Category Archives: Module 3

Sookinchoot Youtube Channel

The Sookinchoot youtube channel is a component of the Skookinchoot Youth Center, an initiative of the First Nations Friendship Center. The channel presents a collection of videos on a variety of subjects, including First Nations games, culture and art. The Youth Center contains a calender of events for youth as well as informative videos and other relevant information.
There are not that many videos on the channel yet, but one of the events on the Youth Center Calender, Reel Youth, a summer program, will likely go some way to change that. One of the earliest videos covers the dismissal of Aboriginal Education Advocates in School District 22 a few years ago, a decision that was made unilaterally and without consultation, presumably for budget reasons. This speaks to my own research on how First Nations students can best be served in the public school system and the importance of meaningful discussion that promotes partnership and mutual respect, even beyond the notion of consultation. It also brings home the need for building technical skills within the Aboriginal communities to ensure that these stories are told.

Language and Connectivity Maps

The First People’s Language Maps of B.C. site is a wonderfully interractive series of maps showing the 203 language groups that are in B.C. The series of maps shows both contemporary languages and “sleeping” languages or languages that do not have any active speakers. It also shows the level of connectivity of each Band, which would be helpful for educators planning on-line programmes or for governments trying to ensure equal access. They provide information about each band and language group and contact numbers. One of the maps describes art initiatives all over the province. The Community Champions link describes people who are active in promoting language, culture and art throughout the province. The site was begun with the support of the First People’s Heritage Language Culture Council and the Ministry of Education in B.C. In order to be responsive to new information it is constinuously being updated to ensure accuracy. The sites are a great resource for language preservation and certainly bring home the complexity of the language and culture landscape throughout British Columbia. For the elementary classsroom, it offers a great perspective on First Nations culture throughout the province.

invert media – it’s the angle

invert media is an Aboriginal internet and video production company that focuses on archiving and communicating traditional Aboriginal teachings in an Indigeneous framework.  The company attempts to collaborate in ways that respect cultural and community sources.  Like many other production companies, invert media tries to work closely with First Nations communities to respect the cultural protocols that exist in each community.

“We believe indigenous knowledge is essential in addressing urgent matters in the world today” – this is the mission statement posted as an introduction on the company website.  In their work, the company’s two principal directors, Jennifer Wemigwans and Doug Anderson, claim that they respectfully to translate and apply indigenous knowledge frameworks, without compromising them.

Of interest, is the company’s intent to research thoughtfully and remain authentic to traditional Indigenous teachings.

The company’s two major projects are:

The Full Circle Project: a cultural learning Framework for Toronto Aboriginal Youth

Intro: “Aboriginal languages and cultures are threatened everywhere, especially in the city. The rapid pace of cultural loss is not being addressed fast enough to ensure survival of indigenous knowledge among urban aboriginal youth.”

Four Directions Teachings

Four is a narrated series of animations that passes on some of the teachings and philosophy of five First Nations groups in Canada: Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, Mi ‘kqmak

Each series of teachings is delivered by an Elder and provides a fairly rich multi-media introduction to each culture.  I am not expert on any of the tribes that were researched as part of Four Directions, but I think that this project may be bogged down by its ambitious scope.  In reviewing the teachings, it’s evident that the lessons being discussed by the Elders are simply an introduction to each culture.  There is no significant depth to the discussions and some sensitive subjects are deliberately not addressed in the online teachings.  For Wemigwans and Anderson to have carefully researched each culture (as they claim to have) would have take extensive resources which appear not to have been available to this private production crew.  In this light, while the media productions on the five tribes are interesting and somewhat useful, they certainly have limitations.

The vital relationship between Aboriginal Elders and Youth

Video Link

  • In the time of change of mother earth,
  • there would be a group of young people born,
  • and those young people would carry all the gifts of ancestors,
  • the healers, the visionaries, the dreamers, the leaders,
  • they would bring spirituality into their work
  • and they would empower their work with that spirituality.

Diane Longboat

The above passage leads us into this video that documents the efforts by Native Child and Youth Family Services (NCYFS) of Toronto to connect urban youths with Ojibway, Cree, and Iroquois elders.

What has remained constant among the many changes of the Macaw Hawk Youth Council in Toronto is a desire among members to learn about cultural traditions.

Some of the Elders and staffers with NCYFS mention how difficult it was for them as urban Aboriginals to connect with their cultural teachings when living or growing up in Toronto.  NCYFS has attempted to address this shortfall through the construction of a lodge in the heart of urban Toronto.  Through the efforts of Elders and connections with culture, youth have described feeling more empowered and unified than at any point in their lives.

The prevalent theme among interviewed youths is a desire to “know who they are.”  In urban settings, youth do not have the benefit community support from clans or families, and can become very isolated.  Once youth connect with Elders, it is felt that they are better able to identify who they are as brothers, sisters, and beneficiaries of a rich ancestry.

The video provides an example of how far the urban Indigenous have come in re-connecting with traditions in a short period of time.  One of the NCYFS staffers, Alita Sauve, mentions that when she was growing up it was difficult for her to acknowledge to others that she was Indian.  Now she helps youth re-connect with authentic traditional practices in the heart of Toronto.

DEB (M3-#5): Relations with First Nations: Decolonization in the Canadian Context

This article is written by Mark Aquash from UBC in 2011, focusing on stengthening processes of decolonization and community development. According to Aquash, indigenous intellecuals and communities are facing some challenges. They are:

  • Dealing with the legacies of Canada’s colonial history
  • Working towards the decolonization of Canadian legislation and realtions with the First Nations
  • Decolonizing the colonial mindset and educational systems as well as the First Nations identities and communities.

He explains that decolonization requires learning about who they are in relation to their ancestors and healing in their life. It also requires confronting on-going challenges and efforts to assimilate into both their communities and mainstream communities.

DEB (M3-#4): Native American Nations

“The proliferation of Web pages has made it difficult for many people to distinguish those pages developed by American Indians from those developed by the wannabes”. (Smith & Ward, 2000)

Unfortunately this website is last updated in September, 2008. However, it contains many Indian Nations by alphabetical order. Most of the pages listed are maintained by particular nations or individuals in particular nations they belong to. Not all pages have specific information on their tribes. However, the web pages maintained by their own nations are more detailed than those who aren’t. Those pages that were developed and maintained by Indian Nations were marked with a drum symbol so that readers know.

In the Same Boat

In the Same Boat is an article that describes a large canoe journey of over 250 paddlers.  These paddlers include law enforcement, Aboriginal youth and Aboriginal elders.  The week long journey is made in an attempt to break down the divide between Aboriginal youth and law enforcement.  Most of the article focusses on the difficulty of the journey and indicates that those involved have felt tensions leave during the journey.  Probably the most interesting part of this article is the reaction in the comment section.  Have a read and judge for yourself.  Many of the comments are highly critical of this initiative with the most interesting comment pointing out that these students need to be in school and be clean and sober and that these may not be the youth law enforcement needs to win over.

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology

The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology bills itself as “BC’s Aboriginal Public Post-Secondary Institute.”  With campuses in Merritt and Vancouver NVIT targets Aboriginal youth and adults alike.  The goal of NVIT is to become the school of choice for Aboriginal students because they believe they are best suited to educate Aboriginal students.  They hope to create Aboriginal leaders who can make a difference in their communities.  NVIT states that it involves elders in the direction of the university and keeps it Aboriginal focus.

Aboriginal Youth Ambassadors

The Aboriginal Youth Ambassadors site is the home site for a program targeting Aboriginal youth.  This website describes the training opportunities available through this program.  According this website the primary goal is to create young adults who will be the Aboriginal leaders of tomorrow who are capable of bridging native and non-native worlds.  The key themes of this program is for participants to discover their story (that is Aboriginal culture and history as it relates to themselves), build their story, and share their story.

Aboriginal Policy Studies

Aboriginal Policy Studies is a new online journal edited by Dr. Chris Anderson at the University of Alberta. It is also hosted and funded by the University of Alberta.

It publishes peer-reviewed scholarly work on a range of Canadian aboriginal issues, including urban indigenous concerns, which is the focus of my research for this course.

Dr. Anderson notes in his editorial introduction that a key rationale for the creation of this journal was its recognition of, and focus on, the changing demographics of indigenous identity in Canada, with a shift to greater urban aboriginal populations, as well as Metis, which policy makers have not fully adjusted to.

The content of this website aligns with any of the modules we have covered so far, although I am linking it to Module 3.  I recommend a closer look at it, particularly if you are interested in urban aboriginal issues.