Author Archives: lbonnor

What’s important about First Nations Culture?

[youtube][/youtube]     After reading the Prins article, I decided to go hunting on youtube to see what was available regarding First Nations Culture.  I wasconcerned that I would find cultural artifacts that might be of a sensitve nature and that are being misused.  I haven’t found that yet, but I did find this clip.  Steve MacDougall, of the Garden Hill First Nation in Manitoba describes what he feels is important, the elders and the children and that we can learn from both.  I like the activity of creating something important out of clay and then discussing what it means to you.  Young students would love that and it gets them in touch with each others feelings.

Prins, Harald E.L., “Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex: Colonial Fantasies, Indigenous Imagination, and Advocacy in North America,” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain, eds. Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002, 58- 74

Empowering Education

In Aboriginal Education in Rural Australia: A case study in frustration and hope, Anne Katrin Eckerman chronicles the successes and challenges of developing a positive education environment for Aboriginal students and families in rural Australia.  Again the systemic abuse of imparted by the forces of colonialization have wreaked havoc with communities, families and even each individual’s sense of self-worth.  The article outlines some of the steps that have been taken to try and empower the community and develop a sense of ownership by giving people control over their lives and their education.  I think it’s true in many Canadian schools that First Nations students feel completely disenfranchised.  This article will likely make a huge contribution to my understanding of the trauma and challenges that have to be overcome to rebuild communities and students sense of self-esteem and give them the opportunity to determine their own futures. 

Eckerman, Anne-Katrin. (1999)  Aboriginal Education in Rural Australia:  A case study in frustration and hope.  Australian Journal of Education.

Intergenerational Connections

During the discussions we were reminded of the work of Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate that point out the challenges that parents are having connecting with their children.  They attribute this to a general lack of intergenerational exchange in society.  Alana Mitchel’s article in the Globe & Mail (2004)  offers an overview of their findings.  This lack of connectedness is significant to all families but even moreso to First Nations families or even to families of African Americans.  These are families that have been torn apart and uprooted and systemically denied basic human rights over the past few centuries.  Trying to rebuild those connections is an enormous challenge.  When we are planning to introduce technology into the classroom are we ensuring that there are inter-generational opportunities?  While I’m exploring using technology with young children in our schools, I’ll need to see how much of it is peer-to-peer and how much other generations are involved.

Keepers of the Earth      

While searching for the book Keepers of the Earth, by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac,  I found this website for a fundraising organization created by First Nations people to support First Nations initiatives world-wide.  While it seems to be in its infancy in terms of depth of resources, especially as it pertains to young children, which is what I’m looking for, it does present a great many articles, videos etc. on First Nations perspectives on climate and environmental issues.  This would be a usseful resource for high school students especially since much of it is created by and for First Nations peoples.  It also struck me that creating an online component to supportand update  the classic text, Keepers of the Earth, that I have found useful in teaching both Science and Social Studies would be an excellent project.

Caduto, Michael J. and Joseph Bruchac (1997 )  Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activites for Children.  Fulcrum Publishing.



Aboriginal Students Engaging and Struggling With Critical Multiliteracies, by Fatima Pirbhai-Illich (2010) discussses her study involving at-risk First Nations adolescents in Canada.  She explores the concept of Multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) and attempts to increase students’ literacy level using a video project to address the students concerns about racism and fairness.   This reminded me of an article I read for a previous course that lead to discussion of what is literacy and how technology is leading us towards a sense of Multiliteracy.  It is true that our sense of literacy has been entrenched in text entrenched in Western Christian culture, the printing press and the industrial revolution.  This focus has disenfranchised a great many students and perhaps technology will allow us to rethink and expand our concept of literacy.  As I continue to seek out best-practice for Aboriginal students in elementary school, I will definitely keep the idea of Multiliteracies in mind.

Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, (2010) Aboriginal Students Engaging and Struggling With Critical Multiliteracies, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 54 (4).  (use the vpn connection to the library)

The New London Group (1996) “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” Accessed 05/07

Building Understanding: Best Practice in Elementary Social Studies

My research project will be focused on best practice and appropriate use of technology to promote understanding of Aboriginal issues in elementary schools.  The grade 4/5 Social Studies curriculum is focused on Aboriginal and European contact and there are certainly a great many internet sites such as,  a repository of useful K-12 lessons and links.  Part of the question that I want to answer pertains to the validity of using technology to explore Aboriginal issues and how best to achieve the balance between virtual learning and real-life experiential learning.  There are so many engaging resources available online but does that actually build understanding in the way contact and lessons with Elders would?  I will also be interviewing Aboriginal educators in my district regarding their current use of technology in the classroom and in their programs.  Ultimately, I hope to be able to learn from their experience and to share my own findings with them.  It will take the form of a traditional paper but also with links and visuals to demonstrate my findings.

Neil Postman

Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.

Neil Postman  , in his book Technolopoly, emphasizes the dangers of assuming that technology is neutral suggesting that, although a useful tool, the effects and potential changes that it can have on society and culture should not be underestimated.  While he is not writing from a First Nations perspective, we can extrapolate that all cultures are affected by global changes brought on by technology and our rapid and often unchecked adoption of it. While he does not describe himself as a technophobe he does underline the importance of spirituality, morality and the human narrative which can often get lost in our race towards globalization and technological advancement.

Assembly of First Nations

Assembly of First Nations is a Canadian National organization of chiefs from bands across Canada.  The goal of the AFN is to raise awareness of the role of First Nations people in the development and history of Canada and to correct injustices that have occurred during colonization and the years of contact and interaction that followed.  They have considerable power and are well represented in Ottawa and in the Assembly by Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.  The site is text heavy and not very interactive but it does present a great amount of current information regarding issues involving First Nations peoples across Canada. On the main page I encountered a powerful video, Shannon’s Dream, highlighting the issues that First Nations communities continue to struggle with regarding access to education.   This site would be a must visit for students grad 12+ in First Nations Studies.  It does not provide many other links that might guide me to sites that would be useful to younger students which I would find useful.