It was very interesting looking at the Chiefs of Ontario Education Portal. This seems to be another organizations (under the Chiefs of Ontario) that is dedicated to self-determination of FN in education. The projects they are involved in are similar to those of FNESC in BC.
By doing a bit of quick research into Tim Michel, whose video interview we watched this week, I found this article (“Undergraduate Research Examines Class Discussions”) about a research project undertaken by a group of UBC students. Their work resulted in the project and website, “What I learned in class today: Aboriginal issues in the classroom”, which asks educators the question of how they discuss Aboriginal issues in their own lessons. The project did a number of video interviews with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal UBC students, asking them to recount some of their experiences of talking about Aboriginal issues, including when it was clearly difficult to do so. They also interviewed a number of UBC instructors, who shared their experiences and beliefs about this topic.
Another feature of the website that is incredibly interesting and helpful for instructors who have questions about how to best address Aboriginal issues are resources and discussion topics for self-education, tied back to the interviews. Most of the website’s components and resources also appear to be available for download, including a workshop (and trouble-shooting guide!) model for interested parties. I look forward to absorbing this project’s contents, and considering how I might be able to use these excellent primary resources and guides in my own teaching!
This website offers Cancer patients information on traditional First Nation’s healing, including topics like the ceremonial use of tobacco and smudging. I found it particularly useful because the website goes to great paints to speak respectfully whilst still indicating that the use of traditional healing has not been scientifically studied.
I see this as an opportunity for researchers to examine the use of traditional healing methods that look at the whole human (medicine wheel) for treatment, instead of simply treating the body (chemo), and to examine biomarkers of disease or whole health outcomes (e.g. death rates) for those treated using traditional methods plus evidence-based western medicine. Many traditional healing methods have recently shown themselves successful in clinical trials (e.g. massage therapy & acupuncture), and I suspect that there are likely elements of traditional healing that will hold up to scientific rigor and help to support their use in broader populations.
I lived and worked in Chiapas Mexico in the mid 1990s at the height of the Zapatista movement and worked in several Mayan villages throughout the province with ProNatura Chiapas who was trying to build sustainable farming practices for coffee growers in these communities. The Mayan face a great number of challenges and security, both physical and economic, is a primary concern for communities and individuals. An organization in San Cristobal is attempting to provide education that will allow Mayan youth to participate in the local economy and provide them with some sense of human rights and confidence. This is not the ‘voice’ or culturally distinct education that have been discussed in this module and though this will hopefully come to Chiapas one day, this form of education provided in this example, in this environment and political context, seems culturally responsible at this time for the Mayan people.
A colleague at BCIT, Derik Joseph, who is an education coordinator in the Aboriginal Services office, recently completed his MA in Communications at Royal Roads. His thesis centered around 10 First Nation students at BCIT who he interviewed in an effort to better understand the First Nation perspective of life at BCIT (2014). As a First Nation man himself, he has a unique connection to the students and provides a narrative and story of both his life, his role and place in the research and the themes that exist from the stories told to him by the 10 students who participated and contributed to the study. Here, as in the videos for this week, the goal is to give back and to create something of use to the aboriginal community. Derik identifies 5 themes in his study and these include: 1) family history; 2) First Nation identity; 3) culture; 4) work ethic and 5) role models.
Intercontinental Cry is a magazine/web journal that serves to “amplify the voices and strengthen the efforts of Indigenous Peoples around the world” due to the significant lack of representation of Indigenous people in news media.
What I was particularly interested in at this point was the fact that this website is very focused on using Indigenous writers to speak on their own experiences. Much of the academic literature on Canadian First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit, and Metis populations is written by white researchers, probably due to their familiarity with the publication cycle and their access to services that help them to gain publication. Fortunately a resource like IC helps authors with potentially less access to traditional streams of publication to have their voices heard, amplified, and shared with the world via the internet.
I think this could be a useful resource particularly at the high school level, for students to read and reflect on the impact of Indigenous voices on the Web.
Coming from an Aboriginal nursing background, I was used to an environment that was very nurturing, very non-judgmental, very non-competitive,” she says. “You learn to be very comfortable talking about your struggles, what you need to work on to become a stronger person or a better caregiver. Medical school was very different. It was a very competitive environment… people keep their cards close to their chest… they don’t want to reveal themselves; what they see as weaknesses. I found this very difficult. My colleagues didn’t understand. When asked to self-evaluate, my colleagues thought I was putting myself down. I think my ability to talk about myself is a huge strength, it lets me improve as a doctor and as a person, but my colleagues didn’t see it that way. I found this very difficult.
There are several reasons for this cultural difference posited in the blog post, including the poorer quality of education students can receive on reserve, lack of modelling in their own communities, and also lack of respect for or integration of traditional knowledge in many undergraduate medical programs. The article indicates that more needs to be done than simply recruiting indigenous students, but rather that the programs need to change to better suit/fit with the ways indigenous students already live.