Category — Module 4

Module 4

Entry #1:  Friend or Foe?

One night, when researching the topic of residential schools, I came upon this video and my husband and I watched it together.  It’s a long video – but it makes a compelling case for what occurred in residential schools and the tragedy, trauma and enduring suffering inflicted on those who were forced to attend and on their families.  It is obvious that this Reverend, Kevin Annett, did his homework and found valid evidence of the atrocities that have occurred.

Then the video takes an interesting turn…he attests that he was unfairly let go from his post with the United Church.  It certainly is an interesting chain of events…has he been banished by the Church and government or is he an extremist, a swindler and a “wanna-be”?   Is there a grand conspiracy to continue to hide the truth from us?


Entry #2:  In the Classroom

The following link is to a video prepared for Ontario Teachers.   First Nations elders, an Inuit elder and a Métis senator share their stories and by doing so invoke an urgency for teachers to integrate an understanding of Canadian history and the indigenous experiences into their curriculum.   Incorporating this history and knowledge will better engage indigenous learners and will foster an acceptance for what has occurred and the damage that has been done.

I am now far along on this journey, and can feel the necessity of incorporating this knowledge across curricula to pay homage to our indigenous people and their struggles with colonization.  It has been too long that we have ignored the tragedies of the residential schools, the separating of communities from their land, and the effects of marginalization, poverty and incarceration.

To be frank, I will take baby steps towards bringing this material into my classroom.  I want to tread carefully as I can appreciate the sensitivity of this material and the emotions that may be present.  But I will forage on and aim to do my part in abolishing racism and promoting understanding.


Entry #3:  Healing

This journey has taken me all over the web – I actually don’t know what I searched to get to this installment but it was a very interesting post.  Claire Carefoot is a visionary and a pioneer in her approach to help indigenous female prisoners at the Buffalo Sage Healing Centre.  The residents are on their final 6 months of their sentences, and are permitted to live in this centre which is housed in a secret residential Edmonton neighbourhood.   About the healing centre, Carefoot explains, “It’s a very in-depth program that gets into the guts of people, the pain they experienced as children, the alcoholism and the people who have been left behind.  The women for eight weeks sit with an elder and a program facilitator and work on their childhood trauma.  And for many of them, it’s a lot of trauma.”  They offer various other supports such as life skills coaching, parenting classes, and job skills training.

As I read through this post, I wondered if the needs of these prisoners mirror the needs of my learners.  They need much more than the content of our curriculum – they need to heal, to connect with their community, and to deal head on with the addictions and pain that they have.  They need the same supports as these women do – and yet we are trying to teach them content that must seem rather irrelevant to their immediate needs.


Entry #4:  Technology & Awareness

After reviewing Heather MacGregor’s dialogue as a “guest speaker” in our discussion forum, I became quite interested in the Legacy of Hope foundation and went to explore their website.  What I found there were some innovative, ground-breaking programs and approaches towards raising awareness and understanding.  In particular, I was struck by the campaign entitled “1000 conversations”.   The idea was to engage all Canadians in a dialogue about residential schools and the irreversible impact it has had on aboriginal people.   You could host a conversation anywhere – with any group of people (family, friends, coworkers, classrooms, etc.) and an information package & DVD was made available to the host.  Once completed, you were to register your “conversation” online here:   This program ran in 2009-2010.

Isn’t this a unique coupling of using technology to raise awareness in a non-threatening, enlightening way?   These kinds of initiatives can lead to self-reflection and transformation.

Another inventive way the Legacy of Hope assimilates technology and the promotion of their cause is with a hand-help app that downloads their exhibition, “Where are the Children?  Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools”.  This includes interactive, multimedia content that offers commentary, photos, narrative panels, and archived documents.

Very intriguing ways of using technology to raise awareness, foster understanding, and engage Canadians in the history of indigenous peoples.

Entry #5:  TEK & Spiritual Foundations

My last entry was found when considering “traditional ecological knowledge” or TEK.  This article cautions aboriginal scholars to protect TEK.  They are finding that western researchers are using this knowledge to advance their own agendas and taking it out of context from its spiritual origins.  At first, aboriginal people felt encouraged that the dominant culture was acknowledging and respecting the value of TEK, when in fact it is being inappropriately united with the ecological framework of western science.  Furthermore, cultural protocols are being violated.  Although aboriginal people are the holders of the knowledge, they, yet again, have no power over how it is being interpreted or used.

I have to question why aboriginal people aren’t invited to “sit at the decision-making table” rather than being subjected to research and studies about them.  We should be learning from them and respecting their worldview.  This article, unfortunately, paints a bleak picture about the future relations of aboriginal people and dominant society.  It advocates for resistance as a tool to preserve land, culture and tradition.

November 26, 2012   No Comments


Communication and network technology may provide an important opportunity for Indigenous people to develop a voice in a globalized world to prevent an imbalance of knowledge dissemination, generation and discussion…preventing their exclusion or watering down by dominant perspectives.

But before Indigenous people can utilize this technology for decolonization, legitimization, dissemination, generation or discussion of knolwedges, we must first consider if information technology, a binary and linear system can carry knowledge without fragmenting its wholeness.  First, we must ask if this technology can be decolonized to reflect and animate the myths and ideals of Indigenous learning and ontology….as many of us know that the hand of the white maker is in the tool.

Below are some technologies, developed or utilized by Indigenous cultures.  In my opinion some seem conducive to Indigenous values and beliefs and others seem to have flaws.

Post 1 – Digital Songlines

Digital Songlines game engine, funded by the Australiasian Cooperative Research Centre for Interaction Design, was developed for interactive and affordable sharing of Australian Indigenous cultural knowledge.  In this online virtual reality game, indigenous storytelling comes to life, as players interact with the stories, environment and other players.  This is an immersive and multisensory space that can’t replace real place-based community interactions, but hopes to provide additional connections between the youth and their culture.  Based on the research of this program, the developers, in conjunction with the communities of Indigenous peoples, have attempted to create a realistic, authentic and faithful representation of the aboriginal world in the attempt to empower Indigenous Australian people to preserve, enhance and pass on their cultural knowledge to the younger generation.

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Post 2 – Firstvoices

Firstvoices, an initiative funded by the government of BC and the Department of Canadian Heritage, is an online collective of tools focussing on language archiving, preservation and sharing.  This initiative appears to provide a wholistic philosophy to language archiving through not just alphabets and phrases but also songs and stories in an interactive environment.  Although a promising form of technology, it has only collected 4.8% of the number of entries needed to document all the dialects of the Indigenous languages in BC over the past decade.  One aspect of this process that makes the archival process difficult is the discomfort and unease of the elders, the knowledge holders, with these types of newer technologies.

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Post 3 – Rezworld

Rezworld is a Thorton Media, Inc. game within an interactive, immersive, and multisensory environment aimed at learning Indigenous language.  Players learn the language as they go about completing targeted tasks.  Although the name Rezworld and off-color humor may paint an insensitive picture, the creator, Don Thorton, a Cherokee himself, wanted to include characters that people knew, including relatives and friends, and so they incorporated humor and real life into the game.  The game attempts to not just create an environment, but to create an environment that is so real as to suspend disbelief.

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Post 4 – MARVIN

The program MARVIN (Messaging architecture for the retrieval of versatile information and news), based on the annoying paperclippy animation from windows, was developed by J. Easterby-Wood, an Alice Springs-based specialist in Indigenous education.  Apparently, Australia’s Northern Territory Department of Health is using this program to develop aboriginal avatars that provide a 3-D character that can speak multiple different aboriginal dialects.  They hope that the avatar will be able to convey important health information to remote regions where text-based information and English is poorly understood or assimilated.  On the plus side, this technology enables information to be delivered without the use of the English language as the intermediary and provides a multisensory experience.  However, on the downside, it is being used to inform aboriginal people rather than providing a two way discussion about their health.  This seems to provide a seemingly sensitive but misguided form of communication in regards to Aboriginal people and their values.

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Post 5 – Ashes and Snow

Although not a native artist, Gregory Colbert presents an online interactive and poetic masterpiece that shares the sensibilities of native culture in his Ashes and Snow artwork and film exhibit.  In addition to the pictures and film that represent humans as existing in an inter-relational and non-hierarchical world with animals, his use of the online forum shows exceptional similarities to Indigenous perspectives of space, time, energy, movement, rhythm, and storytelling.  This highly interactive, sensory and intuitive environment will suck you in and won’t let you go.  This represents a way that Indigenous people may be able to represent their consciousness through technology without sacrificing their values.  Check it out at

November 26, 2012   No Comments

Module # 4 Indigenous Collective Memories and Technology

Module 4

Weblog # 1

This website is visually pleasing and offers information about the Deer Lake Reserve area, its history, governance, community etc.

Open to the public I decided to further explore the historical link to see how and if the Deer Lake community engaged in preserving their collective history and heritage. Beyond offering a short historical outline of the area, after further exploration I discovered a gallery of photos that represent a variety of social and ceremonial events, from Powwow’s to school and community activities and social events of all kinds.  What a great way to represent and share collective memories! The photos can be viewed or downloaded for storage or printing. Photos appear to have been viewed thousands of times, which demonstrates that the community has been using this website. What first appeared to be a static community web site turned out to be quite a dynamic one.   I decided to further explore the albums to see what I could learn through this form of self-representation.


Weblog # 2

So in order to really visit with this community and see how they share their collective memories I decided to look at the various events portrayed through this segment of their website.  I began with the children’s art gallery under the theme ‘Water is important’.

The drawings demonstrate the Indigenous way of knowing.  Children are likely learning about water and the physical and cultural importance it has for their people.  The messages in the drawings are powerful and speak of the need to preserve water, and the unity and relationship water has with the other elements found in nature. In the drawings, one can also see math elements, such as percentages and size comparisons, which demonstrates how Indigenous teaching within the schools bridges over with Western science. I can see how this format of representing student’s understanding can help promote and celebrate cultural beliefs.

Web site # 3

The next album visited is the one about a community Powwow held in the new school gym.

It is extraordinary to see so many different people from the community partaking in the celebration.  This is certainly a great example of Indigenous people ‘reclaiming’ their culture and identity and capturing it for future generations to see. Seeing the youth taking part in this ceremony portrays how this community is reaching out to this younger generation to get them in touch with their cultural roots.

By further perusing the Red Deer Lake Nation Website I came upon another segment I had not discovered, that of a video taken of the 2009 Treaty # 5 commemoration.  This proved to be a great discovery.

Web Site # 4

The video was filmed by the Nishnwabe Aski Nation for them. The short film portrays the 100-year commemoration of the signing of the treaty # 5.  According to Grand Chief Stan Beardy, this was a significant day for it confirmed they are a nation, for only nations can make treaties. During the film various people are interviewed and it clearly shows that they are proud of this legally binding agreement.  It is in a way seen as a way to reconcile various levels of government.  It is interesting to see all the youth attending and listening to the various speeches given by elders – The filming of this event, captures how collective memories are shared through storytelling and transferred from youth to elders. An extensive photo gallery also provides a great historical overview of the last 100 years within the Red Deer Community. – Interview segment

The Interviews were the most incredible and poignant testimonials and portrayal of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. I felt that by watching these short ‘interviews’ with various individuals, I was actually visualizing how technology can be used to share Indigenous identity with others. The interview with Irene Rae is done in her language, and she is having a grand time talking with the microphone, perhaps for the first time.  She is sharing her collective memories.

The storytelling by James Deer Trap, who also talks in the traditional language, is translated for those who do not speak the traditional language.  This too portrays a way for this community to preserve collective memories, and capturing it on video and diffusing it online provides a bigger audience. This is a good example of the transmitting of history through storytelling.  Now his words are captured and stored for prosperity and can be revisited.

The short videos portrayed the influence of ‘Canadian’ heritage through ‘jig’ dancing, wrestling, and a historical humorous ‘skit’ to represent the essence of treaty # 5. In a sense, this is a modern version of  ‘storytelling’ with a hint of humor. All of these activities demonstrate a desire to move on with their lives.

The interview with Mrs Ruth Only was interesting, for the inclusion of this segment shows a gesture for the community to heal and move forward.


Site # 5

By going back to the main Website, I perused their ‘Health’ segment and found it was quite complete and showed a thriving community, but also a link to ‘Wawatay News’.  I was pleased to find one could access a live ‘Radio’ station.

Wawatay Radio Network provides radio programming to more than 300,000 Aboriginal people in Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Treaty 3 area. WRN provides news that is at once regional, national, and international, and surprisingly in the Aboriginal languages of Northern Ontario: Ojibway, Oji-Cree, and Cree. It also provides an English version for those who don’t speak the ancestral languages. Another great way to celebrate and engage in collective memories of various local and community events.

On the website I also found podcasts addressing Indigenous children about health issues. Also featuring such shows as ‘Spirit in your Voice’, which share stories about survivors of residential schools, successful stories of healing.

November 26, 2012   No Comments

VNFC, SD 61, 62 and 63, Royal BC Museum: Together on the First Peoples Cultural Awareness Program for Students

Weblog #4: Entry #3

The Victoria Native Friendship Center in partnership with all three greater Victoria School Districts (SDs #61, 62 and 63) and the Royal BC Museum offer the First Peoples Box of Treasures Cultural Awareness Program. What is interesting to note is that this program is targeted at all students and uses in class visits and the museum to bring cultural awareness about FN culture here on Vancouver Island and BC in general. I take from this program that all the partners in program recognize and believe that to be a contributing and well rounded member of the community here in Victoria, BC one must have an awareness of and appreciation for how FN culture is intertwined with the city and the province.


November 25, 2012   No Comments

Hope or Heartbreak: Aboriginal Youth and Canada’s Future

Horizons: Policy Research Initiative (March, 2008) titled Hope or Heartbreak: Aboriginal Youth and Canada’s Future

This document contains multiple articles pertaining to issues facing Aboriginal youth.  I was particularly interested in Castellano’s article titled, “Reflections on Identity and Empowerment.”   Castellano discusses the foundation (and policy) necessary for Aborginal youth to be empowered, connect to their community, and find academic and personal success in Canadian society.  The article highlights Aboriginal youth historical and current resiliency, and provides information on how to support youth and acknowledge their experiences.   Aboriginal youth have a promising future, however the author indicates government and educational policy will need to be created and implemented to support youth.

Castellano, M.  (2008).  Reflections on identity and empowerment: Recurring themes in the discourse on and with aboriginal youth.  Horizons: Policy Research Initiative, 10(1), p.   7-12.  Retrieved from


November 25, 2012   No Comments

Aboriginal Teaching and Learning Values

This article is part of an Ontario government education series focused on putting Research into Practice.  Toulouse’s article provides an overview of core aboriginal teachings and values.   I found this article applicable because it is attempting to bridge the divide between non-indigenous teachers and Indigenous students.  Dr. Toulouse is an Anishinabek woman from the community of Sagamok First Nation and in the article she shares the “living teachings” of the Ojibwe people. The article describes the teachings of respect, love, bravery, wisdom, humility, honesty, truth and what they imply for education, how educators can incorporate them in their classes, and how schools can honour them.  Toulouse also identifies the following Aboriginal learning styles:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Reflection
  3. Visualization
  4.  Holistic

Toulouse reminds us that Aboriginal student success is contingent on self-esteem, and teachers respecting Aboriginal culture, language, and worldview.  This article is a quick read, has multiple visuals, and quick tidbits of information to give interested teachers an introduction into understanding, respecting, and teaching Indigenous students.


Toulouse, P.  (2008).  Integrating aboriginal teaching and values into the classroom. What                 works? Research into practice.  Retrieved from

November 25, 2012   No Comments

Teaching Treaties

The teaching treaties project reminded me of the work Heather McGregor shared with us about the Residential Schools unit.  The development and implementation process has been slightly different, however both projects are trying to create a new narrative and contribute to the decolonization of education.

“(Un)usual narratives, like teaching treaties represent ways to begin developing new sets of relations, new sets of understandings and the possibilities for change (Tupper & Cappello, 2008).

The research article is a fascinating read and shares Treaty learning experiences of indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.

A Teaching Treaties Wiki was also developed to support the Tool Kit.   Teachers who attend the Treaty workshop develop lessons and then upload them to the wiki (also reminding me of a potential of the wiki for teachers in the North).  While looking through the lessons, I found some excellent ideas, however I was also reminded of the necessity to be critical of content, language, use of cultural components, and curricular add-on activities to ensure I was respecting Indigenous teaching and learning practices.

Tupper, J.A. & Cappello, M.  (2008).  Teaching treaties as (un)usual narratives: Disrupting the        curricular commonsense.  Curriculum Inquiry, 38(5), p. 559-578.  doi: 10.1111/j.1467-873X.2008.00436.x


November 25, 2012   No Comments

Urban Native Youth Association

The Urban Native Youth Association is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver.  The organization provides support for Indigenous youth who are living off-reserve in Vancouver.  “UNYA’S mandate is to provide meaningful opportunities for Native youth (Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit, First Nations, Status, Non-Status) in the urban setting. Our goal is to be a safe place for Native youth to come and find out about programs and services at UNYA and in the broader community.”  The website is an example of how groups and Indigenous communities are using technology to reach community members.

The website has multiple resources including information on parenting, health, eating on a budget, empowering youth, sexual exploitation, sports and rec, GLBTQT/ Two-Spirited Youth issues, and post-secondary education. As well, there are links to multiple news articles focusing on indigenous education issues such as: curriculum, Aboriginal Focus School, and graduation.

I felt this site was a worthwhile read because it targets urban Aboriginal youth (which my paper is focused on), is a technological forum for support, and presents pertinent issues for its audience.


November 25, 2012   No Comments

David Suzuki and Tradition KnowledgeThis article

I was fascinated to find this article by one of Canada’s leading environmental activists and scientists acknowledging Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge.  David Suzuki describes how traditional Aboriginal knowledge can assist scientists in protecting the boreal forest.  “Traditional knowledge held by Canada’s First Nations is not just a relic of the past. It offers scientists, policy-makers, resource companies, environmentalists, and anyone else who cares about the boreal a vitally important information source to better manage the region’s land and resources” (Suzuki, 2010).  This article could be used in an ecological systems, environment, or climate change science unit.


November 25, 2012   No Comments

Canadian Journal of Native Education

Many (most? Everyone EXCEPT me?) of you are probably aware that this journal existed, but I was not. The Canadian Journal of Native Education is published twice yearly: in spring/summer a theme issue is compiled at the First Nations House of Learning at the University of British Columbia; and in fall/winter a general edition is compiled by the First Nations Graduate Education Program at the University of Alberta.

Aricles I am looking forward to checking out include:

  • Doige, L. A. (1999). Beyond cultural differences and similarities: student teachers encounter Aboriginal children’s literature. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 24(4), 383-395.
  • Goulet, G. (2001). Two Teachers of Aboriginal Students: Effective Practice in Sociohistorical Realities. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 25(1), 68 -82.
  • Kirkness, V. (1998). Our Peoples’ Education: Cut the Shackles; Cut the Crap; Cut the
    Mustard. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 22(1), 10-15.

Get more information about Canadian Journal of Native Education

November 24, 2012   No Comments