Tag Archives: urban aboriginals

Hip Hop Storytellers

Here is a link to Innovation Canada, specifically to a video titled “Hip Hop Storytellers” which showcases a project launched by Charity Marsh at the University of Regina where young aboriginals use new media (OK, moderately new technology like turntables are involved as well) to tell their stories.  It has similarities to the two videos presented in Module 3, and it is closely related to my research topic, which is urban aboriginals and identity.

This is another related page on the website: “An Aboriginal Spin on Hip Hop” as well as a few other topics that show examples of excellence in research in Canada, which is part of the mandate of this site.

Cheryl’s Urban Aboriginal Life

Cheryl Matthew is from the Simpcw First Nation in BC but lives in Ottawa where she is a PhD student at Carleton.  On her blog (Cheryl’s Urban Aboriginal Life), she writes on a variety of indigenous topics but the focus is on urban identity issues. One of the themes of her research is the indigenous “diasporic experience” and how, in the absence of a direct connection to a land base, urban aboriginals learn to construct identity and meaning through other cultural means, including new media. She demonstrates this by her use of technology but also writes extensively about it.

Many of her posts are quite academic, not surprisingly as they are part of her research, but others are quite casual as she discusses her experience as an educated aboriginal living in a large city.

This site is a great resource for anyone researching urban aboriginal issues.

Turtle Island Native Network

I’m not sure what the Turtle Island Native Network (TINN) is exactly (other than an independent aboriginal news network) as I wasn’t able to find a mission statement anywhere or even a clear theme running through the content. I think that may be the strength of the site; it’s got a bit of everything.  It’s almost a “digital refrigerator” with a ton of links to other media sources providers.  If you are looking for information on a contemporary indigenous topic, you will find something here.

I found this site when I was researching urban indigeniety and I came across TINN’s  Spotlight on Urban Aborginals.  Most of the content showcases (usually using video) individual aboriginals who are discussing their lives and challenges. While there are few direct references to the value or risk of using technology, the site clearly is comfortable with new media as a means to strengthen connections and articulate indigenous identity.

Urban Rez Productions

Urban Rez Productions is an independent digital media production company that features documentaries on indigenous communities.  Most are Canadian but some are based in New Zealand.

One of their main productions has been “Storytellers in Motion” which profiles indigenous filmmakers, television producers and media creators, all proudly using 21st century technology to tell their stories, which are either embedded in community life or in terms of their own individual experience. Not surprisingly, many of the featured media producers discuss their own struggles with confronting stereotypes.

The name of the site suggests a focus on urban issues, but it also includes traditional non-urban settings as well.

Red Works Studio

Nadya Kwandibens is a photographer from the Ojibwe nation who is now based in Vancouver. Her website is Redworks Studio.  She uses technology (principally photography but video as well) to confront stereotypes of aboriginal people and to present images that challenge ideas of indigeneity.  Much of her work is rooted in urban settings and she has been working on a series entitled Concrete Indians that explores the identity issues that urban aboriginals encounter.

She’s a great photographer who is completely comfortable using technology to present her vision of indigenous identity, which respects tradition but is also dynamic and modern.

Kwandibens has been featured by a number of news and media outlets (her website has links to many of these) and she exhibits frequently across Canada.

Aboriginal Art Online

Aboriginal Art Online

This website provides information on aboriginal art, artists and social issues in Australia.

My main research goal is to explore urban indigenous issues, particularly as they relate to land, identity and use of technology, so my principle interest in this page was the section on urban aboriginal art (http://www.aboriginalartonline.com/regions/urban.php) where there is an overview of the development of contemporary indigenous art, which has become a unique style blending traditional indigenous forms and non-indigenous influences.

It is interesting to read how many of these urban artists view themselves as part of the mainstream artistic community and resist being marginalized as “indigenous” artists.  They have also had to deal with stereotypes from both indigenous and non-indigenous communities as they have forged their own styles.

I think the content of this website aligns best with module 2 although I think it could also fit into the other modules as well.

Weblogs & Research interest – 21st century urban Aboriginal youth

Canadian Aboriginal groups are experiencing rapid demographic change.  Presently, approximately 60% of Canada’s Native People reside in urban settings, and 60% of the overall Aboriginal population is under the age of 25 (UNYA, 2011).

These demographic trends pose a distinct opportunity and challenge.  Aboriginal youth are in a unique position to steer future directions in cultural preservation and development.  My research interest is to determine how urban Native youths, particularly those who reside in Metropolitan Vancouver, have responded to life in a city setting, and to see if this provides any insights as to how Aboriginal identity will evolve in a 21st century landscape that is characterized by rapid technological change.

Specifically, my weblogs focus on the following questions:

  • What currently shapes Aboriginal identity?  Is Native identity still rooted in references to geography, linguistics, and colonialism or has the notion of identity evolved?
  • How are urban Native youths responding to the challenge of defining themselves and being authentic in the realm of two sometimes competing cultures?
  • There is now great socioeconomic and cultural diversity in Native communities. Has there been accommodation for this growing heterogeneity in programming for urban Aboriginal youth?  Are urban Native youth still being treated as a problem?
  • Are Aboriginal educational efforts effective in helping Native youth to preserve cultural knowledge and build a sense of identity?  Is technology helping or hindering this process?

Urban Native Youth Association. (2011).  A brief history of UNYA.  Retrieved from  http://www.unya.bc.ca/about-us

New Tribe Magazine

New Tribe Magazine

This is a crazy cool magazine geared towards urban Aboriginal youth that is published in Calgary and distributed in Alberta.  It is available for free and online in a highly interactive web presentation.  The magazine is sponsored by the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth that is also based in Calgary.

According to the editor, the mission of New Tribe Magazine is “to promote a positive outlook on Aboriginal living in an urban setting by promoting and sharing information within the community.”

Youth are encouraged to contribute to each edition and judging from past editions there are range of writers who have committed themselves to making the magazine a success.   The publication is filled with artwork, poetry, news stories from the province and abroad, fictional short stories, advice regarding employment, healthy eating, and wellness (to name just a few). Information is provided about local events and opportunities for Aboriginal youth to connect.  In each edition, a young person who is making a difference in the community is profiled (for instance, graphic novelist Mitchell Poundmaker is featured in the May magazine).

Elodie Caron writes a column about Community. Last month, her segment focused on ebooks and readers such as Kindle, Kobo, and ibooks – great stuff !   There are video game reviews, book reviews, and music reviews.  All in all, it is a very comprehensive magazine.

Up to 5,000 copies of New Tribe are printed monthly.  According to the website, New Tribe has become a main source of information and entertainment for the entire Aboriginal community in Calgary and is not just restricted to youth.

This magazine is very well put together.  The online interface is slick and care is put into each edition.  The only concern I noticed was that the magazine has a strong entertainment element and sometimes that gives it a very commercialized and westernized vibe.  Some of the books and music reviewed have nothing to do with Indigneous culture (review of J-Lo’s latest album).  Perhaps, that is not such a bad thing.  After all, current Aboriginal culture does not operate within a vacume.  I am just concerned that the desire to entertain may make the publication less authentic than it aims to be.

National Network for Urban Aboriginal Economic Development

The National Network for Urban Aboriginal Economic Development project was developed as a partnership between the University of Northern British Columbia and the Prince George Aboriginal Business Development Centre with a goal of fostering economic development in urban aboriginal communities.

Their website includes a vast amount of research on urban aboriginal issues (education, economic development, traditional practices, etc) as well as links to other organizations and community groups working in this field.

This is a good starting point for anyone interested in doing research on urban aboriginals.

Edmonton Public Schools Aboriginal Education

This is a link to the Edmonton Public Schools Aboriginal Education page.  Edmonton has a very high urban aboriginal population (2nd highest in Canada) and according to a Globe and Mail article, may be poised to move ahead of Winnipeg into first spot.

One of the goals of Edmonton Public Schools is to improve and enhance the educational experience of Aboriginal students, families, and staff within the district. Edmonton Public has also committed to including aboriginal outcomes in its curriculum and to include an aboriginal educational perspective.

This website provides information and links to a number of initiatives, among them the Amiskwaciy Academy which is the first urban First Nations high school in Canada.  Besides this school there are wide range of programs customized to the educational needs of urban aboriginal youths as well as training and professional development for staff.

I didn’t find any specific references to the use of educational technology with respect to aboriginal education; however Edmonton Public Schools does have a strategic plan for the use of technology in schools, which addressed the technological needs of barriered populations.  This would presumably include aboriginal groups.