This week I have been focused on clarifying my vision for my major project. In a nutshell I want to continue on a project I started last year. In our school division we suffered a terrible loss when our Elder passed away in . I got to know him very well when we worked together with Help Me Tell My Story initiative. In his honor I wanted to continue to support his dream of First Nation cultural permeation within our school division. How is this achieved when we are in a middle of a health crisis? It is a reality in the current climate that it has been difficult to bring First Nation Knowledge Keepers and Elders into our buildings due to the pandemic. It’s crucial that we keep people safe at the same time it is essential that we continue to make positive steps regarding introducing First Nation Culture in our schools.
I have always thought that technology could be used positively to bring people together when it comes to First Nation permeation in our schools. That said I have come to realize that for such a complex initiative to be successful there is one element that must occur and that is trust. The initiative will only grow momentum when you foster a trusting relationship with the First Nation community. So I have reached out to our school division Knowledge Keeper and he has been a wonderful support.
I have found a really interesting article regarding four pillars necessary to build long term trust with the community through the use of technology.
I have also realized that guidelines, procedures and policies must be clearly outlined when working with First Nation communities. This is not a situation where you can just “wing it”. The rules that our set out by the First Nation community must be followed closely. So, I have started this journey. I am wondering what our your thoughts regarding First Nation permeation in schools. I welcome any of your thoughts on what have been your challenges and successes when supporting First Nation community in having a voice within our schools?
Gerry, this sounds like a very interesting project! I like how you outlined in your last paragraph the considerations and sensitivities that need to be respected before undertaking a project such as this one. I know that Jeff (https://jeffsdigitaljourney.wordpress.com/) in our class would be a great person to talk to, as he has done some pretty amazing things in our school division. He also has quite the neat project he’s planning too! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to following along on your journey.
We have an Elder that comes to our school once a week and when she comes, I try to touch base with her myself or sit in on her presentations with the students. I love listening to her! She is so knowledgeable and kind. The students are so engaged when listening to her. She has also done many videos on the Seven Teachings that our students watch and learn about the Indigenous culture. She also makes time to have one on one visits with students who are struggling. I just wish she could be at our school more often as I see the results she has with the limited time at our school. Please feel free to contact me for more information on her videos, as I believe they are on Youtube.
Gerry, I too have found it to be more of a struggle to bring in Knowledge Keepers and Elders in the last few years and am excited to see what you come up with for a major project here! One really neat way that myself and a few other teachers in my high school had success this year was with a vamp beading project we completed around the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We were unable to have an Elder or Knowledge Keeper with us in person, but we did make use of Zoom and had prayers, storytelling, and the teaching of beadwork delivered virtually, then recorded to use in other classes along with the assistance of our Indigenous Advocate. It was a big success and was recieved enthusiastically by students! Good luck with your project!
You’re doing excellent work, my friend!
Gerry, I’m so looking forward to seeing where this project takes you. Since we are neighboring divisions I’d love to come see it in action sometime! I agree that technology makes this more possible, especially when it is so important in choosing elders to come build community in your division. It can also be quite expensive, and although this shouldn’t be a factor, it is. I also think tech lets us glimpse into a live feed of another culture and life in a way that pictures and videos don’t do it justice. I know last year I had a Metis artist present to my class virtually and walked us through creating art together, and it was amazing! I haven’t looked into this at all, so it’s a shot in the dark but mental health wise, have you checked out Circle Medicine in the mall parking lot for FNIM mental health resources?
Gerry, this is going to turn into such a beautiful, worthwhile project that will benefit many educators and students! I admire your passion and dedication to making this vision become a reality and look forward to seeing your end result (even if it comes to fruition after the conclusion of this course). I really respect that you are taking into consideration First Nations protocols and traditions in regard to conversing with Elders. Technology is a great avenue through which we can help preserve the knowledge of our Elders and be able to share this knowledge more widely. I recently came across this YouTube resource of traditional stories with Elder Hazel (through the Royal Saskatchewan Museum). Thought maybe you might find some inspiration in this! All the best with your admirable project! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbwelRrHWl2UB0N9D__pU3T8_oKZUiSba
Thank-you for sharing your story and ideas, Gerry. It must be very difficult to move forward on a project when you have lost such an important member of your community. However, in supporting his dream of First Nation cultural permeation you are also supporting many teachers’ and students’ dream as well. I am very interested to learn and understand how technology can be used to bring First Nation Knowledge Keepers and Elders into schools. I have wondered if inviting Knowledge Keepers and Elders into schools virtually would be as meaningful and give the opportunity for connection. I know that being able to share knowledge in person is such an important part of this process, however, the current health crisis definitely does not make this an easy possibility.
Interestingly enough, I have been very busy talking to people in the First Nation Community and I have received some feedback on your very point regarding ” if inviting Knowledge Keepers and Elders into schools virtually would be as meaningful and give the opportunity for connection”? The feedback I was given was all about ratio. What I mean by this is that technology can not replace the Knowledge Keeper or the Elder but rather facilitate the connection. For example if everything was on tape you would diminish the opportunity for connection. Research indicates that positive connection through technology can make significant impact when it comes to increasing empathy between groups of people in particular in cross-cultural situations. Thank you for such a great question!