Author Archives: DianaLoewen

VIU Digital Storytelling Project is Empowering Aboriginal Youth

This is a case of how digital storytelling has been used in a positive way in Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island. I like that while the project is led by Dr. Jennifer Mullett of Vancouver Island University’s Center for Healthy Communities Research, part of the project’s mandate is to train a youth team to act as mentors to teach other youth and even Elders how to use the technology. Hopefully this knowledge can continue to be passed on.


I stumbled on this as I was looking for more information about digital storytelling. (I think I missed the keyword ‘digital’) This just reminded me of the culturally responsive work that we read about in the Nichols et al. article in Week 9. The purpose behind this is for students to learn Mathematics through Aboriginal storytelling. I absolutely love that the stories are available in Aboriginal languages as well as English.

Digital Technology for Indigenous Empowerment – Christensen

I’m posting a link to a site that was really interesting not only for my research but because of our readings and discussion in the last couple of weeks.  This is a blog post from 2012 that contains three ways Indigenous cultures in different places in the world have used different kinds of technology.

In one part called “Preserving, Celebrating and Transmitting Culture” the blogger talks about the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia, they use digital cameras to shoot film footage documenting the “richness of their tribe and their struggles.” They are using this technology to give their people a voice and represent themselves to the outside world. In this case study they also mention Isuma TV which Zacharias Kunuk created in 2008 which is described as an “Indigenous YouTube channel for Inuit and other Aboriginal Peoples.”

The Christensen Fund itself is an organization that supports biological and cultural diversity and believe in their interdependence. They have a long mission statement if you care to follow the link.

Indigenous Youth Screen and Digital Media

I found this link while researching for my digital storytelling paper. imagineNATIVE “presents new and innovative film, video, audio, and digital media works.” (from the imagineNATIVE mandate) They promote Indigenous artwork by exhibiting works, offering workshops or networking opportunities, having community screenings and many other events to support and promote Indigenous art.

The youth screen media section caught my eye because of what each artist is expressing through the use of digital media.

To view the actual artwork scroll down and click the hyperlinks at the bottom of the page.

Aboriginal Healing Foundation

This link leads to a collection of publications put online by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation as part of their Research Series.

I found this a useful place to start as I was interested in  inter-generational healing and community. There were some very interesting articles on here.  One document in particular was very useful for me and that was, “Reclaiming Connections: Understanding Residential School Trauma Among Aboriginal People.” This document chronicles the Aboriginal experience in Canada from pre- and post-contact history and the residential school experiences of Inuit, Métis, and First Nations. Then it discusses the trauma that individuals and communities are coping with. A really wonderful part of this document are the suggestions for healing, including Aboriginal Healing Models and culture-specific healing strategies such as “being out on the land” for Inuit or gathering medicines like sweet-grass for Métis (p.75).

Other interesting research and information on healing can be found here:

Reconciliation, Resistance, and Residential Schools: digital stories for healing and awareness

This week’s post continues my interest in digital storytelling. I was interested in how Indigenous people in Canada are using digital storytelling as a way to share stories of their experiences in the residential school system.

1. Resistance to Residential Schools: Digital Stories

Center for Youth and Society – University of Victoria

These stories are part of a “Resistance Narratives” project funded by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The goal of this project is to document resistance to the residential school system. For example, one digital story told of a woman who managed to defy assimilation and retained her language and then taught it to a few people in her community. This project is also meant to increase awareness and promote intergenerational healing.

Of particular interest for me personally was the digital story, “Cultural Revitalization of Sts’ailes Community School,” by Alexandra Kant because it compared and contrasted the experiences of residential schools with the work being done to reclaim the culture and language and heal the community in an educational setting.

Of particular interest for me personally was the digital story, “Cultural Revitalization of Sts’ailes Community School,” by Alexandra Kant because it compared and contrasted the experiences of residential schools with the work being done to reclaim the culture and language and heal the community in an educational setting.

  1. kiskinohamâtôtâpânâsk: Intergenerational Effects on Professional First Nations Women Whose Mothers are Residential School Survivors

Prairie Women’s Health

A collection of 6 powerful digital stories exploring the relationship between mothers and daughters. The videos illustrate the impact that residential schools had on generations of families, the project title is “kiskinohamâtôtâpânâsk: Intergenerational Effects on Professional First Nations Women Whose Mothers are Residential School Survivors (Source: Oral History Centre).” One of the videos, “My Journey to Motherhood,” Lorena Fontaine, was interesting because Fontaine shares that her decision to have a home birth on her mother’s ancestral lands meant that her daughter was the first child born there in 50 years. It is actually against the law to give birth at home in her province, so she had to pretend that she was going to give birth in the hospital and eventually arrange to have two midwives present. Another video, “Mary-Lou and Me” by Lisa Forbes describes her mother’s assimilation to the dominant culture. But it was the last sentence or so of the video that impacted me the most and really demonstrated the damaging effect that assimilation and loss of culture can have on people.

  1. ininiwag dibaajimowag*:First Nations Men and the Inter-generational Experiences of Residential Schools

Oral History Centre

The Oral History Centre website has published three of seven Digital stories produced by the male children of residential school survivors. This is part two of the project that I linked to above. So again, these videos explore the impact that residential schools had on generations of families. But one man said in his video, “the cycle stops with my grandchildren.” I found that the three selected videos offer hope for healing and a positive message in spite of the trauma and abuse that was experienced.

There is also a link at the bottom of the home page if you wish to view the four videos that were not selected to be published on their website. Or follow this link:

4. Trickster Art -Digital Storytelling of Chris Bose – written by Jennifer Dales

This is an article about the artist Chris Bose. I will also link to his blog. I’m glad I found this article explaining his work because as much as I liked his blog and found some of his work to be powerful, I needed this explanation. Bose states that residential schools “(are) our hidden holocaust. The residential school is always going to be in my art and in what I do until I figure out a way to destroy it.” This is certainly a powerful statement.

5. Urban Coyote TeeVee – Blog of artist Chris Bose

This is a collection of some of the artist’s work. Here you can find Jesus Coyote which is mentioned in the link above. He is participating in a challenge to post a work of art a day for one year so there are many different kinds of artwork. One of the pieces I found most moving is a digital story called All Things to All People.


Digital storytelling as a method of healing and connecting communities

My research is on digital storytelling and a common theme I am finding is the use of this form of media in order to heal and to connect communities. There are some wonderful digital stories out there told from many different groups.  I wish I had time to post them all up here. Maybe next time!

1. Adelson, N. Olding, M., Narrating Aboriginality On-Line: Digital Storytelling, Identity and Healing, (2013) Journal of Community Informatics Vol.9 (2)

This is a link to a scholarly article offering an “alternative perspective on digital technologies as creatively engaged tools of healing and empowerment in ways that effectively challenge issues of encroachment while at the same time going beyond standard configurations of medical innovation.” This article discusses the way Aboriginal people are using digital storytelling as a way of healing from colonization and empowering their people, and as an actual method of health education.

2. Métis Digital Stories for Healing, Connection, and Community

This is a link to a new article about how a community event was used to share many aspects of Métis culture, and included digital storytelling. The storytelling was an important aspect of the event and had an impact on the people who attended. The digital stories were shown to a wider audience at a later date.

I love this quote about the impact of the digital storytelling:

“I think the benefit of digital storytelling is three-fold: it brings Métis people together, shows us how similar we are in our lives, and it will help preserve what being Métis means.“ Jennifer LaFontaine, MNO citizen and Métis Digital Storytelling Project organizer.–media/news/metis-digital-stories-for-healing,-connection-and-community

3. Voices in the Wind Productions – Judy Iseke

This website is rich with digital stories and films created primarily by Métis filmmakers. I love  two of the films in particular,” A Living History of Métis Families” and “Grandmothers of the Métis Nation,” because they give a voice to the people of the community.

4. Screening the Past – Victorian Indigenous Communities and Digital Storytelling

This website gives an insight as to the motivations behind why many come to create their digital stories. I am so glad that I found this link because whereas I have found many websites with the final product, this site actually talks about the journey to create the digital story. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about the Aunty who came to the workshop with two photographs and her coils for weaving. She didn’t have a story in mind, but with the assistance of the facilitator and an Uncle, she was able to create something meaningful. I think this blog demonstrates how something like a digital storytelling workshop can bring a community together.

5. Sharing Stories Foundation – To Preserve the Culture and Language of Indigenous People

While reading about this program offered in Australia it sounds like they offer workshops, lesson plans, and resources to teachers interested in creating digital storytelling projects with their Indigenous students. They provide entire kits of materials if needed and work very closely with the community to create the project.

The Foundation itself supports Indigenous cultures to “hold, share and transmit languages, stories and culture for present and future generations.” (About Us tab) I am reluctant to post the large and very good statement they have on their About Us tab regarding the responsiveness of their work to concerns raised by Elders community members, and Cultural Custodians, but it is worth a read if you have an interest in this area.

I was interested in knowing their source for the statement  that every two weeks the last speaker of a language passes away somewhere on the planet. I was surprised  and saddened by this, if it is indeed true but without a source, I had a hard time accepting it. Upon further research, I discovered that this claim is based on an inaccurate estimate. The numbers are still shockingly high, but not nearly at the level stated on the webpage. You can find more accurate information about language loss here:

Impact of Technology on Indigenous Cultures

1. Global Voices:  blog post written by Aparna Ray

Impact of ICT on Indigenous Cultures: Rejuvenation or Colonization?

The first link I found fit very well into our week two discussion about whether or not technology is culturally neutral. There are links to case studies from other Indigenous communities such as Malaysia (link is under construction), Western Australia and Taiwan.

Impact of ICT on Indigenous Cultures

2. Virtual Library on Indigenous Cultures

From this site you can access many different websites and organizations world-wide. For example, I followed the link for North America and visited the Assembly of First Nations website.

3. TED talk. Wade Davis discusses Endangered Cultures

Wade Davis works with National Geographic and he discusses his travels and Indigenous knowledge and argues that it isn’t technology that is the biggest threat to the Indigenous culture- it is power. This is quite honestly one of the best TED talks I’ve watched. He shares fascinating stories and beautiful pictures with a very powerful message.

4. Transcript of a Lecture by Dr Erica-Irene A. Daes given to the Honorable ATSIC Commissioner, Honorable Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australia Human Rights Council

The Impact of Globalization on Indigenous Intellectual Property and Cultures

I’m including this because it is a powerful speech that illustrates the effects that technology is having on Indigenous people around the world. While many are using technology to their advantage, Dr. Daes points out that there is a risk that the practices seen in globalization threaten to commodify and manipulate the cultural heritage and intellectual property of Indigenous people.  She asserts that we need to focus on “strengthening the trans-boundary jurisdiction of national courts to enforce private international law; and second international respect for the customary intellectual property laws of Indigenous peoples, as a matter of choice-of-laws.” (2004)

 5. UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education – ICTs and Indigenous People

I hit the motherlode! There is so much in this document that I feel a bit overwhelmed at trying to describe what is in it. The document begins with the Article 15 of the WSIS Declaration of The World Summit on the Information Society which states that, “In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.” It goes on to discuss the unique challenges that Indigenous cultures face when it comes to technology. I won’t list them here, but they are listed in the document and include such things as dominance of English and other non-Indigenous languages on the Internet and lack of infrastructure such as electricity.

The document goes on to acknowledge the importance of Indigenous cultures and criticizes policies that lead to assimilation and erosion of culture. It also acknowledges that ICT can be used for continuing erosion of culture, but suggests that Indigenous cultures need to participate in ICT on their own terms. Examples of this are given from the US, Sub-Saharan Africa, Bolivia, Thailand and India. It concludes with policy recommendations and summaries. I found this a very valuable document.