Module 1 – Post 1 – Aboriginal Children to Get Laptops: by Kevin Andrews

As part of my interest and focus on the influence of technology on the Indigenous culture I’d like to start off with a reference to The Belinda Stronach Foundation whereby back in 2010 donated  5,000 laptops loaded with specialized software to children in aboriginal communities across Canada. The green-colored XO laptop computers are the same as those built and distributed by One Laptop Per Child, an organization that estimates it has donated more than two million laptops worldwide. It is my opinion by combining the power of technology and education while investing in our young people the Aboriginal youth will feel a greater sense of culture while learning to deal with issues like bullying and pressure to use drugs or alcohol.  

The Canadian version of the laptops, provided by Stronach’s foundation, along with mining company Vale, the Bank of Montreal and the Ontario government, donated them to children between the ages of 6 and 12. Stronach’s organization has partnered with schools in aboriginal communities to distribute the laptops along with basic programs, each computer featured eight customized software programs that focus on various issues facing aboriginal youth.

One program, crafted by Ontario’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, aims to prepare youth to deal with issues like bullying and pressure to use drugs or alcohol. Another program focuses on water safety. In addition singer, Buffy Sainte-Marie implemented a program that teaches children about aboriginal music and how it works. The programs are narrated and interactive, built with the hope of advancing children’s interest in learning.

The laptops also come with a virtual library, with titles by aboriginal authors. One hope from this initiative was to allow aboriginal children to maintain a connection to their culture while gaining the same technological prowess as children in the rest of Canada. The computers themselves are the size of a small textbook, feature built-in wireless and are promoted as being extremely durable, functional and energy-efficient.

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