Power and Privilege

“White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh (1988)


Both Module 3 films (the trailer March Point and film Fraser River) allude to the feelings of marginalization and powerlessness that is the backdrop to the lives of many Aboriginal youth. I was reminded of the article “White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack” written in 1988 by Peggy McIntosh, a white American woman. Her work as an educator in women’s studies brought her to a recognition that while those with power and privilege may recognize people who are disadvantaged, they often do not recognize themselves as advantaged. McIntosh suggests that whites are carefully taught not to recognize white advantage, but are taught “to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow “them” to be more like “us.”

In the article McIntosh lists 50 “daily effects of white privilege.” Reading this list as a Canadian white woman living in multicultural Toronto in 2010, I think that too much of it is still accurate.

November 5, 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNLGPntkvIs&feature=player_embedded

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VYFBApbszE&feature=related

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbyul1vgc8M&NR=1

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 http://www.doxafestival.ca/media/files/DOXA_2010_Healing_Lens.pdf

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.


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