Which comes first – Reconciliation or Experiencing Indigenous Cultures?

This past week, the teacher in charge of my daughter’s high school reconciliation committee decided to cancel this years’ Indigenous Arts event.  The explanation given was that people in the Indigenous community feel that non-Indigenous people need to reconcile before they are allowed to experience Indigenous culture.

It seems that feelings in Indigenous communities are pretty raw after the recent Coulton Boushie and Tina Fontaine cases.  This is understandable.  Still, I think that movement away from cultural sharing is a mistake.  Experiencing indigenous culture is a way in, at least for people like me!

First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures are rich and worthy of exploration.  I believe I came to where I am today BECAUSE I experienced them.  A big part of my reconciliation process involved reading the work of Thomas King, watching North of 60, collecting Inuit carvings and wall hangings, sleeping in an igloo, attending pow wows, listening to First Nations stories, eating Muktuk, bannock and bullet soup, attending plays like Salt Baby, and exploring First Nations practices like smudging.

This is NOT to suggest that experiencing Indigenous cultures is enough on its own.  There are other things that need to be done too – learning and accepting our shared history being one of them.  For example, try reading Clearing the Plains. It is an eye-opener!

Experiencing Indigenous arts provide an esthetic, affective route to reconciliation though that reading history can never do!

Am I really reconciled??? While I like to think I am, no one has ever pronounced on that.  Who would be qualified to do that anyway – an elder or elder’s helper, I suppose.

Still, we non-Indigenous people need to be patient around this.  First Nations in particular are dealing with a lot of issues.  I believe a reluctance to share Indigenous cultures will only be temporary because the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.




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Is Canada’s democracy ready for a dire new age of weaponized news? – Politics – CBC News

Democracies around the world now have to contend with the threat of ‘political warfare,’ a collection of cybercrime tactics and weaponized fake news designed to cripple representative systems. Canada may not be prepared.
— Read on www.cbc.ca/beta/news/politics/political-warfare-russia-hacks-1.4560505

…not quite as bad in Canada as you might think but consider this quote … “Genuine journalism must now compete with content that mimics it and dresses deceit in a cloak of credibility, while society must adapt to a world in which fact and falsehood are increasingly difficult to tell apart,”

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It is too late for gun control in America: Neil Macdonald – CBC News | Opinion

The teen activists today are probably too young to remember the awful despair of the Sandy Hook families — who pushed for, yet failed to see change — but they should prepare to experience it themselves. Because they will.
— Read on www.cbc.ca/beta/news/opinion/florida-school-shooting-1.4552301

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Shooters and the US Mentality

A recent CBC report after the recent Florida high school shootings said this about the FBI…

“Agents routinely face a challenge of sifting through which of the tens of thousands of tips received every year — and more than 10,000 assessments that are opened — could yield a viable threat.” http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/world/fbi-florida-massacre-warning-signs-1.4538502

Sadly it seems that there is now a need to improve AI systems in order to get people like this shooter under scrutiny sooner.

Will the Americans ever get it that there is no need for average people to own assault weapons??? It seems not. Tabatha Southey recently said

“Since 2013, 138 people out of the 438 people shot in 239 school shootings in the U.S. have died. One can blink and miss a school shooting in the news these days, covered as they are now much like local weather…” https://www.google.ca/amp/www.macleans.ca/opinion/another-school-shooting-in-america-and-all-the-nonsense-that-will-be-said/amp/

When I was younger I often travelled in the states on a motorcycle. I was treated very respectfully. I thought at the time that was because I was a friendly white male. Then, another US biker told me that they were never afraid to travel alone because they had a handgun in their tank bag. Since then, I have often wondered if a fear that I was packing had just as much to do with the respect I was given.

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Enough already!

It is time for me to start offering some questions and opinions to the world. Expect posts that touch on practical politics, the arts, education, indigenous issues, economics and fairness.

Where do I come from? I have worked in education for most of my career. I spent time in the business world too and I have LOTS of respect for people who take measured risks in order to succeed. I am left of centre on social issues with a recognition that we need a viable economy in order to fund social causes. Expect me to question ideology on both the left and right!

I welcome respectful comments and will respond in kind!

Thanks for considering what I have to say!

Don Dietrich

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Tony Bates on the Status of Open Textbook Adoption

5 lessons learned by Tony Bates at a recent Open Textbook Summit:

  1. Open Textbooks are gaining momentum
  2. There is a clear need for open textbooks
  3. The supply and demand from students is coming, but where is the adoption by faculty? – faculty, at least in universities, seem to be a barrier to adoption
    Stephen Downes had a few comments about this (here too)
  4. Open textbooks have their own pedagogy
  5. The technology is still crude
There is a clear need for open textbooks.
1. Open textbooks are gaining momentum.
1. Open textbooks are gaining momentum.
1. Open textbooks are gaining momentum.
1. Open textbooks are gaining momentum.


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Encouraging faculty to take responsibility for copyright

An idea was recently sent to me by a colleague:

How about adding a widget to the learning management system that would prompt an entering faculty member to take responsibility for copyright clearance for all materials they have posted for students?

This sounds like a really good idea!!!


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