Supporting Aboriginal Youth: A pathway for the future.

Supporting Aboriginal Youth:  A pathway for the future.
Richard Biel
ETEC 521
University of British Columbia

Professor Dr. Michael Marker

When it comes to supporting the academic success of First Nations students in British Columbia’s mainstream public schools, the numbers around graduations rates are deeply concerning (Grade 12 Graduation Rates, 2009).  There is something missing from western mainstream education when it comes to supporting Aboriginal students and an ever growing population of marginalized youth.  Lack of knowledge around the unique cultures, of Aboriginal peoples,  coupled with a clear way to mitigate this gap in knowledge has lead to the public schools not adequately supporting Aboriginal student success (Barnhardt and Kwagley, 2005, Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998, Brown, 2005).  Historical institutional policies and practices regarding First Nations students specifically the legacy of residential schools and systemic and continued stereotyping and racism contribute to Aboriginal student under-performance (Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998).  Another area that mainstream public education could improve on is the consideration of the emotional needs of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students (Brown, 2005).  The delivery of the curriculum in synchronous, compartmentalized, disconnected, units of information provide significant enough hurdles as to impede aboriginal student learning (Barnhardt and Kawagely, 2005).  Awareness of the deficiencies and ways to mitigate these deficiencies can only mean an improvement in the success of the Aboriginal students both academically and socially and the wider student body as a whole.

One of the critiques of western mainstream education is that much of First Nations student under-performance stems from frustration, alienation, and failure due to the imposition of criteria oriented to success in the dominant culture, without considering Aboriginal people’s unique cultural and local traditions (Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998). Cultural discontinuity theory states that “conventional educational practices are seen to act as a “critical filter” that blocks hope”. (Hampton, 1995:7) This coupled with a legacy of mistrust as a result of the residential school system and little understanding to issues involving transitions, is a recipe for many negative emotions on the part of Aboriginal students and their parents towards the mainstream school system and  the wider school community as a whole (Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998). It is critical that public schools implement a programme of professional development around recognition of cultural diversity.  In order to be able to incorporate cultural recognition into school curriculum it is essential that all public school teachers receive education around general Aboriginal culture and local cultural traditions specifically.  What is needed is for First Nations communities and the dominant culture represented by public education to reach out to each other in order to understand the differences yet celebrate the similarities of cultural diversity.  Bands are encouraged to work with School Districts to develop Aboriginal Enhancement Agreements that formalize the pathway to supporting the whole child.  When this occurs there is little doubt First Nation students and the wider school communities performance will improve.

In order to understand the current situation around the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal student achievement in British Columbia it is important to consider the historical and present day institutional policies in place that undermine aboriginal student performance.  In the past the Indian Act and the implementation of residential schools and policies around assimilation have all worked to undermine aboriginal student performance in schools (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Volume 1, 1996: 365ff).  Improvement and accountability strategies around student performance in British Columbia are based on results of the Foundation skills assessment (FSA). The FSA’s limited focus on literacy and numeracy and not on emotional literacy and the education of the whole child contribute to promoting an educational system that is dysfunctional.  “Successful schools are not determined strictly through selected measures like standardized test scores, retention and graduation rates, or other indicators that narrow the mandate of schooling to academic matters or economic productivity.” (Wotherspoon and Schissel,p. 6, 1998)  Assessment models need to be re-tooled to recognize the education of the whole child.  Until such time as these assessments are updated to represent a holistic approach to student success administrative decisions based on these results will be woefully inadequate and in some cases could influence policy decisions that will further undermine the education and success of the child.

The Fordist nature of mainstream education also contributes to not only decreased Aboriginal student success but also to the increase of marginalized youth (Kawagley and Barnhardt,1998, Wotherspoon and Schissel,1998, Brown, 2005, Neufeld, 2005).  Traditional schools with firm schedules that treat students and staff as identical cogs do not and cannot account for the differences in cultural relations to time not only within the different social classes but also do not account for familial issues, illness, cultural events or the emotional needs of the child and a host of other psycho-social and pedagogical issues (Brown, 2005).  Given the necessity to move to many different rooms and interactions with many different students and staff the system does not allow for an emotional connection to occur between the student and staff and thus not engendering a level of trust (Brown, 2004, Neufeld, 2005).  This disconnection does not allow for strong attachments to form and thus the building of trust that is fundamental for learning to occur is vacant (Neufeld, 2005).  The current Fordist educational system coupled with peer oriented adolescents is a recipe for students to feel disconnected and not acknowledged.   Peer oriented adolescents are the growing number of children that take their moral and social cues from their peers and not from parents (Neufeld, 2005).  Based upon my observations within my own practice at an alternative school, modifying the traditional school system towards a blended learning, one room, multi-aged classroom that supports student centred learning via computer learning management systems, added to well developed experiential real world learning opportunities is definitely the direction that schools must take in order to meet the needs of the 21 st century learner.    No longer does it suffice to attempt to tack on “fixes” to the mainstream educational system via large scale, one-off, whole school events.  A bold shift towards the alternative model of education applied on a district wide scale through a short, medium and long term integration plan is required in order to quell the bleeding of our schools of students that are not having their needs met.

As mentioned above, curriculum in mainstream schools tend to be delivered in compartmentalized, disconnected, synchronous chunks (Barnhardt and Kawagley, 2005). “For a Native student imbued with an indigenous, experientially grounded, holistic perspective, typical approaches to teaching can present an impediment to learning, to the extent that they focus on compartmentalized knowledge with little regard for how academic disciplines relate to one another or to the surrounding universe.” (Kawagely and Barnhardt,1998, p.3)  The result is that many Aboriginal and non Aboriginal students find this system at odds with how they relate and know their world through their culture.  The real world does not function in separate units but in diverse interconnected complex ways.  It is a case of “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.” (Aristotle).  Thus an educational system that is based on the reductionist principles of pure science and the business model fails to acknowledge that just as subjects are interrelated into a complex whole, so to is a child made up of more then their ability to read, write and do math.  Curriculum needs to be delivered in a more holistic way incorporating experiential real world learning opportunities coupled with the affordances of computer based instruction.  Science should be taught outside in the world and not solely in a classroom divorced from reality in a cephalic disconnected manner in front of text books and computer screens, vainly trying to represent the real world via “virtual” examples. I do believe that student success is well supported at the elementary grades. In order to allow this to happen at the secondary level, I suggest cohort groups made up of Grades 8-10 for High schools.  These cohort groups work with a team of educational professionals made up of team teachers (one for humanities and one for sciences and maths), a SETA (special education teaching assistant) and part time support staff (counselling, special education, outdoor/experiential/PE and child care worker staff) supporting blended age, cohort groups.  Curriculum is delivered in a self paced format via a mix of differentiated instruction made up of learning management systems (e.g. Moodle, WebCT, Desire 2 Learn), locally and distance delivered DL courses (such as British Columbia Learning Network and Open School BC DL classes), modified paper  (Proactive) and digitally based courses all heavily supported by experiential learning opportunities and where necessary traditional teacher led instructional strategies.  Students will also be supported by computer assisted learning software (e.g. Kurzweil 3000, Dragon speak and Co-writer) to address the needs of students with perceptual difficulties. Teachers and support staff will move from the centre stage of instruction and perform more “guides on the side”.  High academic standards are to be emphasized with senior students assisting junior students in mentorship capacities.  Those students that have identified university and college as their goals in Planning 10 can enrol in specialist delivered courses such as senior Sciences, Humanities, Maths, Languages to ensure they meet the entrance requirements and that they are well prepared for the rigours of higher education. Students that have identified their interests in the trades can participate in well developed trades programmes that prepare them for entry into colleges such as BCIT, Vancouver Community College and similar accredited college based programmes. And those students that lack the ability to meet the minimum standards for graduation can develop the life skills necessary to be active, healthy and whole participants in their own and the mainstream culture and be issued school leaving certificates.

In mainstream education misbehaviour on the part of students is usually met with an escalation of consequences taking the form of: in class verbal warning, out of class verbal warning, send down to administration, parent notification, in-school suspension, out of school suspension and finally expulsion. When Aboriginal or marginalized youth do conflict with the mainstream system there needs to be more constructive disciplinary strategies that can reintegrate the student back into the system with their heads held high all the while recognizing the victim and the wider community (Anderson, 1999).  Restorative Justice has played the central role of New Zealand’s entire juvenile justice system since 1989 (Zehr, 2002) primarily modelling Maori traditional legal systems.   Restorative Justice is not: primarily about forgiveness or reconciliation, nor about mediation nor designed to reduce recidivism nor is it a blue print or meant for minor offences, first time offenders, or a replacement to the legal system or an alternative to prison (Zehr, 2002).  Restorative Justice (RJ) began as an effort to rethink the needs which crimes create, as well as the roles implicit in crimes.  RJ expands the circle of stakeholders beyond government and the offender to include the victim and community members.  Educational systems globally should consider incorporating RJ into their disciplinary models for serious school offences such as repeated vandalism, bullying, violence, drugs and other serious offences.  It has been my experience that this additional system gives administrative officials another tool in their toolbox to address serious transgressions before moving directly to expulsion.  This form of collective justice can mitigate some student expulsions allowing victims, offenders and community members to feel that they have had an authentic voice  (Zehr, 2002, Brendtro, 1990). One of the most commonly cited critiques of RJ is the fact that the system has made no allowance for appeals.  The group mediation that occurs is binding and there can be no hind site or additional comments that can be added post decision (Andersen, 1999).  Despite this limitation RJ promises to be another effective tool that school districts can use to support and assist Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in the public school setting.

One of the greatest challenges that needs to be overcome when speaking about Indigenous Knowledge and Native ways of knowing is the cultural clash that exists between minority Aboriginal groups and the dominant western paradigm (Kawagely and Barnhardt, 1998).  Prior to colonization Aboriginal people around the globe had independent and complex systems in place to educate their young.  Modern western based educational systems tend to compartmentalize course instruction and treat each subject independently and non holistically outside of real world circumstances.   It should be noted that Western cultures have had and continue to have traditional educational systems that closely model aboriginal systems e.g. apprenticing and mentoring.  However the use of these traditional forms of education only happen rarely within mainstream public school environments. Traditional Aboriginal educational processes were carefully constructed around observing natural processes, adapting modes of survival, obtaining sustenance from the plant and animal world, and using natural material to make their tools, implements and medicines.  All of this was made understandable through thoughtful stories and demonstrations (Kawagely and Barnhardt, 1995) and occurred in the real world very much like an apprenticeship programme. Given the predominant oral nature of Indigenous cultures complex mnemonic systems embedded within stories and songs were used to pass on knowledge (Ong, 1992).  Given the limitation of human memory families and individuals were responsible for some of the collective knowledge via unique songs and stories.  “Indigenous societies, as a matter of survival, have long sought to understand the regularities in the world around them, recognizing that nature is underlain with many unseen patterns of order. (Barnhardt and Kawagely, 2005). Their conclusions are continually tested in the context of everyday survival.  Competency in First Nation educational systems is a matter of survival thus those First Nations students that have been raised in the traditional educational system find the compartmentalized knowledge that is discontectualized and not multi-disciplinary to be very challenging to understand.  Indigenous knowledge is systemic covering those things that can be observed as well as what can be thought.  Other names for Indigenous knowledge are folk knowledge, local knowledge, traditional knowledge and a host of other terms.  Indigenous knowledge is made up of all knowledge that relates to a particular people and their territory, this information tends to be passed on from generation to generation  (Battiste, 2005)  Indigenous knowledge is also not static but has undergone considerable change and adaptation since contact with colonizers.  It is western knowledge’s turn to change and adapt to multiple ways of knowing.

“Students in Indigenous societies around the world have, for the most part, demonstrated a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the experience of schooling in its conventional form-an aversion that is most often attributable to an alien institutional culture rather than any lack of innate intelligence, ingenuity, or problem solving skills on the part of the students (Battiste, 2002) Both Western and Aboriginal cultures need to come to a place where they understand that there are multiple world views and ways of knowing (Barnhardt and Kawagley, 2005). Cultures and educational systems clash.  This is fundamentally what is occurring both locally and globally between western educational systems and Aboriginal traditional ways of teaching and knowing.  In order to mitigate this conflict and assist the casualties i.e. First Nations youth, both cultures need to recognize and value each other.  To bridge the cultural divide it is important for western based educators to gain an understanding about how Indigenous knowledge was first gained and how it was passed on.

In order to make western knowledge significant for First Nations students, the explanation of natural phenomena should first be explained in Native terms to which the students can relate and then explained in western terms (Kawagley and Barnhardt, 1995).  There tends to be significant differences in world views between Aboriginal peoples and the dominant western culture.  Specifically spirituality is imbedded in all elements of the cosmos for many Aboriginal peoples.  Many native people believe that humans have a responsibility for maintaining harmonious relationships with the natural world.  Many also believe that the universe is made up of dynamic, ever-changing natural forces and the universe is viewed as a holistic integrative system.  There is also a general sense of empathy and kinship with other forms of life with humans not taking the lead role but equal amongst all other creatures (Kawagley and Barnhardt, 1998).  I might suggest provincially mandated, on-going, professional learning opportunities need to be funded in order to assist educational professional in how best to support Aboriginal and non Aboriginals in a holistic manner.  Reconciliation can occur but it will take much bridge building between Aboriginal groups and dominant mainstream cultures and educational systems.

“Native people may need to understand Western society, but not at the expense of what they already know and the way they have come to know it.” (Barnhardt and Kawagley, 2005)
Due to the negative affects of colonization on many Aboriginal peoples’ social relations and their ways of thinking, feeling, and interacting, the morally responsible action on the part of governments and educational institutions is to assist in the healing (Brown, 2005, Kawagely  and Barnhardt, 1998, Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998, Brendtro et. al. 1990).  “…Europeans focused on the destruction of the Aboriginal emotional self during the process of colonization.  The emotional self contains key elements that must be destroyed to dehumanize and colonize people” (Brown, 2005, p.20)  Decolonization is about empowering Aboriginal students.  In order to empower our First Nations’ students a whole child approach should be seriously considered (Brown, 2004, Brendtro, 1990).  In order to assist in decolonization non-Native values alone will never resolve the value conflict that is the basis of lower academic achievement results for First Nations students (Brown, 2005).  A whole child approach considers the education of the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual needs of the child and uses the medicine wheel as metaphor to connect the student and staff with the concept of holism.  A whole child approach will also benefit not only Aboriginal students but also non-Aboriginal students (Brown, 2005).  To understand something within the whole child approach students need to not only understand things intellectually but also emotionally (Brown, 2005). This holistic approach to education will mean changes to the educational system.  In essence a healing must also occur to mainstream education and the traditional models of education that of apprenticeship and mentoring must be resurrected within the context of a western world that is moving swiftly towards a knowledge based economy that recognizes and honours cultural diversity.

Public schools are legally obligated to offer government mandated curriculum in a climate that  is secular.  This is obviously in direct conflict with the education of the whole child using First Nations spiritual beliefs of the Medicine Wheel.  Reconciliation of this issue must occur in order to implement a whole child approach to public school education.  However there are islands of hope that can implement some forms spiritual education.  Independent, band and alternative schools all are areas of the public school system that could incorporate whole child teachings on spirituality.  However non-spiritual practices such as meditation can be incorporated into a whole child approach to public school education (e.g. Mind-up).  There is evidence that suggests meditation can assist students in connecting with their emotional selves (Kawagely, 1999).  In my own school context we have brought in community members that have taken our students through guided meditative practice outside of any particular spiritual practice.  Students were invited to attend but by no means was participation mandatory.  The vast majority of our students participated in the experience and reported very positive experiences.   Brown (2005) and others have emphasized the lack of a spiritual connection in most public school institutions and argue that in order to mitigate the effects of colonization on Aboriginal students the spiritual needs of the student must be fostered.

Brown (2005) argues that at the central core of education lies emotional literacy and without this area taking a central role in the education of the child the rest of the education, that of the mind, body and spirit cannot occur, “You can feel without thinking but you cannot think without feeling.”  So how does one foster emotional literacy when children come into the classroom with varying degrees of emotional competency? I believe the work generated in working with at risk or marginalized youth can enhance the whole child approach.  Brendtro, Brokenleg and Van Bockern (1990) outline key principles that need to exist in order to develop the relationship with students that can allow learning to occur.  First and foremost educators must embody the notion that “respect begets respect”.  Only by valuing the child and being conscious of the power differential that exists between teacher and student can teachers begin to develop a healthy relationship with marginalized youth.  The first principle is that “relationships are built on actions”.  “Students who hate teachers and schools can only be engaged by adults that connect with youth and excite their latent desire for learning.” (Brendtro, 1990, p.76).  Another guiding concept is that the inevitable “crises” that occur when dealing with youth are actually opportunities or “teachable” moments when it comes to developing emotional literacy.  Teachers and support workers can model correct emotional responses in order to teach by action.   An additional key principle in the gaining of youths’ trust is that of “disengaging from the conflict cycle”.   Disengaging from the conflict cycle and recognizing that many students have not had their emotional needs met and have acquired a negative view of self and the world is very important (Brendtro, 1990).  “Very often, the child most in need of attachment is the one least likely to elicit nurturant behaviour from adults.”  Thus to develop positive relationships with students built on trust it is foundational to accept the child unconditionally.  This does not mean accepting negative behaviour.  Understanding that negative behaviours are not the child is paramount.  Trust is something that needs to exist between the teachers and children that have been marginalized from society.  “Trust develops over a period of time in predictable stages of: casing, limit testing and predictability.” (Brendtro, Brokenleg and Van Bockern, 1990). This cycle specifically, limit testing and predictability, is an on-going process in the development of trust.  Finally educational professional need to demonstrate and teach joy.  Within the above listed strategies lies the core of developing healthy, trusting, mutually respectful relationships that will allow teachers the unique opportunity to begin teaching emotional literacy.

Historically research and education in Aboriginal communities was carried out by non-Aboriginal professionals (Kowalsky et. al. 1996).  A degree of cultural in-sensitivity coupled with centuries of colonization and government policies that were and currently are designed to assimilate have created a large amount of mistrust on the part of many Aboriginal communities in Canada.  There is little to no research on how to foster relations and include Aboriginal communities perspectives and goals into the wider public school system.  Cultural sensitivity strategies have been developed and applied by research scientists however the pathway for fostering relationships can also be applied to education.  Kowalsky (1996) discusses guidelines for making contact with Aboriginal communities.  Educational goals and direction must first come from Aboriginal communities rather than from the dominant culture (Kowalsky, et. al., 1996).  A person that is willing and able to interact and be included into the  Aboriginal cultural and social community is fundamental.  This takes much time and effort on the part of the individual representing the educational establishment.  Trust must be engendered and facilitated before any discussion on Aboriginal educational support can occur.  The contact person must be prepared for a certain level of uncertainty as trust is gained and learning outcomes are mutually developed.  Honesty about motives is something that the lead contact must be willing to reflect on as motives are communicated in many non-verbal ways.  Aboriginal communities are sensitive to individuals that are not willing to be themselves and untrusting of those that do not want to participate in the community (Erasmus, 1991).   Openness, sensitivity, patience, honesty, humour, flexibility and respect are all qualities that must be present for the lead person in order to engender the trust necessary to rebuild the bridges that have been burnt by prior negative experiences.  Finally it is critically important to follow the lines of authority and demonstrate respect for them and to be aware of the unique etiquette expectations of each community.  The Aboriginal communities of the world have suffered greatly under many dominant cultures.  However, as long as Aboriginal groups and dominant cultures are willing to extend a hand to one another in order to mitigate some of the suffering that has occurred great things will no doubt happen.

When reflecting upon the use of technology to support First Nations students in the classroom given the rapid movement towards a knowledge based economy it appears overwhelmingly obvious that technology could and should be used.  However Bowers (2000) makes powerful arguments against the wide spread adoption of technology in the form of computers to support Aboriginal learners.  It is argued that computers are simply extensions of text and text is culturally transformative and thus computers are not culturally neutral.  Computers, like text, encourage greater individual autonomy, consumerism and reliance upon technology.  This is in direct conflict with the traditional Aboriginal values of:  local knowledge, communal relationships and create a special challenge for those that are attempting to maintain their traditions of community and spiritual connectedness (Bowers, 2000).

“The argument here is that the culture-transforming nature of the computer has to do with the forms of intergenerational communication and embodied experiences that computers cannot reproduce – except in a decontextualized way that fundamentally changes a form of community participation and renewal into the reading of a text by an objective and detached individual.”

Unless there is careful consideration the subliminal message that is being taught whenever the computer is being used is that of the data processing model of the mind.  Computers emphasize the objective, compartmentalized, scientific mode of thinking and do not emphasize the holistic, experiential nature of indigenous knowledge.  Just as biological diverse natural systems are stronger than non diverse systems so to are diverse cultures  important in maintaining sustainable human options (Bowers, 2000).
It is critical when contemplating the integration of technology into the classroom that educators are very cognisant of the culturally transformative nature of computers and attempt to mitigate this influence by incorporating opportunities for First Nations students to experience the world in traditional Aboriginal ways.  It is this balanced approach that must be emphasized.  Failure to balance the negative culturally transformative nature of computers will further act to dissolve cultural diversity and to marginalize Aboriginal youth from their communities.

“The internet is an exceedingly deceptive technology whose power is immensely attractive to American Indians.  But until its universalistic and individualistic foundation is restructured to incorporate spatial, social, spiritual and experiential dimensions that particularize its application, cyberspace is no place for tribalism.” (Howe, 1988)

That is not to suggest that educators working with Aboriginal students should avoid the use of computers as a medium of instruction.  There are many powerful arguments for the use of computers:  enhancing networking, communication, preservation of language and culture and the ability to learn more about their Native culture are but some of the strengths of computer use.  As computers become more and more integrated into the day to day aspects of economic life the ability to use computers is becoming essential to ensure the economic prosperity of Aboriginal communities (Bowers, 2000).

Herne (2008) suggests that computers can be used to support Aboriginal students via providing academic programmes that combine Indigenous language and cultural preservation and awareness with media literacy skills.  Films authored by Aboriginal youth can then be integrated into the curriculum in order to off-set the culturally eroding nature of computers and the Internet.  There is a significant movement towards a blended learning environment in many post-secondary schools in the western world.  We would be doing our students a huge disservice if we did not prepare them with the tools necessary to interact successfully in the movement towards a knowledge based economy all the while assisting them to develop emotional literacy.

Aboriginal students not only in British Columbia but around the world are experiencing a disparity between graduation rates with their non Aboriginal classmates (Kawagley and Barnhardt, 1998).  There are a number of deficiencies of mainstream educational systems that act as road blocks to the academic success of First Nations and marginalized students (Brown,2005,  Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998, Neufeld, 2005).   Most of the institutional impediments can be mitigated by changing the current model of education from a synchronous, compartmentalized, non integrated, non emotionally connected environment with punitive measures in place that do not recognize the needs of the child to a more integrative, holistic, asynchronous form of education best exemplified by alternative school systems (Brown,2005, Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998).  Recognizing the emotional and cultural needs of the student and placing these needs at the centre of their education is critical to successful student performance.  (Brown, 2005, Neufeld, 2005, Wotherspoon and Schissel, 1998, Kawagley and Burnhardt, 1998).  It is essential to involve the wider Aboriginal community in determining the educational goals that best exemplify the needs of the community (Kowalsky, 1996).  Awareness and sensitivity towards the culturally transformative nature of computers is required when involving computers to support Aboriginal students (Andersen, 1999).  Governments and the wider educational community are having to face the reality that the current mainstream system is not meeting the needs of Aboriginal and non Aboriginal students.  Forward thinking and courageous educational administrators both at the local, provincial and federal level must move towards a student centred whole child approach.  Failure to initiate the changes necessary for a whole child approach to education will result in predictable outcomes and that is continued under-performance of Aboriginal youth and an ever increasing population of marginalized youth that are not having their emotional needs met by the mainstream system.


Andersen, Chris. (1999).  Governing aboriginal justice in Canada:  Constructing responsible individuals and communities through ‘tradition’. Crime, Law and Social Change 31: 303-326.

Barnhardt, Ray and Kawagley, Angayuqaq, Oscar. (2005).  Indigenous Knowledge systems and Alaska Ways of Knowing. Anthropology and Educational Quarterly, Vol. 35, Issue 1. pp.8-23

Battiste, Marie, 2002.  Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education:  A Literature Review with Recommendations.  Ottawa:  Indiana and Northern Affairs Canada.

Bowers, C.A, Vazquez, Miguel and Roaf, Mary. (2000). Native People and the Challenge of Computers:  Reservation Schools, Individualism, and Consumerism.  American Indian Quarterly, Vol.24, No.2.

Brendrtro, Larry K., Brokenleg, Martin and Van Bockern, Steve (1990).  Reclaiming youth at risk:  Our hope for the future.  Solution Tree, Bloomington, Indiana.

Brown, Lee. (2004). Making the classroom a healthy place:  The development of affective competency in aboriginal pedagogy. Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia.

Erasmus, Peter and Geneva Ensign (1991).  A Practical Framework for Community Liason Work in Native Communities.  Brandon, Manitoba: Justin Publishing.

Hampton, Eber, (1995).  Towards a Redefinition of Indian Education, in Marie Battiste and Jean Barman (eds.)  First Nations Education in Canada:  The Circle Unfolds.  Vancouver: UBC Press 5-46.

Hearne, Joanna. (2008).  Indigenous Animation, in Global Indigenous Media, Pamela Wilson and Michelle Steward, Eds. Duke University Press.

Kawagley, Angayqaq Oscar, Barnhardt, Ray. (1998).  Education Indigenous to Place: Western Science Meets Native Reality.  Alask University, Fairbanks. Alaska Native Knowledge Network.

Kawalsky, Laura O., Verhoef, Maria J.,Thurston, Wilfreda E., Rutherford, Gayle E. (1996).  Guidelines for entry into an aboriginal community.  The Canadian Journal of Native Studies XVI, (2): 267-282.

Neufeld, Gordon and Mate, Gabor (2004).  Hold on to your kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers.  Random House of Canada Limited.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, (1996). Report of the Royal Commission on Aborigianal Peoples, Volume 1:  Looking Forward, Looking Back.  Ottawa:  Minster of Supply and Services Canada.

Stein, Wayne J. & Jetty, Mike (2002).  The Story of Distance Learning at Salish Kootenai College.  Journal of American Indian Education. Volume 41, Issue 2.

Wotherspoon, Terry and Bernard Schissel. (1998).  Marginalization, Decolonization and Voice: Prospects for Aboriginal Education in Canada.  Discussion Paper Pan-Canadian Education Research Agenda, Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.

Young, T. Kue, et. al. (2000). Type 2 diabetes mellitus in Canada’s First Nations: status of an epidemic in progress.  Canadian Medical Association Journal, 163 (5).

Zehr, Howard, (2002).  The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Good Books, Intercourse, PA.

November 27, 2009   No Comments

A Consultation on Anglican Theological Education in the First Nations (DGM Module 4-2)

This page contains the report to the Anglican Church of Canada summarizing the activities and conclusions of a Consultation that was hosted at Thorneloe University in Sudbury, Ontario in May of 2009. The purpose of this consultation was “to take counsel together on the subject of theological education for First Nations church leaders so that we might begin to fulfil the vision of the Anglican Church’s New Agape (2001) for Indigenous self-determination” (2009). The consultation touched on “curriculum, training standards, modes of delivery and how we can share and develop resources.”

Among the main conclusions were:

  • Promote greater inclusion of aboriginal people on educational boards and committees;
  • Encourage greater self-determination;
  • Work together to produce curriculum and modes of delivery that:
o Respond in practical ways to pastoral realities;
o Rely less on outsourcing;
o Involve elders, women;
o Create a new indigenous theological language that is faithful to the Christian tradition while being sensitive to indigenous culture and spirituality; and
o Embodies both global and local visions.

While this is a news-bulletin type page and doesn’t have any related links, the slide show from my presentation to the consultation group follows:

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Universities and Colleges: Aboriginal Canada Portal (DGM Module 4-1)

This section of the Aboriginal Canada Portal website “contains a list of the university and college programs, courses and services intended for an Aboriginal clientele.” In theory and on the surface, this is a great idea. Aboriginal students can look for post-secondary programs in environments that are designed with their cultural context in mind. However, I am wary of the accuracy of information provided. For example, in Ontario, Algoma University is still listed as Algoma University College more than a year after receiving their independent university charter. Shingwauk University, a First Nations-run university on the Algoma campus in Sault Ste Marie, isn’t even mentioned. One of the two links for Laurentian University (there should be several more including our new school of education, which includes a smudge room on site) is to something listed as “Native Style”, but takes you to a web-page describing my colleague Dr Hoi F. Cheu’s research in Bibliotherapy. While Bibliotherapy is fascinating, and I consider Dr Cheu a friend, it really doesn’t have much to do with the Indigenous experience on our campus.

I also wonder about the purpose and effect of such a website. While there may be positive aspects to being able to find institutions that publicize an integration, or at least an acceptance, of Aboriginal culture, the web-site also gives the impression that these are the only options for Aboriginal students. This implication is reinforced by the following statement and links:

For more information on programs and services available to all Canadians, please visit the following Web sites: Services for Canadians – Jobs, Workers, Training and Careers and Youth.

This section, like most of the Portal, includes a short “Did you know?” fact, sharing bits of trivia about Aboriginal culture and presence in Canada. On the Colleges and Universities pages today, you can find the following tidbit:

Did you know?

The critically acclaimed 2002 feature film “Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner” has all dialogue in the Inuktitut language and was written, filmed, produced, directed, and acted almost entirely by Inuit of Igloolik.

[ More ]

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Module # 4 Weblog # 3

Sky Stories: A First Nations Journey. Teacher’s Resources

This posting is strictly for primary teachers, but still a good read for everyone else. As a primary teacher I have taught grade three science a few times, this includes space and the planets. This is an excellent lesson plan on incorporating First Nations legends and beliefs into the unit. This was published by the Vancouver planetarium to be used in conjunction with viewing of the Sky Stories film. Although this is a western science based lesson plan (and somewhat commercial at that) I find it to be culturally sensitive and relevant providing an excellent example of how to incorporate these aspects in an academic unit.

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Module # 4 Weblog # 2

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education Links Database

This is a link to the University Of Lethbridge. This page contains a listing of resources on how to teach First Nations learners. These are mainly science links and some are quite good. I chose this particular page because of the discussions that we have had about science and First Nations learners. These resources are excellent for any educator working with First Nations learners. It still remains important to make sure that one examines for western bias in any of these links before deciding to integrate them into their practice.

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Module # 4 Weblog # 1

First Nations H1N1 Summit Hampered by Digital Divide

I found this to be a very topical and ironic article to post. It’s a perfect example how the digital divide can affect first nations communities. This article highlights a virtual summit that occurred recently concerning the effects of the H1N1 virus. It concerned itself with preparedness and organizing a plan to deal with a potential outbreak. However, one thing that government forget to realize was that nearly half of the remote First Nations communities that were involved did not have high speed internet access to fully participate. This just shows how western culture often takes technology for granted assuming that everyone has equal access to technology. This relates to module 4 because it shows that the differences between western science and First Nations culture are prevalent and that they both follow different approaches in technology and science.

November 27, 2009   No Comments