Tag Archives: Aboriginal

Module 3 Weblog – Anne Coustalin

For this module’s Weblog, I focus on teachers and educators as I explore the following questions: How can we prepare ourselves to teach from a land-based approach? Where does land-based education fit with place-based learning?  What examples are there of students using land-based education to walk in both worlds?  I also continue my journey exploring two-eyed seeing and how it helps us understand integrative education.


CBC UnReserved interview with Tasha Spillet: Indigenous Learning on the Land instead of a classroom

In this interview, Tasha Spillet a Cree and Trinidadian Winnepeg educator describes the importance of land-based education for students but also for educators. Ms. Spillet is one of the instructors in the University of Saskatchewan’s land-based education cohort masters degree. She describes how land-based education shifted the way she views herself and the world and she speaks to the importance for educators of engaging in their own land-based education (instead of just reading articles about it). Another interesting feature of this interview was that Ms. Spillet spoke to land-based education in urban settings as benefiting indigenous youth, many of whom are disconnected from their cultural identity and need to be encouraged to also see their urban landscape as their land: “Underneath the concrete is still our land” (Spillet, 2017).

For more about this program, see this article: Land-Based Education: Taking Knowledge back to its roots


Land-based learning brings native and non-native cultures together

(Newspaper article)

“The First” Land-based learning camp (video)

This camp is hosted by the Living Sky School Division. It is purposefully intended to serve Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and restore or rebuild their connection to the land and to each other. Discussion about the initiative emphasizes teaching students to walk in both worlds.  “In these classes we have kids that come from both cultures . . . It is important for kids of native culture to realize the importance of keeping their own culture, but it’s just as important for western people to understand that it is a blessing to have First Nation culture alive”.  The speaker is Kim Pasche, a Swiss-born experiential archeologist and one of the instructors at the camp. He emphasizes to students that all of them (Indigenous and non-Indigenous came from hunter-gatherer society, but for some of them that society has been lost. Indigenous Elders and educators join non-Indigenous educators to explore the land from both perspectives simultaneously.


Indigenous Land-based Learning Programs

This site, created by a fellow UBC student for ETEC 521, highlights several different land-based learning initiatives offered in Canada (and one in the United States). While discussion of the programs on the site is limited, it does offer a brief analysis of the focus and approach of each camp and serves as a useful portal to investigate different land-based learning initiatives. It includes reference to Integrative Science camps in Nunavut that use Two-Eyed Seeing as their guiding philosophy.


Green Teacher: Education for Planet Earth  (Fall 2009 issue)

This issue is dedicated to exploring Two-Eyed Seeing: Integrative Science. It is a treasure trove of work on two-eyed seeing and offers many concrete examples of two-eyed seeing in the context of education. It also links to work on walking in both worlds.

From the editorial: “In this issue we present some of the learning activities that they and others have designed for teaching science in this way, thus enabling students to take the best from both world views, Indigenous and Western” (p. 2). The issue starts with an excellent article by Hatcher, Bartlett, Marshall and Marshall “Two-Eyed Seeing: A cross-cultural science journey” and also includes trans-disciplinary, cross-cultural science units on:  birds; traditional medicines; Traditional legends and astronomy; and Solstices and Equinoxes. This issue is highly recommended to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of Two-Eyed Seeing and concrete examples of what it looks like in the classroom.


Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society (December 2014 edition)

I came across this fantastic Special Issue on Indigenous Land-Based Education in my research. It has a number of great articles and in particular a valuable editorial essay entitled “Learning from the land: Indigenous land based pedagogy and decolonization” by Matthew Wildcat, Mandee McDonald, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox and Glen Coulthard. I appreciated the connection drawn in this article and in the entire issue between land based education and decolonization. I also appreciated the ability to learn about the related experiences of several different Indigenous groups within that context.

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.

Literacy Resources …

  1. Incorporating digital media into our classrooms can help Aboriginal Legends come to life. Using a QR code, teachers can help to safely guide students to specific stories and legends without lengthy web searches. Using a QR code reader, such as Qrafter, scan the below bar code. You will be immediately directed to open up the URL and there will be Grandmother Spider Brings The Sun. This is the narration of the book by the same name by Navajo author Geri Kearns. ( You can get to it through this link too, but have fun and try the code!)img_6609 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok_b46A9hvE


2. http://honeyant.com.au/aboriginal-education/screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-44-17-pm


This was an interesting website to come upon. Please take the opportunity on the site  to listen to this interview by Margaret James. She talks about children coming into school with Aboriginal English, which is what  I have been writing about in my paper; we call it English as a Second Dialect here in BC (ESD). She emphasizes that students need to learn to read in their first language, then will transfer the skills. These books will be not focusing on the gender or pluralizing of words. I am curious to get my hands on one to take a look.


3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbccTPEgBhs

I am so pleased to have found the work of Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse. This video is called How Can Literacy Be Fostered in Aboriginal Kids? She reveals the research that no matter the mother language of the student, English or French will be their second dialect. The child has picked up nuances embedded in their language and bring these to the classroom. These differences need to be valued, even if standard English is the goal. This can be confusing for the child when taught with an emphasis on gender, punctuation etc. The students really have to be “bi-dialectical”, that is having the ability to function in 2 worlds. A variety of resources and exemplars in the classroom will help to create  a positive learning environment.





If you want to get connected on Twitter and become more informed about the issues of importance for Aboriginal people, check out this link. You can follow groups such as @Reconciliation Canada or @IENearth, a group of Indigenous people fighting for environmental justice or follow individuals such as @UrbanNativeGirl, From the Tsilhqot’in Nation, Lisa Charleyboy is the Editor for Urban Native Magazine. She’s a well known thought leader in the Aboriginal community and keeps up to date on events and news.


5.  Indigenous Education in Canada PSA. In the below video,a 17 year old Indigenous youth in Nunavut talks about her history. She reflects on screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-9-43-17-pmthe 51% drop out rate and the importance of heritage and culture being taught in the schools as part of change. Encouraging more Aboriginal People to go into the field of education would support our children in their schools. Relationships between educators and Aboriginal Peoples must be strengthened as language and culture comes into the classroom, with an emphasis on the importance of this for all students. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrUw1WYfZXc










A Selection of Authentic Implementation Guides

Something I have realized through this course is something Einstein once said (don’t worry, I am not comparing myself to Einstein :P), “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” I completely imagined myself creating a nice little framework to provide a context and background for educators and then creating resources for the classroom.  I realized two things; no such framework can exist, the context and background I was referring to can only be gleaned through the process of trying to understand, not in a nice little package.  Second, I lack the expertise to create authentic resources in this area.  It would be an exercise in futility, and a huge irony that a Westerner is advocating “authentic indigenous perspective integration” while creating inauthentic resources… In light of this, I focused my final weblog on collecting quality, authentic resources that already exist. Enjoy!

(Please note that the titles are links to the full documents)


First Nations Education Steering Committee

The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) has created a resource on residential schools and reconciliation for grade 5, 10, and 11/12.  They offer detailed lessons, progressions, curricular connections, and supplementary resources such as books, videos, and handouts. They offer high-level critical thinking activities that encourage critical thinking; each at an age appropriate level.2

Authentic First Peoples Resources

This is also a compilation of resources by FNESC. It analyzes a large selection of literature for use with grades K-9. It provides descriptions of each, reading levels, curricular areas, themes, and the nation represented.  One caveat of this one is its organization, which is alphabetical rather than by grade level, theme, or subject.  It makes it a bit arduous to find what you need, but you can easily tag the pages that will be of interest to you for quick reference later!


In Our Own Words

Again produced by FNESC, this resource varies from those above in that it provides a framework of background, understandings, and attitudes for educators.  It directly speaks to the apprehension teachers might feel in authentically integrating Aboriginal perspectives. It highlights themes and ways of knowing that are important to indigenous cultures before going on to present a selection of complete, and detailed, classroom units for grades K-3.



The Learning Circle
This is a resource produced by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. It is targeted at ages 8-11 and id developed thematically with themes such as transportation, communities, families, and environment. Each unit provides main ideas and objectives, background information for the teacher, and classroom activities.  One thing I do notice about this one is it is primarily devoted to “traditional” practices.  That is, it does not frame Aboriginal cultures as a current and ongoing culture of practices and understandings, but rather relegates it to the past.  It would need to be supplemented or framed correctly to be used well.  For example, perhaps examining Western and Aboriginal cultures in the past, and then comparing the present.

Guide to Canadian Aboriginal Resources

This document is essentially a weblog itself!  It provides brief descriptions and links to a variety of Canadian Aboriginal resources.  These are arranged thematically with topics such as Aboriginal arts, activism, history, and social problems.  The compiled resources are targeted to a variety of age groups, but will take a bit of further investigation to fins what you are looking for!


Shared Learning

Shared Learning is a document produced by the Aboriginal Education Enhancements Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Education. The resource begins with an overview of the document and its uses and then provides information on the history, foundations and attitudes needed to utilize the resource. It is organized thematically and by age group, so the same themes carry through all age groups in age appropriate ways. Each component is further divided into the sections of Shared Learnings, Instructional Strategies, and Resources. An addition benefit of this resource is that it positions Aboriginal cultures as contemporary and evolving, not as a relic of the past.

More on mining and indigenous peoples

I’ve been looking for new stuff that gives me a new or different perspective on this topic but it seems to be either pro-mining (from mining companies, of course) or anti-mining (from indigenous communities or environmental groups). I find it hard sometimes to find reliable sources that stay away from propaganda.

Here are my findings for Module 3.

  1. Mining, economic development and indigenous peoples: “ Getting the governance equation right ” report on a forum held at convened by Jim Cooney, ISID professor of practice in global governance. (2013)  Retrieved from https://www.mcgill.ca/isid/files/isid/mcgill_2013_summer_forum_-_final_report.pdf

An interesting read, this report centers on the different but complementary roles, responsibilities and  practices  of indigenous  communities,  governments  and  mining  companies  in  making  and implementing decisions and in communicating and engaging with one another in the context of managing the issues associated with mining on traditional indigenous territories.

2.  Xingu – The Struggle of the People for the River (Indigenous Brazilians fight Amazon dam project)

I came across this video from 2010 that looks to raise awareness about the environmental impact of the project and hopefully stop the Belo Monte Monster Dam in the Brazilian Amazon that will affect the indigenous groups’ water supply, making fishing and hunting more difficult. The video gained international attention because Sting (the singer) joined the cause. Here is a timeline of the dam. You will find words like lawsuit, corruption, scandal.

3. What is the role of mining companies in aboriginal consultation? 

This is part of the Q&A section of the website Miningfacts.org from the Fraser Institute. This site aims to present evidence-based mining facts and information in a way that permits balanced consideration of the impacts and opportunities that come from mining. It is written for a general audience, with links to more in-depth research provided for those seeking further mining information. This particular section explains in detail the process of consultation with Aboriginal Peoples on decisions that may impact land and resources subject to aboriginal claims.

4. Indigenous People and Resistance to Mining Projects (English version)

This is an article published in Revista, Harvard Review of Latin America, about the reasons for the clash between governments (pro-mining) and indigenous communities (against mining) in Latin America, although it could be applied to countries somewhere else.

5. Amazon Tribes Use Mapping Technologies to Empower Cultural Stewardship of Ancestral Lands

I’m going slightly off-topic here but this is an interesting initiative from the Amazon Conservation Team using GPS technology to provide an Open Data Kit (ODK) app for the use with indigenous communities. As an example, they are teaching the Kogi to use a tailored ODK app to map and inventory their complex network of sacred sites, all of which carry high ecological value. Worth reading.







Module 2: mining-related content

My focus for the final project will be indigenous peoples in mining. I have found a great amount of resources and I’m trying to narrow it down. Some useful websites/materials for now:

1. Goldcorp – Partnerships and Programs (Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples)

This is a program run by Goldcorp that intends to identify and create partnerships with Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, to further a culture of economic independence, ownership, entrepreneurship and enterprise management. The focus is on creating employment opportunities for local communities, as well as offering cultural training for non-Aboriginal employees and contractors, to prepare them for working in a new culture or a culturally diverse situation.

2. Aboriginal Awareness Canada

This company offers online training on aboriginal awareness, to help people have a better understanding and enhance communications between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

3. Land Is Life: Indigenous Defenders Speak – 3

“Land Is Life: Indigenous Defenders Speak, is about ongoing frontline struggles by these communities to protect their lands, to assert their nationhood, and to defend their ways of life. These communities have all been asserting and exercising traditional governance, laws, and jurisdiction and have taken up courageous actions to stop mining, oil and/or gas development in their territories.” I found this talk makes a good connection to the topics reviewed in this Module.

4. Exploration and Mining Guide for Aboriginal Communities

This guide, released in 2006 and revised for 2013, is designed to inform Aboriginal communities across Canada about the stages of the mineral development cycle, from early exploration to mine closure, to help Aboriginal people better understand the industry, and to identify the many ways in which exploration and mining can promote community sustainability.

5. Mining and Indigenous Peoples Issues Review

This review provides a brief overview of Indigenous peoples issues faced by the mining industry as it seeks to gain access to land, carry out exploration and, if successful, develop and manage a mining operation. It aims to provide guidance on possible options in this area for the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the mining industry to contribute to. The review was commissioned by ICMM under the direction of its Community and Social Development Task Force.






20 Must Follow Aboriginal Twitter Accounts

Since I am looking into Aboriginals and social media use I found a blog post on the Elevator Strategy blog that listed 20 Aboriginals to follow on Twitter.  These accounts are vast and varied, from Reconciliation Canada who are trying to mend the broken ties among Aboriginal who attended residential schools and fellow Canadians (@Rec_Can) to one of my personal favourites @UrbanNativeGirl, Lisa Charleyboy who is from Tsilhqot’in Nation.  Lisa is the Editor of Urban Native Magazine and is a well known leader in the Aboriginal community.  Keeping readers up to date on media, fashion and music as well as events and news.

The list is varied and interesting. Definitely worth a look.

Aboriginal Territories In Cyberspace

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace combines academics, artists and technologists to empower First Nation communities through new media technologies.  They have created virtual worlds, mentored projects such as Kahanawake Voices; an interactive community product in which individuals share personal stories. Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace also features articles and essays, along with a blog.  This website is great to give an Aboriginal face to an area that is usual lacking in terms of multiculturalism.

A project called CyberPowWow is also discussed on the site.   This on-line gallery and chat space for contemporary Aboriginal art is grown breaking and unique. It was through this CyberPowWow that the creators of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace realized that, even on the Internet, Native people need a self-determined place to call home.

Toward a First Nations Cross-Cultural Science and Technology Curriculum



This article explores First Nations science curriculum from a cultural perspective.  It documents the stark contrast of nature  as seen by science and Aboriginal people. These differences are seen both socially, intellectually and how they associate with human action.  Typically science is seen as a Western philosophy, so in order for Aboriginal students to learn about western science it is seen as crossing cultural borders for them.  Aboriginal people would rather embrace and respect the mysteries of nature rather than conquer it and explain it.

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Cultural Competency – Working With Aboriginal Peoples: A non-Native Perspective


This article is from the perspective of a non-Native social worker working in a Native social work program.  He speaks of the harsh realities that First Nations people have endured and how working in this program has enlightened his perspective immensely.   His overall understanding of cultural competency and Aboriginal issues is beneficial is assisting and providing the level of support needed in crisis.  He speaks of his interest in working in the Native Social work program and the obstacles he faced due to being non-Native.  He understood that he required some background knowledge so enrolled in as many Aboriginal courses he could.  He came to understand that First Nations people were one of the most oppressed group, and because of this, what better group to teach people about oppression and resilience.  

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