Author Archives: jessica holder

Stories and Place


Nokum is My Teacher – David Bouchard 

“to watch you learn to see” ~ Nokum’s words to grandson in response to getting an “education”

David Bouchard, a Canadian Metis born and raised in Saskatchewan, is a writer of over 50 books. This particular picture book includes both English and Cree languages and is a dialogue between a boy and his grandmother, or Nokum. Due to its powerful message regarding the intersection of indigenous peoples and western education, this story is a must read for all western educators.

To watch an excellent production of this book through video, click here: Nokum is My Teacher



Inhabit Media

While previewing The Blind Boy and the Loon by Althea Arnaquq-Baril, I was introduced to Inhabit Media as mentioned in the commentary within the book. Inhabit Media is a publishing company purposed in promoting and preserving Inuit voice, story and art through book publications for both children and adults. An extensive book reference page of their published children’s books is a valuable resource for the elementary educator.


Unnikkaat Studios Inc.

Althea Arnaquq-Baril, recognizing the need to preserve the language of her people, built her company, Unnikkaat Studios Inc., to produce Inuktitut documentaries and language productions. As the Inuit are traditionally an oral culture, using a means of oral documentation of stories and history through film making can be an effective and productive way of both preserving the voices of the Inuit and allowing their voices to be shared with others.



Morning on the Lake – Jan Boudreau Waboose

A beautiful depiction of place as told through the words of Jan Boudreau Waboose, a Nishwabe Ojibway from northern Ontario. Place-based references to landscape, animals, sky and environment are seamlessly interwoven throughout the text.


tundra     shoreline

Rebecca Hainnu

Rebecca Hainnu is an elementary school teacher in Nunavut, a curriculum writer, and a picture book author. Particularly, A Walk on the Shoreline and A Walk on the Tundra encompass place-based knowledge. Her newest book extends plant knowledge and is entitled, Walking with Aalasi: An Introduction to Edible and Medicinal Arctic Plants.

Educating through Place and Story

“[A] pedagogy of place that shifts the emphasis from teaching about local culture

to teaching through the culture

as students learn about the immediate places they inhabit

and their connection to the larger world within

which they will make a life for themselves.”

~ Barnhardt (2005)

Barnhardt, R. (2005). Creating a place for indigenous knowledge in education: The alaska native knowledge network. Retrieved from:

While continuing with my original focus on story and storytelling, the following resources include insights into the practical implementation of place-based education, with a leading into culturally responsive educational ideas. Story and storytelling are threaded throughout these resources, but are not necessary the central idea.

How to Bring First Peoples into BC Classrooms

This a recent article posted on The Tyee website and relevant to all BC educators who are wrestling with the new curriculum implementations. This article is an interview with Jo Chrona, the curriculum coordinator for the First Nations Education Steering Committee. Throughout the interview, Chrona moves through several examples of how educators can embrace indigenous learning and ways of learning – transformational education.

Creating a Place for Indigenous Knowledge in Education: The Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Although this article is listed as additional reading in Module 3, I had sought it out earlier as I was interested in reading more practical ideas from Ray Barnhardt (2005) for incorporating indigenous ways of knowledge into education for both indigenous students and other learners. Barnhardt doesn’t disappoint as he goes into significant detail about the initiatives being undertaken by Alaska Native Knowledge Network. As well, he provides an in-depth description of indigenous educational values as presented in a document called Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools.  

Place-based Education: Connecting Classroom and Community

A short article by David Sobel (2012) describing examples of westernized schools and classrooms that have chosen to implement a place-based educational approach to teaching and learning. Sobel provides an excellent definition of place-based education near the end of this piece which describes a place-based education in a western educational setting. An interesting read to consider if interested in incorporating place-based values into a western educational classroom.

“Indigenous digital storytelling is created by or with indigenous peoples for indigenous communities.” (Iseke & Moore, 2011,p.21)

Community Based Indigenous Storytelling with Elders and Youth

This journal article provides an overview of four case studies describing indigenous community digital storytelling experiences. The case studies include the purposes and processes involved in the development of the community-based video making as well as a contemplation on the balance of honouring traditional storytelling processes.

Iseke, J. M. & Moore, S. (2011). Community based indigenous storytelling with elders and youth. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 35, 19-38. Retrieved from

Smart Ideas: Q&A Jo-ann Archibald on Indigenous “story work”

An online interview with Jo-Ann Archibald as she shares about her focus on indigenous stories and storytelling, or what she likes to refer to as “story work”. Throughout the interview Archibald describes the importance of storytelling for indigenous peoples along with its ability to encourage inclusive education.

A review on Jo-Ann Archibald’s book, Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit can be read hereAs well, an online excerpt of Archibald’s writings to intrigued the seeking educator: Indigenous Storywork.

Unravelling the Stories

“The goal of Indigenous research is not to comprehend the world as an object,

but rather to move through

the world as a way of knowing in a journey that transforms all those involved.”

~ Sorsen C. Larsen {referencing Cajete, 2000)

While keeping with my initial theme of story, the following links focus more acutely on the authenticity of story due to its source and connection to place.

A Deeper Sense of Place: Stories and Journeys of Collaboration in Indigenous Research – by Jay T. Johnson and Soren C. Larsen



This book contains excerpts from multiple writers relating the concept of place to personhood, belonging and identity. The place experiences of the authors range from Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada. In particular, these two chapters are of keen interest to me regarding story and place:

“Awakening to Belonging” ~ written by Anne Godlewska

“The Micropolitics of Storytelling in Collaborative Research: Reflections on a Mapping Project with the Cheslatta-Carrier Nation in British Columbia” ~ written by Soren C. Larsen

  • This resource can be accessed online through UBC Library.

America Indians in Children’s Literature – A blog by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza


Visiting this blog has the potential of revolutionizing one’s mindset when approaching First Nations literature. Although the focus is on American Indians in children’s literature, many of these same books are relevant to students in Canada. Debbie Reese, particularly, is brilliant at pinpointing and rebuking stereotypes that have been, and continue to be, accepted in the stories presented into the hands and minds of children.

To glean further from Debbie Reese, these two videos are worth the watching:

Following are native-owned online bookstores, with the hopes that the resources available will prove to represent the lives and stories of First Nations peoples with respect, truth and integrity.




Birchbark Books


Theytus Books


Johnson, J. T., & Larsen, S. C. (Eds.). (2013). Deeper Sense Of Place : Stories And Journeys Of Indigenous-Academic Collaboration. Corvallis, US: Oregon State University Press. Retrieved from

Finding Space for a Place-Based Education

David. A Gruenewald has been referenced within the readings of this course, particularly in the area of place-based learning and the indigenous people. As indigenous people have been exposed to western educational practices, they have simultaneously been exposed to a fraudulent education system. Marker (2006) shares Gruenewald’s statement on this system of education as being “founded on a way of knowing that distances and isolates students from engaging with both community and the local ecosystem” (p.483). Marker goes on to describe schools as privileging “a form of knowledge that presumes the cultural neutrality of science and technology, [while] indigenous ecological understandings are dismissed as exotic, but irrelevant distraction” (p.483).

As a possible research topic, I would like to explore place-based knowledge/ “education” more deeply and believe that Gruenewald’s article “The Best of Both Worlds: A Critical Pedagogy of Place” would be a good place to begin. As the theme of place-based education is further inquired upon, I would like to consider how to connect this research to teachers and their practices within an institutionalized learning environment. Furthermore, I would like to be able to bring practical tools and wisdom to provide the unfamiliar educator with a cultural sensitivity compass.



Gruenewald, David A., “The Best of Both Worlds: A Critical Pedagogy of Place”, Educational Researcher, Vol.32(4), 2003, 3-12.

Marker, Michael, “After the Makah Whale Hunt: Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse“, Urban Education, Vol. 41(5), 2006, 482-505.

The Stories

In considering my contribution to this WebLog, I have chosen to focus on the theme of “Story”. Faye Ginseng (2002) makes this statement connecting the use of digital technology, story and indigenous people: “[I]ndigenous people are using screen media not to mask but to recuperate their own collective stories and history … that have been erased in the national narratives of the dominant culture and are in danger of being forgotten within local worlds as well” (p.40). The following additions to this WebLog focus on the evolving of sharing past indigenous story through the use of present-day technology.

Ginsburg, Faye D., “Screen Media: Resignifying the Traditional in Indigenous Media,”  in Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain, eds. Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002, 39-57.


{*** I’m noticing that some of the resources highlighted here are repeats on other WebLogs. Perhaps confirmation that they are worth perusing? {smile}}

Strong Nations


Strong Nations is an online book store that focuses on bringing indigenous literary text to all people. Their mission statement includes these words: “It is our hope that we can bring indigenous text to all peoples in order to create pathways that support the building of strong nations together”. The material available at this site ranges from children to adult literature and includes both fiction and nonfiction stories.


First Nations Pedagogy Online: Storytelling


Oral storytelling is a key part of First Nations culture and is primarily how traditional knowledge is shared to new generations. This resource is valuable in sharing key aspects of oral storytelling, traditional stories told through video, and teaching helps for educators desiring to bring oral storytelling traditions into the classroom.


Project of Heart


An online inquiry project resource described as a “hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada”. This site includes an extensive collection of resources for users to move through their inquiry learning journey. Educators, church groups and professionals have participated in Project of Heart throughout Canada.


Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr. ~ Trova Heffernan


An online story based on interviews with the Nisqually elder, Billy Frank Jr., and others who are close to him.  Billy Frank Jr. played a key role during the 1960s and 1970s as an activist campaigning for treaty rights and environmental consciousness related to salmon fishing rights on the Nisqually River in Washington.  


Rabbit and Bear Paws


A series of comical graphic novels written as a collaborate work by Christopher Meyer, Tanya Leary and Chad Solomon.  The stories and characters are based on traditional Native teachings incorporating The Seven Fires Prophecies and The Seven Grandfathers. The characters are from the Anishinabek Nation and the storylines lead them through challenges that are are handled peacefully while addressing traditional teachings.