Category Archives: Connection to Research Topic

Deb: History of Residential Schools in Canada

I didn’t know what research topic I should work on until when I posted up the last posting for Module 1. Most of my postings focused on First Nations students and their education. For my weblog, I would like to pay my attention to Aboriginal schooling and its history, especially on residential schools in Canada.

Then, I started my research on the history of residential schools in Canada and discovered that CBC News has a story archive regarding Canada’s residential schools. One of the articles also ask and answer the following questions:

  • What is a residential school?
  • How many residential schools and students were there?
  • What went wrong?
  • When did the calls for victim compensation begin?
  • Under the federal compensation package, what will former students receive?
  • What will happen in those cases of alleged sexual and serious physical abuse?
  • Is there more to the package than compensating the victims?
  • Who else has apologized for the abuse?

Adding to these questions, I would like to research on “Why did residential schooling begin?”.

These residential schools remind me of the group of young Korean women taken to Japanese rape camps during World War II. Therefore, in addition to the history of residential schools in Canada, I would like to do some research on the “comfort women” and explain how these two histories are similar in terms of colonialism and indigeneity.

Connecting Weblog to Research Interests

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:

  1. How is technology being used to deepen Aboriginal Youth’s knowledge of traditional Aboriginal culture?
  2. What technologies have Aboriginal youth embraced and why?
  3. What are the drawbacks of using technology to increase Aboriginal youth’s knowledge of Native traditions and culture?
  4. What have been some of the negative and positive impacts that technology has had on Aboriginal Youth?
  5. How has technology impacted the relationship between Aboriginal youth and elders?
  6. 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.

Connecting Weblog to Research Interest

I didn’t have a specific research topic in mind when I started by weblog research. However, I kept finding myself being attracted to documents and information pertaining to Aborginal children and technology. The five sites that I have visited come from Canadian as well as Australian sources. The first article I found discusses improving educational experiences for Aboriginal children in Australia. With technology being so widely used by many teachers around the world, I think that educators should invest time into examing how technologies could enhance the learning experience of aboriginal children. At the same time, educators can evaluate these technologies to ensure that they are culturally sensitive, and respectful of aboriginal pedagogy and ways of learning.

I find the second piece of information to be the most interesting. I have heard about the One Laptop Per Child policy before and learned that the Belinda Stronach Foundation was implementing it with Aboriginal children across Canada. However, I didn’t know that there is software included into theses computers that aboriginal children and youth can directly relate to. I want to see the outcome of the laptop distribution. I would like to find out what worked well for the aboriginal children, and what could be improved for the future.

Closely linked to the distribution of laptops is the Belinda Stronach Foundation. I looked further into this organization and found that they work to deal with global challenges and innovative solutions. They provide a presentation on their website that discusses the creation of a better future for aboriginal children using technolgy. Another organization called KTA works closely with Aboriginal peoples. On their site I found a document about aboriginal culture in the digital age. Both the Belinda Stronach Foundation and the KTA made me think further about the use of technology and how it benefits aboriginal children. The last document I found talks about a software for educating aboriginal students about place. TAMI is a program that elders can use with children. 

My weblog research seems to be linked by the idea that technology is being used by and for aboriginal children. I would like further research how technology worked (or did not work) for aboriginal children. I am interested in possibly narrowing down my topic a little more.

Traditional Knowledge, Climate Change and Technology

Using the reductionist model of scientific ways of knowing—research and observation—alone is in adequate in the study of ecology and in particular climate change.  Ecosystems and climates are established over centuries, however, scientific data recording these events and cycles dates back only 50 or sixty years in some locations.  Few, if any, regions in the world have more than 100 years of data with which to analyze the health of an ecosystem or the patterns of a climate.

Also problematic with this approach to the study of the land, is the objective removal of the human being.  The reductionist model has the scientist standing back and watching as independent and dependent variables interact.  It is as if the human is not part of this ecosystem.  Limited, but recent and scary data suggest that assumptions that the vastness of the earth could never be affected by the human are coming to be challenged as climates and ecosystems are changing rapidly.  The idea that the human is separate from the land is being questioned by modern science, but modern science lacks a model that incorporates the human as an agent and member of these ecosystems, but there is no time to sit around and think of one.

Aboriginal traditional knowledge can help scientists understand better the changes happening in various regions of the world because traditional knowledge reaches so far back into the memory of indigenous groups.  The collective memory of indigenous groups provides a more holistic understanding of the intricacies and relationships that exist between species and systems.  The most important part of the traditional knowledge approach to understanding the environment is that the human being is placed as an active member of the system.  This role is important for people to recognize their power over the environment but more importantly, their responsibility.

My research will focus on analyzing how indigenous groups use the internet to promote a holistic approach to understanding ecosystems and climate change.  My hope is that I will see scientists and other aboriginal groups borrowing from each other as we attempt to understand and rectify, or live with, the changes that our planet is undergoing.

Connection to Research Topic

The focus of my weblogs will be on urban aboriginal issues related principally to identity and disconnection to land.  I was very interested by the Howe and Bowers articles and their descriptions of the differences between western approaches to knowledge (supported by new media such as the Internet) and indigenous perspectives where ancestral knowledge is highly valued, and identify is formed through a relationship between a “unique community and their landscape” (Howe, 1998, p. 22).  How does this relationship change when indigenous people no longer live on their reserve, and are instead part of a larger multicultural society? How can authentic indigenous culture be maintained in urban environments without risking marginalization? Is it even possible for urban aboriginals to identify as indigenous when not embedded in a traditional landscape? How are aboriginals different than other minority groups?  Can technology play a part in the revitalization of indigenous culture or will it lead inevitably to assimilation?

I will be exploring urban aboriginal situations in other countries to see what differences or similarities exist.  I will also research artistic (not necessarily traditional) initiatives of urban aboriginals.


Howe, Craig, (1998). “Cyberspace is no place for tribalism,” Wicazo Sa Review (Fall, 1998), 19-27.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge & Science Education

I am a high school science teacher who was introduced to the concept of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) only last year when I first taught the new BC Science 10 Curriculum which contains one related student achievement indicator for one prescribed learning outcome, students will “give examples of how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can affect biodiversity”. This topic is addressed in two pages in the BC Science 10 textbook, however I believe the topic has much greater potential. I need to increase my knowledge on TEK to become more comfortable including TEK in science lesson.

The focus of my weblog research will be to learn more about traditional ecological knowledge and how I can incorporate it into my science lessons. I will investigate the following research questions and narrow my topic from my findings to create my final research project:

  1. What teaching resources are available on the internet for the topic of TEK?
  2. Do intellectual property rights play a role on the availability of teaching materials?
  3. Is the internet an effect medium for educating people about TEK?

Aboriginal Digital Stories for Non-Aboriginals

When I first read some of the suggested project topics, I thought my last choice would be residential schools. The topic appears to have reached saturation in the popular media. What could I say or do that has not already been said or done? I’ve since read some newspaper articles that have caused me to reconsider.  It became apparent to me that I was familiar with the topic (on the surface), but knew nothing of the devastating effects. I’m likely not alone. It seems that technology avails the opportunity through digital storytelling to help others like me gain a better understanding of how much this epoch altered the lives and traditions of so many people.

Spanish (ON) Residential School (Image Source:

McLaughlan and Oliver (2000), identified two type of stories: those to be told within the culture and those to be told outside the culture. Since I’m not aboriginal, I can never expect to tell or comprehend a story as they might. What I can do is broaden my understanding and hope to share some perspectives with others like me (I assume there are lots of us). In addition, I might also be able to enhance my teaching abilities to be more inclusive and thoughtful of other cultures.

What I will look for in my project are opportunities, using digital media, to tell important stories about residential schooling to non-aboriginals by emphasizing  metaphors, imagery, values, and concepts that are not too foreign to us. Perhaps then we can come to terms ourselves with the plight and predicament of those who endured so much loss.

My inquiry will be focused on First Nations communities living on Manitoulin Island and the North Shore of Lake Huron.


McLoughan, c. & Oliver, R. (2000). Designing learning environments for cultural exclusivity. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 16(1), 58-72.

A search for educational resources

When creating curricula and educational lessons, it is pertinent that educators collaborate with Aboriginal elders, community leaders, and Aboriginal educators to gain perspective and insight to assure such educational endeavors are culturally sensitive and inclusive so that all students feel valued, safe, and supported within varied learning contexts.   It is apparent from my initial research that educators from the East Coast of Canada do not have a great deal of resources available to them to help scaffold Aboriginal students within current curricula (although it is important to note that in rural areas that local resources may be created onsite and are not available online due to a lack of resources).

For the purpose of my weblog, I will focus on best practices, resources, and other aids that could help scaffold an East Coast educator of Aboriginal youth.  Within my current school of 850 students, we have a population of 12 students who identify as Aboriginal descent.  However, as a teacher who teaches primarily students who are not Aboriginal, I do believe it is pertinent that all educators and students are equipped with a multicultural perspective.  As a result, I look forward to finding such resources, or perhaps creating new resources that could serve my students, colleges and fellow educators.

Connecting Weblog to Research Interests

‘Internetizing’ the indigenous

My research project aims to explore how information communication technologies (ICTs) re-define and re-shape traditional ecological knowledge, or native ways of knowing. Drawing upon recent critical studies of ICTs, I will question the myth of ICTs’ cultural neutrality and suggest a critical approach to the increasing ‘internetization’ of indigenous knowledge. In particular, my project focuses on the way in which the Internet re-organizes indigenous knowledge systems, while ‘deceiving’ the users about its cultural bias.

Inspired by Howe (1998)’s and Bowers et al (2000)’s view on the Internet as a deceptive technology, the project would find that the Internet is increasingly shaping the way in which indigenous communities are represented, interpreted, and imagined by others and even by indigenous people themselves.

My research question is two-folds.  

1) How can the Internet-based ways of knowing be compared with indigenous ways of knowing?
The Internet tends to enhance dis-embodied experiences in virtual space, disconnecting the users from their physical places and sensory experiences. The Internet-based way of knowing can be compared with indigenous knowledge in many aspects.

2) How would the Internet challenge and re-shape indigenous knowledge systems? What would be power relations behind the increasing ‘internetization’ of indigenous knowledge?
Given the increasing and unavoidable introduction of the Internet into indigenous communities, it would be necessary to examine the cultural implication of internet-based ways of knowing in indigenous knowledge systems. Furthermore, I like to explore how the tension between the Internet-based and indigenous ways of knowing can be negotiated.

Bearing this research focus in mind, I will search online and offline sources throughout the course. My weblog will focus on the following three areas.

– The nature and characteristics of indigenous knowledge.
– Limitation and cultural bias of the Internet.
– The influence of the Internet on indigenous knowledge systems.

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.