This website is designed to be a resource on Canadian Inuit Culture for Canadian school-aged children and their teachers. The site contains cultural information as text, videos, and weblinks, it also contains downloadable worksheets for classroom use. Created by the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Center, this site was funded by the Canadian Heritage Gateway Fund.
On June 10, 2011, the Vancouver School Board announced that it is moving forward with its plans for an Aboriginal-Focused School of Choice. This school is scheduled to open, at least partially, as early as September, 2012. The school will focus on quality education by teaching and learning through Aboriginal world views, knowledge, culture and values.
To avoid the mandatory stigma and legacy of residential schooling, the school will be one of choice and will be open to all students, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal – although preference will be given to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, including individuals with Indian status or without status.
VSB trustees have put together a working group to develop short and longer-range implementation plans for the school. The plan is to start small with a cohort of 30 grade 8 students, perhaps using the mini-school model that has been successfully used for other enrichment and alternative programs. Extensive consultation and years of planning have gone into the decision to move ahead with the school. The consultation process which began in January, 2011 was led by UBC’s Dr. Joanne Archibald and included a team of graduate students. Student, parent, staff Forums were held at four different VSB sites between January 21 and January 27 with over 130 individuals sharing feedback, proposals, concerns, and insights. I read the entire report and can tell you that it contains many inspirational and heart-wrenching stories of those who endured the legacy of racism, discrimination, and residential schooling that has long characterized BC’s educational system. Interestingly, a substantial number of Indigenous persons from outside of BC attended the forums and described how they have been involved in successful Aboriginal school implementations on the prairies and the U.S.
The consultation forums focused on the need for Wholistic education, and got into specifics such as those surrounding time-tabling, teacher recruitment, teacher retention, training, physical space, Funding! and mission. There is still considerable work to be done on these issues, but the report on the consultation process is a great resource for anyone interested in authentic, Aboriginal-guided, wholistic approaches to education.
To view the report, please click here: Report on Aboriginal Education Forums
The ‘Educator’s Guide to American Indian Perspectives in Natural Resources‘ is a down loadable PDF book that purports to blend traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) with western science and gives important background information regarding tribal use and management of natural resources. Reading it should empower educators to feel comfortable and confident in including the perspective of the native population in their high school science programs. The following are a sample of the questions addressed in the resource:
- What is the rationale for including Native perspectives in a natural resource program?
- What are some differences between scientific and Native American ways of knowing or understanding of the environment?
- Did low population densities affect the historical use and management of resources? How do current population stresses affect tribal use and management practices?
- What are the best and most appropriate ways to partner with local tribes? What ethical considerations may be necessary?
Found at the Teacher’s Domain, which is a free digital media service for education use, the ‘Alaska Natives Perspectives on Earth & Climate‘ webpage provides links to student activities, lesson plans, and videos. The resources are organized under topics of traditional ways of knowing: spirit, air, fire, water, and earth; and Earth as a system: atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. The lesson plans are recommended for grades 6-12, detailed, and are based on Alaskan Native ways of knowing. The site is free to use, although you have to register after 7 uses.
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.
Native Appropriations is a blog with sharp (sometimes witty) social commentary on the ways in which Indigenous peoples of North America are portrayed in the imagery and imagination of popular media. Written Adrienne Keene, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a doctoral candidate at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, the blog is updated on a regular basis and because it is a fairly well-read blog, the debate that occurs in the post comments is often rich and sometimes fiery.
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.
Native America Calling (NAC) is a radio talk-show connecting traditional and internet radio stations and listeners in dialogue about Indigenous issues. Boasting an audience of approximately half a million listeners throughout Canada and the United States, each episode features experts and guests with callers with a stated goal of improving the lived reality of Native Americans.
The one-hour program airs live, five days a week, from 10-11 a.m. PST (or, 1-2 pm EST). You can listen to the program streaming online, or you can tune-in on your radio if you are in range. If you want to call in, the number is 1-800-99-NATIV. New topics are posted at the beginning of each week and you can also sign up to their mailing list to have topics delivered to you. You can also listen to the archive of past topics, ranging back over a decade, although the program hasn’t always been 5 days per week. The program is produced in Anchorage, Alaska, by the native owned/operated Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.
Indian Control of Indian Education was the first collaborative document published by Aboriginal peoples in Canada, outlining the specific requirements that Aboriginal communities across Canada believed to be imperative in providing successfully educational environments for Aboriginal children in Canada.
It was written by the National Brotherhood and the First Nations Assembly as a reaction to the white paper published by the Canadian government.
This document, published in ’72, does an excellent job of outlining the issues to consider when working with Aboriginal populations. While some of the issues in this paper have been addressed by our educational institutions, many continue to go unanswered, ignored, or have been pulled from schools as a result of funding cuts.
What I find particularly powerful about this document is that it is a collaborative effort. Many of the Aborignal groups from east to west coast of Canada took part in drafting this document.
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.