The Eagle Village website is an excellent resource for including authentic First Nations content in the classroom. As is outlined in the Enhancement Agreement in my school district, including language studies of the local indigenous language goes a long way to providing opportunities for cultural understanding. The site is focussed on the Algonkian people, especially the Anishnabe from the Eagle Village on the shores of Lake Kipawa in Quebec. There are lists of books that would be useful and other resources in terms of language activities, games etc. Locally, First Voices is used to promote the Hul’q’umi’num language and culture. While this site is primarily for the use of members, there is a great amount of information that is useful to anyone teaching social studies curriculum. This seems to be an excellent example of a remote band using technology to enhance their own community and to share their culture with the world at large. On both sites, actual voice recording help teach the indigenous vocabulary to learners. With advances in technology both in terms of ease of use and availability will certainly go a long way to helping preserve language and culture. However, we must bear in mind that connectivity is far from universal within Canada and within each village. We still have a way to go to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities.
This website hosts a great deal of factual information on the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada. Main sections offer information on history and culture with historical timelines, language explanations, explanations of daily life, oral traditions, etc. In addition, a section is included on issues, whereby people are welcomed to submit essays on topics relevant to the Mi’kmaq people and culture.
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 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.com 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 Teachings.com, 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
This website contains information on the current initiative of assessing Aboriginal students holistically. The core focus of the site is the 2009 report whereby a set of criteria for successful Aboriginal learning was created. Based on the findings of the Canadian Council of Learning, Aboriginal learning environments must be:
- Holistic (focuses on the emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual elements of the individual while stresses the relationship with the Creator)
- Lifelong (Skills that are learned at an early age will be used until old age and transferred to following generations)
- Experiential (Learning activities enable students to make connections to their lived experiences while providing them with opportunities to participate in traditions such as storytelling, meditation, and cultural ceremonies.)
- Aboriginal language and culture must be emphasized during all learning activities.
- Spiritual based (Students must be presented opportunities to partake in spiritual experiences which serve as “the pathways of knowledge”. Examples of such are ceremonies, vision quests, and dreams.)
- Community based (Education must be supported at the community level by parents, elders, the Aboriginal community as a whole.)
- Incorporates both Aboriginal and Western knowledge. (Activities and educational practices are rooted in the best practices)
CBC has an Aboriginal portal called CBC Aboriginal. To start, the site has a listing of current top headlines, for example on June 17, 2011 here were a few of the listed news items:
- First Nations people now covered under rights act
- Canada’s Inuit leaders unveil education strategy
- First Nations disparity unacceptable: AG
The site also has regular sections such as Promote: Legends series started in 2002, Special features such as Truth and Reconciliation, Arts and Culture, Radio featuring ReVision Quest, the Legends Project, and Spotlight featuring Aboriginal Artists.
This site also has links to Learning the Path: for aboriginal youth, Ab-Originals: Aboriginal Music, CBC North: Daly programing in Aboriginal Languages, CBC Archives: Aboriginal related television and radio clips, the Aboriginal section of the National Film Board of Canada and In Depth features such as History of Aboriginal Canadians.
This is a great site to find out about Canadian Aboriginal issues both past and present.
Digital Drum is a website designed for media productions that represent Aboriginal culture and history or Aboriginal art. This is a website where the vast majority of content comes from the users themselves; however, some content is provided by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. This website also redirects visitors to educational resources and establishes digital literacy. Associated with this website is a community portion where members can create blogs and interact with one another. This website also redirects to Digital Drum Pro which is similar to Digital Drum but restricts itself to films.
This presentation offers strategies for teachers as to how they can support First Nation students and families within learning environments. The presenter, Debbie Mineault, speaks about her culture and the importance of welcoming all cultural aspects as a means of promoting awareness.
She offers the generic definition of culture as “the customs, history, values and language that make up a heritage of a person or people that contributes to a person’s identity”. She emphasizes that culture is a framework and stresses the importance of culture in the educational framework.
Benefits of her heritage:
- Economy- focus on self-reliance and culture of the land (hunting, fishing, sewing, clothing, crafts, etc). They did not have a lot of money however were rich with knowledge.
- Family- Strong connections with extended family.
- Government- Ways of life were dependent upon natural resources and skills available.