Posts from — September 2010

Kiviaq vs. Canada

The most recent grade eleven program of study created for social studies in Alberta deals with the concept of nationalism. Like other high school level social studies courses, the new curriculum includes a much greater focus on First Nations issues than what had been included in the past.

Quoting from the program of studies:
“Students will . . . evaluate the importance of reconciling contending nationalist loyalties (Canadian nationalism, First Nations and Métis nationalism, ethnic nationalism in Canada, civic nationalism in Canada, Québécois nationalism, Inuit perspectives on nationalism)”

A great resource that I have found is the movie Kiviaq vs. Canada. The film is a documentary from filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk. The subject of the film, Kiviaq is an Inuit man who was moved to Edmonton as a boy. He discusses his life and in the process gives great insight into the concept of nationalist loyalty, marginalization, and assimilation. Kiviaq was given the name David Ward by his father, and grew up boxing, playing football (ironically for a period for the Edmonton Eskimos), and working as an alderman and radio host. Later in life, he went back to school and became a lawyer. The film also examines his legal battles to be recognized by his Inuit name, and the challenges to have the Inuit receive similar funding as other First Nations people in Canada. The McGraw-Hill Ryerson textbooks for Social Studies 20-1 and 20-2 each have a short section dedicated to the story.

In the context of ETEC 521, the film is a great example of Aboriginal film makers using the media to illuminate an issue. This is not presented as a movie about Inuit issues. The issues become clear through an examination of the subject, Kiviaq.

September 30, 2010   No Comments

Our Home on Native Land

The link ( is to a series of documentaries that aired on CPAC a couple of years ago. The programs take a look at different reserves across the country. It’s interesting to see the contrast between the different communities.

September 28, 2010   No Comments

Northern Ontario indigenous films

Thunderstone Pictures and First Nation Initiative

Michelle Derosier, filmmaker and social worker, from Migisi Sahgaigan, (Eagle Lake First Nation), is behind Thunderstone Pictures and the First Nation Initiative. She is interested in using films to empower – both the participants of the films and audience members — as in the case of these three documentaries.

Sharing Tebwewin (Sharing the Truth)

The trailer:

An educational documentary designed to help health workers become more “culturally competent” in their work with First Nations people. It features interviews with Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman, the first indigenous woman to become a psychiatrist in Canada. It also features a discussion panel of First Nations Health professionals and interviews with Stella Montour, a Consumer/Survivor advocate. The video tackles the impacts of historical issues like Residential Schools and the 60’s Scoop and draws on the experience and knowledge of Nel and other professionals to illustrate why culturally specific and historically-informed services are an essential and immediate requirement.

Seeking Bimaadiziiwing (Seeking the Good Life)

The trailer:

A community-based project made in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It focuses on the tough issues of racism, depression and suicide among First Nations Youth. It is intended for therapeutic use with clients to encourage participation in group therapy and to spark discussion about these critical issues. It also serves to illustrate the diversity within modern Anishinawbe culture (Northwestern Ontario, Canada) and to point out different healing and spiritual approaches.

Healing Lens

The trailer:

A documentary of inspiration that brings humanism and personal reference to the unfolding story of this generation of native youth. The film exemplifies the far-reaching effects of Canada’s racist policies on today’s young people. In real life, each of these four remarkable young people are overcoming the past and are engaged in unique ways of healing themselves – ways we can all learn from.

Also see

September 27, 2010   No Comments

Aboriginal Canada Portal – Teacher Resources

I realize that the Aboriginal Canada Portal has been mentioned a couple of times, but the content that interested me at this site was the Resources for Teachers page.  The many resources are divided into two sections – Educational Resources and Lesson Plans and Activities.  I even noticed a document from UBC’s Faculty of Education – a grade 12 unit lesson plan on Aboriginal Elders.

One of the resources listed is, which is a source for educational resources for Native American, First Nations, Indigenous and Aboriginal Studies. I have purchased literacy materials from them in the past for the classroom.  There are so many links here that it will take awhile to get through them.

September 27, 2010   No Comments

Integrating Aboriginal Teaching and Values into the Classroom – from LNS

This Ontario Government document from March 2008 suggests research-based strategies and practices for integrating Aboriginal teachings and values into the classroom.  I often find myself wondering if the content is accurate and appropriate as claimed, coming from a government office.  At a glance, the information seems to touch on the First Nations Grandfather teachings and the medicine wheel, so it seems appropriate.  If anyone has any comments on the value or relevance of the information, I would welcome comments.   Thanks!

September 27, 2010   No Comments

Elders – Traditional Knowledge

I was very interested in the many links concerning Elders and their importance in spiritual teachings found on this web site.   The Four Directions Teachings has a wonderful video introduction and then breaks into smaller units to discuss the Directional Teachings of the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk and M’ikMaq.  I did not understand the differences in the teachings prior to this, and this site helps explain them briefly.

The Sacred Way of Life – Traditional Knowledge link near the bottom of the page has a brief comparison of Western vs. First Nations way of life and would be very helpful when attempting to understand how educational needs differ between Western and First Nations students.

Many other links on the page discuss storytelling, interviewing Elders  and other topics.

September 27, 2010   No Comments

First Nations Technology Council

The mandate of the First Nations Technology Council is a web-based portal created by the New Relationship Trust and the First Nations Technology Council as a  ‘single window’ about First Nations in BC.created by a First Nations Summit Resolution to develop a First Nations Technology Plan to ensure that all 203 BC First Nations have: (1) connection with high speed broadband; (2) Have access to affordable, qualified technical support; and (3) Have the skills needed to access technologies that can improve their lives.

What’s really intriguing is its support of innovative projects in First Nations’ stories using fascinating technologies. For example, it has a community applications section which features the ‘A Journey into Time Immemorial’, ( which is based on First Nations traditional knowledge and content developed in collaboration with the Sto:lo web site development committee and staff of the Xa:ytem Interpretive Center. It is an artistic and cultural interpretation and is not meant to convey precisely accurate archaeological information. Contemporary archaeologists view First Nations as partners and value oral traditions as a source of information about the past that augments the scientific approach. Compare this site with ‘A Journey to a New Land’, a complementary web site done from a scientific perspective.

I think this is an excellent example of how the internet and the web technologies it allows can shift the agenda of indigenous cultures from one of exclusiveness to one of inclusiveness where not only can technologies support cultural misunderstanding, but ultimately allow for a broadened approach to education.

September 27, 2010   No Comments

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

Milgate, Gina (2009). “One Laptop Per Child Initiative and Indigenous Communities” by Gina Milgate. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

It is still early to evaluate the educational impact of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative on indigenous peoples around the world. The above article is a positive review of the program in a remote area of Western Australia about 11 months after the laptops were introduced.

While some researchers like Charles Ess (Drury University and leader of the Association of Internet Researchers) has said that the OLPC initiative is “foundering on issues of culture,” most reviews from host countries and organizations are very positive.

See also:

September 27, 2010   No Comments

Placing Aboriginal Perspectives in Mainstream Curricula

Learning about Walking in Beauty: Placing Aboriginal Perspectives in Canadian Classrooms. Report prepared by the Coalition for the Advancement of Aboriginal Studies (CAAS) for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF), 2002.,english/

This report combines findings from a 2000-2001 survey of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young adults with pedagogical, social and historical analyses. It offers a pedagogical framework and proposals for Canadian formal school curricula that presents Aboriginal studies for all Canadian students. “Walking in Beauty” is a term that speaks of conducting oneself in harmony with all the living world, and is respectfully borrowed from the Navajo People.

Learning About Walking in Beauty demonstrates that non-Aboriginal Canadians also want mainstream curricula to present Aboriginal histories and cultures honestly and respectfully. And since 65% of students of Aboriginal heritage are educated in provincial or territorial schools, not on reserve, most Aboriginal students are instructed using provincial or territorial curricula. “The infusion of Aboriginal perspectives throughout mandated elementary and secondary curricula will build the self-esteem and academic success of Aboriginal youth.” This report also asserts that such curricula will not only “help address the multi-generational cultural repression arising from official policies…[but also that] Aboriginal perspectives integrated across the curriculum from the earliest grades to high school will begin to address the causes of racism” in Canadian society.

September 27, 2010   No Comments

Mission and Power: Stories of residential schools experiences in Canada

“Chapter 4: Mission and Power” (2010). In Edinburgh 2010 Volume II: Witnessing to Christ Today (Daryl Balia & Kirsteen Kim, eds). Regnum Books International, Oxford, U.K. pp. 86-115

To commemorate the Centenary of the World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh 1910, an intercontinental and multi-denominational project developed, now known as Edinburgh 2010. Part of the project was a process of collaborative reflection on nine study themes and seven transversal themes identified as being key to mission in the 21st century.

In 2008, representatives from approximately 20 Christian organizations in Canada met to identify a Canadian contribution to Edinburgh 2010. An interest emerged in the theme of Mission and Power as expressed in the churches’ relations with indigenous peoples.

The study team proposed an approach featuring information and reflections on Canadian residential schools. “The study team wrestled with the subject of the ‘power’ of the pen, recognizing that in choosing writers, power would be given to some over the many others who could have contributed. Since indigenous peoples’ voices are underrepresented in the literature, the team invited three indigenous authors to write their stories drawing on material from their personal and family’s experiences of residential schools.” The fourth story comes from a Canadian clergyman of European origin from one of the churches which ran the schools.

The stories are followed by excerpts of twelve international responses to these stories from individuals (indigenous and non-indigenous) who compared and contrasted experiences of mission and power in their contexts (e.g. Wales, South Africa, Gaza, Peru). These responses can be found in full at:

September 27, 2010   No Comments