Author Archives: Rob McElroy

Manitoba announces ‘historic’ aboriginal language partnership

This article outlines how the Government of Manitoba and various Native groups will work together to introduce various language programs aimed at keeping Canada’s indigenous languages alive.  Many of these first languages are under threat of going extinct and these groups hope to reverse this trend through instruction and promotion.  This program is seen to be a long term project because of the time factor involved in training teachers and creating curriculum but in the future it is hoped that students in Manitoba will be able to learn Manitoba Cree, Dene, Ojibwe, Dakota and Oji-Cree languages.

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC)

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AbTeC is a network of academics, artists and technologists whose goal is to define and share conceptual and practical tools that will allow Native people to create new, Aboriginally-determined territories within the web-pages, online games, and virtual environments that we call cyberspace.


AbTeC’s roots lie with a project called CyberPowWow, a pioneering on-line gallery and chat space for contemporary Aboriginal art. It was through CyberPowWow that we realized that, even on the Internet, Native people need a self-determined place to call home.
From this beginning AbTeC has moved into training native youth how to use the tools to new media to express themselves through video games, websites and performance art.

Skins Digital Media (Video game) Workshops


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Skins is a series of digital-media workshops for Aboriginal youth taught by a determined team of game designers, artists and educators known as Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC).

The Course begins with the students being introduced to a variety of stories from their culture and the art of oral traditional storytelling methods by a group of elders. With that foundation in place, the students then learn important skills for the production of video games.

Lessons are taught by faculty, students and graduates of the Computation Arts programme at Concordia University. They are joined by Aboriginal mentors who lend their considerable expertise as cultural consultants, as well as moral support to the young producers.

Skins aims to empower Native youth to be producers of new technologies, not just consumers of them.

Obx Labs

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 2.48.19 PMObx Labs is a program based out of Concordia University that is at the forefront of developing advancements not only in the technology of how we view and create media but also in challenging the type of content that we produce.  They were involved in the AbTeC program Skins that aimed to teach Native youth how to create videogames based on their own oral traditions and culture.

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Video and Site

This is a video created by the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in British Columbia.  This institute was created with the goals of giving its learners the tools they need to be successful.  This video is posted to their youtube channel and outlines the challenges and problems that face native youths today and how to possible overcome them.  Any journey begins with one step and this video clearly outlines the problems facing native education in Canada today and offers paths to avoid and overcome these obstacles.

Using Multimedia to Get the Message Across


This short 6 min video really hits home to the issues facing natives in Canada today from suicides to underfunded reserve schools.  It offers a visual story of the struggle that natives face today.  I feel that the way that is uses statistics and visuals gives a “face” to things they may not have the same impact if just read.  I urge all the students who read this to watch this video.  I had a great impact on me.

Major Issues Facing the Aboriginal People of Canada

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This is a very informative article that outlines some of the major issues that the native population must face in today’s Canada.  The first issue brought up is the fact that the slashing of Canada’s child welfare program will have serious impacts of the lives of already at risk children.  The cutting of these programs without thought has lead to a huge problems in the lives of families who depend on these resources to get by.  Another issue is the seemed indifference that Canadian law enforcement seems to have for missing native women.  The final most pressing issue is the fact that native people in Canada are much more at risk for health related issues but are not allowed the same access to care as other Canadians.  Native people are also at a greater risk from preventative diseases, mental illness and HIV.

A Deafening Silence on Aboriginal Issues in the Canadian Election

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With the recent election in Canada and the shift in power on the national level I thought this article was an important one to share.  Native issues in Canada have always struggled to be heard in the national media but this must not continue.  The statistic that in the last 60 days 33,000 natives have been victimized in some way is a shocking and should be a wake up call.  Not just because it has happened but also because of the lack of traction these issues had in the recent federal election.  It would seem that the brutalization of their citizens would be a prime issue that all candidates would take a firm stance on.  But surprisingly, even after the release of the findings on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission the candidates chose to remain silent on these issues.  Some of the statistics were shocking to say the least;


an Indigenous child born tomorrow is expected to live seven

fewer years than any other Canadian. He has a 50 per cent

chance of growing up in poverty and better odds of being

jailed than of graduating high school. If born on

Saskatchewan’s Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, he has a better

chance of being infected with HIV than in some African countries.


Hopefully more Canadians will see this more as our problem than someone else’s problem.  We are all part of the same nation and need to take care of everyone equally or we will fail as a whole.

Why Fixing First Nations Education Remains So Far Out of Reach

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This news story from 2014 does a good job in helping non-natives understand the underlying issues that impact the quality of life that native youths have to endure and why fixing the current problems in the native education system will be difficult to overcome.  I think that this article is important for teachers to read, especially ones from outside of the native community, so that they can understand the pressures that these youths are facing and hopefully work towards in moving this damaged system towards one that is more healthy and beneficial to today’s native youth.

Project 562

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This is Matika Wilbur’s site that showcases her efforts to bring the real face of today’s modern native to the world.  For too long she has felt that the story of the native peoples of North America has been hijacked by mass media.  It is important to point out that she herself points out that not an image does not have to be negative to be wrong but she feels that for too long native people have not been able to tell their own story.  Her goal is to travel across North America and take photos of the real face of modern natives in their true context and not in the construct created for them by mass media.  Her goal is to offer people a conduit, through photographs, to show who they really are.