Finding Dawn is a documentary highlights the struggles of Aboriginal women in Canada and the hardships many of these women face of a daily basis.
Reflecting on a recent Globe and Mail article “The National Shame of Aboriginal Incarceration,” and the disheartening statistic that one in three incarcerated women in Canada is of Aboriginal descent, the patterns of violence and abuse in this film are often, sadly, unsurprising. Finding Dawn is an attempt at putting a face on the (estimated) 500 Aboriginal women that have disappeared within the last 30 years (by many accounts, this estimate is far too low). This travesty has been highlighted many times over the years by many organizations, including Amnesty International, the United Nations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and numerous others.
Struggles continue in the efforts to bring justice to this situation. Just a few days ago, two Aboriginal groups in British Columbia declared their boycott of the Missing Women Inquiry as inadequate resources are being offered by the government.
(Please note is an extra post, beyond the 5 required for Module 4, but seeing as it’s written it may as well be contributed)
MediaIndigena is a content aggregate blog (or, an “interactive media magazine”) that I have found useful throughout the past 13 weeks for keeping an ear to the ground on the myriad of topics that have been brought up through our discussions and readings. The site is authored by ten individuals with very different backgrounds and professions (of which you can read about by clicking their names), sort of like the ETEC521 research blog but hopefully not about to culminate it’s posting cycle! If you’re interested in keeping up with MediaIndigena, they’re also available via twitter and facebook, and, following those links you’re sure to snowball to other such blogs, websites, and organizations.
I came across this film through the suggestion of a friend, although we are in the final days of ETEC521 it really fits with a number of discussions from weeks past. Released in 1969, the same year as the Canadian Government released the White Paper,The Exiles is an American production chronicling the events of one Friday night for group of Native Americans in Los Angeles. After befriending a group of Native Americans in downtown LA, writer Kent Mackenzie broached the subject of a film about their life experiences, asking the group to help write the script, with their own narration, and with them as partners in the film’s production. Mackenzie was attempting to deconstruct the exotic portrayal of “The Other” common in films about Native Americans of the day. While the film today might be considered a narrative fiction, in the context of it’s writing and release it was considered a documentary. A more thorough description of the film’s history and restoration can be read here – I found it to be a fascinating read.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), sponsored by the UN and mentioned in Ginsburg’s (2008) chapter Rethinking the Digital Age, was held with two objectives at hand: to develop and foster a political statement and take concrete steps in establishing foundations for equal and equitable Information Societies across the globe (Geneva, 2003); and to implement the plan along with developing solutions and agreements for internet governance and mechanisms of financing the solution (Tunis, 2005). The summit addressed the paradoxical realities of the unfolding digital revolution and the widening digital divide. Forums were held in 2010 and 2011 to follow-up on the implementation of WSIS.
Articles relating to the participation of indigenous peoples in the information society appear in the outcome documents for WSIS. The Statement of Principles notes that “In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.” Action items include developing ways to educate and train interested indigenous groups so they may participate in the information society, along with the creation of content that values and reaffirms indigenous knowledge and traditions, noting that this has the potential to strengthen communities. The plan also calls for action to enhance indigenous peoples’ capacity to create content in their own languages, and cooperation with indigenous groups to enable effective and beneficial use of traditional knowledge within information societies.
Native Appropriations is a blog with sharp (sometimes witty) social commentary on the ways in which Indigenous peoples of North America are portrayed in the imagery and imagination of popular media. Written Adrienne Keene, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a doctoral candidate at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, the blog is updated on a regular basis and because it is a fairly well-read blog, the debate that occurs in the post comments is often rich and sometimes fiery.
Keene was recently featured on Al Jazeera English’s social media program The Stream, in an episode titled “Don’t Trend On My Culture,” discussing cultural misappropriation:
Native America Calling (NAC) is a radio talk-show connecting traditional and internet radio stations and listeners in dialogue about Indigenous issues. Boasting an audience of approximately half a million listeners throughout Canada and the United States, each episode features experts and guests with callers with a stated goal of improving the lived reality of Native Americans.
The one-hour program airs live, five days a week, from 10-11 a.m. PST (or, 1-2 pm EST). You can listen to the program streaming online, or you can tune-in on your radio if you are in range. If you want to call in, the number is 1-800-99-NATIV. New topics are posted at the beginning of each week and you can also sign up to their mailing list to have topics delivered to you. You can also listen to the archive of past topics, ranging back over a decade, although the program hasn’t always been 5 days per week. The program is produced in Anchorage, Alaska, by the native owned/operated Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.
It is not uncommon for high school students to be unsure about their options after graduation. For Aboriginal students, who may not have seen traditional ways of knowing or learning reflected in their school experience (As per Dr. Marker’s Four Winding Paths up the Mountain), post-secondary options can seem even more murky and the benefits and outcomes of higher education might not be immediately apparent. For students who successfully achieve their high-school education (or to inspire students who may be faltering in the later high school years) there are various opportunities to inspire and connect youth to college experiences as well as showcase Aboriginal role models in higher education settings and the workplace. In British Columbia, the provincial government connects Aboriginal youth to internship opportunities through their Aboriginal Youth Internship Program. College Horizons is an independent program in the United Stats that supports both undergraduate and graduate students to help navigate the “jungle” of admissions process and related requirements of college. Jared Whitney provides an article reflecting Indigenous perspectives on College admissions (via College Horizons). There are many other examples, many individual provinces and states have programs along with national-level opportunities.
The NEC Native Education College (formerly Native Education Center) in Vancouver opened it’s doors in 1967 and is British Columbia’s largest private Aboriginal college. The NEC is governed by the NEC Native Education Society, a non-profit charitable organization that assumed governance of the institution in 1979. NEC provides an avenue for culturally responsive post-secondary education for Aboriginal students grounded in it’s physical setting as well as it’s philosophical underpinnings. in 1988/89, Dr. Celia Haig-Brown, currently faculty of York University, conducted fieldwork towards a critical ethnography of the institution to identify the meanings and processes of First Nations control of First Nations education. The published ethnography, Taking Control: Power and Contradiction in First Nations Adult Education (UBC Press) is a thorough read and I recommend it to any person with an interest in First Nations’ educational issues.
We Shall Remain is a five-part television series (7.5 hours total) which portrays Native American perspectives in the teaching of American history.
The series includes details not commonly found in traditional American socio/history teachings, including violent resistance towards geographical expulsion and opposition to cultural oppression. You can stream the full series online. The website also outlines the program’s new media engagement strategy, involving web-exclusive videos on topics such as language revitalization, tribal sovereignty, and native enterprise. A teacher’s guide is also included to help bridge new media through to classroom learning.
In 1969’s Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian policy (The White Paper, full text), Pierre Trudeau’s government (Specifically Jean Chrétien, who was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development at the time), argued that the Canadian government should cease all treaty negotiations with First Nations peoples of Canada and argued for assimilation of First Nations peoples in to the fold of other Canadian “ethnic minorities.” First Nations issues would become provincial items rather than federal. Ironicially, the White Paper stated that this was ultimately a non-discriminatory policy. In 1970, the National Indian Brotherhood issued a rejoinder titled Citizens Plus, more commonly referred to as the Red Paper, and was ultimately successful in shifting governmental policy. The Red Paper laid foundations for directed efforts for First Nations policy and self-governance in a variety of arenas including land claims, educational rights, cultural and language retention, and more. Reverberations of the Red Paper have echoed through the past three decades, as evidenced in the increasingly recognized and support Aboriginal initiatives throughout Canada today.