Eight ways bias shows up in Indigenous teaching resources

Weblog 4.2

Over the last week there has been discussion about bias, and as we try to truly engage with other cultures the importance of recognising our own biases.

I found this interesting article from our state government education department. I think it is a great summary of the biases that we can inadvertently include in education resources.

They give specific examples for each of these areas:

  1. Choosing negatively charged words
  2. Inadequate treatment
  3. Social Darwinism
  4. Colonial presumption
  5. Stereotypes and derogatory concepts
  6. The exotic stress
  7. Objects for study and discussion
  8. Distortion and Euphemism

Department of Education (Western Australia) 2012. Aboriginal Education – Eight ways bias shows up in teaching resources

November 21, 2012   No Comments

Module 2 – Weblog continued

Module 2 – Manny’s Weblog continued…

In continuing with my theme on video production and broadcasting within Canadian indigenous communities, I have located the following resources that may aid me in my final paper.


1) Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking Program

This program has been offered by Capilano college of North Vancouver for the past decade. It allows aboriginal students to receive training in all elements of filmmaking and express these from an aboriginal perspective. The Aboriginal film and television production sector is growing at a rapid rate. This program seeks to equip students with the skills required to pursue a career in this industry.


2) Indigenous film timeline – australia.gov.au

This government website has many links and information related to conflicts that arose between settlers and the Aboriginal populations across Australia. It has a wonderfully chronicled timeline that dates back to the 1920’s. There are many links to documentaries that can be downloaded or viewed online. It is very illustrative and contains a large database of information on aboriginal film. There are links at the bottom that have examples of indigenous and non-indigenous filmmakers work.


 3) Indigenous arts network (IAN)

This site boasts many examples of media produced by Canadian aboriginal artists. You can also select your province of choice and bring up local examples in many different media formats. The art presented on IAN is represented by the Nine Circles designed by the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts – ANDPVA, namely; theatre, writing, film and video, music, new media, dance, craft and design, visual art and communication.


4) The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)

The VIFF occurs annually and highlights some of the works created by local artists that have received notoriety in the filmmaking world. I recently had the opportunity to take my students downtown Vancouver to watch the movie “Iran Job.” Luckily the editor was in the audience and he described to our students how he was able to make the movie in a country were filming cultural norms was outlawed. I immediately thought of the subject matter in ETEC 521 and the commonalities between cultures not wanting their traditions being recorded by outsiders.


5) Government website – First nations peoples of B.C.

This is an excellent site for those wanting to know the specifics of First Nations demography in B.C. It is a primary source of information and I am thinking that it must be updated on a regular basis to ensure accuracy. There are links to research articles and case studies that focus on aboriginal education. Great website if you need factual data on local first nations populations.

I think I have enough resources on the filmmaking portion of my final project but will focus my last two weblogs on the broadcasting and distribution networks in indigenous cultures. After sifting through the vast amounts of information, I can hopefully try to narrow in on a single topic for the final assignment. Feedback is always welcome…



October 16, 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


Weblog #3

The discussions on stereotypes and maintaining cultural identities has led into discussion about ‘melting pot’ versus ‘mosaic’. This lead me to explore multiculturalism.

The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosphy has an excellent section on multiculturalism.

It provides justifications for multiculturalism and critiques. The justifications include:

  • Communitarian  –  individuals should be free to choose and pursue their own conceptions of the good life.
  • Liberal egalitarian – based on the liberal values of autonomy and equality
  • Postcolonial  –   based on premises about the value of tribal culture and membership, but also on what is owed to Native peoples for the historical injustices perpetrated against them.

The article outlines some of the critiques of multiculturalism but argues that the greatest challenge for multiculturalism is not from philosophical views but rather from political ones, and that the focus and debate currently is not on Indigenous people but rather immigants.

“There is little retreat from recognizing the rights of minority nations and indigenous peoples; the retreat is restricted to immigrant multiculturalism. Part of the backlash against immigrant multiculturalism is based on fear and anxiety about foreign “others” and nostalgia for an imagined past when everyone shared thick bonds of identity and solidarity.”

In Australia we lived through a period where the Prime Minister tried to cease the policy of multiculturalism. We have emerged from this period and reaffirmed multiculturalism in 2011.

In 2011, Bloemraad wrote The Debate Over Multiculturalism: Philosophy, Politics, and Policy.

In it she identified that multiculturalism has a number of meanings, as a:

  • demographic multiculturalism
  • political philosophy
  • public policy

She describes how Canadian researchers have identified a multiculturalism policy index (MCP Index) that measures the extent to which eight types of policies appear in 21 Western nations. Australia, Canada and Sweden have scores over 7 in 2010, whilst the US has a score of 3 and France and Germany both fall between 2-3. The graph of the scores is interesting reading.

Bloemraad’s discussion mirrors that of Heath 2012 who describes three multicultural issues/myths:

  1. multiculturalism has encouraged exclusion rather than inclusion, by siphoning minority communities away from the mainstream, and condemning them to live parallel lives.
  2. that by living parallel lives minorities preserve their ethnic behaviours and values that run counter to broader society.
  3. these separate communities provide fertile soil for radicalisation.

Bloemaard adds the impact of multiculturalism on the members of the majority group, suggests that some people are very alarmed about diversity, probably due to fear related to issues 2 & 3.

Bloemaard identifies that there are seven of nine studies tracking anti-immigrant attitudes over time, where  researchers have found stable or increasingly negative attitudes toward immigrants, especially in Western Europe, while only two studies reported more positive trends. This is interesting and seems to confirm the Western European research data.

In contradistinction Heath writes about the recent British report that clearly identified that the three main issues/myths identified above were indeed myths.

Heath A 2012. Has multiculturalism failed in the UK? Not really

October 14, 2012   No Comments

Ancient African Math/Science Shatters Stereotypes

I found that this site fit beautifully into the topics for Module 2.  It is a blog posting from 2007 but it provided links to both a documentary on Africa called Cosmic Africa and to an article called Stars of the Sahara (full text available from the UBC Library) in New Scientist regarding finding evidence in Mali of the scientific and mathematics history of that area.  The two are tied together in the blog and the originator of the documentary, an Astrophysicist from South Africa named Thebe Medupe is quote extensively.  Although these quotes originate from Africa, they sound similar to some of the concerns that arise around math, science and stereotypes of North American Indigenous populations.

For example, Medupe is quoted as saying:

“…when I was 15, I started to question why everything was Eurocentric.  Textbooks were using European things and so on. So I used to ask myself whether it was because there was nothing Africa can offer. I refused to believe that. It remained a very big question for me for a long time, until I came across a review on African ethnoastronomy. I was very excited.”

October 13, 2012   No Comments

The NFB – A Resource for Aboriginal Documentaries

While looking for Canadian Indigenous films to augment Nanook of the North, I found myself visiting the National Film Board of Canada.  The NFB site has a section dedicated to the Aboriginal Perspective in film from 1940-2004.  The thirty –two Aboriginal documentaries are organized thematically: arts, cinema and representation, colonialism and racism, history and origins, Indigenous knowledge, sovereignty and resistance, and youth.

Within this collection there are films made by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  Stereotypes are rampant, however the collection provides a starting point for critically analyzing Indigenous stereotypes in Canadian Film.  The 1943 Eskimo Arts and Crafts film perpetuates many stereotypes of the Inuit.  Upon seeing Robert Flaherty’s name as a consultant on the film, I began to further understand his role in creating the media’s Aboriginal persona of the time.  This documentary, along with many others, would be appropriate Canadian content for teachers wishing to compare and contrast historical media stereotypes of Indigenous people.  It would be interesting to analyze Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal films, thereby encouraging critical thinking about Indigenous stereotypes and media literacy in our students.

October 11, 2012   No Comments

Reel Injun

A  documentary film created by a Canadian Cree filmmaker to highlight and then debunk the stereotypes of Indigenous people in film.  The Reel Injun website has reviews and clips, as well as a link to their Youtube channel with clips from films that perpetuate Indigenous stereotyping.  This film and the website helped me understand and deconstruct indigenous stereotypes in film.  A review of particular interest is Xavier Kataquapit’s, an Indigenous comedian, who wrote a blog post and orally recorded it for the website.  “In one hour, ‘Reel Injun’ gave me a healthy and informative perspective on the history of how my people are perceived in this world.”  His perspective helped me further understand storytelling and the importance of this film to Indigenous people, as well as the general public.

Viewing this film in the Social Studies or English classroom, along with a historical documentary such as Nanook of the North or an NFB film, would enable students to actively visualize indigenous stereotypes and critically assess their impact.

October 11, 2012   No Comments

The Urban Aboriginal People’s Study

Stereotyping of Indigenous people has been an issue since first contact with European explores, and it is a problem still today.  The Urban Aboriginal People’s Study strove to examine “values, experiences and aspirations” of Aboriginal people living primarily off reserve.  This research project provides perspectives of Aboriginal people living in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa. 2,614 Aboriginal people are surveyed in this report.  This study should be reviewed critically.  It was not conducted by an Indigenous Group; however Aboriginal people were interviewers, guides, experts, and data analyzers.

I believe this is an excellent resource to help teachers understand their Aboriginal students, as well as a source for students to assess their own and their city’s stereotypes of Indigenous people.

October 11, 2012   No Comments

8th Fire

The blatant stereotyping and exaggerations of Nanook of the North reminded me of the importance of deconstructing stereotypes in film, thus I gravitated towards finding appropriate Indigenous film resources for the classroom.   8th Fire is a CBC documentary film series about the relationship between Aboriginal people and other Canadians.  The website has a plethora of resources on Aboriginal perspective, history and stereotypes.  Although only a couple of clips from 8th Fire can be viewed on line, there are multiple other videos in which Aboriginal people are interviewed.  These short videos provide perspective on Aboriginal tradition, culture, politics, stereotypes and rights.  The videos have the potential for sharing Aboriginal culture and issues with non-Aboriginal students, but also with Aboriginal students.  As with any media, teachers would have to encourage critical viewing and media literacy when viewing the videos.

Another interesting aspect of the site is the Aboriginal Filmmaker section.  Because I am researching how to support Aboriginal students in their studies, I found the personal stories about the filmmakers quite engaging.  The written word combined with the digital stories about their experiences, family and traditions provided another layer of depth to this site.  I would be interested to see how Aboriginal students receive these stories, if they connect with the filmmakers, and if students would be motivated to create their own videos.

October 11, 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