I completed my final class project and I thought I would share the video I narrated with memories from when I was a little boy, I wrote it in the present tense. Travelling across the lake to our trapline with my father paddling us. It’s more a slide show than anything, along with text.
It is a counter-narrative in that it is an example of going out on the lake as an underprivileged family that does not have the riches to use a big boat or take huge supplies with only what we have.
In 2005, I started working for the Gift of Language and Culture Project as a casual web designer. Little did I know that they were expecting a Flash based website with images, text and audio all rolled into one for each category. I was overwhelmed by the expectations but I was happy to at least be working. I put in many extra hours at home to learn this new application.
I knew enough about image and sound formats but he text part gave me trouble because I had never worked with different text fonts other than the generic types we are all used to such as, Times New Roman, Arial or Comic Sans. I had to learn quickly because the demands of the project team was high and I was expected to work miracles and with new Aboriginal language fonts I never heard of.
We had Cree, Dene and syllabic fonts that needed to be installed on all our computers and I had to make sure people at home and schools could view the fonts on documents so I had to provide a link to the fonts for personal installation. There were also applications I needed to familiarize myself with, such as, CorelDraw, Publisher, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Audition and of course Adobe Flash (Macromedia Flash at the time). I already knew about Adobe Photoshop so that was a big help with the images that needed to be edited and manipulated.
The project team was great and the people were dedicated and willing to put forth much effort to accomplish what we could, to provide resources for Aboriginal language learners all over the country and even some in the United States. We had curriculum developers who compiled the Cree and Dene word lists and translations, illustrators who provided the original clip-art we needed, audio/visual personnel who recorded the audio and video required and of course the material developers who put the resources together for print and distribution.
Part One & Part Two
I personally collaborated with all staff to get what I needed to build the website and put their work together and develop what we see today. If it were not for the cooperation and hard work of the team, I could not do what I did for the website. I am grateful for the experience and I was so sad to see it all come to an end in 2011. It was a big part of my life, 7 years of my life that it still has a profound effect on me today.
I think I did well on my self-learning because we ended up with a great Cree website that is still online and used all around the world and has been viewed by 147 countries. It has had 276,357 hits and 100,226 unique visitors (as of June 17, 2015) which is pretty good for a non-mainstream language and website.
The YouTube Channel has 407 subscribers 260,379 views as (of June 17, 2015). The channel has songs, concerts, and animations for the whole family to enjoy. There are also a couple of instructional videos for snowshoes and birch bark baskets and many interviews with elders, some who are not with us today.
As the web designer/Flash developer, I received praise for the work I did but I always mentioned the people behind all the important work that needed to be done before I could even develop an animation or Flash exercise. I had a good working relationship with all my co-workers and while they contributed all the work, I made myself extra useful by troubleshooting their computer’s hardware and software when ever they needed it. There was no way I could do my work if they could not do theirs, so it worked out for all of us.
I am currently training to be a teacher at Nortep and hopefully in a couple of years I will be able to contribute to the Cree language professionally with much more credibility. I decided to go back to school because I needed more training in the area of education and to hopefully expand my horizons for myself and to contribute more to the learning environment of our students in other areas where it is needed.
On a side note, I would receive emails and phone calls from Montana, Ontario, British Columbia and the all the prairie provinces to let me know what a great job the Gift was doing. One person in particular called from BC to tell me that he loved the website and that two of his children were learning Cree from their mother who was a Cree woman he married from Saskatchewan somewhere, I cannot remember where specifically (it might have been Pelican Narrows). It was a morning call out of nowhere but it was a nice surprise way back about 2010.
I wish the project could have continued but all good things come to an end. Maybe one of these days there will be a revival and if there is, I would love to be involved again and provide my experience and expertise.
maskotīhkom – Spruce beetle/bug. This is a feared insect that is common in northern Saskatchewan and many other places.
Although summer is a welcome season, the spruce bug is an unwelcome visitor to many people who are out enjoying the outdoors or when they leave a window open, which is how I was able to get a picture of this particular friend of ours.
I was bitten by this type of insect once but it was a grey one. I was walking through a trail when I was about 6 years old in Hall Lake and one landed on the back of my head, it crawled to the back of my neck and bit me. It hurt me but when I grabbed it and felt the spiny legs and hard shell I freaked out and threw it. Creepiest feeling ever, the physical pain was nothing compared to it.
In one of my classes at Nortep/Norpac, we have been learning about Indigenous Law and it mainly deals with understanding the concepts of Aboriginal law. It’s a vibrant class with much discussion on current events and the impact on Aboriginals and mainstream society.
We were asked to do a case commentary on Metis or Tsilhqot’in cases from 2014. I chose to do Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia because many of the students had already chosen the Metis decision.
A few weeks earlier, I watched several videos of the case and viewed mainly interviews of First Nations people and how pleased and excited they were over the victory in the Supreme Court of Canada. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4D85H7lQxE
The Tsilhqot’in Nation have title on 1750 square KM of land west of Williams Lake. Good stuff.
I learned many important facts in this class pertaining to Aboriginal law. Studying for the final exam gave me much insight on the issues we face as First Nations people and other aboriginal groups. I enjoyed the many subjects in this class and they provide relevance to many of my other classes.
Here is an example of what was expected on our final exam (I do not provide my answers here):
Chapter 5: Crown Obligations
The Honour of the Crown – 3 distinct branches of Crown obligations: Treaty Obligations, Fiduciary Duty and Duty to Consult
Chapter 7: Metis Rights
The Court identified three broad factors: self-identification, ancestral connection to the historic Métis community, and community acceptance.
The difference between Metis Rights and Treaty Rights
Chapter 8: Federalism/Constitutional Issues
The Implications of the Division of Powers on Aboriginal Peoples.
How to amend the constitution
Chapter 9: Aboriginal Women
What are the ways aboriginal women have been discriminated against by the Canadian Government?
Chapter 10: Child Welfare
Contemporary Realities, Best Interest of the Child, Challenges of Aboriginal Control, Customary Child and Family Relations
Chapter 12: Aboriginal People and the Criminal Justice
The Failure of Criminal Law for Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Traditions and Justice, Reforming the Criminal Justice System, Aboriginal Justice Systems, High incarceration rate
All these subjects are very important in our immediate current events of Aboriginal people. I’m glad I decided to go back to classes because I lost sight of many things regarding our struggles as First Nations people.
We need to learn to move on from the past transgressions and thrive as a people once again. Hate and distain from our past wounds only serves to undermine our progress. However, it is important to know what happened to us and what is happening now to assert ourselves and to get on with our lives.