Author Archives: alexis handford

Module 4 – Alexis’ Final Weblog

For most of my Weblog posts in this course I have focused in on my paper topic of m-learning in rural Indigenous communities, but for this last weblog, I wanted to spend some time sharing a diverse list of resources that I have come across in my day-to-day web use. The weblogs have been helpful to me throughout this term in seeking out sources and considering their value to education.

1. Tanya Talaga tells us about her new book: Seven Fallen Feathers

I watch The Social almost every day – it’s sort of like the Canadian version of The View. The ladies on the social are well educated women who discuss local and international news, as well, they debate controversial subjects and bring in the audience for discussion through social media. Just recently, on November 15, they had Tanya Talaga on the show talking about her new book Seven Fallen Feathers which is about seven Indigenous youth that go missing by leaving home in the North and attending school in the city. During the segment they discussed the issues of Northern Ontario youth having to leave their families to attend High School in Thunder Bay and how most Indigenous children receive $2,000 less in funding for education than non-Indigenous children. As well, they discussed Gord Downie’s work with a Secret Path and reconciliation after residential schools. It isn’t too often that Indigenous issues are discussed on The Social, so I thought it was an interesting thing to share – particularly good timing as we are in this class analyzing these very issues. It’s great to see shows that would fit more into the “popular culture” category having guest speakers such as Talaga to spread light on these issues.

Sometimes videos on The Social’s website become locked, or you may have to search for it on the page. So if you have issues viewing the video, just comment on this post, and I should be able to share it on this site. I saved a copy of the video.


2. Indigenous Storytelling in VR

Funded by the Canada Media Fund

CMF recently spearheaded a national effort to create Canada’s Indigenous screen office to support the development, production and marketing of Indigenous screen based content.

Engaging discussion with Indigenous filmmakers and artists – discussion about Indigenous life in the next 150 years.

This video offers great conversations around Canada 150, and what the future of Canada will look like. 2167 is the name of project discussed, aka year 2167 (150 years into the future).


3. Liberal government backs bill that demands full implementation of UN Indigenous rights declaration

This article was just posted today! Nov 21st!

This article highlights a decision by the Liberal government that backs bill C-262 that “…calls for full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).” UNDRIP recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to be free of racial discrimination as well as have autonomy with internal and local affairs. Notably, the bill also “…calls on governments to guard against any act of genocide, which includes ‘forcibly removing children of the group to another group’” as the “Liberals have acknowledged there is still much work to do as there are now more First Nations children in state care then at the height of the residential school era.” This bill will be an essential step in achieving reconciliation.


4. Assembly of First Nations to have seat at international climate change conference for first time

This is another article that I found earlier this month. This article discusses how the Assembly of First Nations was an official delegate for the first time in a major international climate change conference in Germany at the beginning of November. The article discusses how traditional knowledge needs to be respected in discussing issues regarding climate change.


5. First Nations families weigh children’s education vs. safety

Here is another video about the issues regarding rural northern Ontario’s Indigenous students having to leave their families and communities to attend High School in Thunder Bay. This video is different than ones I have previously seen, in that it focuses on some families that choose not to send their children to Thunder Bay, and try to find alternative places for their children to attend school. Thunder Bay has a history of abuse towards Indigenous people, which leaves rural communities scared, but without a lot of choices as to where their children can attend school. This video is a good resource in clearly showing the issues of abuse in cities like Thunder Bay and the need for education to be more readily available to Indigenous people in Northern Ontario. Self-determination and self-government for Indigenous communities needs to be a top priority in parliament.


6. Could a new approach to First Nations housing be a game changer?

I wanted to include this resource as well. This resource is about the housing crisis that plagues many First Nations communities in Canada. Because of natural disasters, many First Nations communities have reached out to the government in hopes of getting housing support, but have seen very little support. Building materials are expensive, making it difficult to make repairs to homes. Many homes don’t have running water, and many have holes in the walls that cause the homes to remain cold in the winter. It’s approximately a 10 year wait to get a home built on reserves because of poor government planning, with materials arriving without any building contracts in place. The video discusses how the housing plans, and the way the houses have been built, has been a tool to assimilate Indigenous people. It’s also discussed how the government control of the housing is causing mental health issues within the communities. The video discusses a new approach that might help to improve some of the issues around housing, including getting young people involved in the design process.



  1. Nothing about us without us

    This last week, to my surprise, I saw this article on the website homepage of Mount Royal University, where I work.The following description is in the article:

    “A field school in the mountains last spring is being lauded as the best model to date of delivering Indigenous-centred curriculum in partnership with Indigenous stakeholders”

    Students are taken to the lyarhe (Stoney) Nakoda first nation in Morley, Alberta for a week-long immersive learning experience that brings together Indigenous people and settler Canadians to explore reconciliation and Indigenous land relationships.

    Community member Thomas Snow stated that:

    “You can’t teach environmental reconciliation without being out on the land, and you can’t teach Indigenous students without learning from Indigenous peoples”

    It’s definitely nice to see this sort of progress happening in my own community.

  2. Developing a Culturally Relevant eMentoring Program for Aboriginal Youth

    This is a great article for better understanding how eMentoring can assist Indigenous students in succeeding in post-secondary, as well as some of the precautions that should be taken such as understanding cultural values, protocols, respect for land and elders, etc. in pursuing the development of eMentoring programs. The article further discusses how enhancing Indigenous education could also improve Indigenous health and wellness. eMentoring allows students to have better support on their traditional land, which is critical for place-based learning and community identity.

  3. Going Places: Preparing Inuit high school students for their future in a changing, wider world

    After the last weblog, where I focused in on mobile education, particularly in Inuit communities, I wanted to explore this topic further as a potential avenue for narrowing my research topic. In my exploration I found this YouTube video which discusses Inuit learning and community investment into Inuit youth education. In watching this video, I have further recognized the importance of having community involvement in education. While this video in particular doesn’t discuss e-Learning or m-Learning, I think that it helps to further solidify the importance of community involvement in educational program, system, and tool development.

  4. Work-based Mobile Learning: Concepts and Cases (Google Book)

    Although the section in this book on Indigenous learners is small, it was helpful to me in bringing to light how mobile devices could help assist Indigenous instructors and learners in developing their own narratives in their day-to-day lives. It is discussed that mobile devices can assist Indigenous workers in documenting their work and then being able to share their work with others. As well, mobile devices are a good medium, as many learners are already experts in using them, eliminating a difficult learning curve.

  5. Tablet PCs preserve Indigenous knowledge

    While this article doesn’t discuss Canada’s Indigenous people, it does discuss, similar to the #4 article above, that mobile tablets can help with preserving knowledge. This article explains a specific application that uses 3D visualization of a village as well as drawing capabilities imitate the way elders share their knowledge which is similar to being physically present in the village. The article stresses the importance of having elders involved in the development of the app. Finally, the article discusses how tablets, using touch screens, are more intuitive than using computers and will eliminate some frustration and costs in implementing them.


I included a couple of these with my research interest statement, but I wanted to include them here as well, as they may be helpful to others.

1. E-Learning Access, Opportunities, and Challenges for Aboriginal Adult Learners Located in Rural Communities

This article touches on the learning needs of Indigenous students in rural First Nations communities in Alberta. The article provides details about Indigenous learning needs, and emphasizes the students’ need for human interaction.

2. Mobile Learning and Indigenous Education in Canada: A Synthesis of New Ways of Learning

This article discusses how wireless technology is revolutionizing E-learning and identifies known gaps in M-learning and its application to remote indigenous communities in Canada. The article discusses the potential for M-learning to make E-learning more accessible, and, as well, how they have the potential to increase cultural empowerment. According to the article, in 2013, 73.4% of the international online population was accessed from a mobile phone. Also addressed is the suspicion that still exists in some rural communities about mobile technologies.

3. Dyson, L. E., Grant, S., Hendriks, M. A. N., & Taylor & Francis eBooks A-Z. (2016;2015;). Indigenous people and mobile technologies. New York; London;: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315759364

This book is an amazing resource for understanding mobile technology use in Indigenous communities. The book was just published in 2015, so it’s current, and the whole book is available online through the UBC Library – and this is why I have included it in the Weblog.

The book discusses how mobile technologies are being embraced by Indigenous communities and how they are helping to bring these communities out of isolation and fostering an environment of learning and sharing knowledge. Some of the topics the book covers are:
– Self-determination through mobile technologies
– Podcasts
– Language Revitalization
– Health

4. Digital Technology Adoption in Northern and Remote Indigenous Communities in Canada

This article discusses the adoption of digital technology in remote and northern First Nations and Inuit communities. The article discusses how Indigenous communities use the Web, including how they use Facebook for job postings and local news. As well, the article touches on issues of affordability around mobile data and Internet access.

5. Towards the enhancement of Arctic Digital Industries: ‘Translating’ cultural content to new media platforms

This article covers similar topics to the previous article, however, an interesting topic mentioned in this article is the popularity of iPods in Indigenous communities. This is likely because of the challenges with cellular and data networks, as the iPod is affordable and usable in the existing Wi-Fi networks. Also, the article discusses digital training in Artic communities, rather than non-indigenous technicians producing content for these communities. The article discusses the enhanced self-worth that will result in Indigenous communities developing their own content.

6. Think Indigenous (Podcast)

I wanted to include this as an extra resource. I haven’t had the chance to listen to the podcast yet, but the podcast description is:

Think Indigenous is a podcast that highlights its yearly conference keynotes & “Red Talk” presentations sharing best practices, innovation and delivery models of Indigenous education”

This podcast was just released on Oct. 10, so it’s brand new. Although it seemingly will only be updated once a year, at present there are 17 episodes available.

Module 1 Weblog: E-Learning in Rural Indigenous Communities

I’m still in the process of deciding how I would like to narrow my research. At the moment, I am thinking of focusing on the benefits and/or disadvantages of e-Learning for Indigenous students. When I signed up for this course, it was my hope that I would gain some insight into how e-Learning opportunities could be offered to remote indigenous communities. I currently work in a post-secondary institution in a Continuing Education non-credit department, where a lot of our students are already within industry, but come to us to advance their skill set. Also, we get a lot of adult students that are looking for a career change, but don’t have the time, resources, or past credentials to enroll in a full-time credit diploma or degree program. I’ve now worked in my department for over two years, and although our primary audience (from what I see) is the middle-aged professional adult learner, we have very limited options for distance education, and especially for indigenous communities. After learning of the tragedy that continues of basically forcing children to leave their land and families to attend high school and even post-secondary, I kept thinking to myself: there must be a way to offer better educational resources while allowing Indigenous people to remain on their land. To me, this need to leave reserves for education still mirrors some of the issues that were faced by children in residential schools. My interest in this topic was intensified after reading “After the Makah Whale Hunt Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse” when I learned how important land is to Indigenous identity, and I learned of the term “place based culture.”

Here are the first five of the resources I have found related to this topic:

1. Failing Canada’s First Nations Children (Video)

This video further spiked my interest in exploring the need for e-Learning in rural Indigenous communities. Although this video doesn’t specifically focus on e-Learning, it focuses on the separation rural Indigenous Communities face in having to send students into larger “hub” cities to attend High School. These students generally live with strangers, and they suffer loneliness, depression, racism, etc. In many rural Indigenous communities (this film primarily discusses rural Northern Ontario communities) students are faced with the choice after grade eight of either staying home with their families and not attending High School, or leaving their family and their land to attend High School alone. The video comments on how not offering quality education within rural Indigenous communities is racial discrimination against children, and racial discrimination shouldn’t be a public policy that’s tolerated just to save money.

This makes me wonder what e-Learning could offer in helping Indigenous communities to stay together, and not be separated by lack of resources.

 2. Post-Secondary Distance Education in a Contemporary Colonial Context: Experiences of Students in a Rural First Nation in Canada

This article talks about post-secondary distance education and some of the challenges that need to be faced for successful implementation and adoption of e-Learning in remote regions. This article also reports on student experiences. Additionally, this article discusses the importance of giving First Nations people the opportunity to stay on their land in order to mitigate government efforts to remove them from their land to exploit resources. Finally, the article discusses the technology available to rural communities, and the benefits and drawbacks of these technologies.

 3. Online University Education in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities

This report was funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Although this report focuses on Human Resource Development, this report does touch on the fact that “…one of the greatest potential areas for incurring both long-term economic and social benefits is by investing in online education created and provided in cooperation with Aboriginal communities” (p. 19). It also addressed some of the barriers still faced by Indigenous communities in offering successful online learning.

4. The effectiveness of web-delivered learning with aboriginal students: Findings from a study in coastal Labrador

This article explores perspectives of e-Learning for Indigenous students in coastal communities in Labrador. It discusses the learning needs of Indigenous students and the “…achievement issues that continue to characterize aboriginal populations.” Additionally, it also discusses the opportunities and unique challenges that rural communities face with e-Learning.

5. Distance Education in Remote Aboriginal Communities: Barriers, Learning Styles and Best Practices

This book discusses some of the challenges faced in deploying successful distance education courses. Although this book was published in 2003, it still offers a good insight into what education specialists, Metis, First Nation, and Inuit Organizations believe are the challenges communities face in implementing e-Learning. It touches on how it is important to recognize individual community and student needs, and not only common Indigenous needs across all of Canada. The book discusses issues related to cost, politics, and the “…perception that distance education is a second-rate option” (p. 8). This book discusses specific communities that have had distance education successes.

Marker, M. (2006). After the makah whale hunt: Indigenous knowledge and limits to multicultural discourse. Urban Education, 41(5), 482-505.