Addressing First Nations Content in Schools

Consider the following questions:
1. What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

[If I was to respond as a professor to the student from the email, my response may perhaps go something like this:]

The difficulties you are facing are not exclusive to your situation, so rest assured that this is an issue that all Canadians are facing. You are doing the right thing in encorporating First Nations content. Your students’ disconnect is a product of colonialism; they are perpetuating the issues that they are trying to separate themselves from. Consider Dwayne Donald’s quote: “The way you think about the relationship (between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples) has a distinctive bearing on how you take it up in the classroom. …It isn’t an informational problem: If students are given a timeline of residential school history, that won’t necessarily improve relations.” Perhaps you are encorporating Aboriginal content in a way that still seperates it from other parts of your classroom curricula. After you’ve really reflected on how you are bringing Aboriginal content into your classroom, there are several resources you can consider after having really reexamined how you approach aboriginal ways of knowing in your classroom. Remember that Aboriginal ways of knowing are relevant for all Canadians.

-Take a look at David Benjoe’s Native Studies unit available at under David Benjoe,Link. Mr. Benjoe is a professor at the First Nations university, and during Treaty Ed Camp 2016, he offered his own unit. You can possibly take things from this resource to use in your class, but keep in mind how to present it in a wholesome way.


Literacy as Numeracy

For this week’s blog post, we were asked to read an article by Leroy Little Bear describing differences between First Nations world views and Eurocentric world views.
1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

Oh, absolutely there were. In my own experience, people who were not naturally strong with mathematics and perhaps gifted in other ways (and this isn’t taking massive aspects of peoples lives like culture/worldviews/ect into consideration!) had an extremely difficult time succeeding in math classes. As a visual learner, I found mathematics incredibly difficult to internalize. Sure, there were graphs and pie charts and all manner of neat graphics, but none of that held any form of connection to quadratics or polynomials. For me, there was nothing more abstract nor confusing than the string of numbers and letters written on the board day after day. I was expected to accept things as they were; the one teacher who WOULD offer explanations about how these concepts came to be left me more irritated and confused than when I had first walked into this class. These experiences have left me along with most of my friends and family with an embodied distrust for mathematics. So I suppose, at its core, the mathematics classes I was involved with were discriminatory towards different kinds of learners.

Until I’d sat in and listened to Gale Russell’s lecture, I had never really realized that current-day Mathematics oppress groups of people through its absolute rigidity. I was thoroughly raised with primarily eurocentric values, and I still struggled immensely. I cannot even imagine how students whose cultural and worldviews clashed with the concrete rules of mathematics may have felt sitting through these classes if they were not one hundred percent compatible as a learner and individual.

2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

-“Traditional Inuit teaching is based on observing an elder or listening to enigmas. These enigmas can be clues for problem solving in mathematics. Furthermore, Inuit teachers tell me that, traditionally, they do not ask a student a question for which they think that student does not have the answer.”

-“Traditionaly, it was for three and up that they needed words to express quantities. Their tradition being essentially an oral one, the Inuit have developed a system for expressing numbers orally. They do not have other means of representing numbers, they have borrowed their number systems from the Europeans.”

-“The numbers 20 and 400 are pivotal
numbers, as other numbers are built from these two numbers. The Inuit
have a base-20 numeral system.”

I think a good way to conclude this week’s session is to reflect upon a story told by Mrs. Gale Russell in our lecture. She told the story of how a research group was sent to a place like Kumashiro’s Nepal (though I can’t remember where specifically it was) and were tasked with investigating the local peoples’ stance on numeracy. Ultimately, they were confronted with a sheep farmer and asked how much the farmer would like in exchange for one of his sheep. When the farmer responded with “two tobacco”, they left and returned with four tobacco and offered to buy two of his sheep. However, once the farmer declined, they deduced that the people of this land were inadequate when it comes to math. They did not realize that the farmer did not accept their offer because of reasons they did not know of; they only assumed that he was unable to do simple math and left.

Exploring Philosophies: Will Richardson

With the internet and technologies available, much of the information students are required to memorize and understand is resting in their back pockets. I, as a human being with access to the internet, may type in any question and get some form of a result immediately. If we consider subject by subject, it will become evident that the system in place currently revolves around the memorization of data when it does not, in fact, need to be this way. Will Richardson summarizes this concept quite nicely in the following quote:

“Schools were built upon a fundamental premise that teachers and knowledge and information were scarce. That is no longer the reality.”

When I was still in high school, I remember being told by both of my grade eight teachers that “I shouldn’t use a calculator.” Why would they say that? Is it, perhaps, because when their math-related curricula was written, calculators weren’t available, and that having a calculator on hand would simplify the material to a point where the lessons could be complete in a matter of days instead of weeks or months? Who is to say. In history classes, our phones were also forbidden. We were required to memorize presented material in order to be able to fill in the blanks, reply to short answer questions, ect. I understand that there are some learners who, after having done the habitual “remember-repeat-regurgitate” process, learn the material more effectively. I also understand that, sometimes, the internet’s first few searches are not always legitimate. However, if I were to do a quick search of “What started the war of 1812”, several resources come up.

Perhaps, in this age of knowledge-at-your-fingertips, it may be more beneficial to perhaps change our systems to teach how we could use the technologies at hand better instead of outwardly banning them from class? I’ll explore this more in future posts.

Prologue: Page Two

And suddenly, page two! We are introduced to a new character.

And suddenly, page two! We are introduced to a new character.

And then all of a sudden, page two is complete! I suppose I should pace myself more when creating these, but when it comes to my personal project, I enjoy it to a point where it is hard to stop myself. I’m finally becoming more comfortable with Photoshop! While the program has limitless possibilities, I was initially daunted by them all. Now, however, I feel as though I have a more focused aim when working with it, and I know what to do in order to achieve the look I want. During the creation of the second page, I tried to refine my ability by experimenting with bounce lighting, contrast, and colour theory/mood. I feel as though I was more successful with this page than the last – though, as I review my finished page, I’m noticing errors with lighting that I will have to remember as I proceed with the prologue’s creation. Prior to creating the backgrounds, I downloaded brushes from Deviantart user Velvetcat. I’ve realized that using custom brushes is helping my process immensely.

I also drew inspiration from one of my favourite digital artists, Tamberella, by adding a bounce light. I really admire how Tamber creates mood through careful colour/light placement. Essentially, I will be trying to focus more on mood/contrast/colour/lighting in my next pages!

Prologue: Page One

Here we are introduced to one of the main protagonists of my story.

Here we are introduced to one of the main protagonists of my story. Click the image to see it on my deviantart page in a bigger size!

And with this, my story is finally officially underway. I’ve been conceptualizing it for many, many years, though only recently have I really focused on the story and more formal elements. For the longest time, I couldn’t decide whether or not I would want to create a graphic novel or a written novel when creating my story. During my studies at University, however, I decided to do both. So, with this in mind, the prologue shall be done in graphic novel format. I feel that this choice will best reflect the story, and when the prologue is finished, hopefully you will agree. When initially viewing this page/the following pages, it will seem very vibrant and, at times, overcoloured. As well, there are no blips of text anywhere. Rest assured, these elements of design are intentional!

That’s all I can say at this point, however. I don’t want to spoil any plot elements! I am currently working on page two, and I’ll post it (along with more information) as soon as I can.

If you would like to watch me work on page two, click the following image to be taken to my livestream account!


A Little of This, A Little of That

As I continue to try to learn a song on guitar, I find myself struggling to maintain a solid practice schedule. I’ve gotten better now that assignments are thinning out at University, but I am still not learning a solid song structure. I have, however, learned little bits of many different songs including:

a) the Morrowind theme using these tabs
b) Binks’ Sake using these tabs and these tabs
c) I Walk the Line using these tabs
d) Leaving on a Jet Plane using tabs provided
e) the faintest bit of Take me to Church by Hozier

However, I will have to narrow my studies to one specific song if I am to succeed at the final exam. I will update later.

Guitar Update; Also, what’s this about sketchbooks?

I’ve been practicing guitar on and off, and I am finding that I am not sticking to my guitar-playing schedule! I’ve been careless when it comes to practicing. This is something I feel I need to improve if I am to learn how to play Binks’ Sake on guitar. On a more positive note, I am fairly comfortable with the first intro part of Binks’ Sake. I will continue to practice after I am finished all of this next week’s presentations – I have three that I have to look forward to.

Click the logo to visit the Sideline Sketchbooks facebook page!

Click the logo to visit the Sideline Sketchbooks facebook page!

In the past year I’ve learned the basics of bookbinding. I’m going to try to explore this skill by opening a small venue wherein I will make and sell custom books. I’m setting up a page for Sideline Sketchbooks now, and it will be out soon! More information on that later, though if you’re still interested, you can click the logo or click here to find the already-made Sideline Sketchbooks facebook page. Contact me to make a custom book!