Dr. Lorna Williams is one of the leading experts on Aboriginal knowledge, learning, and teaching. She is currently the Research Chair in Indian Knowledge at U Vic. This audio recording is from the First Nations Education Steering Committee’s 2010 Conference.
In this powerful speech Dr. Williams discusses Aboriginal knowledge and ways of knowing. She discusses the ideas of: responsibility and relationship, and how these ideas relate to the holistic ideologies of Indigenous ways of learning and knowing.
She defines educational excellence as “knowing that one has the skills, gifts, knowledge, wisdom, and strength, to look after myself, my family, my community, and the land.”
She also discusses Aboriginal education’s cyclical, lifelong, communal nature. She explains how each and every one of us has gifts that need to be discovered and nurtured by all members of the community. Education is a responsibility that must be shared by all members of the community.
This two part series offers an hour long panel discussion on Aboriginal Education in Canada. While it is filmed in Ontario it discusses ideas and concepts of a national perspective. Part 1: Aboriginal Education Past and Present discusses the history of education for Aboriginal children in Canada, from residential schooling to current realities for Aboriginal students being educated in the Canadian public school system and the struggles they endure as a result. Part 2: Solutions for the Future looks at specific self-governed reserve schools, and also offers some good examples of how public schools can do a better job at integrating aboriginal curriculum into the daily curriculum.
This week’s reference to the Alaska Native Knowledge Network site introduced me to some incredibly interesting curriculum. This particular link takes you to a glossary of terms from A-Z with lesson plans for children to learn all kinds of relevant cultural information and the corresponding names/terms in the Indigenous languages. The subjects and lessons vary from mathematical concepts and terms essential for survival to edible plant names in both languages. The greatest thing is that all of the curricula is adaptable and could be used at a local level. I intend to incorporate the idea of edible/medicinal plants and their names with my earth science 11 group. It will be my goal to introduce the local Aboriginal groups and how and why they used the plants as the first peoples here, but also to demonstrate how that information is useful to all of us today.
The glossary also has links on: gun safety, animal skinning, weather predicting, survival skills. It is pretty awesome!
Somewhere in my readings over the past weeks I came across the mention of an impassioned speech given by a young girl, David Suzuki’s daughter, Severn to the U.N. At the age of just 13, Severn articulated all that is wrong with the way that we exploit, commodify, and destroy our ecological resources. Even if you’ve seen it before I think it is worth seeing again, as it offers such a great reminder of all that we have, all that others don’t, and the need to share our knowledge to restore the world in which we live and the land which we rely on. It is an excellent additional to this module’s readings on ecological traditions and ways of knowing. In the words of Severn Suzuki: “If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!”
First Nations Control of First Nations Education was released last summer by the Assembly of First Nations and chiefs from across Canada. Much like the documents released in 1972 and 2005, this document is intended to be used by Aboriginal leaders, bands, local school boards, and the Provincial and Federal governments as a comprehensive plan to address the critical education needs of Aboriginal students Canada wide – yet unmet since the publication of the last two documents.
It, like the other documents, outlines key areas to be addressed:
1. Access for all life-long learners to be taught and to learn in their first language,in curriculum which is grounded in Aboriginal beliefs, values and traditions.
2. Access to diverse educational programs over the continuum.
3. First Nations control of their education with the support of local, federal governments.
First Nations Education Action Plan – for Canada (2005) by the Assembly of First Nations. This is a follow up document to the ICIE. In its own words: “The vision of this plan is the development and implementation of sustainable education systems under the full control and jurisdiction of First Nations based on the recognition of inherent Aboriginal and treaty rights, and under international law.”
An excellent supporting document is a recent thesis document (2010) published by Martha E. Spence, at the Unversity of Toronto, which examines the impediments that colonialism has on the successful implementation of the First Nations Action Plan. Here is a link to the thesis:
This eBook – Aboriginal Education: Fulfilling the Promise – provides an excellent collection of articles discussing the state of Aboriginal education in Canada. There is a highly informative article on the history of Aboriginal education policy: “Towards a shared understanding in the policy discussion of Aboriginal education” by Frances Abele et al (p.3-24) which provides a fundamental place to begin when considering the transition from assimilation to self-governance.
Indian Control of Indian Education was the first collaborative document published by Aboriginal peoples in Canada, outlining the specific requirements that Aboriginal communities across Canada believed to be imperative in providing successfully educational environments for Aboriginal children in Canada.
It was written by the National Brotherhood and the First Nations Assembly as a reaction to the white paper published by the Canadian government.
This document, published in ’72, does an excellent job of outlining the issues to consider when working with Aboriginal populations. While some of the issues in this paper have been addressed by our educational institutions, many continue to go unanswered, ignored, or have been pulled from schools as a result of funding cuts.
What I find particularly powerful about this document is that it is a collaborative effort. Many of the Aborignal groups from east to west coast of Canada took part in drafting this document.
Free the Children: Children Helping Children Through Education recently offered a week long, local series this past February focusing on the state of Aboriginal education, “from the schools on First Nations reserves struggling for support, to the students who face incredible odds in pursuit of a fair and quality education”. The site includes a series of videos designed to raise awareness of significant issues related to Aboriginal education, and offers lesson plans to raise awareness (around the world) to the state of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) education in Canada. The site provides lesson plans for elementary and secondary teachers to use with their students. Focus areas include: “traditions, culture, development, Aboriginals, community, awareness, geography, climate, survival, legislation, social justice and rights.”
I know that Joseph posted a link to the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) in relation to its mentorship program for youth
but aside from that great program, the site offers a wealth of health related info for aboriginal youth to share.
An additional link on the site that I found particularly interesting addresses the proper protocols to follow when interviewing Elders.
It is good to see that those overseeing the site have recognized the importance of ensuring that these protocols are transfered to the
youth; there is a recognition that there are many Aboriginal youth living in urban centers who may not have had these traditional practices
passed on to them.
While this site started as a Health site and includes info on HPV and natural Aboriginal healing practices, it also has excellent links to number of resources for scholarships and bursaries.