Category Archives: Decolonization

A lovely visit from Dr. Michael Marker.

Each day, we are asked to complete a feedback survey for Virtual Reality: Viewpoints on a New Medium.  We are the first, face-to-face class to ever meet in MET, so student feedback is a great way to figure things out and work out wrinkles, from an administrative perspective.   The first question asks us to share one thing that we learned, and this is what I wrote for today:

“The Local is the most important Thing.” (Marker, 2018)

I am unsure if capitalization is necessary, however, I think it works here. I think that I am so enthralled by all things Michael Marker because every. single. time. I spend time with him, I not only learn from him, but I personally connect to his teachings.

Why did this particular quote stand out for me?

Probably because of my childhood…  (doesn’t everything root back to our childhood???)  Growing up, I did not stay in one place for very long.  Thirteen school changes between Kindergarten and Grade 12.  Two years, I attended three schools within the one grade! The impact that that has had on me as an adult has resulted in me not wanting to move around; the need to stay Local, is very entrenched.

It goes beyond not wanting to move homes, though.  I would never wish to change schools, let alone change professions. I have happily taught the same three courses for the last 13 years, exclusively.  Even though I will be a Master of Educational Technology this year, I have no desire to look for greener pastures in greener career paths or greener locations.  I would much rather be a change-maker on a Local level, within my immediate community. I do make the effort to share my learning on a wider stage, but who is even reading these words? Not too many people, I dare say. This post is likely just for my own eyes to see; possibly you are my only other person! (I should really swear more, should this actually be true…) To be honest, my intent in posting is very selfish in the truest form of Ayn Rand’s virtuosity.

Local is where my gold is located.

It fills my bucket, as other activities and interactions drain it. Knowing that I helped my family, my students, my school, my community— this is my happy place. And in turn, I find solace in knowing that when I need help, my people are here for me, as well.

Is this the Local that Michael was referring to ? I am not entirely sure…

Perhaps I should be less concerned with correctness, anyways.  This is very hard for me to do as I LOVE being correct when I am problem solving. Training myself to not have to be correct, to not be perfect, to focus on the journey and not the result is an ongoing  process, no question. Perhaps I should stop looking at situations as problems needing solving?  Hmmmm…

Well… if you are still reading this, and you have yet to take ETEC 521, I can’t recommend it enough. It was a gift today to have time extending my thinking from this course with a giant in his field. Here is a link to a page of my ETEC 590 eportfolio, where I describe my “A-Ha Moment” in MET. (Spoiler alert: it happened in ETEC 521! Depending on today’s date, the portfolio may or may not be finished. If it is post-August 1, it should be pretty much complete.)

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Filed under Decolonization, EDUC 490V

VR/AR/MR/XR/SR literature is a thing.

Before our 5 day course begins, students have had some homework to complete.

Read a couple of papers, choose a quote, and commentate.  During MET, I have read papers from the 1980s to the current year but this reading list was unique in that so much of the literature was post-2016.   I scanned each read before committing to my assignment; it was the first time that a reading list made me want to read the entire list!

The world of academia is a fascinating microcosm; I could actually pursue a Doctoral degree that focuses on virtual reality! Dr. VRornson has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Screeshots of our EDUC 490V 96A reading list.

I settled on reading three, with the intent of reading more next week.

Diving into my professor’s paper, “A Quantumeracy Reading List”, I quickly had flashbacks to reading “The Cyberg Manifesto“.  Thankfully, my physics background helped me out but I could imagine that a person without a basic understanding of quantum physics may have had a challenge reading this work. Linking the connections between quantum theory and non-fiction works, Dr. Stooshnov reveals his true, uber-nerd colours by bringing in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Matrix, A Wrinkle in Time and more to his argument. I am looking forward to talking to him about his paper because I had a difficult time connecting the ideas to our EDUC 490V course and because of this, I did not analyze his work for my assignment. (Perhaps this is why I should have analyzed it???)

Historically, I do not eagerly put my unknowing out on the table for all to see, but my MET experience has pushed me to act in ways that I want my own students to act. It’s OK to not know stuff right out of the gates.  When this happens, ask more questions!

Assignment 1 by Dana Bjornson on Scribd

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Filed under Augmented Reality, Colonization, Decolonization, EDUC 490V, Virtual Reality

My contributions to the ETEC 521 Weblog.

The ETEC 521 course is split into 4 Modules:

  1. The Global and the Local in Indigenous Knowledge

  2. Stereotypes and the Commodification of Indigenous Social Reality

  3. Decolonization and Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights

  4. Ecological Issues in Indigenous Education and Technology

For each Module, we were asked to source and briefly annotate at least 5 online resources that were relevant to the Module and could possibly help us “fine tune” our final project.

Module 1: The Global and the Local in Indigenous Knowledge

From CBC: Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., teen pens song about uncle’s death, garners thousands of views online

This story, published on September 16, 2017, came to my attention from my Facebook feed. Two years ago, a colleague of many years, left Victoria to take a teaching position in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.  Jasmine has been Michelle’s student for the last two years.  Because the community that Jasmine is from is so remote (Sachs Harbour in Inuvialuit Territory), she stays with a host family in Inuvik while attending high school. At the time of the recording, Jasmine was part of a program that takes part on a ship that sails through the Arctic in the summer, visiting communities and taking part in cultural communities along the way. Apparently, a student from my school, Esquimalt High, recently took part in this program as it is open to any student that applies, who falls within the age restriction. Until the song went “viral”, Michelle did not even know that Jasmine was a singer-songwriter! Another layer to Jasmine’s viral social media experience, is her mother’s story of attending residential school. Sending her daughter away to school, however, was not an option for her.

From CBC: ‘A punch in the gut’: Mother slams B.C. high school exercise connecting Indigenous women to ‘squaw’

This story was published September 18, 2017. A Grade 9 teacher, using the Teacher’s Guide, distributed worksheets to their students that had students associate racist nomenclature with the person of origin. Apparently, the motivation was to teach students what the ubiquitous terminology of the day was, however, as the mother astutely points out, the workbook is void of context, and fails to educate students about relevant information regarding the Indian Act and the reserve system, amongst other knowledge. Turning to Michael’s essay from this week; “ Educators must help students conceptually focus the mirror rather than a magnifying glass at native people.” (p. 499) This workbook perfectly exemplifies the magnifying glass approach.  What also should be pointed out, is that the teacher in question, was likely trying to incorporate the new K-9 BC curriculum that has attempted to bring Indigenous knowledge into every course. As a BC teacher, I can say with certainty, that there has not been enough (any?) professional development to facilitate this change so that BCTF members can actually teach Indigenous knowledge with confidence.  I am grateful that I am taking ETEC 521 so that I can hopefully avoid making one of my students or their parents feel link I have “punched them in the gut.”  Most teachers will not be paying $1600, however, in order to take such meaningful Pro-D.  Moreover, I wonder how many teachers will simply side step this portion of the curriculum in fear of making a mistake?  <Segway to next article…>

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


From CBC: Teachers lack confidence to talk about residential schools, study says

This story was published August 20, 2017. Yes. This is me.  Or rather, this was me. I feel fortunate to work at a school that devotes a portion of our Pro-D time, every year, to Indigenous education and the well-being of our Indigenous students.  But still, I do not feel like I know enough to say too much in class. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission being part of mainstream media, combined with some incredibly meaningful Pro-D, I have begun to say more, however. On Orange Shirt Day 2016, I gave my first talk to my homeroom class about the significance of the day— how could I not? I felt like I had finally broken through my self-imposed, block of ice. It is now three weeks into ETEC 521, and I feel more equipped to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said. I am looking forward to learning more, however, as I know there is much more knowledge to come!

This is Just Us: A Digital Media Documentary

At my high school, we run a course called First Peoples English, in which any student may elect to take this course, in lieu of regular English.  Recently, students created the documentary, “This is Just Us.” For whatever reason, I only just learned of this documentary this week (it is amazing what you can find on your school’s website!). It is a bit of a commitment to watch, however, should you have 38 minutes to spare, you will not regret it.  In the documentary, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are interviewed. As well, a local Elder, one of our school’s Aboriginal Educational Assistants and the teacher of the course are all interviewed. Topics that are touched on include: Why Digital Media? What is self-esteem? Who are you thankful for? … and more! I was blown away with the students’ candidness, honesty, bravery and wisdom in their responses. The Elder speaks of running away from his residential school, seeking refuge in Washington.  This really drove home the reading of “Borders and the Borderless Coast Salish” from last week. As opposed to the educator who ran into trouble when they attempted to “teach” Indigenous knowledge using an inappropriate “magnifying glass”, Ms. Dunn helped her students “conceptually focus the mirror”, with this project. The project would not have been a success without the partnership with Dano, an actor and director from Tsawout First Nation. Dano came in once a week for a couple of months, and after getting to know the students, he decided that the common thread was how self-esteem affects individuals, families and communities.

Indigenous Leaders on How to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day

This page was published on June 20, 2017, on the University of Toronto’s website. It interviews a variety of Indigenous Leaders (a student, an Elder, and the former National Chief, amongst others), who share how they plan to celebrate June 21 and what any Canadian could also do to recognize this day. I would like to specifically highlight one piece from this page, that addresses the Canada 150 celebrations. This summer, there was a heap of dialogue concerning whether we should be celebrating 150 years of colonialism. Many people I know chose to boycott all July 1 celebrations, and they were not afraid to make it known to all who would listen. Reading this piece, you will find Phil Fontaine’s (albeit brief) take on Canada 150. I don’t think everyone shares his perspective, however, it does exemplify the power of the “positive re-frame”.  That is, when a situation is not ideal or seemingly “good”, by changing our perspective a few degrees, we can sometimes see opportunity past the darkness.

Pacific People’s Partnership

PPP is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability, peace, social justice and community development for Indigenous peoples from the Lekwungen territory in coastal BC and South Pacific Indigenous peoples.  I chose this site because I was able to attend a recent event at the BC Legislature on September 16, 2017, The One Wave Gathering.  Five local Indigenous youth won a contest that resulted in their work being displayed on the front of four longhouses that were temporarily erected on the Legislature. The fifth artist’s work was made into a dance screen, as the judges were not able to let his work go unnoticed. Both the Songhees and Esquimalt Nation chief’s spoke at the opening ceremony. Chief Andy Thomas described the history of the land that we were meeting on, and how his Great-Great Grandparents were forced to move their village from Victoria’s Inner Harbour to the Esquimalt Harbour. I was particularly moved by the stories of the young artists and I truly felt the sense of proudness that they had of themselves and that their community had for them.  That proudness wrapped itself around everyone in attendance.  I will put a couple of my pictures on this blog, however, feel free to check out the Instagram hashtag, #onewavegathering to see other pictures and videos.

Module 2: Stereotypes and the Commodification of Indigenous Social Reality

The Ethnos Project

From their Home Page:

The Ethnos Project is a research initiative that explores the intersection of Indigeneity and information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as:

  • open source databases for Indigenous Knowledge management
  • information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) initiatives
  • new and emerging technologies for intangible cultural heritage
  • social media used by Indigenous communities for social change
  • mobile technologies used for language preservation

The essays found in this site seem incredibly appropriate for our learnings in this course. The founder of The Ethnos Project, Mark Oppenneer, might be a “Wannabe”, however! I tried to learn more about him, only to find that either another person with the same name, or the founder of this page, was fired from his teaching job for inappropriate relations with a student.  From Oppenneer’s LinkedIn profile, it appears to be the same person… What intrigues me about this website, is how polished it looks and how interesting the essays seem to be. My question is this: is the founder a “Wannabe” and should this site be not accessed should this be the case???

Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science

Anyone who says that Facebook is a waste of time, is not using Facebook to its full potential.

Recently, I joining a Science Teacher FB group and this group has actually revolutionized my teaching in only 4 weeks. Not only have I adopted something called Two Stage Exams, but someone recently posted a link to this incredible resource, Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science. What is particularly jaw-dropping, is that I saved this link two weeks ago, long before I watched this week’s video interviews. The co-author of this online book is none other than Lorna Williams!!!!

This book is a MUST READ for anyone teaching science.  I have only had time to look at a few of the chapters but the one chapter that particularly applies to this week’s module is Chapter 9: Changing Students’ Perceptions of Scientists, the Work of Scientists, and Who Does Science

This chapter summarizes a study that was done with Grade5/6 students and Grade 11/12 in a First Nations Studies course. The stereotypes harboured  by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal  students are eye-opening, to say the least. As a science educator, what can I do differently in my practice to help my students see past these stereotypes?  Am I do anything that reinforces these stereotypes?

Sask. First Nation chief says tobacco offering from visiting school’s coach a step toward reconciliation

From the CBC, September 30, 2017. Here is the original Facebook post from Chief Evan Taypotat.

People stereotype, consciously and unconsciously– stereotyping is often due to making assumptions, without taking the time to educate oneself of the truth.  However, this was an example of someone taking the time to understand Indigenous culture and showing respect, in an authentic way.

Colorado River should have same legal status as a person: lawsuit

From the CBC, October 10, 2017.

In Week 6 of our studies, we were asked if we thought if cultures have rights to protect themselves?

Should the lawyer representing the Colorado River win his case, he may wish to move on to representing culture in the courts, as well!  Although the article is a quick read, spending time listening to the lawyer’s arguments in the interview is recommended as it may provide you with extremely compelling reasons that make it obvious that our natural resources should be protected in court, as if they were a person.

Stop believing this myth: No, Native Americans are not “anti-science”

Although this website is highly irritating with its pop-up ads, the article itself is worth a read. I took some time to learn about the Salon website (you know, to check on something called “Authority”…) and according to Wikipedia (I know my credibility is sinking fast now…), is a left-wing tabloid style, media outlet. NONETHELESS, I am posting this article because IF what it says is actually true, this article would be very valuable to anyone wishing to “braid” Indigenous science into their lessons.  I would highly advise folks to use this as a stepping stone to research more into the topics it provides.

Module 3: Decolonization and Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights

Victoria school district Aboriginal cultural facilitator honoured with music award

Anyone who knows Sarah Rhude knows that receiving an award is not something she sought or yearned after.  I talked to my friend and colleague, Jenn Treble, the trouble maker who nominated Sarah, as she was photocopying endless sheets of music for her students, last week.  Jenn informed me that the photo of Sarah was snapped after tears decided to run down her face, due to the emotional wave that the ceremony impacted her with.

Three years ago, Jenn decided that she wanted to introduce Indigenous music into her practice and she asked for Sarah’s help.  Baby step after baby step, since then, has now led to SD61’s permission to the teaching of three Indigenous songs, that were created for the purpose of the project.   All students in Jenn’s band classes, Grades 9 through 12, learn, practice and perform these songs.

Last year, a Grade 12 Metis student asked Jenn, in front of the class, why she was “singling out” Indigenous culture, when there were so many other cultures represented in class. Was he embarrassed? Had he been “colonized to the point of no return”?  I am not sure, although I know the student extremely well– he was one of my top math and physics students! It was a non-Indigenous Grade 9 student who spoke up and said, “Because we do not live on Scottish territory.  If we did live in Scotland, we would undoubtedly learn about Scottish music.  But we live on Lekwungen territory… that is why.”

Enough said.

Why Gord Downie’s ‘beautiful’ work can’t stand alone

My guess is that this will not be the only Hip post this week. I am a Hip fan, although I “only” saw three live shows. Good friends of mine saw well over 20 shows and their now deceased cat was named Gordie.

There were many online pieces to choose from over the week, but I went with this interview from CBC’s, Q, recorded on December 7, 2016. The subject was Jarrett Martineau, and Indigenous art scholar and creator of the Indigenous music platform, Revolutions Per Minute. Martineau acknowledges the significance of Downie’s work, and simultaneously underscores the importance of continuing with activism surrounding language preservation and authentic forms of reconciliation.  Marineau also mentions how celebrities can bring “different communities together by having them all meet in the middle.”   #ThirdSpace

In Canada, white supremacy is the law of the land

You cannot simply reform your racist state by enacting a few more programs and delivering a few more services. It is embedded in the very nature of Canada and requires a completely new deal. But first, to truly understand where we have landed today, we have to continue retracing a bit further along the sad road that brought us to this place. ~Arthur Manuel

Described by some as the Nelson Mandela of Indigenous rights in Canada, Arthur Manuel passed away earlier this year.  The above quote was taken from an excerpt from his recently released book he co-authored with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, “The Reconciliation Manifesto, Recovering The Land, Rebuilding The Economy.”

Those of us who appreciate history will appreciate this piece. We have touched on some of this history in our ETEC 521 journey, however, Manuel’s perspective offers a dose of reality, that lacks the sweetener.

For what it is worth, when I visited the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg last summer, I was impressed with the ample amount of “Canada’s dirty laundry” that was put out for public viewing. This piece does not attempt to hide our soiled knickers, either.  If the rest of the book is like this excerpt, it will be one “kick ass” manifesto!

Non-Indigenous B.C. artist defends work despite calls for authenticity

If you have been monitoring my posts, I listen to a lot of CBC. Perhaps I should be branching out more with my searches, however, when I hear or read something that is recent and relevant, it really resonates with me, as it allows me to think about historical relevance and how it influences our now.

This column, written by the new host of CBC’s Reconcile This, Angela Sterritt, highlights issues of cultural appropriation and intellectual property rights. The artist in question is from England, and has been “blending” Indigenous art forms with non-Indigenous. The article points out that even though the artist is well-meaning, she is indirectly taking money from Indigenous communities that rely on sales of authentic crafts and artwork. An interviewee continues by saying that “the art market is only so big and we are the most vulnerable demographic, so it kind of stings a bit.”

The History of  Dia de Los Muertos & Why You Shouldn’t Appropriate It

“Dear white people, … You arrived at the Dia de los Muertos ceremony shipwrecked, a refugee from a culture that suppresses grief, hides death, … celebrates it only in the most morbid ways — horror movies, violent television — death is dehumanized, without loving connection, without ceremony. You arrived at Dia de los Muertos like a Pilgrim, starving, … and the Indigenous ceremonies fed you … [And] like Pilgrims you have begun to take over, to gentrify and colonize this holiday for yourselves.” ~Aya de Leon

Indigenous peoples worldwide have been fighting off the ramifications of cultural appropriation. This article is a short, history of the cultural relevance of the holiday and why white folks need to stop morphing it into a pathetic excuse to drink excessively and where inappropriate costumes at Halloween parties.

Typically, the comments sections within online pieces are filled with the worst verbal diarrhea know to our species. I came across this comment, however.  She nailed it:

“Alana Sterling I truly believe that it IS okay. Cultural appreciation is wonderful. But there is a big difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation.

My old high school is thinking about having a day of the dead themed prom. In my opinion that is cultural appropriation because the school is majority white and from experience I know that a lot of them are prejudice and are very outspoken about their feelings on Mexican immigration. Its a small high school in the south.
Cultural appropriation to me is when you want the culture but not the people.
I think if you wanted to throw an actual day of the dead party it would be great look up customs and traditional food and music. That’s appreciation, but if you just want an excuse to wear pretty colors and “sugar skulls” then that’s appropriation. Some people might jump on you for it but to me that’s not really that bad, if you want to throw a day if the dead themed party that’s cool you just need to have respect for your Hispanic brothers and sisters.”~Ayleen DeLeon


Module 4: Ecological Issues in Indigenous Education and Technology

Aboriginal Nations Education Division (ANED) for School District 61

So many amazing resources from my school district’s Aboriginal Education team. You can find pretty much anything you want here, or use this website as a launch point to bring authentic, Indigenous knowledge into your classroom or workplace.

Having said this, I found this resource on this site, that was developed by the BC government in 2006. It targets Kindergarten through Grade 10, and for the most part, looks like a useful document. However, when searching for material for my ETEC 521 paper, I did uncover something that did not sit well with me on p.82. It suggests that in Mathematics 10, that educators and students research the statistics surrounding Aboriginal graduation rates.  Although graduation rates have been slowly improving over the years, they are still below the provincial average.  An exercise such as this will consequently perpetuate stereotypes amongst non-Indigenous students and potentially send Indigenous students harmful messaging.  This document was produced by the Ministry of Education, who used Indigenous community members and educators to assist with its creation, however, at the end of the day, the MOE was the entity in charge of the final product. Who was the person who added this terrible idea to a government resource? In general, it is difficult to find culturally responsive material for academic Math 10, so did somebody “pad” this section without being informed? I find it very difficult to believe that any Indigenous person would think that this was a good idea!!

Four Directions Teachings

Click on the image to go directly to this interactive website that shares Indigenous knowledge from five First Nations from across Canada.  Drumming, storytelling, sound effects and beautiful graphics are clearly shared and described in these teachings. Be sure to spend time with the Teacher Resource package that is linked on the first page, as well.  My only disappointment is that the Coast Salish was not included in this resource, as this would help my non-Indigenous students connect more to the land that they live on and to the people who were here before colonization.  Barring that, this seems to be a great site for not only learning about specific Nations, but to also dispel stereotypes that promote pan-Indigenous homogenization.

Victoria’s booming shoebox campaign part of “reconciliaction”

This article was recently posted in the Victoria News, a local, community newspaper.  A family of Metis heritage has started a campaign that creates shoeboxes filled with age appropriate gifts for Indigenous youth who presumably are living in poverty conditions, north of Smithers, BC.

Having grown up in a state of lower, lower middle class myself, I think that I would have loved to have received a shoebox full of trinkets as a child. Sometimes when I was young, I did not think that anybody cared about me, and that I was more of a hassle, than anything else. I would imagine that Indigenous youth, in isolated towns, who may not have a heck of a lot to do or to live on, would be prone to feeling this way, as well.  Suicide rates in some communities, definitely exemplify this sentiment, in the worst possible way.

So my hat goes off to these young girls who are not only filling shoeboxes and but rallying others to do the same.  We all need to feel like somebody cares about us, that is the TRUTH!

However, is it fair for the editors of the newspaper to make a play on words, turning “reconciliation”  to “reconciliaction”? Hmmm… that part is not sitting well with me. Is it not the government’s role to “reconciliact”? It seems to me that this family is NOT enacting reconciliation via their noble campaign.  True, they are addressing the oppressive, harmful effects that colonization has had on Nations and their people. But this is not reconciliation…

What does reconciliation mean to you?

So what does reconciliation truly mean? Here are six individuals perspectives from a 2016 CBC article.  Spoiler alert: none of them mentioned shoeboxes…


My Kiwi Godfather posted this on his Facebook feed this week and I had to share.

“Colonization has forced stereotyping

To become a household name

Which resides under our beds

Becoming the monsters that we are now scared of.”

The raw talent of Kia Kaha is unreal and inspirational. When students are given the freedom to have their voices heard, powerful, life changing moments can and will transpire.


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Filed under Colonization, Decolonization, ETEC 521, Indigenous culture

A must read for mathematics educators wishing to foster a non-oppressive learning environment.

In my quest for current research for my project, this journal article was given to me.  I recognize that all of us have negative amounts of time on our hands right now, but I do recommend making a free account, and downloading this article for a read in the future.

Miscalculations: Decolonizing and Anti-Oppressive Discourses in Indigenous Mathematics Education”   (Vol 40, No 3, 2017; ​ written by Stavros Stavrou and Dianne Miller, University of Sask.

Many topics that we have read and discussed in ETEC 521 are presented in this piece. It challenges the work of many researchers who have attempted to understand (close?) the comprehension gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Math learners. The gloves were off in this article!

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Filed under Decolonization, ETEC 521, Indigenous culture, Mathematics education

How to make my math class more CRE-friendly.

Originally posted on November 11, 2017 on Connect

To summarize, Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education should be mindful of

  1. Place.  Ground the learning in the land where students are from.
  2. Storytelling.
  3. Forming relationships.
  4. Inquiry learning.
  5. Social consciousness.  (Nicol, Archibald, & Baker, 2012)

In this week’s reading, I was very pleased to see that one of the subjects in the study was a high school math teacher. I was curious to read about her take on math-based CRE.  I was hoping to read about her process that allowed both CRE and academic mathematical rigor into her practice.  Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition for me. Kit’s issue is also mine: how do you prepare future engineers, doctors, scientists, and mathematicians in a CRE? There simply is not enough time to address both.

Or is there?  I still don’t know and remain open to people’s ideas.

By the time I get a student in Foundations/Pre-Calculus Math 10, for most students, there are significant deficits in their mathematical comprehension. Our society does not value early numeracy as it does early literacy. It is socially acceptable to “be bad at math”.  For the entire five months that I have my students, we are learning a new process, and filling in holes from yesteryears. If I take one day to fold paper into boxes, then that is one less review day for the final and I only slot 5 classes for review of the course.  Wherever possible, I will do “quick” activities, do collaborative learning techniques and counsel my students through their math anxieties, but there is not time to finish what they require for the next year AND do hands-on or inquiry learning.

I am at a loss.

What I do think, is that there needs to be a new course developed for Math graduation requirements, as there is for English.  We have First Peoples English, so why don’t we have First Peoples Mathematics?  At present, we offer Trades Math in BC.  This is a course that could be tailored into First Peoples Math, with a bit of effort. Non-Indigenous students would greatly benefit from a course like this, as well. It could be hands-on, land-based and situated in storywork. Community members would be vital to making a course like this takeoff. I would LOVE to be part of something like this.

In the meantime, I have decided that I am going to request that I step away from Physics next year, in my teaching load. In an effort to bring Indigenous knowledge into the Math classroom, I do see that there is room and there is a great need, in Math 9. All students come to high school and take Math 9 (apart from students learning below Middle School level; these kids take Adapted Math 9). It is in Grade 9 that classrooms are filled with students of all cultures and ability levels, in that the kids are Grade 9 age, but may be at a Grade 7, 8 or 9 Math level.  My thinking is that I could bring in CRE at the Grade 9 level, as it has one-third of the learning outcomes as academic math 10.

To be continued…

Nicol, C., Archibald, J., Baker, J. (2013), Designing a Model of Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education: Place, Relationships and StoryworkMathematics Education Research Journal. 25(1), 73-89

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Filed under Decolonization, ETEC 521, Indigenous culture

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Originally posted on October 31, 2017

Man. The Fraser River Journey took me on a journey, without question. It was inspirational on many levels: seeing the youth bravely venture out of the comfort zones (difficult for any adolescent, let alone adolescents that are overcoming obstacles); processing the elders’ words; witnessing Indigenous youth embrace technology, both modern and traditional; witnessing substantial, life changing growth from individuals in but 10 short days.

Reading the updates at the end of the film, I was eagerly waiting to hear about Bonnie.  She captured my attention from the very first interview. Her authenticity, her insights, her compassion… as an educator who has crossed paths with thousands of students, you learn how to spot these “gold flags” right away when you engage with students.  You know “star quality” when you are in its presence. Bonnie had it. I was certain that we would read about something amazing, and that her story was being left until the end because it was going to be spectacular.

OK. So maybe I am crying. Tragedy makes me cry.  Although any loss of life due to a premature cause is tragic, Bonnie is particularly so. Her potential to influence change in our world was immense, and now immeasurable.

We need more Bonnies. And they are out there; we just need to look.

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Using The Third Space to both honour resistance and foster hope.

Originally posted on October 22, 2017 on Connect

Indigenous cultures have nurtured an interconnected worldview for hundreds of years. In contrast, Western cultures have excelled in specializing and compartmentalizing their knowledge for hundreds of years.

For myself, the Knowledge System comparative list in the Kawagley and Barnhardt piece really drove home the differences in Indigenous and Western worldviews. I sometimes find myself thinking that since the worldviews are fundamentally so different, that it is a seemingly impossible task to work together, in one school, educating both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

But then, I think about what I learned in Module 1 regarding “The Third Space”.* The Third Space is where two worldviews can overlap, share, learn and exist in a non-binary, “third world”– for myself, I think of The Third Space as the overlapping bits of a Venn Diagram.

Kawagley and Barnhardt continue in their essay to emphasise Indigenous priorities that relate to survival: adaptation, sustainability, and self-sufficiency– priorities that tribes have held for hundreds and hundreds of years! Indigenous peoples are the experts in these fields; experts that non-Indigenous peoples would be wise to learn from. As being able to adapt has historically been a matter that survival has directly depended on, it is no surprise to know that Indigenous cultures are meeting in The Third Space, so that modern affordances can be brought into their non-static, worldview.  The Third Space provides allowances for peoples to not only protect their worldview, but to then allow that worldview to evolve in the presence of hope for a better, more sustainable future.

Kawagley, A. O., & Barnhardt, R. (1998). Education indigenous to place: Western science meets native reality. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network.

The list…


Indigenous Worldviews

Western Worldviews

Spirituality is imbedded in all elements of the cosmos Spirituality is centered in a single Supreme Being
Humans have responsibility for maintaining harmonious relationship with the natural world Humans exercise dominion over nature to use it for personal and economic gain
Need for reciprocity between human and natural worlds – resources are viewed as gifts Natural resources are available for unilateral human exploitation
Nature is honored routinely through daily spiritual practice Spiritual practices are intermittent and set apart from daily life
Wisdom and ethics are derived from direct experience with the natural world Human reason transcends the natural world and can produce insights independently
Universe is made up of dynamic, ever-changing natural forces Universe is made up of an array of static physical objects
Universe is viewed as a holistic, integrative system with a unifying life force Universe is compartmentalized in dualistic forms and reduced to progressively smaller conceptual parts
Time is circular with natural cycles that sustain all life Time is a linear chronology of “human progress”
Nature will always possess unfathomable mysteries Nature is completely decipherable to the rational human mind
Human thought, feelings and words are inextricably bound to all other aspects of the universe Human thought, feeling and words are formed apart from the surrounding world
Human role is to participate in the orderly designs of nature Human role is to dissect, analyze and manipulate nature for own ends
Respect for elders is based on their compassion and reconciliation of outer- and inner-directed knowledge Respect for others is based on material achievement and chronological old age
Sense of empathy and kinship with other forms of life Sense of separateness from and superiority over other forms of life
View proper human relationship with nature as a continuous two-way, transactional dialogue View relationship of humans to nature as a one-way, hierarchical imperative

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