Module 4, Post 5 ~ National Aboriginal Health Organization

I was reading a news article about H1N1 and thought about and it struck me to look up Aboriginal Health. I was quite please to find an extremely rich site with NAHO. Currently (Nov 24, 2009) it has a youtube video of two young women throat singing which is always amazing to listen to! It is trying to engage with Aboriginals online using various social media from youtube, twitter, facebook, blogger, picasa gallery (great pictures!) etc. NAHO is designed by and controlled by Aboriginals committee to improving the health of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Health Canada is a core supporter of NAHO.

NAHO hosts a tremendous number of publications including a seasonal bulletin, research papers, information on resource extraction, traditional healing and health, and midwifery amongst many others.

The site also includes links to sub programs aimed at First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. They also National Aboriginal Role Model Program (NARMP) and further links to Aboriginal Children’s early leaerning, Journal of Aboriginal health, and another one to have a look at is Many Hands One Dream (

November 25, 2009   No Comments

Module 4, Post 4: Digital Drum

“It’s a running gag amongst some Inuit and social scientists that a traditional Inuit family consists of a mother, a father, children, and an anthropologist.” – from Geronimo’s blog. Had to include that as it made me chuckle and think back on several discussions about research and videos during the course.

Digitaldrum is one of Linda Smith’s examples of a space of resistance and hope. Digital drum allows for Aboriginal people to upload video, audio and write stories on blogs. Digitaldrum is supported by the Aboriginal People’s Television Network and by Canadian Heritage. It is a place for people to share culture, language, stories, and experiences.

I have thought about how can you easily store and transmit culture that has been orally shared for centuries. This social medium allows for people that have access to the technology and high speed internet to do it quite easily.  A question occurs, what about Aboriginal people that do not have access? I think that access needs to be provided to everyone through whatever means possible. This site can act as an amazing community as well as an archive.

One that is worth a watch is a poem called “Heaven’s Fiddle” read in a beautiful video. I hope you take a couple of minutes to watch it

One other thought I had regarding how to engage in another culture and the effect we can have on it by engaging. Through this medium I am able to view, consume perhaps, some parts of the culture without affecting it. It allows me a view into families and stories that otherwise I would not likely have the opportunity to be part of. While I think it is best to experience cultures face-to-face in an immersive way, this at least may be more accessible to start.

November 25, 2009   No Comments

Module 4 Post 3 ~ Canadian Aboriginal Festival

Back on the celebration focus again. This came up with a search on Native Canadian Celebrations. It is even happening this week in Hamilton!

The festival has many features including Pow Wow, Canadian Aboriginal Music, Awards, Education Day, Performing Arts, fashion, markets, Lacrosse, workshops and traditional teachings. The site includes a slideshow and videos with some amazing pictures and footage of previous years’ festivals.

The education day provides some teaching resources and a short handout for students. There are lots of activities for students and teachers to participate in throughout the day. This would likely be an excellent couple of days for students and teachers to participate and experience so much of the Aboriginal culture. It would be very advantageous for teachers especially those who are wanting to integrate more Aboriginal stories, and language into our regular teaching as another point of view for our students to learn from. I find myself wishing this was more accessible for everyone to attend!

November 25, 2009   No Comments

Module 4 Post 2 ~ Reconciling Western and Aboriginal Science

Reflecting on the students in my elective senior science courses that I taught, there were very few if any Aboriginal students in the classes. I never had any conversations with our Aboriginal Support Teacher about students in those classes, not because they weren’t requiring support, but because they weren’t there. I hadn’t really thought about it with the rest of the busy life of a teacher going on I didn’t always reflect on the class makeup. I had many other Aboriginal students in jr science courses that were required or computer courses that were electives. I wonder now if the reason for that is that our western based science classes are terribly disengaging for Aboriginal students?

The SciDev policy brief looks at whether Indigenous Knowledge should be added into western science lessons. It speaks to global sustainability issues, resource rights of Indigenous peoples, globalization, colonization, collaborative partnerships, local validity and accuracy of IK.

After completing our final paper I did look into the inclusion of IK into science courses from a Elementary Science Literature Review ( and see quite clearly that this is a direction that education needs to go to to serve the needs of all of our students. While it will certainly serve the needs of our Aboriginal students, it is another way to tell the story of science which helps any learner who is having difficulty. Teaching of science, especially abstract or microscopic kind of concepts requires great story telling. Being able to access another source of stories or analogies would make me a better science teacher for all of my students.

November 25, 2009   No Comments

Module 4 Post 1: CBC Archives ~ Celebration of Aboriginal Heritage

Is I quickly approach the end of my MET program I thought of looking for something celebratory. So this came up with a search for Aboriginal celebration.

I’ve often used or suggested to other educators that there is something for any classroom on CBC archives as well as Aboriginal Studies.

This page holds 15 audio and video clips that feature notable Aboriginal personalities as well as Aboriginal culture. I’m currently enjoying listening to Buffy Sainte Marie talk about her experiences as an Aboriginal person in mainstream media as well as other Aboriginal people. I enjoyed her story of insisting that any of the Aboriginal characters on a television program should be played by Aboriginals, she said she hadn’t been asked to do a television program since.

Along with Ms. Sainte Marie they have Architect Douglas Cardinal, Matthew Coon who paddled to New York to protest the Great Whale Project, Georges Erasmus and his view of the future, Phil Fontaine who discusses residential school and his life in politics, Elijah Harper and his vote that blocked Meech Lake, Tom Longboat a marathoner, Alanis Obomsawin an Abenaki singer and activist, Bill Reid and his beautiful art, Louis Riel, the legend of Nokomis, Winona and the birth of Nanbozho, History of baggataway (lacrosse), and a look at the first Arctic Winter Games.

Some are short clips, and some are longer. All have some profoundly important person or events with respect to Canadian and Canadian Aboriginal Society.

This is only a selection of the clips available on the archive. There are several other links on the page that lead to an in-depth CBC piece on Aboriginals, National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, National Aboriginal day, and more. I think I’ll spend a bit more time here before looking for other links and watch and listen to some amazing people and the events that have shaped my understanding of our Canada.

November 25, 2009   No Comments

Module 3, Post 5

Petate Productions

Petate is a media production company that “provides multimedia support for non-profit organizations and communities that have the ideas and motivation, but don’t have the means!” Their focus is on Oaxacan indigenous culture as it experiences a mass migration from traditional territories in Mexico into the United States. The word Petate’s most common meaning in Mexico is a woven sleeping mat. Petate Productions attempts to weave the stories and culture of potentially lost voices.

Thinking of their perspective on “lost voices” I wonder if this company will be doing historical documentaries of a diminishing culture as globalization forces the Oaxacan people to migrate due to work. Is this an example of Smith’s places of resistance and hope or a place of memorial and loss? Looking at some of the videos and their abstracts it appears that it shows how people of the Oaxacan culture, people and places are changing due to changes brought on by globalization.

November 1, 2009   No Comments

Module 3, Post 4

Indigenous Bar Association (IBA)

Looking again for resources on Indigenous community realities in Canada I came across the Indigenous Bar Association web site. I’ve taken the objectives of the association from their web site and added them below

1. To recognize and respect the spiritual basis of our Indigenous laws, customs and traditions.
2. To promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada.
3. To promote the reform of policies and laws affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada.
4. To foster public awareness within the legal community, the Indigenous community and the general public in respect of legal and social issues of concern to Indigenous peoples in Canada.
5. In pursuance of the foregoing objects, to provide a forum and network amongst Indigenous lawyers: to provide for their continuing education in respect of developments in Indigenous law; to exchange information and experiences with respect to the application of Indigenous law; and to discuss Indigenous legal issues.
6. To do all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the above objects.

The IBA has a collection of excellent links pertaining to Indigenous peoples, their governments, law, and rulings relating to Indigenous people in Canada as well as the US, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. There are research and policy links as well as other Indigenous organizations and news media.

November 1, 2009   No Comments

Module 3, Post 3

Indigenous Community Volunteers

Looking for Indigenous community reality I came upon this Australian Not-for-Profit, Non-Governmental-Organization. ICV’s mission is to help build human capacity and community with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples in order to improve quality of life and inclusion within Australian Society.  ICV serves to link skilled volunteers and communities in need of their skills. Almost like a philanthropic workopolis but with great success stories about the projects they have helped to facilitate and the communities involved. ICV does not charge communities for any of the offered services and works with members of the community or “behind them” as the community sees fit. A guiding principle for ICV is that they do not do things “to” or “for” Aboriginal/Torres Straight Inlander communities, they work with them. Volunteers are provided with cultural workshops by ICV before taking part in any projects as well.

A very interesting group which obviously has had some significant success building human and community capacity. I wonder if there is anything similar in Canada?

November 1, 2009   No Comments

Module 3, Post 3

Indigenous Cultures of Peru

Apulaya describes itself as the “Center for Andean Culture” and offers courses in music, art, workshops in Andean anthropology, and cultural vacation opportunities. This is a commercial venture aimed at a tourist audience and focuses on different aspects of Andean culture including religion, craft, people, places, and art. An interesting offering is the opportunity to create your own mini-documentary that will contribute to another documentary they title the “Tourist’s Myth and Reality.”(

With a short session on Andean philosophy and a session on film making I am quite curious to see the results of this kind of “venture.” Will these tourists coming into a single community with limited understanding of anthropology or ethics with regards to anthropological studies benefit or hinder the community? This seems to me to be obviously more of a commercial than a cultural venture and I wounder whether this could possibly serve to further colonize an Indigenous people or does it offer another “space of resistance and hope” as Smith would suggest. I guess we will have to wait and watch for the documentary.

Smith, Linda, Introduction to Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, London: Zed Books Ltd, 1-18

November 1, 2009   No Comments

Module 3, Post 2

Indigenous Media Institute (IMI)

I was curious about schools or programs specifically focusing on developing media programs for Aboriginal/Indigenous youth. I found this recent program (earliest intake of students was July 2009 and currently accepting for January 2010). It is a six month program designed to get students into an entry level graphic design position. Is is currently listed as a private post secondary but at the moment is not accepting tuition, only students paid for by the Province of Alberta or the Government of Canada.

They are located in Edmonton, Alberta and has been created with a curriculum partnership with GURU Digital Arts College and currently offers their curriculum as a starting point and is working on expanding their own curriculum. Our school district has found great success in partnerships in trades and technology with local colleges and this may be another area to look at. Northern Lights College had spoken about a media dual credit opportunity but was delayed due to some reorganization. Perhaps a renewed focus on an Indigenous media program may help restart the discussion!

November 1, 2009   No Comments

Module 3, Post 1

Indigenous Knowledge – IK Notes from the World Bank,,contentMDK:20663953~menuPK:1693277~pagePK:64168445~piPK:64168309~theSitePK:825547,00.html

The World Bank shares these IK notes that details development challenges and solutions found using indigenous knowledge. It is updated monthly and available by email however when I’ve tried to sign up it does take me to a page regarding Afghanistan. Still looking around for that proper link.

IK notes started in 1998 and have a monthly IK note until the end of 2006. The IK Notes feature an in-depth look at the developmental initiative and how the application of local/indigenous knowledge has lead to solutions that improved the quality of life in the target community.

November 1, 2009   No Comments

Module 2, Post 5

Land of the Secwepemc

From my fourth post on the Drum, Northern Cree, it made me look back to the Tk’emlups Indian Band’s site ( as I was looking for information on the Kamloopa Pow Wow where I had seen Northern Cree play.  Kamloops is also my home town.

Looking through the Tk’emlups site I stumbled on the Land of the Secwepemc or Land of the Shuswap site.

Created by the George Manuel Institue the Land of the Secwepemc has a tremendous amount of historical and cultural information. It includes information about territory, traditional practices, landmarks and oral history in mp3 format. One that I’ll be downloading is about the balancing rock near Savona. My dad and my brothers hiked there to see it when I was about eight. It will be interesting to hear the First Nation story about it.

The site documents legends, language, songs and dances. It also has oral telling of experience at the local residential school in Kamloops. This will certainly be a site I spend several more hours in listening to!

October 17, 2009   No Comments

Module 2, Post 4

Recording Artists: Northern Cree

I was fortunate enough a couple of summers ago to visit my home town, Kamloops, and attend that years Kamloopa Pow Wow in Tk’emlups territory (where the rivers meet). I hadn’t been since I was quite young and had forgotten the moving experience that is a pow wow. I started to look for one of the Drums (drum group) that I remembered, Northern Cree, online. Turns out they are quite famous. There are numerous recordings on youtube as well as cd’s available online.

The link I’ll include is for Honor the Eagle Feather CD by Northern Cree on the Canyon Records site which has been producing and distributing Native American music since 1951

I’ll also include a link to Northern Cree’s own site

Their music is widely available online through many retailers.

October 17, 2009   No Comments

Module 2, Post 3

After reading Indigenous Presence in the Sydney Games, by Lisa Meekson  (Chapter 6, Smith & Ward, 2000), I was curious about the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 games and Aboriginal Participation.

While I did not find sites in particular I found the following two pages from VANOC’s official site (

Aboriginal Peoples of Canada

Aboriginal Participation

The first link both invites artists and promotes the fact that there will be Aboriginal art at all venues in the 2010 Olympics.  Along with VANOC the invitation comes from a partner group, the Four Host First Nations (FHFN). VANOC states that there will be a commitment to unprecedented Aboriginal participation in the 2010 winter games.

It also speaks of commercial opportunities for Aboriginal artists,  legacy funds going to an Aboriginal youth group (Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund, the participation of the BC Sports Hall of Fame with a Aboriginal sports gallery, and a reference to the North American Indigenous Games.

The second link speaks specifically to VANOC’s commitment to increase the level of participation of Aboriginal Peoples to beyond a ceremonial level at the Olympics. The speak of the FHFN partnerships and the desire to have Aboriginal athletes, volunteers, entrepreneurs, employees, artists, performers, spectators, and cultural ambassadors.

It would be interesting to have someone after the games analyze the level of participation prior to and after the games as did Lisa Meekison for the 2000 summer games in Sydney.


Meekison, L. (2000). Chapter 6 Indigenous Presence in the Sydney Games. In C Smith & G. Ward (Ed.), Indigenous Cultures in an Interconnected World (pp. 109-126). Vancouver, BC: UBCPress.

October 17, 2009   No Comments

Module 2, Post 2

Sponsored by CTV Globe Media, this years ImagineNative media festival focuses on Indigenous media arts from around the world. It does not limit the entries to only film, but includes new media, radio, film and video.

Along with screenings of the compelling material the festival also offers workshops, panel discussions, cultural events to help connect the artists with the media and broader  community.

The festival hopes to portray the vitality and diversity of Indigenous artists in contemporary media.

October 17, 2009   No Comments

Module 2, Post 1

In keeping with the theme of the last few weeks around media I thought to look up some media websites. The Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival (WAFF) aims to show the best in Aboriginal films from Canada and worldwide. It occurs each November and its mandates are to celebrate and cultivate indeginous story telling as well as to promote media as a career path for Aboriginal youth.

The organization also provides entry level workshops for new film makers and the best film from the workshops opens the festival.

The WAFF has exposed thousands of movie goers to the art of Aboriginal storytelling since 2002.

October 17, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 5

Thinking back several years, my inaugural web server that I created needed a name. Anyone in information technology is often faced with naming a new server. When the purpose is clear it is often pretty simple to name the server. When it is a little less well defined it becomes difficult. I thought that perhaps to ask our Aboriginal Support Teacher and Aboriginal Support Worker for their thoughts. I asked for a word that would somehow encompass learning or wisdom. Two challenges were with that server names could not use special characters such as apostrophes, accents etc, that and the two local communities’ languages were Beaver and Cree. There was some concern about offending one or the other. Two of our school servers were names after the school mascots, Oscar (seal), and Ookapik (owl) so one of the students suggested that Eagle would be an excellent name.

One of the students in the room while we were having the discussion was asked for his input as well as he had just attended a summer session in Kamloops with the Tk’emelupsemc Native Language Program. So to my point it made me think about Independent First Nations Schools and the Sk’elep School in Kamloops.

The site is very much a school website with information about the school, the curriculum, and their programs. Their vision was interesting as my district has spent a great deal of effort around our vision and mission over the last year of which I have been part. I’ve included Sk’elep’s vision below

“Our vision for Sk’elep School of Excellence is to be a loving, nurturing house that will promote life long learning for all children; develop a strong sense of self pride, belonging, knowledge and confidence while balancing Secwepemc language, history, culture and academic excellence; in partnership with parents, family and community.”

From my experience in the visioning process the ideas of loving, nurturing places and a sense of spirituality or self pride, and belonging were shared amongst the Aboriginal peoples involved in our process as well.

I think I will contact the school and see if I could visit in October when I’m down for TRU/SD73’s TechItUp conference and ask about their vision of technology in a First Nations school

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 4

I was thinking about looking for languages for this post but found, in the Artists list on under Languages, Heritage and Culture on the Aboriginal Canada Portal (, an interesting site in French about Les Femmes au Tambour de Wendake enr. It caught my eye as it was a reference to Huron -Wendat women drummers. From my little cultural knowledge that peaked my interest as I though only men were allowed to drum. The site is in French which gave me the opportunity to practice a little too. The history page does make mention of the fact that the Sacred Drum was reserved for the use of men only. The founder of the group asked for authorization in a sacred ceremony and was granted permission.

The Mission page makes reference to a battle of cultures which has resulted in a loss of language and more. The influences of Europeans has resulted in a linear vision as instructed by missionaries and legislation. Many of the Ancestors have disappeared taking with them their wisdom, lessons, and knowledge of the Wendat language.
The groups mission is to help transmit and to spread the Huron-Wendat culture through their traditional art. It is a moving piece of text that sadly I cannot do justice to in a translation or a summary. If your French is good, have a read at (

The site continues with links between the Sacred Drum and Mother Earth, and the Grand Father. It also takes about celebrations and the role of women in the celebrations. There are many further links, pictures, calendars of events etc.

One quote from the lone male member of the troupe, Nicolas Ottawa, was poignant

“Puisque la Vie est une Musique, alors Vivre c’est Danser.” (my translation: If Life is Music, then Living is to Dance.)

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 3

The Seventh Generation Club’s mission is

“To create a club where First Nations youth can envision their future by recognizing their own energy, the culture of their people, and the teamwork needed to succeed by giving them opportunities to make healthy life choices, participate in community, and meet the challenges of life.”

The club is an initiative for First Nation students in British Columbia that encourages health, and participation in their schools and communities. The club includes activities for Seventh Generation Club’s in schools as well as stories of “Goal Models” who are students that have shown how keeping goals in mind is important. The club publishes newsletters several times per year with activities, news, facts, surveys, sports, and people features. There is a definite BC focus with surveys and information around healthy living and daily physical activity. Another resource that I’ll be sharing with my teachers and Aboriginal Support Workers.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 2

First Nations Education Steering Committee’s website is dedicated to improving education for all First Nations learners in British Columbia. FNESC is an independent society comprised of representatives from First Nations across the province. The site includes current news, events, programs and links to other programs that support education for Indigenous peoples. It is heavy on information but has an excellent collection of published papers on teaching, resources, handbooks, languages etc. I found some great science resources from the Seventh Generation Club and Science World which I will be passing on to my teachers! Here are the 9 free booklets as PDF’s if you are interested, found at (’s/pdf/Science%20Book_10.pdf

September 27, 2009   No Comments