Category — Module 1

Module 1 – Weblog 5 – Dakelh Language

Dakelh Language –

This is a First Nation map of the Dakelh language also known as the Carrier.   The reasoning for this post is simple.  Today at a meeting we discussed incorporating Aboriginal content, and some ideas included carvings, drum-making, dance, etc.  Once the discussion started however, we brought forth the point that incorporating content just to do so isn’t important unless it is relevant.  The Carrier aren’t carvers like the Haida so why would we carve.  In addition, drums have a spirit, to make one just to make one is simply a trinket in the eyes of local elders.  If we are to bring in content we need to ensure it is relevant to the local Carrier.

The Carrier name comes from the idea once a person died, they were cremated and their ashes would be ‘carried’ around.  The language is in various states as you can see in this table:

First Nation Population Fluent Speakers Understand or Speak Somewhat Learning Speakers
Lheidli T’enneh Band3 316 5 7 0
Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation 1994 unknown unknown unknown
Lhtako Dene Nation 1524 unknown unknown unknown
Nadleh Whut’en5 435 25 5 60
Nak’azdli Band6 1500 189 390 114
Nazko First Nation7 3344 75 70 0
Saik’uz First Nation8 1000 50 30 80
Stellat’en First Nation9 399 18 16 35
Takla Lake First Nation10 720 53 42 22
Tl’azt’en Nation 11 1659 154 213 46
Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake)9 104 7 12 20
Ulkatchot’en12 850 145 136 88
Wet’suwet’en First Nation9 213 10 10 88
Yekooche First Nation 2174 unknown unknown unknown
Total 8098 731 931 553


This is important because it can show how important it is to keep language alive and kicking.


June 3, 2013   No Comments

Module 1 – Weblog 3 – Dying Languages

Dying languages?


This article deals with the slow desecration and death of many traditional Canadian First Nation languages.  Canada once house over 70 distinct languages, but according to the latest census only 60 still exist and of those, only 3 remain strong.  This is very true.  In my district, Carrier is till spoken and understood, but it is hard to find instructors to teach and maintain the language.  This seems somewhat common across Canada.

The Mohawk language is another one which is barely hanging on, but a program has taken steps to re-teach to young students to speak it.  Residential schools played a large part in the destruction of language.  It is well documented that students who spoke their native tongue were beaten or worse.  Unfortunately, knowledge of culture is passed through generations through language.  If the language dies, the culture and knowledge will follow.  It is a lose-lose situation for communities when language dies.

The bleakest area is British Columbia, where over half of the First Nation languages call home.  Only 1 in 20 First Nation persons is fluent in their language and most of those are elders.  Young people are not picking up the language as much as is needed for survival.  There is a push to rectify that situation.  More can speak the Native tongue in comparison to 2006, but the language is still in danger.

Racist beliefs (many left over from Residential School ideology) have lead some First Nations to believe they are somehow ‘more’ Canadian if they don’t speak their Native tongue.  In addition, a lack of opportunity hurts the language.  Some believe outside of teaching, what is the point of getting a second, albeit, their first language.   Moreover, only NWT recognizes some Aboriginal languages as official languages.

This is great article, albeit not very scholarly, to demonstrate the re-emergence of cultural ideas and language in First Nation communities.  If I were to use it in a final project, I would focus on how Aboriginal language is used in curriculum.



June 3, 2013   No Comments

Module 1 – Weblog 2 – Incorporating Aboriginal Culture

Incorporating Aboriginal Culture into Curriculum


This is the Ministry of Education’s site, specifically the Aboriginal Education portion.   I thought about showing this:  However, I quickly discovered Quesnel Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement is expired.  This was strange to me as we are working on it today at our District Non-Instructional day.  The Ministry document will be invaluable to my final project as it lays out how to incorporate culture into curriculum.  Moreover, it was produced in 2006, so many of its PLOs (prescribed learning outcomes) will be outdated.  But, that will not limit its effectiveness.

The document begins by discussing how to set up instruction to effectively teach Aboriginal content.  The teacher needs to develop strong local community links to access the expertise that exists locally.  In addition, the teacher must always be cognizant that some of the history and issues discussed may be sensitive and cause emotional distress.  The article then briefly discusses the history of Aboriginal people in BC, but fails to mention many of atrocities faced.  Also, oddly enough, page 14 contained a hand drawn Circle of Courage or medicine wheel, yet no mention of it is made…

The reminder of the document gets to the meat and potatoes of the topic, integration.  The article is divided by grade groupings.  Instructional strategies are divided into primary, intermediate, and high school, and then further divided by subject matter.  Ironically enough, the document is very comprehensive and offer not only integration ideas, but teaching tips, resources, vocabulary, etc.  The document is well done, but for some strange reason, does not extend past grade 10.  Perhaps this is due to the singularity of subject in grade 11 and 12.

The appendix of the document provides sample lesson plans for teachers to use to bring in some outer sources.  Each lesson plan is tied to an IRP (integrated resource package) goal or PLO, so they seem very focused.  As well, each lesson plan offers assessment advice.  The lesson plans, albeit a little dry, would be a great starting point for a teacher looking to integrate some Aboriginal content.

The ministry site will be a great site for my project as it contains the most current data on Aboriginal graduation rates, as well as satisfaction survey results.



June 3, 2013   No Comments

Module 1 – Weblog1 – Perspectives and Curriculum – TM

Aboriginal Perspectives and Curriculum

By Dwayne Donald

This website discusses the shift in Alberta education to incorporate Indigenous or First Nations teachings into ‘regular’ curriculum.  Given Canada’s checkered history as it pertains to First Nations, at first it appeared to some that of the program was a reactionary move to apologize for past injustices.  In addition, some teachers were resistant to the change.   They felt they were doing enough or that they didn’t have enough Aboriginal students to warrant the change.

Aboriginal populations are among the fastest growing in Canada, especially in urban areas.   The Aboriginal population is often viewed as outsiders, so they feel disconnected.  It makes sense to engage this growing population through the curriculum.  In addition, Canada is slowly recognizing its sordid past as it pertains to the treatment of First Nation peoples.  To not invite them into the conversation or curriculum, educators are once again guilty of the exclusion of a distinct society.  Moreover, the perspective of Aboriginal knowledge and tradition is very important and viable.  It teaches students to look at the world through a different lens.

Cultural and linguistic preservation is also an important element to First Nation peoples.  Many believe the only way culture will survive is if language survives as well.  Moreover, bringing in more Aboriginal content to curriculum will promote diversity among students.  They will gain a deeper understanding of the plight facing Aboriginal people.

This article is valuable because it provides reason for curriculum change.  It outlines a few of the important reasons for adopting Aboriginal content.  One extremely important point outlined in the article is the fact that many believe if language dies, culture goes with it.  Many believe language is the most important element of culture.


June 3, 2013   No Comments

Angela – Module 1

This article is written by anthropologist and tattoo specialist Lars Krutak. Tattooing and headhunting are a meaningful part of the Kayan or indigenous people of Borneo. Tribal lifestyle is threatened not by the social structure in Borneo, where countless ethnicities and tribes live peacefully on one land; they are threatened by the destruction of the rainforest. This article gives a great overview of some Dayak traditions, but does unfortunately not accredit individual tribes for their symbols, beliefs and practices.

Here is the website of one of the last tattoo artists to use the tapping technique instead of an electric device. I was lucky meet Ernesto, and we had a great conversation about educational technology which is the premise of my blogroll; he was adamant that the culture of a traditional craft cannot be related over the internet, only the technique. This turned the focus of my research to include community building amongst tribes. Ernesto collected “genuine” artefacts (ones that were actually used in ceremony for rituals such as headhunting) from his own Iban tribe, and will only use the tapping method for traditional designs from Borneo.

This video from about 30 years ago shows an American travelling couple as the first Americans to visit a particular Iban longhouse. Tribe members honestly share the details of headhunting with the inquisitive couple. I appreciate this documentation, as it was created openly as Don and Betty stayed as guests in the longhouse. Even though much of the final cut focuses on the sensational headhunting, footage of the people as relaxed, hospitable and with humour helps the spell the notion of savage that might arise with the label “headhunter”.

Even further back in time, I like this video because as it shows some tender human moments, but also because it shows the songket weaving, Pua Kumbu, by one of the young girls.  The video does not list the tribe, it boasts itself as a vessel for time travel. One thing I appreciated about Sarawak (In Borneo) is that local people were very interested in this kind of slice of life from the history of the land’s people. Many places that I visited would frame old photos or other artistic renderings for the walls instead of more contemporary art.

This is a 50 minute documentary that follows two Canadian guys looking for traditional (tapping) tattoo artists in the jungles of Borneo. They learn how the practice cannot be separated from spirituality, community and the afterlife. They are joined by Lars Krutak, and become physically and mentally involved in the lifestyle of the Iban with a surprising ending. Actually, incredible.



June 2, 2013   No Comments

Dying languages or Language Revival…by Velasquez

I enjoy languages (I speak 3-1/2 languages) and will probably be doing my final paper on language revival/dying languages.

Here are some of the website and articles I’ve been looking at:

This site covers endangered languages from all over the world. I had no idea my place of birth was home to a few of them! And I had no clue how many languages were on the verge of extinction. I think if I head down this research path I’ll probably focus on Central/South America or the Middle East. While this is a great starting point, that’s all it is. The technology behind reviving a language is a whole other kettle of fish.

There’s no single cohesive way to record a language:

There’s audio recordings, video recordings, databases, online tools, apps, and written documentation. Here’s a fellow who may point the way to some more ideas…I’ll contact him to see what his thoughts are:

One of my concerns (and Coppélie hints to this) is the notion of technology being the silver bullet (didn’t the education world go through this a decade ago?):

Digital is not the savior of dying languages. We may be able to archive the languages, but languages are dead unless people speak them, and to speak them they need to interact with others and withing an environment that’s not hostile to that language. This may be something to explore…the archiving of languages vs. actually reviving them…

I think there’s an inherent problem in trying to revive a language outside of a given culture that is or has disappeared. I don’t say this to be mean, but just to point out that things like idiomatic expressions, subtle meaning, and things like double-entendres and jokes are often heavily dependent on context, without an environment or a mind who understands the environmental/social context , a dead language is like looking at a game board and not knowing the rules!

There’s plenty of fodder for this approach to endangered languages:

Peter Ladefoged  Another View of Endangered Languages Language Vol. 68, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 809-811

Ken Hale, Michael Krauss, Lucille J. Watahomigie, Akira Y. Yamamoto, Colette Craig, LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne and Nora C. England Endangered Lanuages. Language Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 1-42

Nancy C. Dorian  A Response to Ladefoged’s Other View of Endangered Languages Language Vol. 69, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 575-579

There’s also the political/cultural push for dominant cultures to eradicate other cultures, either forcibly or through other means (often economic in nature)…

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald Language Death by David Crystal Journal of Linguistics Vol. 38, No. 2 (Jul., 2002), pp. 443-445

There’s also the cost involved in reviving a language:

The topics surrounding language revival/dying languages are many…

Here are some videos I’ve been watching to get a better idea of what I’m getting into…

I may have to narrow down this research a bit more. If you have any suggestions or would like to discuss this topic  I’d love to hear from you!

June 1, 2013   No Comments

SD#62: Sooke – Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement

Weblog #4: Entry #2

Since I started ETEC 521, I’ve been wondering how the issue of Western education conflicts with or compliments FN belief systems or ways of knowing. While my question(s) focus more on present day instances of education I am aware of the history of Residential Schools here in Canada. More specifically, I wonder about my school district (SD #62: Sooke) which identifies itself by the Anglicized spelling of the T’So-uke First Nation which resides in the same educational catchment area of southern Vancouver Island.

Our student population is made up of approximately 1000 FN students, or approximately 10% of the students in the district. So how do we, as educators, community members, mentors, leaders etc. educated in Western languages and science, excite, engage and reach out to students from a distinctly different society and culture? Having reflected on the course readings thus far, it is evident that ‘learning’ in school can sometimes run contradictory to FN experiences, stories and values.

Apparently, my school district has been very much concerned with these same concerns and in 2009 proposed the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement. Skimming this document, linked as off of the site below highlights some differences between Western and FN notions of ‘Student Success’ and the ‘Goals’ of education. I was glad to have taken a look at what things are being done in my own district to recognize the real and honest differences/assumptions that we tend to make about our students and their learning.


November 24, 2012   No Comments

Hi all~! I have been thinking about my final paper and roaming the web a bit collecting useful links and materials. Now that I have a good chunk of stuff that I think might be interesting for the group I’ll post some of it. I am interested in transitions from oral to literate culture and how that transition affects culture, so most of my links are going to have some connection to that field, and I also tried to choose things that were appropriate to the topics in each module. Have a look~!^^

This is a link to a short article titled “Oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage.” The article points out some ways in which language is a direct carrier of culture that may not be obvious to everyone. It also makes some interesting points about how language and its functional spaces need to be maintained in order to preserve culture. It points out some things that I hadn’t thought much about prior to reading.


Oral Culture: a useful concept relevant to information … – CiteSeer

This is an interesting presentation of some ideas regarding literacy, information-technology, and the responsibilities of the literate mainstream to anyone non-literate. I can’t recall ever reading anything about responsibilities of the literate society to anyone orally based, so this caught my attention.


The Complexity of Oral Tradition – Oral Tradition Journal

This article goes some distance in defining oral tradition and gives a synopsis of some major writing that has been done in that field. It is a useful introduction to the field, and it offers a lot of names and titles that can be pursued for further study.

This article presents a very interesting argument that written, mechanical representation systems moved culture away from oral traditions, but that more recent digital representation systems are taking us back to a more orally based culture. It is not directly applied to indigenous situations, but the ideas are relevant. There is some interesting talk of the balance of senses that is promoted by oral traditions, and I feel some connection between this balance and some of the other balances that I have read that indigenous cultures revere.

This links a video that talks about using oral history projects in classrooms. I think the accounts that the participants give are quite interesting, and I am going to try to find a way to work this into my own ELA classes.

This article presents a lot of very pertinent and interesting ideas about how orality and literacy are actually not successive stages, but are rather necessarily intertwined and coexisting modes. The author refers to several authors, including Thomas King and Harry Robinson, whose work is a part of this discourse.

This page offers another criticism of the orality vs. literacy binary. It is short, and it makes some worth while points. It offers a lot of names and titles that could be pursued for more in-depth study.

November 17, 2012   No Comments

De-colonizing education in Prince George : Nusdeh Yoh

I have posted a number of times about the aboriginal choice school in Prince George. The newspaper today featured an extended article about the renaming of the school – a long arduous process taking into account myriad stakeholders and language conventions. This changes from “The aboriginal choice school” or “Carney Hill Elementary” to Nusdeh Yoh (“house of the future”) in the langauge of the Lheidli T’enneh, on whose traditional lands the school is situated. The article talks about the curriculum covered in the school, and is a crystal clear example of reclaiming and advancing traditional values, an an environment that is not resonant of the Henry Ford assembly line model of education that the rest of us cleave unto.

From the article:
“Our students come from all over the place — we have Carrier, Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Gitxsan, Kispiox, Tl’azt’en, we’ve had some Objibwe students, and some from areas I can’t pronounce,” laughed Gillis.

“These kids know more about language than I ever had the opportunity to learn when I was younger, and it was my mom’s first language,” said Gillis, part of the Saik’uz First Nation south of Vanderhoof… My mom never taught it to me back when I was younger because they didn’t see the value of retaining it. It’s exciting to see the kids learning it now.”

October 25, 2012   No Comments

A Short History of Victoria & First Nations

Weblog#2: Entry #5

Check out the video at the bottom of this site. In collaboration with the written text of the webpage, the video seems to pictorially tell a story of how the city of Victoria, BC and it’s surrounding 9 Coast Salish FN Bands have created a uniquely Northwest FN, British/European, and Asian community. Interestingly, there is no dialogue or voiceover. Be forewarned, the video was produced in partnership between the Province of BC, Tourism Victoria and the Victoria Conference Centre. As a result, everything is presented with a slight air of picturesque, romantic perfection, which I guess is important if you want people to visit. Needless to say, none of the unsavory aspects of Victoria made the video 😉

October 15, 2012   No Comments