Shannen’s Dream

I first heard of Shannen’s Dream last year and was blown away by the social action endeavors of this young woman to bring “safe and comfy schools” to all First Nation communities.  I was reminded of Shannen this module for two reasons. First, like the youth in March Point she was empowered to take action and advocate for change in her community.  She is an inspiration for young people across Canada and particularly Indigenous youth.  Shannen used video and social media to connect with children and media outlets across the country to raise awareness of the educational injustices Attawapiskat students were facing.  Secondly, she empowered her community and the country to change the funding model of Aboriginal education in Canada, thus taking a step towards decolonization.  After her untimely death, her classmates, family and community continued to advocate for improved funding, resulting in a funding change this year.


November 3, 2012   No Comments

Project of Heart

The Project of Heart is an artistic social action project intending to influence decolonization in Canada by raising awareness of residential schools and human rights.  Canadian students and citizens are asked to take ownership over the residential schools atrocities and the continued discrimination Indigenous people experience in Canada.  Similar to Paulette Regan, the project describes how it is essential for Canadians to feel uncomfortable visiting and participating in the project, in order to become an ally.



November 3, 2012   No Comments

First Nations Education Steering Committee and the BC First Nations Education System

The FNESC website provide an overview of First Nations education in BC.  The organization highlights the importance of a separate First Nations Education System providing a holistic education to students.  The schools are an example of self-determination and recognition of First Nation Peoples as a distinct society.  This video describes the structure of the school system and the education system values.  The BC First Nations Education System is a step towards decolonizing Indigenous education in Canada.  Funding has been a serious issue for First Nation schools, however at the beginning of 2012 the federal government passed a new funding system, which will decrease the gap between First Nation Schools and public schools.


November 3, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Pedagogies Booklet

I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found the “Decolonizing Pedagogies Booklet.”   This booklet answered many of my questions regarding how teachers could decolonize instruction. Heather E. McGregor, UBC PhD candidate, prepared this booklet in 2012, referencing key Indigenous Studies Scholars: Linda Smith, Marie Battiste, Michael Marker, Susan Dion and Paulette Regan.    McGregor suggests Aboriginal ways of learning, various decolonizing pedagogies, samples of decolonizing pedagogy and challenges to decolonizing education. Key decolonizing pedagogies include:

  • Helping learners come to recognize and know the structures of colonization and their implications.
  • Engaging in activities that disrupt those structures on an individual and collective level.
  • Recentring of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.
  • Facilitating engagement with possibilities for making change in the world.
  • Supporting Indigenous self-determination (McGregor, 2012, p. 4)

McGregor, H. (2012). Decolonizing pedagogies booklet. Service Project for Aboriginal Focus School: Vancouver School Board.  Retrieved from


November 3, 2012   No Comments

Aboriginal Pedagogies

Weblog 3.1

The conclusion of module three stated “… indigenous principles could be applied in mainstream and dominant educational settings to produce a more progressive and sustainable future for schools and communities. Indigenous education is not simply for Indigenous peoples.”

I found an Australian article arguing just this – that the Indigenous way of teaching can be a deep learning for all learners.

Tyson Yunkaporta, an Aboriginal Education Consultant, undertook a research project Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface that asked two questions:

1. How can teachers engage with Aboriginal knowledge?

Similar to aspects of Indigenous learning outlined by Marker (2011) and Barhardt and Kawagley (2005), Yunkaporta has developed an 8ways Aboriginal Pedagogical Framework comprising story telling, learning maps, non-verbal, symbols and images, land links, non-linear, deconstruct/reconstruct and community links, which all interact in multiple ways. You can view the diagramatic representation of the framework on the site.

He argues, in the Draft Report that there is a common-ground phenomenon when higher order knowledge from Indigenous systems is brought alongside similar western systems. p20 of the report  has this diagrammatically as a ‘Boomerang Matrix of Cultural Interface Knowledge’.

Yunkaporta states that “non-Aboriginality (is) not found to be a barrier to engaging with Aboriginal knowledge. …… Aboriginality in itself does not provide some kind of magic ticket for engaging with Aboriginal knowledge. Any person, regardless of their background, must have a sophisticated awareness of their own identity and must be engaging in local knowledge protocols in order to come to Aboriginal knowledge with integrity.” p27

2. How can teachers use Aboriginal knowledge authentically and productively in schools?

Yunkaporta’s solution lies in the application of Aboriginal processes rather than Indigenised content (which he outlines in depth in the second half of his report).



Barnhardt, R., & Kawagley,  A. O., “Indigenous Knowledge Sytems and Alaskan Native ways of Knowing” Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 36(1), 2005, 8-23.

Marker M. Teaching History form an Indigenous perspective. Four winding paths up the mountain.

Yunkaporta, T. (2009) Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface draft report

October 31, 2012   No Comments

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Decolonization: Idigeneity, Education & Society is a peer-reviewed, online, open access journal.  The journal is very new – it’s first issue was released on September 17, 2012.  The website states that the journal is “committed to decolonization work within education, as part of a larger project of decolonization in society.”  The panel of peer-reviewers is listed on the site and includes people from a number of countries and disciplines.  The first issue can be accessed here.

As this is a new journal, there was not much to review.  However, the initiative and the impressive list of peer-reviewers makes it worth looking at.  The first issue contains and editorial, articles, poetry and the cover page is a beautiful piece of artwork.  The journal certainly speaks to the main topic of Module 3.

October 30, 2012   No Comments

Weblog #2: Post #5

Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC)

This site offers information garnered on the Summit on Aboriginal Education, where education ministers and leaders from Aboriginal organizations met to improve Aboriginal education.

The summit focused on:
1. raising public awareness of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit education and the need to eliminate gaps between learners.
2. building support for partnerships with Aboriginal organizations.
3. identifying areas for action to meet the goals of Learn Canada 2020 
4. engaging federal government in Aboriginal education issues to implement policy change.
5. building networks for future collaboration.

Aboriginal Education Action Plan
Aboriginal Education Best Practices
Summit on Aboriginal Education Report 


October 21, 2012   No Comments

Weblog #2: Post #2

Four Directions Teaching

Indigenous language and culture is at risk of being lost, and non-aboriginal society “generally fails to see why aboriginal cultural revitalization matters, at best supporting aboriginal approaches superficially, and valuing success only as defined from non-aboriginal views.”

Four Directions brings together elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq.  Together, they share teachings about their history and culture. The site uses animated graphics to visualize each of the oral teachings. The site provides biographies, transcripts, and learning resources.

Four Directions – English Version

Four Directions and the Full Circle Project of Toronto works to address how indigenous knowledge can be shared with urban youth in a respectful manner.

The Full Circle Project PDF Includes:

1. Vision (Roots)
2. Elements (Sap)
3.  Foundations (Tree Core)
4.  Secondary Structure (Outer Bark)
5.  Natural Development (Branches)
6. Human Gifts (Leaves)
7.  Measurement (Seeds)


“It is not important to preserve our traditions, it is important to allow our traditions
to preserve us.”
~ Gael High Pine, “The Great Spirit in the Modern World,” Akwesasne Notes, 1973

October 21, 2012   No Comments

Indigenous health and technology – early childhood

Weblog #4

Waabiny Time is a television series on pay TV (and also on DVD) that is based on the learning approaches of Sesame Street and Play School.

Waabiny Time is the first indigenous language program made for an early childhood audience from ages 3 to 6 and focuses on Noongar language acquisition. The Noongar people’s land includes Perth, an area to the north, and the whole south west corner of Western Australia.

Waabiny Time also aims to encourage pride and participation in Noongar culture, merging traditional and contemporary Noongar culture. It also integrates other messages including health messages.

As described by Smith, Burke and Ward 200, the mix of contemporary and traditional demonstrates the dynamic and flexible nature of Aboriginal people and challenges the stereotype that Indigenous people “live in the past”. It also parallels Zimmerman, Zimmerman and Bruguier’s 2000 use of technology to restore language but within a different context.

Both presenters of the show are Noongar, but the script, directing and production has been undertaken by non-Indigenous people.

One unintended outcome of the production of Waabiny Time is that non Indigenous children at an early are also engaged by the program. They learn Noongar language and about Noongar culture from Noongar people.

Link to Waabinny Time website

Short clips from Waabinny Time


As an aside – an interesting review on Using television to improve learning opportunities for Indigenous children. Australian Council for Educational Research 2010



Smith C, Burke H and Ward GK. Chapter 1 in Indigenous Cultures in an INterconnected World. “Globalisation and Indigenous Cultures: Threat or Empowerment.”

Zimmerman KJ,  Zimmerman KP and Bruguier LR Chapter 4 in Indigenous Cultures in an Interconnected World, “Cyberspace Smoke Signals: New Technologies and Native American Ethnicity.”

October 14, 2012   No Comments

UBC Indigenous Foundations Website

I stumbled across this website when I was researching the commodification of totem poles   On further exploration, I realized this UBC website is an excellent resource for finding information on Indigenous stereotypes and Indigenous people.  Particularly, the article Aboriginal Identity and the Classroom discusses the historical and current issues indigenous people have faced in the Canadian education system.  The article also highlights stereotypes Aboriginal students face and the importance Aboriginal identity plays in education.  The writer presents a historical context for teachers wishing to understand Aboriginal educational experiences and their students’ perspective.  This article is part of the larger What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom Project. which highlights political, cultural and identity issues faced by Aboriginal students in the classroom.




October 11, 2012   No Comments