AYM is a British Columbia-based organization that promote and share 21st century literacy skills. They strive to provide youth-friendly training in a culturally-relevant learning environment. The youth can connect with elders, other Aboriginal youth groups, and business mentors. They also strive to promote the diversity of Indigenous languages, cultures, and the ways of knowing and teaching. AYM also claims to decolonize and “Youth-enize” curriculum by including youth and elder voices, Indigenous knowledge, and technology to create a unique and inclusive learning environment.
AYM like to bring in community partners, elders, professional facilitators and guest speakers to teach and co-teach with Aboriginal youth. They encourage youth to put their new skills to work in non-profit organizationa or local bands as writers, reporters, videographers, website designers, and workshop facilitators.
The 21st century literacy skills mentioned above include digital literacy (using various technologies), interpersonal skills (the Coast Salish tradition of witnessing events), cultural literacy skills (re-learning and rediscovering the diversities of indigenous cultural traditions. Learning these literacy skills means that Aboriginal youth will be able to professional create, publish, and promote their own stories, media messages, and art in their own voices and styles.
This organizations sounds like a wonderful resource for Aboriginal youth in the lower mainland of BC. There is easy access to podcasts, online articles, videos, stories, and surveys. AYM reminds me somewhat of Module 3s video where a group of youth traveled down the Fraser River to explore and learn about culture and heritage. This organization seems to be able to do the same with youth.
Although this site is dedicated to literacy as opposed to media literacy I still felt this was a valuable site. First Nations Literacy is a publishing company and educational resource. This site offers downloads for teachers, promotes reading skills and lesson plans. One of the most interesting aspects of this site was the write-up on why, despite Aboriginal oral traditions, literacy is important to Aboriginals. Also this site contains a vast list of links to other sites (both Aboriginal and literacy themed).
Indigenous tribes in Canada have a long history of oral tradition and most often did not have a traditional written language. Considering our discussions this week about the goals of Aboriginal Education versus the euro-centric mainstream and the struggles of Aboriginal children to relate to westernized instruction methods, perhaps it is no surprise that Aboriginal literacy rates in Canada are often lower than non-Aboriginal literacy rates. Compounding struggles for literacy is the fact that neither provincial nor federal library funding extends to Aboriginal reserve lands. Realizing the importance of literacy, First Nations in BC have begun to found private libraries on Reserve land. The first on-reserve library in British Columbia was opened in 2007 on Haida Gwaii, and more recently the Thistalalh Memorial Library opened it’s doors to the coastal community of Bella Bella. As a place for stories, oral traditions, games, family time and more, Libraries may become a more common feature of Reserve communities.
Aboriginal Students Engaging and Struggling With Critical Multiliteracies, by Fatima Pirbhai-Illich (2010) discussses her study involving at-risk First Nations adolescents in Canada. She explores the concept of Multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) and attempts to increase students’ literacy level using a video project to address the students concerns about racism and fairness. This reminded me of an article I read for a previous course that lead to discussion of what is literacy and how technology is leading us towards a sense of Multiliteracy. It is true that our sense of literacy has been entrenched in text entrenched in Western Christian culture, the printing press and the industrial revolution. This focus has disenfranchised a great many students and perhaps technology will allow us to rethink and expand our concept of literacy. As I continue to seek out best-practice for Aboriginal students in elementary school, I will definitely keep the idea of Multiliteracies in mind.
Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, (2010) Aboriginal Students Engaging and Struggling With Critical Multiliteracies, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 54 (4). http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=3c527a0a-6c50-43fe-9d15-bb835dff5d68%40sessionmgr115&vid=2&hid=106 (use the vpn connection to the library)
The New London Group (1996) “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” Accessed 05/07