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.
After watching the film “Returning to Gitxaata”, I became more interested in learning more about this area of British Columbia and the history behind it. My search led me to a paper online which explores the role of indigenous peoples in the resource extraction industry of British Columbia. It does this by focusing on both the Ts’msyen and Gitxaata people, who we are already familiar with. The paper identifies non-indigenous newcomers as “K’mksiwah” and appropriately decries their history of “discovery” as being misleading. The paper describes the social and economic context under which the Gitxaata people operate, offering insight into many of the primary industries which sustain the community. A historical perspective reveals the important role the Ts’msyen and Gitxaala peoples have played in the development of British Columbia’s resource economy. I’m happy to have been introduced to this community of Northern British Columbia, which I may have otherwise not known about! I hope you may find the linked paper useful and/or interesting.
The recently-launched UBC Vancouver Aboriginal Portal is a way to connect students, scholars, and the public with issues relating to higher education, Aboriginality and inquiry at UBC. I believe the Portal is coordinated by the UBC’s First Nations House of Learning. With a heavy focus on video, the Portal respects the tradition of orality and the “Feature Stories” provide relevant information through digital storytelling. The Portal contains information for for current and prospective Aboriginal students of UBC, links to the myriad of programs at UBC relating specifically to Aboriginal issues, an overview research and initiatives across the university relating to Aboriginal issues, and an overview of the university’s First Nation’s community and youth programs.
You can also follow UBC’s First Nations Longhouse on Facebook 🙂
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.
Located on the Adams Lake Band reseve in the Sepwepemc Nation, BC, Chief Atahm School is a parent-run language immersion school and educational program. The program began in 1987 as a language nest modeled in the Maori style of “Te Kohanga Reo” by a group of parents hoping to stem the loss of the Sepwepemc language. Since that time, their program has grown into an internationally celebrated example of successful tribally controlled education. Their Vision Statement reflects a deep respect for the values and traditions of the Sepwepemc.
The school provides full immersion from nursery through grade three, partial immersion for grades four through nine, and adult language courses. As the success of their program has become evident through the students that progress through the school and the revitalization of the Sepwepemc language, they also provide yearly Teacher Training institutes and adaptable curriculum development tools. Building on a tradition of continuing refinement of their programming, Chief Atahm School holds an annual language conference that is well attended by language activists, teachers, and enthusiasts.
Throughout this Module, I have been thinking – how can Indigenous Groups be empowered to incorporate technology in their communities?
I think the Grameen Bank: http://www.grameen-info.org/ is a fantastic organization and if a system were set up (like the Grameen Bank) to help empower Indigenous groups to create their own solutions to their specific issues that would be the ideal route and most likely yield the most success.
The One Laptop Per Child Program (OLPC) is one that I have researched and discussed at length in my career as both a development studies student and now as an educational technology student. The focus of my final paper will be to look at the OLPC initiative through the lens of the readings and module topics discussed in this course.
The official OLPC website can be found here: http://one.laptop.org/ and you can find the founder of the program, Nicholas Negroponte talk about the program when it first begun back in 2006 here on Ted Talks: Ted Talks OLPC
As the videos describe, the idea behind the OLPC program is both ambitious and noble: to educate the world. But, can such a program be successful? Is the program just another way that Western ideals are being imposed on Indigenous cultures? This is what my final paper will explore.
The weblogs I post here will relate to the OLPC program, the issues that surround it and online sources that criticize the program from an Indigenous culture standpoint.
Dustin Rivers is a young language revitalization activist of the Squamish Nation. He does not profess to be a language expert or even fluent in the language he is helping to teach, but he saw a chance to promote the revival of his language through engaging his community (noting that “Social Media is just the beginning!”). Launched on November 17, 2010, Dustin’s website SquamishLanguage.com has served to promote language classes in the Squamish Valley, discuss the basic tenets and importance of language immersion around the home, promote two podcasts (one relating to language lessons and one relating to cultural icons, knowledge keepers, and leaders), study scripts for “word-of-the-day” posts, invite community members to play traditional games and language-fluency games, and more.
It is also notable that this initiative is not (yet?) officially sanctioned by the Squamish Nation, nor does it have any financial sponsorship. This website serves as an example of how one Aboriginal youth is successfully initiating a grass-roots revival of his heritage language, using social media as a distribution platform. The Na Tkwi Sníchim podcast is especially relevant for language enthusiasts looking for a model to base their own language initiatives around.
The celebration of this successful language initiative to date is heartening and worth keeping track of.