The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), sponsored by the UN and mentioned in Ginsburg’s (2008) chapter Rethinking the Digital Age, was held with two objectives at hand: to develop and foster a political statement and take concrete steps in establishing foundations for equal and equitable Information Societies across the globe (Geneva, 2003); and to implement the plan along with developing solutions and agreements for internet governance and mechanisms of financing the solution (Tunis, 2005). The summit addressed the paradoxical realities of the unfolding digital revolution and the widening digital divide. Forums were held in 2010 and 2011 to follow-up on the implementation of WSIS.
Articles relating to the participation of indigenous peoples in the information society appear in the outcome documents for WSIS. The Statement of Principles notes that “In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.” Action items include developing ways to educate and train interested indigenous groups so they may participate in the information society, along with the creation of content that values and reaffirms indigenous knowledge and traditions, noting that this has the potential to strengthen communities. The plan also calls for action to enhance indigenous peoples’ capacity to create content in their own languages, and cooperation with indigenous groups to enable effective and beneficial use of traditional knowledge within information societies.
This document was found in the “Community Living Manitoba” website. It talks about he opening of the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre (University of Winnepeg) and how this will help bridge the digital divide and help Aboriginal students and community members with the opportunity to explore their past and navigate their future. This Wii Chiiwaakanak project will serve over 800 Aboriginak students at the University of Winnepeg. It will provide them the technology and resources to fully engage with their rich heritage and today’s realities. The centre’s largest funder is the RBC Financial Group in support of The RBC Community Learning Commons. Computer-based learning, mentoring, and urban distance education for Aboriginal children and adult learners is the prime focus of The RBC Community Learning Commons. They will help bridge the digital divide by providing access to and instructional support to computer technology for everyone in the local community. They will also help to nurture the next generation of computer confident literate learners. This document is useful and interesting for those who are doing research about Canadian organizations that have taken action to help Aboriginal communities close the digital divide gap.
This video shows Denise Williams talking about internet technology can strengthen First Nations education. Williams is a youth initiative officer for the First Nations Education Steering Committee. One question she was asked is “How would you like to see internet technology used in First Nations education over the coming years?
Williams mentions that there is hope of being able to use the internet to bridge the gap between the teachers that are available to teach and those subjects areas that are still in need of instructors (such science, math, and physics). The internet can allow for learning activities that involve video conference and Skype. Williams also mentions that with the internet, there is also hope for sharing resources between teachers and communities.
Another question for Williams is “How does the digital divide manifest itself in First Nations schools in BC?” Williams answers by saying that the digital divide in a community sense is different than the divide in education. She says in education, the divide is in the experience of the student. For example, many First Nations students go to school where they experience mainly textbook based learning with limited access and experience with internet activities that could enhance and further their educational experience.
The third question asked is “How does internet technology improve education for First Nations students?” Williams explains that students who are going to schools with internet connectivity and IT have a different perspective on what is possible in the world. They realize that there are different ways in which they can get their education and that they do not neccessarily need to leave their community to gain education. They also have the opportunity to view the possible careers that they can have that would enable them to work from home (such as webdeveloping and art-related careers). With technology, First Nations youth are able to see many more possibilities out there in the world and explore, for themselves, who they can become.
This video is very inspiring as it talks about the benefits of internet technology to First Nations youth in British Columbia. It would be a useful resource for anyone looking to explore more about the digital divide in BC, as well as the effects of broadband connection in remote communities in BC.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest privately funded foundation in the world. The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. (wikipedia) One of the programs run by the foundation is called the “Native American Access to Technology Program”. I came across this program during my search for material on the digital divide and its impact on indigenous communities.
Providing access to technology has more than logistical complications. There are also philosophical issues which go hand-in-hand with this discussion. Some of the more salient points embedded in this issue are outlined in a paper by Dorr, Gordon & Gordon, found here: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/learning/Documents/NAATP.pdf The authors assert that it would be naive to conclude that simply overcoming connectivity issues change the fundamental economic plight of indigenous peoples in America. Underlying economic, social, and political realities that led to the lack of infrastructure also hobbled better solutions to the problems of technology access for Native Americans, and those realities are still with us.
Dakota is a regional language spoken by the Sioux people. Wikipedia identifies it as being closely related to and mutually intelligible with the Lakota language. In doing my research on the digital divide and language preservation, I came across an old website (hasn’t been updated in years) that was attempting to preserve Dakota online. I think its really interesting to examine websites such as this as they provide an almost historical perspective on what digital representation and preservation of indigenous language looked liked only 15 years ago. 1996 appears to be the last year the page was updated, however it seems to still have some value in language acquisition. Check it out!: http://www.alliance2k.org/daklang/dakota9463.htm
Keeping with the theme of digital divide, today I introduce you to Manitoba First Nations SchoolNet. Manitoba First Nations SchoolNet provides connectivity services, technical support, youth employment and other services to 84 First Nations Schools and 61 CAP sites in Manitoba. Through this program, First Nations students can receive IC3 certification. This initiative clearly works to combat the effects of the digital divide for the First Nations People of Manitoba. Below is a companion video which discusses the unique challenges Manitoba First Nations have in overcoming the digital divide.
I’m trying to refocus some of my postings on here back to my proposed paper topic. Lately many of my posts have been connected to Inuit culture as I find it personally quite fascinating. Nonetheless, my post for today is actually a link to a project by a fellow UBC student named Cindy Plunkett. For her ETEC540 weblog she has posted on digital literacy and one her emphases has been on the digital divide in Canada. You can view her piece here: http://cleach.wordpress.com/digital-divide-in-canada/
The second paragraph deals with aboriginal education. She cites academic sources in highlighting some of the unique challenges faced by aboriginals. One of the top issues identified was connectivity and access to the Internet. These will be items addressed in my research paper.
This research paper written for the National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research in 2005. It addresses the question of whether or not the internet is a useful tool for indigenous women living in remote areas in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to access health resource. This article discusses the digital divide and how it affects indigenous communities. Based on the statistics presented, there is an apparent digital divide between on-reserve Aboriginal population versus the rest of Canada. There is also a divide between the Canadian population and Northern Aboriginal communities in terms of access to the internet. The article explains how the internet is beneficial to the health of aboriginal women and their families. The author also mentions the challenges of having internet technology implemented into aboriginal communities as there are concerns such as language barriers, cultural bias, and fears of assimilation.
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.
The focus of my weblog entries from here forward will be to explore aboriginal access to technology by looking more closely at digital divide and digital literacy issues, discuss what is unique about aboriginal access and tie in the aboriginal tradition of story telling. My un-researched opinion currently is that I would guess that the digital divide in aboriginal communities is greater than in most other communities. I believe that the oral tradition of aboriginal communities, and the strong tradition of story telling has likely served as a backbone for culture history and because it has trumped the written word for so long it has also, perhaps, delayed the adoption of digital means of cultural transmission. As pointed out in our first module, however, these digital transmissions are not culturally neutral in of themselves. This is another aspect which can be tied into the discussion of aboriginal education and the digital divide. To this end, my next posting to share communally relates closely with this topic.
This survey completed by stats Canada in the winter of 2004 highlights deficiencies in internet access and online skills for aboriginals. This ties directly to the notion that the digital divide is more acute in aboriginal communities and will connect well with my research topic.