The Belinda Stronach Foundation (TBSF) website discusses the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program with reference to providing laptops to Aboriginal students in Canada. On this website the positive aspects of providing laptops to aboriginal youth is supported through a variety of quotes from sources such as the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. The TBSF website describes programs which have been developed to be used with the laptops provided to Aboriginal students. The focus of these programs involve literacy, a virtual library, financial literacy, physical education, nutrition, water safety, mental health issues, and a science of sound program. The main goal of Canada’s OLPC program is to increase the connectivity between people living in Aboriginal communities. I found this website very intriguing because it discusses the provision of laptops to Aboriginal communities as entirely positive. This website does not discuss any potential negative aspects of providing laptops to Aboriginal communities nor does it discuss any of the contention which surrounds technology and Aboriginal culture.
The National Aboriginal Role Model Program website (http://www.naho.ca/rolemodel/) provides a positive source of information for aboriginal youth. The NAHO website facilitates an ongoing search for aboriginal youth who are role models for other youth because of the positive contributions they have made to their communities. Each year the website holds a nomination call and the website provides an online nomination form. I believe the NAHO website is an excellent resource for aboriginal youth because it provides a platform for aboriginal youth to be recognized for their achievements. Also, the website emphasizes positive stories of aboriginal youth and aims to strengthen the sense of pride among aboriginal youth.
While researching for my study I came across a study written by Ellen R. Godfrey, entitled The Impact of First Voices on Language Revitalization in Alert Bay (http://neuf.cprost.sfu.ca/foundations/reports/GODFREY-FV%20-%20Lang%20Revit%20in%20Alert%20Bay.pdf), which set out to find out to find the impact of FirstVoices (a web-based tool to help in language archiving and teaching). What intrigued me about this study was how Godfrey discusses her need to reconsider her original premises and rethink her research question. Her original premises were as follows:
- There is a conflict between youth and elders.
- The source of conflict is loss of culture.
- Connecting with language helps address loss of culture.
- Connecting with language and culture without a youth-elder link can male conflict worse.
Godfrey’s original research question was, “How does FirstVoices interact with other factors to impact on the relationship between youth and elders in a First Nation community?” Godfrey explains that she soon had to reconsider some of her premises and original research question because “they did not seem to me to accurately reflect the viewpoints of the people I interviewed.” (Godfrey, 2008, pg. 70). I particularly liked the fact that Godfrey examined the effects of technology on the relationship between elders and youth as it pertains to my own study examining the impact technology is having on elder-youth relations.
I came across an article on the Tyee website (an independent daily online magazine catering to British Columbians) which outlined how Aboriginal people of different generations are using social media tools (Facebook to be exact) as a new means to interact and share info with one another. In particular, Facebook’s use is becoming so widespread among Native communities that it is becoming a political tool which is connecting the people and helping to raise awareness on important issues. In the article, Don Bain, the executive director of the union of BC Indian Chiefs shares an example of how a simple Tweet was able to help support Native Polynesian that were being evicted by riot police. Mr. Bain goes on to explain that what makes social media so attractive to First Nations people is that “it’s unfiltered—people looking for information can get it straight from us, not filtered through industry or the media”. As well, the article discusses how social media has allowed important issues for First Nations to be heard.
The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) website (http://www.ammsa.com) is a portal for aboriginal communications groups which aspire to use a range of media. The purpose of this aboriginal society is to assist other aboriginal groups in devising ways to communicate through a variety of media. The society is dedicated to serving the needs of Aboriginal peoples within Canada. One of the goals of AMMSA is to provide support and training for Aboriginal groups who are eager to establish communication facilities. The AMMSA website states that it is dedicated to facilitating the exchange of Aboriginal cultural information and provides news, information and entertainment relevant to the lives of Aboriginal peoples across the nation. It is interesting to note that in 1990, AMMSA (formally known as the Windspeaker) was only 1 of 2 Aboriginal publications which survived federal government spending cuts. Today, AMMSA has embraced web technology to provide Aboriginals with news, entertainment and other various services.
Having a limited experience in working with Aboriginal Youth, I became intrigued with idea of learning more about the issues surrounding this younger generation. Today, Aboriginal youth are facing a myriad of challenges in an increasing western technological world. The inclusion of technology into their lives has been both negative and positive to their traditional cultural values. My aim is to gain a greater understanding of how technology has impacted Native Youth in Canada.
The focus of my study will be to look at different technology based approaches for deepening Aboriginal youth’s knowledge of traditional aboriginal culture. In addition I will explore the effects of the integration of technology within Aboriginal Youth’s lives. Some of the questions and themes that I would like to explore for my research and weblog includes:
- How is technology being used to deepen Aboriginal Youth’s knowledge of traditional Aboriginal culture?
- What technologies have Aboriginal youth embraced and why?
- What are the drawbacks of using technology to increase Aboriginal youth’s knowledge of Native traditions and culture?
- What have been some of the negative and positive impacts that technology has had on Aboriginal Youth?
- How has technology impacted the relationship between Aboriginal youth and elders?
- What role is technology playing in the education of Aboriginal Youth?
As someone who has a limited knowledge on Aboriginal culture, I’m looking forward to getting started. With my research emphasis in place, I believe that I am ready to gather research and build my weblog.
While conducting research I came across a special edition of Horizons (Policy Research Initiative) which was created in collaboration with the government of Canada’s Policy Research Initiative and the Research and Analysis Directorate at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Included in this volume are a collection of studies on Aboriginal Youth in Canada including the current well-being of Aboriginal Youth, education policies and keeping Aboriginal languages alive. This edition of Horizons can be seen at http://www.horizons.gc.ca/doclib/HOR_v10n1_200803_e.pdf
The website www.firstvoices.com aims to archive Aboriginal languages across Canada. This website enables visitors to listen to recordings of archived words and phrases of different Aboriginal Languages. A partner website www.firstvoiceskids.com provides a younger audience with pictures that can be clicked on in order to a recording of the name of what is pictured.
The First Nations Technology Council has a website which can be found at http://fnbc.info/fntc. The purpose of this website is to act as a supportive portal for the integration of technologies into B.C. Aboriginal life. The goal is that technology can be used to improve Aboriginal quality of life. This website has a page titled “Youth Café” in which Aboriginal youth can display projects they are working on which incorporate technology with traditional aspects of their culture.
The complementary website to this first site can be found at http://www.sfu.museum/time/en/enter/ (follow the “A Journey to a New Land” link). This intention of this website is to provide a more “scientific” perspective of First Nations’ history. SFU museum links to this website and prefaces it by writing “Contemporary archaeologists view First Nations as partners and value oral traditions as a source of information about the past that augments the scientific approach” (cite http://www.sfu.museum/time/en/enter/, 2009). This website also provides flash images and videos. Some of the videos include professors discussing such subjects as early plant life on Haida Gwaii.