Category Archives: Module 2

Module 2: Indigenous People’s Summit on Climate Change

This particular link is for the 2009 Summit, but I’m hoping that this is an annual event!  Here, indigenous people gather to discuss the changes they are seeing and the strategies they are trying to employ to cope.  Indigenous people tend to live in the harshest environments thanks to colonization, and thus they are receiving the brunt of the climate change.  In addition to coping with the rapid changes Mother Nature is throwing at them are the rapid economic and social changes that have been ongoing.

What is becoming interesting as my research progresses is the statement that indigenous people rely so heavily on the land.  The statement seems to suggest that non-indigenous people do not rely on the land nearly as much, and of course this is erroneous.  The difference is that non-indigenous people are not as connected to the land.  The resources come from the exact same places, but the connection is far more removed for non-indigenous people likely making them feel less vulnerable.  Also, non-indigenous people tend to live in less severe climates due to colonization practices, and are likely not feeling the effects of climate change as harshly.

The National Aboriginal Role Model Program

The National Aboriginal Role Model Program website ( provides a positive source of information for aboriginal youth.  The NAHO website facilitates an ongoing search for aboriginal youth who are role models for other youth because of the positive contributions they have made to their communities. Each year the website holds a nomination call and the website provides an online nomination form. I believe the NAHO website is an excellent resource for aboriginal youth because it provides a platform for aboriginal youth to be recognized for their achievements. Also, the website emphasizes positive stories of aboriginal youth and aims to strengthen the sense of pride among aboriginal youth.

Module 2: Climate Change: Who to Trust?[youtube][/youtube]

This video from Alaska identifies the irony between traditional knowledge and climate change and scientific knowledge and climate change.  Aboriginal people in Alaska have been discussing climate change for over 40 years, but supposed modern science has only started seeing a trend in the last 20 years and only in the last 5 has the gravity of the situation begun to sink in.  The Aboriginal people of Alaska are seeing new species that do not like the cold waters of their oceans and new diseases in the animals.  Also pressing to their situation are increased deaths due to fragile ice–it’s melting sooner and faster.

I particularly like how advanced the traditional knowledge of climate change is here versus scientific knowledge.  I’m wondering if the connotations of “traditional knowledge” imply too much antiquity and render it less reliable than scientific knowledge, or if it is a ethnocentric stubbornness that is preventing scientists from working with Elders.

Module 2: Traditional Knowledge and Green Party of BC

What would a project on traditional knowledge and climate change be with out a little politics?  Incomplete by today’s standards!

This is a brief analysis by a Green member of an article about climate change.  In 1999 there was an unprecedented storm in northern BC and local Elders told scientists and leaders that  a storm of that magnitude had never happened before.  It took 12 years for researchers at Queens and Carleton to confirm this information.  The Green member wonders why this knowledge had to be confirmed scientifically and points out that the information was already there and that the money spent on research could have been spent on actually addressing the problem rather than confirming that it was actually a problem…which Elders already said it was.

This is an interesting article point to the bias of Western society towards science as opposed to other forms of knowing.

My interest in this site is to see how much the Green Party of BC actually uses traditional knowledge versus scientific.  Do they strike a balance or are they biased one way or the other?

The Impact of FirstVoices on Language Revitalization

While researching for my study I came across a study written by Ellen R. Godfrey, entitled The Impact of First Voices on Language Revitalization in Alert Bay (,  which set out to find out to find the impact of FirstVoices (a web-based tool to help in language archiving and teaching). What intrigued me about this study was how Godfrey discusses her need to reconsider her original premises and rethink her research question. Her original premises were as follows:

  1. There is a conflict between youth and elders.
  2. The source of conflict is loss of culture.
  3. Connecting with language helps address loss of culture.
  4. Connecting with language and culture without a youth-elder link can male conflict worse.

Godfrey’s original research question was, “How does FirstVoices interact with other factors to impact on the relationship between youth and elders in a First Nation community?” Godfrey explains that she soon had to reconsider some of her premises and original research question because “they did not seem to me to accurately reflect the viewpoints of the people I interviewed.” (Godfrey, 2008, pg. 70).  I particularly liked the fact that Godfrey examined the effects of technology on the relationship between elders and youth as it pertains to my own study examining the impact technology is having on elder-youth relations.

Module 2: Conservation International

Some of the world’s most vulnerable people are the indigenous people of Africa.  Relying so heavily on the natural environment, but not having the wealthy economic infrastructures of Western countries, puts these people on the font lines of climate change.  The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) is made up of 155 indigenous groups in 22 African countries.  They are working towards showing the importance of traditional knowledge to local decision makers (ie non-indigenous people) so that climate change adaptation is sustainable.

Already use to severe conditions, many of the indigenous groups represented by IPACC have coping strategies for the various challenges that Africa and the rest of the world are beginning to face.

How Aboriginals are using Social Media Sites to Bridge Distances

I came across an article on the Tyee website (an independent daily online magazine catering to British Columbians) which outlined how Aboriginal people of different generations are using social media tools (Facebook to be exact) as a new means to interact and share info with one another. In particular, Facebook’s use is becoming so widespread among Native communities that it is becoming a political tool which is connecting the people and helping to raise awareness on important issues. In the article, Don Bain, the executive director of the union of BC Indian Chiefs shares an example of how a simple Tweet was able to help support Native Polynesian that were being evicted by riot police. Mr. Bain goes on to explain that what makes social media so attractive to First Nations people is that “it’s unfiltered—people looking for information can get it straight from us, not filtered through industry or the media”.  As well, the article discusses how social media has allowed important issues for First Nations to be heard.

Aboriginal Multi-Media Society

The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) website ( is a portal for aboriginal communications groups which aspire to use a range of media. The purpose of this aboriginal society is to assist other aboriginal groups in devising ways to communicate through a variety of media. The society is dedicated to serving the needs of Aboriginal peoples within Canada. One of the goals of AMMSA is to provide support and training for Aboriginal groups who are eager to establish communication facilities. The AMMSA website states that it is dedicated to facilitating the exchange of Aboriginal cultural information and provides news, information and entertainment relevant to the lives of Aboriginal peoples across the nation. It is interesting to note that in 1990, AMMSA (formally known as the Windspeaker) was only 1 of 2 Aboriginal publications which survived federal government spending cuts. Today, AMMSA has embraced web technology to provide Aboriginals with news, entertainment and other various services.

Module 2: Traditional Knowledge World Bank

I’m pretty excited about this site so far!  I liked the name right away, but was wary about how this information is being managed and if cultural/intellectual property rights were being respected.  It’s a UNESCO site and they ensure that “Thanks to its study and classification activities, the Traditional Knowledge World Bank protects the rights of local communities who hold knowledge.  It fosters the recognition of communities’ property rights and it protects them juridically at an International level.”

The site contains information about traditional agricultural practices, water management, architecture, social organizations, art, spirituality of various regions.  The goal is more responsible or informed environmental stewardship, which is the direction I think my project is going.

Centre for World Indigenous Studies

The Centre for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the knowledge and understanding of the worlds indigenous populations and bringing awareness to the social and economic situations of these same peoples.  This organization’s board of directors is made up of indigenous people from all over the world.  They have ongoing research projects in various regions.  They link to websites bringing awareness of traditional indigenous medicines.  They link to periodicals they publish and books for sale regarding indigenous knowledge.  They even offer a Master’s program in with an American online university.  They are dedicated to expanding the understanding of the Fourth World and the social and economic issues they face.  The Fourth World refers to the nations around the world that are not represented by a sovereign state (i.e Aboriginal nations in Canada).  Although this website offers little in the way of external links it is a resource for an extremely interesting but overwhelming cause.  There is so much knowledge that has been lost or is limited it is nice to see an organization dedicated to the expansion of this knowledge.