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Youth Identity Fostered through Edukits Project
Alberta Native News, September 2003
(Copyright Alberta Native News 2003)
EDMONTON - According to a recent Canada West Foundation report, almost two-thirds of Canada’s Aboriginal population resides in the West. A major challenge facing Alberta is the need to more fully engage Aboriginal People in the mainstream economy. According to the Executive Director of the Heritage Community Foundation, we are currently missing an enormous opportunity to train Aboriginal young people for careers using Information Technology.
That is why the Foundation is partnering with First Nations organizations on a range of web development projects. The Foundation is a charitable trust committed to linking people with heritage through discovery and learning. Currently the Foundation has partnered with representatives of Alberta’s Treaty 6, 7 and 8 First Nations to help create the Nature’s Law: The Traditional Legal Code of Alberta’s First Nation research project. This is not only a research project but will also have an accompanying website and other educational materials. Nature’s Law explores the laws by which Aboriginal People have traditionally governed themselves. It involves Elders and representatives of the various Treaty areas as well lawyers and academics. The Alberta Law Foundation has provided seed funding for 2003-04 for the initial research phase of the project. However, this funding has to be matched. The project team is currently seeking corporate and other funders.
The Nature’s Law project also reinforces the need to live in harmony with the Creator, oneself and the community, and will counter negative and stereotypical images of First Nations by demonstrating their proud heritage and traditions.
“First Nations had complex systems of governance prior to the coming of Europeans that drew on the laws that governed all aspects of the creation and relationships between, plants and animals, and human beings and the natural work,” explains Dr. Adriana Davies. The project team envisions the development of lesson plans and student activities drawing on the research including oral histories, existing ones and others that are being done to support the project. She notes, “These Edukits will be used to assist First Nations children to understand their heritage and to help build positive self-image.” The project would not be possible without the commitment of Elders such as Chief Wayne Roan and others from each region of the province.
Dr. Shaun Hains, a respected Elder within the Aboriginal community, has been a teacher with Edmonton Public Schools for over 20 years. In a letter of support, Dr. Hains expressed her pleasure in the development of the Edukits.
“It is important to include educational opportunities for our youth that teach about our history and our multicultural realities,” writes Dr. Hains. “I am very confident that the Heritage Community Foundation is up to the task and will deliver an outstanding product for our youth.”