Author Archives: Mark Barrett

Project Naming

Project Naming was an endeavour undertaken by the Library and Archives Canada to name a label almost 75 million different photographs of Nunavut indigenous people.  Workers undertook the enormous task of meeting with indigenous people of Northern Canada and had them attempt to identify as many people in the photos as they could.  This was an avenue for exploring the past ways of life, listening to stories and making connections, including genealogical ones, to today.

I think this is a great example of technology being used in a positive way to preserve culture.  It includes indigenous people in the process of identification and encourages them to share their stories and culture from their own mouths.

I hope it is a link that can be of use to anyone who is including research of Northern indigenous peoples in their research project.

Perceptions of Self / Representation to Others

I’d like to share a site I found while searching online that is to the Indian Residential School Survivor’s Society.  While the link to module two may not be immediately apparent, I think that our discussion of how indigenous people need to control their own image can be tied closely to another desire; and that is to  culturally rehabilitate from an egregious past.  A confident and real perception of one’s self is of paramount importance when attempting to represent yourself and your story to outsiders.  The Indian Residential School Survivor’s Society website is aimed at providing a support network for those who attended or are related to someone who attended a residential school. The site provides a brief history as well as some personal accounts of abused suffered by their caregivers and teachers.  Monthly newsletters are issued with stories of survival and healing. This website also provides information for those wishing to seek legal advice for compensation.  Most importantly, the site offers hope for those who have suffered a great ordeal and injustice by providing a support network for survivors.

Learning Aboriginal Languages Online: First Voices


So I WAS really excited to share this, but as I went back through the previous weblog entries, I can see that others have already found this.  Not sure how I missed it.  So maybe it’s worth posting AGAIN.  As outlined on the website, FirstVoices is a group of web-based tools and services designed to support Aboriginal people engaged in language archiving, language teaching & culture revitalization.  This site is clearly very relevant to the conversations we’ve been having in class.  Please take a moment to visit the website:

Basically, it’s all about learning First Nations languages online.  It includes an interactive map which allows you to select a language by region, and then you can actually listen to the pronunciation of many of the syllables of different First Nations Languages.

The unique feature I’d like to point out, which hasn’t been mentioned previously, is the existence of mobile app platforms.  Check out this link: After having visited some of the more poorly maintained First Nations Language websites, I think it’s fantastic to see a website and product so well developed and supported.  No doubt the financial support from groups such as New Relationship Trust, TELUS, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Government of British Columbia go a long way in ensuring that this is a successful venture.

Hollywood Stereotypes of Native Americans

Evonne’s post and video were so great I had to follow up.  After watching the video she posted, I went to the youtube site to watch some similar videos.  (Thanks for the inspiration, Evonne!)

This video is part 2 of the previous film we watched.  Part 1 finished with the great quote: “A Nation that does not know its history has no future.”

Part 2 begins with a look at the film “Smoke Signals” – a film by director Chris Eyre who is of Cheyenne-Arapaho Native American descent.  This ties in well with my discussion #4 posting this week where I said that it is imperative that aboriginal people have a hand in manufacturing their own media representations of themselves.  “Smoke Signals” is a great example.

“The only way we’ll change it is to do our own movies!”

Native American Filmmaking


Aboriginal Media

One of the main focuses of this module, and indeed of 521 in general, is on media and its impact in the formation and preservation of culture and tradition.  Below I’ve unearthed a collection of Aboriginal media sources which may be of value to many of you in search not only for continued weblog posts, but also for links connected to your major projects.  The links have varying degrees of professionalism.  If you click on the first handful of them, you’ll notice it appears as if they are linking the same page each time.  My understanding is that occasionally they will show different content, based on the selected region – but I’m not completely convinced of that.  Some of the other websites appear very basic.  I’m not sure its fair to draw generalizations about the quality of these types of aboriginal media sites based on the few that are here, but suffice it to say that I don’t think they are supported by a strong financial base.  And if they are being funded well, then I think much of the money is going to waste!

Aboriginal Media
Aboriginal Newspapers:
British Columbia:
Northern News Services Online:
Aboriginal Magazines Aboriginal Times:
SAY Magazine:

Aboriginal Radio:

Aboriginal Online News Sites:

First Nations and the Digital Divide


This article was actually already posted previously in the 2009 weblog for ETEC 521, but ties so well with both Module 1 and my research topic that I had to post it again.  Originally written in the Georgia Straight (A Vancouver Newspaper), the article has a number of great links to other resources related to broadband access for First Nations community members.  One quote which nicely surmises what the article is about is taken from one of the strategic plans cited in the piece; “First Nations citizens should not be forced to choose between clean water and access to technologies that can bring transformative changes to their communities.”  This article connects with our Module 1 discussions as it highlights the use of technology as a method of preserving and passing on language.  One of the elements I enjoyed the most about the Georgia Straight’s site is its use of embedded video interviews within the written article.  I’ve provided one of the interviews with a young man named Dustin Rivers above.  The message of the article is set against the backdrop of political priorities, as some say that housing and more basic necessities should take precedence over broadband internet.

Culturally Neutral Technology?

In Module 1, we’ve examined whether or not technology is culturally neutral. Our readings and interactions thus far have indicated it is not.  I have discovered online a case study by the Tampere University of Technology which examines the design of an online survey using what is described as a “culturally neutral storyboard.”   Many of the questions related to social networking services.  While not explicitly related to aboriginal education, I thought this tied in nicely with our module one discussion on the cultural neutrality of technology, particularly since it was using storyboards as a vehicle.  Aboriginal history, being based on an oral tradition, I believe can likely identify more with storyboarding as their history is, indeed, based on a series of stories.  It was interesting to note in this study the different reactions different cultural groups would give to certain storyboard images.  For example, Indian respondents interpreted a bunch of friends on a beach to be a family gathering, whereas other cultural groups may interpret the gathering differently.  The results of the study identified a few main findings, including the fact that storyboards helped respondents to understand difficult concept ideas and imagine themselves into the use situations, which made answering to the social networking services questions easier and fun.  In addition, the storyboards themselves were well understood by users with different cultural backgrounds.  The case study presentation can be found online here.

Gitxaata & BC’s North Coast Economy

After watching the film “Returning to Gitxaata”, I became more interested in learning more about this area of British Columbia and the history behind it.  My search led me to a paper online which explores the role of indigenous peoples in the resource extraction industry of British Columbia.  It does this by focusing on both the Ts’msyen and Gitxaata people, who we are already familiar with.  The paper identifies non-indigenous newcomers as “K’mksiwah” and appropriately decries their history of “discovery” as being misleading.  The paper describes the social and economic context under which the Gitxaata people operate, offering insight into many of the primary industries which sustain the community.  A historical perspective reveals the important role the Ts’msyen and Gitxaala peoples have played in the development of British Columbia’s resource economy.  I’m happy to have been introduced to this community of Northern British Columbia, which I may have otherwise not known about!  I hope you may find the linked paper useful and/or interesting.

Aboriginal Education and The Digital Divide

The focus of my weblog entries from here forward will be to explore aboriginal access to technology by looking more closely at digital divide and digital literacy issues, discuss what is unique about aboriginal access and tie in the aboriginal tradition of story telling.  My un-researched opinion currently is that I would guess that the digital divide in aboriginal communities is greater than in most other communities.  I believe that the oral tradition of aboriginal communities, and the strong tradition of story telling has likely served as a backbone for culture history and because it has trumped the written word for so long it has also, perhaps, delayed the adoption of digital means of cultural transmission.  As pointed out in our first module, however, these digital transmissions are not culturally neutral in of themselves.  This is another aspect which can be tied into the discussion of aboriginal education and the digital divide.  To this end, my next posting to share communally relates closely with this topic.

This survey completed by stats Canada in the winter of 2004 highlights deficiencies in internet access and online skills for aboriginals.  This ties directly to the notion that the digital divide is more acute in aboriginal communities and will connect well with my research topic.

Aboriginal Education in British Columbia

British Columbia Aboriginal Education Home Page

Even if you’re not from British Columbia, I’m sure that aboriginal education in the UBC region will be of interest to you.  The government of British Columbia tracks their support of aboriginal data with qualitative reports, which I found interesting.  Obviously any government website will be political in nature, but I’m sure there are a number of important items to be extracted from this informative website.