desk on Vimeo.

Technology and Globalisation for Indigenous Youth

http://www.unesco.org/ccivs/New-SiteCCSVI/institutions/jpc-youth/youth-open-forum/Section_for_Youth/Resources_and_tools/Other_documents_on_youth/OXFAM_INTERNATIONAL_YOUTH_PARLIAMENT/Chapter3_Indigenous_Youth.pdf

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.

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.

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]

First Nations Control of First Nations Education (2010 doc)

First Nations Control of First Nations Education was released last summer by the Assembly of First Nations and chiefs from across Canada. Much like the documents released in 1972 and 2005, this document is intended to be used by Aboriginal leaders, bands, local school boards, and the Provincial and Federal governments as a comprehensive plan to address the critical education needs of Aboriginal students Canada wide – yet unmet since the publication of the last two documents.
It, like the other documents, outlines key areas to be addressed:
1. Access for all life-long learners to be taught and to learn in their first language,in curriculum which is grounded in Aboriginal beliefs, values and traditions.
2. Access to diverse educational programs over the continuum.
3. First Nations control of their education with the support of local, federal governments.

Sookinchoot Youtube Channel

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41EJnRX0ET4&feature=player_profilepage[/youtube]
The Sookinchoot youtube channel is a component of the Skookinchoot Youth Center, an initiative of the First Nations Friendship Center. The channel presents a collection of videos on a variety of subjects, including First Nations games, culture and art. The Youth Center contains a calender of events for youth as well as informative videos and other relevant information.
There are not that many videos on the channel yet, but one of the events on the Youth Center Calender, Reel Youth, a summer program, will likely go some way to change that. One of the earliest videos covers the dismissal of Aboriginal Education Advocates in School District 22 a few years ago, a decision that was made unilaterally and without consultation, presumably for budget reasons. This speaks to my own research on how First Nations students can best be served in the public school system and the importance of meaningful discussion that promotes partnership and mutual respect, even beyond the notion of consultation. It also brings home the need for building technical skills within the Aboriginal communities to ensure that these stories are told.

The vital relationship between Aboriginal Elders and Youth

Video Link

  • In the time of change of mother earth,
  • there would be a group of young people born,
  • and those young people would carry all the gifts of ancestors,
  • the healers, the visionaries, the dreamers, the leaders,
  • they would bring spirituality into their work
  • and they would empower their work with that spirituality.

Diane Longboat

The above passage leads us into this video that documents the efforts by Native Child and Youth Family Services (NCYFS) of Toronto to connect urban youths with Ojibway, Cree, and Iroquois elders.

What has remained constant among the many changes of the Macaw Hawk Youth Council in Toronto is a desire among members to learn about cultural traditions.

Some of the Elders and staffers with NCYFS mention how difficult it was for them as urban Aboriginals to connect with their cultural teachings when living or growing up in Toronto.  NCYFS has attempted to address this shortfall through the construction of a lodge in the heart of urban Toronto.  Through the efforts of Elders and connections with culture, youth have described feeling more empowered and unified than at any point in their lives.

The prevalent theme among interviewed youths is a desire to “know who they are.”  In urban settings, youth do not have the benefit community support from clans or families, and can become very isolated.  Once youth connect with Elders, it is felt that they are better able to identify who they are as brothers, sisters, and beneficiaries of a rich ancestry.

The video provides an example of how far the urban Indigenous have come in re-connecting with traditions in a short period of time.  One of the NCYFS staffers, Alita Sauve, mentions that when she was growing up it was difficult for her to acknowledge to others that she was Indian.  Now she helps youth re-connect with authentic traditional practices in the heart of Toronto.