This short film explores the bond between Aboriginal youth and Elders and unites them in talking circles with the goal of sharing of words of wisdom. Elders from the Dene, Cree, Blackfoot, and Metis from across Alberta helped provide the guidance that was central to the program. The relationships were coordinated by the Alberta Native Friendship Centers Association and the Alberta Aboriginal Youth Council. This summary of their work was filmed in Jasper, Alberta – August, 2007.
The film begins by reminding us that Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population and facing a strong set of challenges. Like their ancestors overcame, the conviction is conveyed that through belief in their culture, in their own self-worth, and through a sense of belonging, these difficult times will be overcome. Through the guidance of Elders (always capitalized), Aboriginal youth are coming to know their culture and appreciate their traditions and customs.
A focus on emotion characterizes much of the film. Many of the youth require emotional guidance and have been subjected to discrimination. Many Elders mention that lack of spirituality – lack of a belief in a power greater than yourself – is harming youth and getting them caught up in the material world that is full of ills such as violence, drugs, alcohol, and disengagement
One girl describes being the only one of 8 in her family who does not drink or do drugs. This is a sobering reality for some in the Indigenous community. Becoming human and humble and moving away from the arrogance that characterizes substance abuse is described as a healing quality that needs to be spread among the youth. This type of wisdom is passed on during hours and hours of informal discussion with Elders.
It’s interesting that most of the Elders featured in the film were women and many of the participating youth were teens in crisis. The ability of the women to be both nurturing and candid seems to have played a role in helping the youth who are interviewed to move away from harmful behaviours.
In our discussion this module about stereotypes and critical media anaylsis, I came upon the organization BluePrintForLife which runs the program “Social Work through Hip Hop.” Through the medium of hiphop, this program facilitates social work development and healthy indigenous communities in the Arctic North. Projects are designed with specific communities in mind, but generally deal with issues such as anger, violence, sexual abuse, addictions, positive outlets.
Elders, adults, and youth are encouraged to participate side by side in fun events such as throat-boxing (Inuit throat boxing combined with beatboxing) as well as complex discussions of anger, violence, sexual abuse and addictions.This program addresses the multigenerational healing of communities – take the Elder DJ component for example; a way in which Elders can model positive risk taking along with opening dialogue through sharing a laugh.
Elders play a vital role in teaching the generations after them how to continue telling important stories of their heritage; culture and traditions; spiritual connections and rituals; language; community relationships and relationships and connections to nature and the land. The idea of traditional wisdom being appropriated by technology is reality and cause for concern for elders today.
My weblog will focus on analyzing treatment of elders now that technology is infiltrating their communities and how technology has affected elders’ lives and their roles in their communities, including the traditional cultural transmission of knowledge, language and spiritual connections and relationships with the land & nature, and relationships in the community. I’m curious as to how the relationships (between elders, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren) have evolved due to the intrusion of technology, including how they interact and communicate. The sites visited will include international and local sites.
There are many questions to consider including the following: Has technology, social network sites and peer groups taken the place of elders’ direct influence on the younger generations? Do elders feel marginalized due to technological invasion? Do they or would they be interested in participating in the creation of educational resources to educate their youth about their traditions, history, spiritual life (somewhat), language and cultural values?
I plan to create a resource for Indigenous cultures as well as the staff at my school and in my school division, as due to our location we tend to have a number of Indigenous students in our schools that have moved to town from one of the nearby reservations.