What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom

This research project, which was developed in the First Nations Studies program at UBC, examines the discussions regarding Aboriginal issues in the classroom at UBC. The film, What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom, which was directed by Karmen Crey (from the Sto:lo nation) and Amy Perreault (who is Metis) covers issues surrounding being Aboriginal including history, art and land claims. In the film, some Native students talk about the experience of feeling pressured to lead discussions for an “aboriginal viewpoint”. At one point in the film, one of the Native students remarks that, “It’s a responsibility sometimes I really relish in and sometimes I really feel like I’m carrying a brick on my back”.  The website continues with Crey and Perrault’s findings and features videos of student and instructor interviews and reaction to the project. For example, the information on the website indicates that many Aboriginal UBC students found many Native cultural discussions extremely traumatic. This experience led to student`s coursework being affected and some who were unable to return to class. As a result, the project was created to develop a better understanding of the issues and to “improve the conversations around politically and culturally sensitive issues in a classroom by asking: how does cultural communication happen in a classroom, and how can it be improved?”  The site has been important to my study because it provided me with more insight into Aboriginal youths’ experiences in the western educational system.  In addition, it is another example of how Native youth are using technologies such as websites and video technology to voice their experiences and concerns.



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