Tag Archives: Perceptions

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.

Common Portrayals of Aboriginal People

Media Smarts: Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy

Media Smarts is an organization which develops digital and media literacy programs and resources for Canadian homes, schools and communities. They work to support adults with information and tools so they can help children and teens develop the critical thinking skills they need for interacting with the media.

They have a section which explores common portrayals of aboriginal people, and provides resources, such as tip sheets, and lesson plans for parents and educators.

. . . of survivors Module 2.3

So this link is to another book (Hey I am a librarian) and the write up about this book calls it a, “must have for every school library” (see the last paragraph of the summary).

The title of the book is actually “Residential Schools: With Words and Images of Survivors.” The “of survivors” part struck me, because it is only those ones who are left to tell the tale . . . and if it is not told, then it becomes something we miss out on learning from.

From the goodreads webpage http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23841530-residential-schools  09 04 15

From the goodreads webpage http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23841530-residential-schools 09 04 15

Local Indigenous Knowledge Module 1.3

Have you seen the YouTube video of magnetic putty?  One of them is here if you need a quick look (42 s. pt). To me Indigenous peoples are the magnet and the “new” K-7 curriculum is the magnetic putty. As you see in the video the putty is attracted to the magnet, but eclipses the magnet as it reforms itself over top.

My intent is not to disparage any of those nouns mentioned, however being on the inside I sometimes think it is still up to those in the trenches to communicate the royal commission ideals, and decolonized directives, and shared learning expertise. A great deal of which they don’t know.

My link isn’t the YouTube video, it is, in fact, the K-7 Curricular document.

Module 3 | Post 7 Critical Whiteness theory

Fiona Nicholl has adopted a different approach to teaching race relations or indigenous studies in the classroom.  She calls it critical whiteness theory and the focus here is on  “exploring whiteness as a problematic, critical whiteness theory reverses the tendency of white academics of every political persuasion in Australia to focus investigation on Aboriginal ‘issues’ or ‘problems.” (Nicholl, 2004).   This seems to fits a ‘culturally responsive form of teaching where the focus is not on the other but includes a study of white  culture and values in the context of humanity and places all subjects on an equal footing where they look at one another to gain a greater understanding of one another.


Module 1 | Post 2 Education and Research into understanding post secondary indigenous student perspectives

Derik Joseph is an Educational Advisor at the British Columbian Institute of Technology.  He has recently completed a Masters of Communication at Royal Roads and his thesis work is titled “How Are the Aspirations of British Columbia Institute of Technology First Nations Students Defined by Their Indigenous Perspective?”.   I met with Derik last week at BCIT to discuss a possible project with the aboriginal services department and was fascinated by his study and his perspectives on education, technology and the experience of First Nation students at BCIT (Joseph, 2014).   He has shared his paper with me and I look forward to reading it in the next week or so.  I also have attached a link to his talk at BCIT as part of the aboriginal speaker series that is ongoing at the institution.

Many of the ideas and perspectives presented in his talk and in my meeting with him are in agreement with the articles and ideas we have explored in Module 1.  In particular, I found the preeminence of place as discussed in Micheal Markers paper “After the Makah Whale Hunt” (2006)  of First Nation discussions or stories to relate to a place first and localize experience to be true in both Derik’s talk and in his discussion with me.  There is also an emphasis on local indigenous perspective.  While this may not comply with critical theory, it seems better suited to deal with the issues at hand and to truly connect and construct a solution that will be meaningful and of interest to the students that Derik introduces in his talk.

To view the talk, visit https://youtu.be/zL-2hrlmwMk


Joseph, D. (2014, May 8). Aboriginal Speaker Series [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/zL-2hrlmwMk.

Marker, M. (2006).  After the Makah Whale Hunt: Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse. Urban Education,  41(5), 482-505.

Module 1, Post 4 – Adivasi perception of life and development

As pointed out by Marker (2006), the Adivasi (aboriginal) world view of development and purpose of life is dramatically different from the conventional view. Following are a few websites and articles which illustrate this worldview beautifully –

A website of Adivasi perceptions on development – http://www.notprimitive.in/


A blog on Adivasi perceptions of fulfilment – http://reflectionsofindia.com/2015/03/05/adivasifulfilment/

A lengthy article by Dr. Ganesh Devy  who has worked with the tribal community in India, rethinking on the definition of development and its effects on the Adivasi life – http://publications.aidindia.org/content/view/474/130/


Module 1 Post 2 – Residential Schools & The TRC

In a previous post my classmate Erin provided a link to a TVO special about residential schools, but described it as being somewhat dated.  Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been in the news recently, as it is ‘officially’ coming to and end soon, I wanted to look more into it – I hate to say it, but I’m pretty ignorant on the topic.

The official website for the TRC is here, and is flooded at the moment with information about the closing events and the TRC overall.
Link: Interim report from 2012
Primary Sources Link:  Online videos of statements made as part of the TRC

In my searching I also found this article from the Ottawa Citizen, quoting the head of the TRC Murray Sinclair (an Anishinaabe judge and lawyer), as saying that Canadians need to know that the history of the residential schools and its traumas “include them”.  Powerful stuff!

Module 1.3 – ICT For Peace (or, is technology neutral)

ICT For Peacbuilding is a really interesting website that looks at the use of information communications technology (ICT) for conflict resolution. I thought it was interesting to extrapolate a lot of their discussions on the neutrality of the internet/technology as it pertains to our discussions of these topics in this course.  The main author certainly believes that the question, “is technology culturally neutral”, isn’t even the question we should focus on, rather,

whether one accepts the neutrality of technology depends on one’s valuing philosophy – whether one tends toward the pragmatic and situational, or the absolute and authoritarian. Those who believe that technology is neutral argue that “guns don’t kill people, people do”, or that a knife can be used to “cook, kill, or cure.” Those who believe the opposite counter with evidence that technology cannot be evaluated in a vacuum and that there are traits common to all technological developments: (1) technological objects are unique; they are designed to function in a particular and limited way, and (2) technological objects are intertwined with their environment; they interact in unique ways with the rest of reality.

I do think that the neutrality of technology really depends upon the lens with which we look at each circumstance.  There are opportunities for individuals to represent themselves in the way they’d like to be seen. But it is certainly not clear to me if that means true neutrality or simply a manipulation of the cultural norm.


Module 1.1 – The Impact of Digital Technologies on Indigenous Peoples

While I was reading the first article for Module 1, I got to thinking a bit more about the impact of  digital technologies on indigenous traditions.  I wanted to read more about beliefs and conventions surrounding how and when technologies, such as video (YouTube, Vimeo) or audio recordings (podcasts, terrestrial radio) are considered suitable for cultural and educational knowledge transmission.

As a result I came across EcoLiterateLaw’s page, which focuses on globalization and the transformation of cultures and humanity.  There the author discusses the uses and impacts of technologies and technology tools (as mentioned above) as they can be seen to benefit indigenous communities, primarily by fueling self-determination and self-identification, and by allowing for information and knowledge sharing online.  Furthermore, there is some suggested benefit to having the ability to participate in knowledge exchange through online chat or forum groups, that allow indigenous groups to meet and learn from other, more disparate groups, in ways that were previously unavailable.

In spite of all these highlighted potential benefits, the article comes to discuss the negative connotations of indigenous participation online,

…because colonizers are the ones with the resources to be in control of this information, the Internet, for the most part, is only a modern tool for further colonization.  And, there is always the risk that others, who have no stake in Indigenous peoples integrity or survival, will circulate stories, histories, cultures, and traditions devoid of respect for the principles underlying the veracity of those principles.  Although there may be reason to believe otherwise, history has shown that the stories of “[I]ndigenous peoples worldwide . . . have been told and manipulated by others, only to be reduced to fantasy, novelty, myth, and untruth. [Indigenous] knowledge was validated, discarded, or modified to suit a strategy of colonization, conquering both geography and knowledge systems.”

I found this quite enlightening and made me think of the concept of concealed identities online in a different light.