Author Archives: Rachel Petrynko

Interactive website – Inuit of Nunavut

Nanisiniq Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or The IQ Adventure! is an interactive site where the user has the ability to explore the landscape and learn from Inuit of Nunavut. Although the site contains a few broken links, the information available is plentiful. One can begin by viewing an interactive movie, embedded with game elements, where the player must complete challenges to create their own Inuksuk. As the adventure progresses, the user is able to listen to Inuit Elders sharing stories, view images of artistic artefacts such as carvings and prints, and learn pieces of the language. In addition, learning resources are also available for educators such as teacher’s guides and suggested learning activities that explore the guiding principles and values of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.

In an attempt to preserve and promote Inuit knowledges, this project is an example of how technologies can support the documentation and sharing of traditional knowledge and culture. Interestingly, the site is bilingual (Inuktitut and English) thereby creating an additional opportunity to document and preserve the language for future generations. This particular online learning environment has created a virtual space where Inuit peoples are able to have their voices heard and is giving them a chance to claim their own identity in cyberspace.

Video games as a means to learn about Indigenous cultures and histories

On the Path of the Elders, is a free role-playing video game that offers information on the Mushkegowuk and Anishinaabe Peoples and the signing of Treaty No. Nine. The player can choose between six games, each having particular educational goals. The player must seek the advice of Elders and interact with other characters within the communities to achieve the goals. For each game, there are also teacher’s guides for grades 4-10 that contains the learning outcomes, activities, and suggested reflection and discussion topics.

In addition to the games, the site also has a rich gallery containing video (Elders stories), audio and photo collections, as well as information on the history of the Mushkegowuk and Anishinaabe Peoples.

The article Game on! also addresses the possibilities of using video games as a means for students to learn about traditional knowledge and culture. Students from the department of anthropology and computer science at the University of Victoria, along with researchers, have designed a video game where the player is able to learn about the Coast Salish cultural landscape. As the player “travels” to culturally significant places, the game provides them with information of traditional knowledge through audio, video, maps and photographs.

These are perfect examples of how technology and media can help bridge the gap in education by incorporating Indigenous cultures and knowledges in ways that are engaging, fun and educational.

Walking in two different worlds

The article First-nations youth inhabit two different spheres speaks of the two worlds First Nations students must walk in when it comes to education. Traditional knowledge and ways of learning are of great importance for the well-being and health of Indigenous peoples and their communities, for it allows them to know who they are and where they came from. However, as stated in the article, these skills and knowledges are “not recognized by a piece of paper”. As young First Nations students step away from their traditional world and into the classroom, they are faced with challenges and inequities. While many aspire to achieve their dreams and understand that education is required to pursue a job or career, the lesser quality of education puts them at a disadvantage.

After reading the article, I searched for more information on how First Nations students perceive the Canadian’s school system and found this video. It speaks of funding issues, low graduating rates, and lack of the right resources.

bring First Nations, Metis, and Inuit history, culture, perspective, and knowledge in the classroom.

The Aboriginal Perspectives: A Guide to the Teacher’s Toolkit is an online resource from the Ministry of Education, developed by educators in Ontario, which has been designed to help elementary and secondary teachers bring Aboriginal perspectives into their classroom.

The article is divided in sections that touches on six main themes:

– Aboriginal Peoples and Organizations

– Culture, Tradition, and Language

– Cross-Cultural Perspectives

– Celebration

– Aboriginal Contribution

– Current and Historical Issues

Within each of these themes, background information is given various topics along with teaching strategies on how to incorporate the content in learning activities. Although the background information in each section doesn’t go in depth, it does provide a good starting point for anyone looking to bring First Nation, Metis, and Inuit history, culture, perspective, and knowledge into their classroom.

Decolonizing Pedagogies

While searching for articles relating to teaching practices that would support the learning of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in educational settings, I came across the “Decolonizing Pedagogies Teacher Reference Booklet”.

The booklet was developed as part of a project (Aboriginal Focus School, Vancouver School Board) and discusses the concept of decolonizing teaching and learning approaches. The author, Heather E. McGregor, explains clearly what it means to decolonize pedagogies, why it’s necessary, and what are the challenges associated with it. In addition, she provides readers with two samples demonstrating how teachers have implemented decolonizing pedagogies in their classrooms.

McGregor states that decolonizing pedagogies can benefit all students (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal), however, in order to create opportunities to challenge and deconstruct “colonial understandings”, it is important that:

  • Teachers and students have access to appropriate materials and resources.
  • Learning activities foster collaborative interactions, reflection, discussions and a sense of belonging and identity.
  • Teachers deconstruct dominant perceptions of history, such that alternative histories are included to support Indigenous knowledge and enable students to create meaning, counter stereotypes and myths, and gain a better understanding of colonial oppression.

This resource would be helpful for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of what “decolonizing pedagogies” means and how different strategies can facilitate the deconstruction of colonial knowledge such that it creates a space for Indigenous knowledge and self-representation.

Module 1 Post 5: Digital Stories – Residential Schools

Information regarding storytelling and the legacy of residential schooling were two topics that had a profound effect on me when reading the articles in Module 1. Storytelling is an important aspect of Aboriginal peoples’ culture as these oral traditions allow them to share their knowledge, histories, and lessons.

Sadly, residential schools have had a profound and detrimental effect on First Nations’ peoples, families, communities, and culture. I wanted to see if I could find a website in which Aboriginal people used digital media as a vessel to tell their stories and share their experiences in regards to residential schools and came across this project:

Digital Stories – First Nations Women Explore the Legacy of Residential Schools

The aim of the project is to promote awareness and bring about a better understanding of the lasting effects of residential schools from generation to generation. The website contains numerous digital stories, lasting between 2-5 minutes each, in which Aboriginal women narrate their experiences and offer insight to the disruptive impacts of residential schools. The purpose of these digital stories is not only to facilitate the healing process, but also to inform the public about how Aboriginal peoples were affected.

Residential schools are not only a part of First Nations’ history, but also a part of every Canadian’s history; therefore, it is imperative that these stories be heard.

Here’s another great site for more information on residential schools and residential school survivor stories.


Module 1 Post 4: Two-Eyed Seeing – An integrative approach to education

In Hare’s (2011) Learning from Indigenous knowledge in education, there is an emphasis placed on the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge and ways of thinking in today’s educational systems. As such, I was curious to see if there were post-secondary institutions that could serve as an example and I came across the Institute for Integrative Science and Health in Nova Scotia.

The program aims to explore science in a manner that is culturally inclusive using the Two-Eyed Seeing as the guiding principle. The Two-Eyed Seeing refers to learning to see the strengths of Indigenous knowledges using one eye and Western knowledges using the other, and then finding ways to learn, see and understand how to know using both eyes together. This video explains the concept in more details.

The site is extremely well organized and could be beneficial to anyone seeking to research ways in which post-secondary institutions are bringing together Indigenous and Western scientific knowledges. The website offers more information in the forms of videos, articles, activities, etc.

I found the approach of Two-Eyed Seeing really captivating and was able to find a few more sites that are informative on the topic and its inclusion in education:

Two-Eyed Seeing: Building Cultural Bridges for Aboriginal Students

Education Programs: Land-Based Camps

Applying Two-Eyed Seeing to Health

Module 1 Post 3: Taking back Visual Identity

In searching for how First Nations people are reclaiming their identities, I fell on an interesting article called “ReMatriate wants to take back ‘visual identity’ of First Nations“.

In response to a Canadian designer’s announcement that its new fashion line was inspired by Indian tribes in Canada, women from various First Nations in the country are coming together and using social media to reclaim the control of their ‘visual identity’. Although short, the article addresses the issue of injustice regarding the Westerners’ ability to “borrow” elements of First Nations traditions and culture they deem pleasing while the Aboriginal peoples are required to fight in order to preserve them.

These women are using Facebook and Instagram as a means to share pictures and stories in an attempt to take back their identity and role in society as females. This article could definitely serve as an inspiration to researching women’s role and identity in society and how technology is being used to help them to share who they are and how they are represented.

Module 1 Post 2: Aboriginal Peoples and News

People’s misconceptions of Aboriginal peoples are often due to what they see or read in mainstream media. I found this video that talks about how misconceptions can be driven and perpetuated by the media. Interestingly, it also touches on journalism, and how journalists often lack a solid background or knowledge on Aboriginal peoples; therefore, they are more likely to “buy into” and promote the myths that are already established.

In searching for how Aboriginal peoples are portrayed in the media, I stumbled on this article News Stereotypes of Aboriginal Peoples.

The article examines how Aboriginal people are typically shown on the news when an individual is either: a warrior, drumming, dancing, drunk, or dead (WD4). It speaks of various stereotypes that are based on untruths and how they are perpetuated by selective media coverage and false assumptions.

The article is posted on a site called “Reporting in Indigenous Communities”. Upon further exploration, I found out that this site’s purpose is to guide and educate journalists that are reporting news in Indigenous communities. It describes ways in which reporters can help serve Indigenous communities by providing quality news coverage. This site also has many valuable resources such as historical overviews, glossaries of terminology/definitions, government acts, residential schools, Indigenous media/blogs, and many more.


Module 1 Post 1: Revitalization of Mi’gmaq Language

Seeing as ancestral languages play such a crucial part in First Nations’ teachings and culture, I wanted to search for ways in which Indigenous peoples were using technology as a way to encourage the learning and revitalization of their ancestral languages.

Learn Mi’gmaq Online is a self-guided site that offers users the ability to learn how to speak Mi’maq, either individually or as a classroom supplement. A Mi’gmaq Partnership between Listuguj Education Directorate, McGill University, and Concordia University developed the site and content.

The website consist of lessons that are categorized into units, varying in themes and topics of conversations. Each lesson provides new vocabulary and audio recordings of Mi’gmaq speakers, so you can listen and practice as you work through the lessons.

The site is very well organized and introduces users not only to words, but also touches on the importance of pronunciation and rhythm of the language. I found this website to be a great example of how technology can help facilitate the revitalization of languages, thereby helping Aboriginal people restore a sense of identity.

In my search, I also came across the Mi’gmac Mi’kmaq Micmac Online talking dictionary. The aim of the project is to develop an online resource for the Mi’gmaq/Mi’kmaq language, and so far they have posted over 3500 entries in the dictionary. You can do a simple English word search and it will generate a list of Mi’gmaq words that correspond to it.