Category Archives: Statement Connecting Blog to Research

Supporting Indigenous Students in Mathematical Environments

Were you born “without the math gene”? Are you mathematically resilient? Do you value the acquisition of mathematical knowledge?

Students of all cultural backgrounds come to math class with a wide range of mathematical emotions and values. As an academic Math 10 and Physics 11/12 teacher of many years, I would estimate that fewer than 2%, or about 1 in 60, of my students have been Indigenous, although 1 in 4 students at my school are Indigenous. Moreover, mathematics is often a “graduation gatekeeper”. To graduate from high school in British Columbia, students must obtain credits for a Math 11 course. Almost all Indigenous students at my school are taking Trades Math (also known as “easy math”). However, many students do not make it through, and thus do not graduate from high school.

For this project, I intend to research why Indigenous students may not choose the academic math pathways, may experience failure in the lowest level of mathematics and what non-indigenous educators can possibly do within their classrooms to help Indigenous students become mathematically resilient. It is my belief that by creating a culturally sensitive learning environment, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students will not just survive, but they will be able to maximize their true mathematical potential, thus keeping post-secondary career choices as open as possible.

This video is titled, “Supporting Indigenous Students in their learning”—all subject teachers would benefit from its general guidelines and I will be mindful of the advice given, throughout my research.

Commons search:

(indigenous OR indigeneity OR aboriginal OR “first nations”) AND (mathematics OR math OR STEM) AND (obstacles OR roadblocks OR issues OR challenges) AND (“high school” OR teenager OR teen OR adolescent)

Here is a link to my final product.


Research Interest: Race Relations/Dynamics in Saskatchewan

For my research paper, I would like to explore the climate of race relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities in Saskatchewan. This interest has been triggered by recent provincial news events and court cases involving current racial issues that also have historic roots, such as the Colten Boushie shooting and Gerald Stanley trial. Within my examination of race relations, I will make connections to the role of social media in shaping the current circumstances and the implications of the intercultural dynamic on education and youth, as well as how both social media and education could be used as transformative tools to improve the situation. In my online teaching environment, a segment of my students come from First Nations cultures and are pursuing distance education for a variety of reasons, including bullying, remote locations, and a desire for a more flexible learning environment. Additionally, I would like to work right in Saskatoon eventually, and the city has a large First Nations and Métis population. Developing a better understanding of the current climate and its origins will enable me to better understand these students and be able to support them in their learning on their own terms. Additionally, this understanding will better enable me to explore such social dynamics more effectively with all of my students, working to help them become more open and understanding young people. As a resident of this province, I feel that it is my responsibility to become more aware and become better able to promote positive change. The University of Saskatchewan Indigenous Studies Online Library will be the starting point for my research, as it contains both historic and current resources compiled by a panel of respected researchers and cultural leaders. As someone who was not born in Saskatchewan, it is my hope that this research will enable me to better understand the more localized issues and envision realistic and relevant steps forward and the role that I can potentially play.

First Nations Dance Website for Teachers


The following video was inspirational to me at the beginning of this research journey. I actually came across this video after completing Module 1 Weblog post. This type of dancing was actually performed for a school I previously worked at, and I remember it being mesmerizing.


Hoop Dancing


My dilemma in this assignment was connecting this course to something relevant to my area of teaching; physical education. Not only do I teach PE, but I teach it at an elementary level so it is sometimes difficult to find activities all the students will be successful at. Having taken several dance courses during my kinesiology degree and through professional development activities, I thought this was a great place to start. I began looking for first nations dance resources online, I found many for the elementary classroom, but not specifically for dance.

I have always been passionate about physical education and most recently as a physical literacy mentor, teaching students fundamental movement skills in creative ways. I feel this is how I will touch upon the topics explored in this course, indigeneity, technology and education.

My idea for this project is to develop a resource specifically for teachers looking to use first nations dance to teach a variety of fundamental movement skills.  Over the years, I have found it difficult to find great PE resources that are also cross curricular and are laid out in a user friendly way. My hope is to create something that highlights first nations culture while exploring fundamental movement skills students require for lifelong health and wellness.


There are many resources, including the substantial article, In Our Own Words: Bringing Authentic First Peoples Content to the k-3 Classroom that can modified or tinkered with to apply to the physical education curriculum. Also several articles which link dance to health benefits, something I feel teachers will find useful when completing assessments.


Hooper, D., Hunt, J., & Smith, J. (2012). In Our Own Words: Bringing Authentic First Peoples Content to the k-3 Classroom. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

Takeuchi, C. (2009, February 4). Cultural dances offer a world of benefits. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from

Engaging Aboriginal Students Online

Aboriginal students are struggling in both mainstream and online schools. In Canada, approximately 50% of Aboriginal Students complete their high school education, compared to their non-indigenous peers of whom about 80% graduate high school.

Many First Nation High School students have, in the past, had to leave home to obtain a secondary school diploma. A 2014 CBC News Report titled Internet high school gives First Nations students options covered the opening of Keewaytinook Internet High School which allowed First Nation students in Northern Ontario had to remain in their community while furthering their education past grade nine. Principal Darrin Porter explained that this allowed the youth to stay in their community where they were supported. Many students, and their families, would lean towards completing secondary education online rather then leaving home for a variety of reasons including students young age, parent and grandparent school experience and support of community and family.

·      What percent of Aboriginal students are choosing to take online courses so they can remain at home?

·      Are students who take online courses more successful then students who leave home to attend high school?

Russell Bishop’s research notes that Aboriginal Students are more successful when they have the opportunity to make connections with their teachers and classmates through the use of what Bishop refers to as a “culturally responsive pedagogy of relations”.   Supporting this is a 2014 Research Paper titled, Post-Secondary Distance Education in a Contemporary Colonial Context: Experiences of Students in a Rural First Nation in Canada, also notes that personal relationships between students and instructors also needs to be developed.

·      How can educators be culturally responsive and build relationships in online environment?

·      What would an online course using this pedagogy look like regardless of subject matter?

In conclusion, I would like to investigate why Indigenous Students are choosing Online Education and how educators can better support them through course development and pedagogy.

Brown, Louise. “Number of aboriginal Canadians finishing high school is up, report says.”, 30 Apr. 2014,
“Internet High School Gives First Nations Students Options.” CBC News, 17 Sept. 2014,
“Keewaytinook Internet High School | STAY AT HOME BUT STAY IN SCHOOL!” Keewaytinook Internet High School | STAY AT HOME BUT STAY IN SCHOOL!, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.
“Professor Russell Bishop.” Te Kotahitanga,
Simon, Jesse, et al. “Post-Secondary Distance Education in a Contemporary Colonial Context: Experiences of Students in a Rural First Nation in Canada.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, Athabasca University, Feb. 2014,


Lessening the Cultural Divide through the Teaching about Indigenous Culture

In thinking about what my final assignment will be focused on, I have two somewhat differing ideas and routes in consideration. Watching films such as Nanook of the North, however archaic it may be, has me interested in ways in which third-person/outsider narratives can positively contribute to Indigenous identity and self-representation. Of course putting the film-making process into the hands of the culture itself would be most impactful, but it is evident that film-making is not always a self-representation, but rather a representation of an “other.” Therefore, how can we mitigate this misappropriation of cultural identity that inevitably comes from this process?

On the other hand, instead of focusing on the mishandling of Indigenous identity, culture, and values by the media, how can educators help lessen the “us vs. them” mentality that is still perpetuated. Now more than ever, the BC school system is acknowledging the deep-rooted historical legacy and importance of the First Nations in our province, by having incorporated more facets of Indigenous culture into the curriculum. But frankly, teachers won’t always be equipped with appropriate or accurate strategies/knowledge to shed light on this culture in a fruitful way. Educators are part of the third-person narrative that so often harms Indigenous (self) representation. How can we better equip our teachers to offer an Indigenous curriculum that not only discusses the culture based on observation, but relays the feelings and cultural understanding experienced by those that are a part of it.

Indigenous Cultures and the Internet

Presented by the site EcoLiterate Law: Globalisation & the Transformation of Cultures & Humanity, what is presented is an exploration of the positive and negative impact of technology on indigenous cultures. There is a great list of web resources at the end of the article under the heading “Websites for Indigenous Cultures and the Internet”.

Tech Ties: Merging Oral Culture, Language Lessons and Today’s Youth

Oral culture societies kept identity and tradition alive by sharing history and recording important events through stories and song.  In this way, lessons were taught, virtues were embedded, and spirituality was strengthened.    Colonization led to the demise of many Indigenous languages.   As a result, the very foundation of the culture was jeopardized.

Today, a concentrated effort is being made in many Aboriginal communities to revive traditional languages, song, dance,  and return to the roots of the culture.  As a result, oral culture societies are coming back to life.  One such group is the Laich-kwil-tach peoples of Campbell River, who have been working hard to teach Kwak’wala, the traditional language of their people, to the youth of the city.  Unfortunately, despite concentrated efforts, participation among both Aboriginal and non-Aboroginal youth remains slim and inconsistent.

In an effort to appeal to more youth and increase their cultural education, how can technology be used to help record and revitalize the oral culture and language of the Laich-kwil-tach peoples?

To investigate this topic it is important to:

1) identify steps already taken to revitalize the language / culture

2)  identify challenges

3)  research existing ideas

4)  explore and apply current technology as a means of recording  and sharing traditional language and culture