Author Archives: kristina hayes

Module 4: Place and Displacement

  1. Knowing the Land Beneath Our Feet

Knowing the Land Beneath Our Feet is an Augmented Reality tour of the land on which sits the University of British Columbia. Upon watching the creators’ video, we see their intention is to educate and provide the opportunity to connect with the land (unceded Musqueam land). Links below include Eleanor Hoskins blog post entitled “Place Based Learning Technologies” as well as detailed background information about Knowing the Land Beneath Our Feet. Is learning truly place-based when it is virtual? Can one truly connect with the land when it isn’t a real environment? Could augmented reality help people who feel displaced to connect to place – from a distance? Could the creation of such a virtual tour help Aboriginal youth articulate and develop their knowledge of place?



  1. First Mile

First Mile promotes and supports ICTs in rural Aboriginal communities across Canada. The site has a “Community Stories” section which highlights digital developments in these communities, from global citizenship workshops, to how communities are using social media, to physical connectivity. These community stories could serve to inform other participating and nonparticipating communities of potential uses for ICTs in their community. The site also hosts published research related to rural Indigenous communities, technology, and the challenges they may face. It isn’t surprising to see that different challenges are faced and addressed differently depending on the community. Is willingness to welcome digital technologies a major factor in these projects?


  1. Modern Science, Native Knowledge

In contrast to Tim Michel’s thoughts in his interview for week 12 where he indicates that Indigenous people are and feel displaced, this video produced by The Natural Conservancy, emphasizes how the Heiltsuk people feel a direct connection to and responsibility for the land (The Great Bear Rainforest). This is interesting given the detrimental effects of colonization on the Heiltsuk. Jessy Housty articulates the importance of place when it comes to identity, “we don’t make sense anywhere else in the world, this is our place and we have a responsibility to take care of it”. Like when Dr. Walsh (below, see post 4) discusses using multiple ways of knowing to conserve the environment, this too is emphasized, in particular the knowledge of the Heiltsuk people. Is it fair for this responsibility to lie on Aboriginal people, specifically in the preservation of the Great Bear Rainforest? Isn’t it at risk as a result of colonization?


  1. Australia’s Biodiversity: Indigenous Perspectives

Dr. Fiona Walsh, explains the interconnectedness between biodiversity, place, and Aboriginal people in Australia. As an elementary school teacher, who has taught “biodiversity” for a number of years from an exclusively Western perspective, the way Dr. Walsh explains the relationship between humans and plants, from the perspective of using as much knowledge from multiple sources (western science, aboriginal knowledge), provides a good example of how to approach the BC curriculum with Indigenous worldviews authentically. As environmental concerns grow, place-based learning and indigenous worldviews seem to be at the forefront, Dr. Walsh echoes this, suggesting the more knowledge we have, the better equipped we will be to conserve the environment.


  1. Aboriginal communities embrace technology, but they have unique cyber safety challenges


The digital divide in rural aboriginal communities and in lower socio-economic communities is one thing, but there are other challenges that arise in communities that may not have the digital fluency that is required in order to use the internet/devices safely. This article highlights some of the challenges in security and protocol when people in Aboriginal communities have access to a limited amount of technology. This article reminds us that things like cyber safety, money, online passwords, texting, etc. are all products of western society.


Module 3 Weblog

Keywords: decolonization, research methodologies, colonization, law, traditional knowledge, Indigenous youth, curriculum, technology, language, culturally responsive education

1.Stand Film

This documentary film touches on important issues pertaining to the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Centered around paddleboarding as a vessel for action, we see how some Aboriginal youth in Bella Bella learn to make paddleboards in school as a way to connect to the land and to make something purposeful. Their engagement in evident in the way they speak about the boards and their connection to place. Their personalized boards, and they way they speak about them demonstrate how important their culture is to them.  In connection with elders in the community, the youth are inspired to take action against the potential of oil spills on the Northwest Coast as a result of the Northern Gateway Pipeline by speaking at cultural gatherings and participating in a hunger strike. As the youth make their paddleboards and take action, it becomes evident that this is a project that is culturally responsive.  


Pictures of the boards:


2. Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom:

This is the BC Ministry of Education’s 2015 document on Aboriginal worldviews in the classroom. Pages 39-57 focus on “Attributes of Responsive Schooling”. As an educator, this section of the document is less theoretical and more practical. It consists of participant responses to each principle of responsive education, with advice and suggestions to support educators. What strikes me with regards to this document, is the difficulty in which I had to find it on the BC Ministry of Education Website. Although Aboriginal education is integrated throughout the revised BC Curriculum, this document provides educators with practical information which lends to the visualization of responsive schooling.


3. In Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker, the following concepts are introduced for culturally responsive mathematics education: grounded in place, storywork, focused on relationships, inquiry based, requiring social consciousness and agency. Simon Fraser University’s Math Catcher Outreach Program uses the concepts of place, storywork, and inquiry to engage students in mathematics. They also offer classroom visits, workshops, and summer camps for Aboriginal children. The digital resources include youtube videos in English and one or more Indigenous languages and are all based on real life situations. They could also act as a math catalyst between school and home. I wonder how these resources are being implemented in the classroom and if they are being used with the other concepts of culturally responsive mathematics ed.


4. In the following TEDx talk entitled Aboriginal math education: Collaborative learning, Stavros Stavrou explains how he takes an “anti-oppressive math education” approach. He co-teachers with an Aboriginal teacher and attempts to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and principles of knowing with mathematics. Watching his lecture, his approach seems to echo the concepts of culturally responsive math education as outlined by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker in Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education. As an educator, this sounds like an amazing situation, where a non-native teacher specialist is able to collaborate and co-teach with an Aboriginal teacher. Stavrou provides an example of how he connected with a student on a cultural, mathematical, personal level. He illustrates for us what we hear echoed in the messages of Inuit youth in Alluriarniq – Stepping Forward, students are motivated and engaged when teachers connect with them personally.  


4. Designing Games with First Nations Youth

This is a project, entitled Skins, conducted by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) (Concordia University), where Aboriginal youth, in partnership with game experts learn to create digital games based on stories from their communities. Upon reading the paper, it becomes evident that much thought has been put into this project through consultation and connection with the Aboriginal community. Protocol is important as noted in the article and in the references which demonstrate depth of research around appropriate methodologies. There is evidence of the principles of culturally responsive education: “ 1) flexible curriculum, 2) a dedicated instructor connected to the community, 3) defined roles, and 4) creative freedom”. In addition, upon completion of the project researchers were able to conclude that, “Stories from the community came alive for the students in both the telling and discussions about them, and, ultimately, in the game itself. They were then able to synthesize their own original story, and furthermore, transform that narrative into a gamespace and gameplay.”

Module 2: Complexities

Smudging in Schools: The complexity of promoting and protecting cultural rights

In this article, smudging in schools is brought to light. The article illustrates the complexity that unfolds when smudging takes place in the public school system. The article highlights a number of perspectives on the issue: some see it as a “religious” act and against the School Act; others are cautious because it could cause respiratory concerns for students; while certain schools are all for smudging and encouraging the cultural practice. Winnipeg school trustee Greg McFarlane worries that “banning smudging may lead to banning Indigenous songs, dance and storytelling in schools”. The multiple perspectives highlighted in this article demonstrate just how complex the relationship is between the public school system – a western, colonial system – and indigenous culture and ways of knowing.



This post is a thematic continuation of my first post. As illustrated in the CBC article in my first post, smudging in schools is complex. This article illustrates its complexity specifically for aboriginal youth. Stephen Bunn, a 17 year old Dakota teen is told not to smudge before school as the smell on his clothing is similar to that of Marijuana. Although staff and administration develop the understanding that he is smudging and not smoking,  Bunn is still asked to avoid doing so before coming to school and excused from school if he smells of sage. Embedded in this article is the youTube video that Bunn creates explaining his frustration and embarrassment when asked to stop smudging. In addition the youth addresses some of the other issues he feels are touching indigenous youth in a western public school system. This further illustrates the complexity of practicing smudging, a cultural right as well as some of the issues at play when indigenous youth and culture interact with the western colonial school construct. Bunn uses technology to inform his audience about some of the challenges faced by aboriginal youth and the lasting effects of colonization.  

Place Names: The complexity of promoting and protecting cultural rights

This module calls to our attention the importance of place names as we read about the multiple perspectives on renaming Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The issue of renaming Toronto’s Ryerson University, as highlighted in these articles entitled “Renaming Ryerson University is not about sanitizing our history” and “Students union, Indigenous group want to see Ryerson University change its name”  is complex for its historical significance and future implications. Egerton Ryerson’s educational theories helped shaped residential schools where indigenous students were beaten and raped. Some think changing the university’s name will sanitize the historical significance of the name. For instance, CBC journalist Angela Wright, thinks it will “eliminate an opportunity to talk about the “ugly” aspects of Canada’s history”, while others, like the Ryerson Student Union, demand the school be renamed “out of respect for residential school survivors”. The fact that renamed is not black and white goes to show us just how complex the effects of colonization are and the journey of decolonization is.

Addressing Stereotypes Media – does media interrupt or enable indigenous self-representation? Sonny Assu and KC Adams

Sonny Assu uses his art and his self-proclaimed nerdiness to ignite conversations about decolonization. This article illustrates how his exhibit entitled “We Come to Witness” does just this. In this series of images, Assu superimposes graffiti-style graphics on Emily Carr’s paintings of indigenous peoples and places. He calls these “digital interventions”. Emily Carr’s work has been frequently studied. Assu has, “come to understand that she wasn’t the figurehead of colonialism through art. I think she was really conscious of the colonial onslaught and she was just documenting that life that she saw and the ramifications of that.” He hopes that his work will bring light to colonialism as well as modern complications First Nations people face when it comes to land. Here is the link to his collection.

Like Sonny Assu, KC Adams uses her art to address aboriginal stereotypes. Basing her work in Donna Harroway’s Cyborg Manifesto, she photographs indigenous artists as cyborgs, “free of traditional western stereotypes towards race and gender”. In addition, her subjects are posed in “stoic” poses “mocking photographs of Aboriginal people from the 19th and early 20th century”. Her photos incite further conversation as she uses aboriginal stereotypes to label her subjects such as “Indian Princess”, “Igloo Builder”, and ‘Drunken Indian”. Her work exemplifies the complexity of decolonization and how media and technology can enable self-representation.


In Squamish, at Stawamus Elementary, students experience a place-based educational program, similar to what Suzanne Stewart describes, called “Cultural Journeys” where “the Kindergarten to Grade 6 classes are guided by the principle that all learning is grounded in understanding the connected relationship of language, land and culture”. In this program “…Squamish Nation ways of knowing and appreciation for the land are weaved throughout the curriculum”.  Markedly, this program is not exclusive to native students, it is a choice program and many non-native students attend. Technology doesn’t come up in the description of the “Cultural Journeys” program, nor in the school video (see below), however it is mentioned with regards to the Grade 7-12 program “Learning Expeditions”. This begs the question of how technology in integrated and whether or not place-based learning is so primarily focused upon in the later years program.

Module 1 Entry 5


In this 2011 interview with Suzanne Stewart from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, place-based learning in Aboriginal communities is discussed. Stewart explains how place-based learning has resulted in an increase in attendance and sense of identity for Aboriginal students in Ontario. She explains that due to the legacy of residential schools and colonial history, not much value has been placed on Western education, however, place-based learning is changing this. Notably, Stewart offers a definition for place-based learning that is not only referring to geographical place, but also to the social, political, and cultural position of all people involved in the community.

Module 1 Entry 4


This educational blog post from June 18 of 2014 calls for the integration of place-based learning in Aboriginal education. The author problematizes how simply integrating Aboriginal culture, like language, into the current educational system (based on western values and created for the purpose of homogenization) isn’t enough to address issues of Aboriginal students. He calls for “a different vision of schools in general” where curriculum and teacher training are also revisioned.

Module 1 Entry 3


Further to this common thread of perspective when it comes to technology and education, this article and interview features Mike Parkhill and Brent Tookenay and their collaborative project on using technology to revitalizing Indigenous languages. Parkhill argues that there is a need to modernize Indigenous languages – not just archive them. He provides the example of the work he did with modernizing the Inuktitut language, explaining that the word Ikiaqqivik is used for internet. It means “my body stays here but my soul travels other places to see”. This is so complex, I wonder about others’ perspectives on the necessity to “modernize” language, yet I also find the word choice to be thoughtful and intentional. How has this modernization been received? Especially when someone non-native is backing the technological aspect.

In the interview, Parkhill goes on to explain the reading app and literature that he has been involved in designing in which he includes phonetic text for the Maliseet language, a language that was only used orally. The intention is for people to read to/with their children, but because of tradition, this caused contention. I wonder if there aren’t better ways to honour tradition whilst highlighting language learning.

Module 1 Entry 2


I am particularly interested in learning more about how indigenous people are using modern/western technologies in order to re-know/learn traditional ways of knowing and doing (technologies). This is something that I have been increasingly interested in as I hear more and more first-hand stories about how indigenous communities are connecting and sharing ancestral knowledge and using technologies to uncover artifacts that have journeyed far from their place. The following weblinks touch on key themes from Module 1, particularly that of place. I am quickly learning that perspective also lends to offshoots in conversation about technology and Indigenous education.

Keywords: modernization, relationships, place-based, aboriginal education, technology, identity, language, perspective

What I find particularly interesting is how this tweet illustrates the complexity and varying opinions on technology integration in education. Wab Kinew tweets “It’s important we move technology to early years and make sure every kid, not just the high achiever, learns to code”, sharing a New York Times article . This statement strikes me as quite contrary to much of our readings and many Aboriginal perspectives on western technology, but what strikes me as most interesting, are the comments that follow Kinew’s tweet suggesting an understanding of the natural world be more important. Kinew responds saying both technology and “critical thinking about the natural world” are important. But what does this look like? How can these two notions be married?

Module 1 Entry 1