Tekkru Media Blog

First Nations Youth Perspective

Gathering Our Voices 2009

Speak Up! Workshop

Speak Up!

Speaking to large group of people is one of the most feared activities for adults in today’s society; now imagine how much harder it is for the youth in our communities who voices are often barely heard in the first place? Youth are not always given the chance to share there opinions or thoughts, but this was not the case in the Speak Up workshop at Gathering Our Voices, youth were given the opportunity to share what was on their mind, and learn new skills to help them better articulate themselves when addressing a large group of people. The facilitators Megan Clarkson, Soren Poulsen, and Kerry Chelsea shared there experiences with public speaking, and discussed some of the barriers that come with it, then explored different approaches to help overcome those barriers.

One of the most common barriers that people face when addressing groups is being aware of their own insecurities, many people when speaking will get caught up magnifying the insecurities they have, in their mind they will be thinking things like “how does my hair look?” or “Can they see my good side?” or “Does my voice sound funny?” This will often lead to an elevated level of anxiety well giving your presentation, making it very difficult to get you point across. Another common barrier is to set up expectations for the presentation before it even starts, this leads to built up pressure to meet the expectations the presenter thinks the audience has, often ending up with scattered thoughts because of the fear of not meeting these expectations, thus the presenter will look unconfident and give what they think is a poor presentation.

Now how does one overcome barriers such as these? Well it varies person to person but there are a few basics, the first being confidence. Presenters need to feel confident in their knowledge of the topic they speaking on, they need to be confident that they can articulate themselves enough to get their point across, and they need to be confident that they will not let their little insecurities create pressure and anxiety. One thing that can help speakers become more confident is practising their presentation, as many times as necessary, because as they say “practice makes perfect.” Another way to overcome some of those barriers faced by presenters is to be passionate about the subject being addressed, presenters should put their whole hear into it. That is how they ran the workshop, at the end the groups that were created, and in some cases individuals, presented on a topic of their choosing not and assigned topic, this lead to some very powerful and meaningful presentations.

Overall I believe that through workshops such as this, youth can become even more powerful then they already are by making sure their voices are heard and respected, which will only make the future of our communities brighter.


March 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 Gathering Our Voices, Media Events | Leave a comment

Gathering Our Voices 2009


Keeping Culture Alive

Being a young aboriginal person who has lost touch with his culture, it was very empowering for me to witness the pride that other youth who attended the 2009 Gathering Our Voices Aboriginal Youth Conference had in sharing their culture. There were many opportunities through out the conference for youth to share their culture in a variety of forms; there were songs at meal time, there was a pow-wow held, and many of the performances for the talent show displayed cultural songs and dances, some of them mixing the old culture with the new. The youth were not only provided a chance to share their culture though, they were also given the opportunity to learn how to preserve there culture through many of the workshops presented as well, with topics such as working with elders, using new technology, and using funded programs.

The first aspect of preserving a culture is learning it from someone who has much knowledge about it, and who knows the most about culture? Elders, well at least that’s how it is in my community and I’m sure in most other communities as well. The elders of our communities actually lived our culture that was their way of life thus making them the best mentors for someone is trying to learn their culture, and an integral part of keeping the culture alive. In the workshop Elders Don’t Bite, they brought youth and elders together so that the youth that were looking to connect with elders could learn how to do so, and the elders that were in attendance could share their wisdom, patience, kindness, and guidance with the youth so both groups could create an atmosphere where mutual respect and understanding can grow, and work in unity to preserve aboriginal culture.

So after elders and youth get on the same page as far as teaching and learning the culture go, how do they make sure it lasts forever? Record it, and in these modern times there is so much technology available that it wouldn’t be hard to do at all, just need the right equipment and a little training. Dr. Strang Burton, in his workshop Technology & Teaching: Methods for Building a Multimedia Language Lesson, taught youth how to use a computer, a microphone, and the recording software Audacity to record language taught by elders to youth, and possibly use it in future language lessons. The workshop focused mostly on the demonstration of how simple a process it can be to work with a fluent speaker of a language and modern technology to make the language last forever.

Another workshop presented by First Voices also showed how technology that most of us already have, and I-pod and a computer, can be used to record aboriginal languages. The workshop also described the First Voices program, which provides equipment, training, and funding to first nation’s communities to help preserve their culture. First Voices has an online data base of languages from 60 different communities with public access to 35 of those languages. This makes it really easy for a community to come together and work to keep their culture alive and show everybody that they are willing to do the work.

The overall experience of attending gathering our voices 2009 was very inspiring, to see the old and the new coming together to “future proof” our culture and ensure that the generation of today, and generations in the future will be able to learn the culture, and know where they came from.

Chuu (Which means good bye in the Nuu-chah-nulth Language)

March 25, 2009 Posted by | 2009 Gathering Our Voices, Media Events | Leave a comment

2009 ICT Summit

Main Room at the Conference

Building Networks in First Nations Communities

Jess Gordon, a thirty year veteran in the IT industry and IT Manager for the Namgis First Nation, described how the Namgis went form having a six computer non-networked system, to being one of the most technologically advanced first nations in B.C. The Namgis network now consists of 140 computers on 12 different servers, with systems in 18 different buildings, and is only managed by three technology staff. This is an amazing feat for a first nations community, but it didn’t happen over night it took ten years and very extensive planning.

The purpose of Mr. Gordon’s presentation though was not to boast about how great the Namgis network was, but to share an experience that he hoped would help other first nations communities advance in the technological world and help first nations across Canada build strong sustainable communities using technology. The process may not be quick but it is rather simple and focuses on four main things; meeting the present and future needs of the community, planning how the network will be set up, training staff to best utilize the system, and maintaining the system so it is always running efficiently.

Similar to many processes a community will go through, the first priority is meeting the needs of the community, both the present and the future. The first thing to look at is what does the community already have? Do they need to start from scratch? Or do they have components that can be integrated into the new system? Then they need to decide what performance will be required of the network, by looking at the individual needs of the departments in the office, or in different buildings in some cases. (E.g. finance, natural resources, treaty, administration, youth center etc.) Then how will it need to be connected? Should it be wireless, wired, or a combination of both? The most important part is that it will be as efficient as possible and meet all the needs, present and future, of the community.

After what is required of the network has been decided, then implementation of a plan on to build a system that will best fit the community’s needs must happen. The first step is figuring out what components are needed to build the network, for example how many computers? How many servers? How much wiring? What type of software? All of which depends the needs of the community. After what components/software is required has been decided, then the budget needs to be planned, how much will this cost? Be sure to allow room for all expenses, it is never good to come up short and have to ask for more money. Then a time table needs to be set, when is this project going to happen? And how long will it take? Again be sure you allow enough time to be sure everything is in perfect working order so the transition goes as smoothly as possible. Another step that should be taken into consideration is the safety and security of the network. How will it prevent failure, viruses, and compromised data? What kind of back up system will be used? What policies are needed to prevent misuse? All this will aid in the protection of important data stored on the network.

During the configuration of the network is when the training should begin, all staff should to know how to best utilize the resources available. Staff should also know the policies which should have been laid out in the planning process to ensure the network remains safe and secure. There should also be some sort of standardization of systems and software to ensure communication remains clear through out the network.

The final step of the process is to maintain the system; there should be a well trained technology staff that can keep the network running smooth and efficient. The staff should be trained in disaster recovery (e.g. server failure, hardware failure) and be able to get the system back in top condition as soon as possible.

This process shows that whether a system is large or small, if it is designed correctly, following this simple format, any community can develop a network to help them selves become strong and sustainable.

March 1, 2009 Posted by | 2009 ICT Summit, Media Events | Leave a comment

2009 ICT Summit

Open Source Software

Wikipedia defines open source as an approach to design, development, and distribution offering practical accessibility to a product’s source. In terms of software this means having permission to view the source code for the software, and in turn alter it to meet the user’s specific needs. Open source software in many cases is the more cost effective solution, as opposed to proprietary software, making open source much more popular in these tough economic times. There are a variety of open source products available, with things like office suites, mapping programs, and even operating systems (e.g. Ubuntu which is a Linux based OS) The diverse array of applications available makes open source very popular among non-profit and low budget organizations such as bands or tribal councils because it helps keep the cost down for such businesses. Now some open source products are quite capable to meet most users need right out of the box for example office suites such as openoffice which is downloadable free of charge and is fully functional right away. But do not be mistaken open source software is not always cost free, nor is it always able to meet specific needs upon installation, as some applications (e.g. mapping applications) require someone with technical knowledge to customize the code to fit the organizations specifications, in some cases this can be very costly, but it can also be a great opportunity to have someone in the community trained to do such things so that skill set can be readily available when required.

In the end it is all about the specifications required of the software, which is what makes open source software great it is fully customizable to the users specific needs, and with the types of applications becoming more and more diverse it makes the possibilities of what you can do with open source software endless.

March 1, 2009 Posted by | 2009 ICT Summit, Media Events | Leave a comment

2009 ICT Summit

Collaboration Banner

Building Partnerships to Identify Community Strengths

The theme of the 2009 ICT Summit was collaboration, which is defined as working together in partnership. The spirit of this theme was most definitely felt in every aspect of the conference, from the planning process to the sponsorship of the conference, and in the work shops which were held there. Many people with a variety of skills and abilities, from a diverse group of organizations came together to make this conference happen. This conference was an exceptional example of how communities with a heavily diverse group of individuals can come together to make something great happen. The communities just need to know what they have, and what they need. This can be done by performing a community skills assessment to discover what the community’s strengths and weaknesses are. Far too often when processes such as these are done the focus is purely on what the community needs and what the community already has is overlooked. The under utilization of the community’s skills can often cost much more time and much more money than is actually required. This makes it very eminent that the communities pool together the skills that they do have so that they can become self sufficient. Then after the community has discovered what its members are capable of, they can start to look at what they need, and train community members to fill those needs. In the end this process will save the community time and money, and will also bring economic sustainability as the funds used will stay within, and help support the community.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | 2009 ICT Summit, Media Events | Leave a comment

The Olympic Pavilion Unveiling

The Olympic pavilion will be a gathering place for all nations of the world to observe the First Nations culture in Canada.  While visiting the pavilion people will be able to learn a lot about First nation’s culture; like carving, traditional dances, and potlatches.  We will now be center stage as part of Vancouver and Canada as a lasting part of history.  With the world learning what and who we are, I’m hoping we can drop the stereotypical Indian persona that is shown all over T.V.  I am personally glad to see that we are going to be considered partners of the 2010 games rather than just another prop to be shown off.  Going to the unveiling was a great sight, I witnessed an amazing thing, First Nations, Vanoc, the city of Vancouver as well as the government all working together for one common purpose.  Listening to all of the representatives speak with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Each person knew the significance of being there at the unveiling.  The 2010 games is a lasting legacy of Canada and First Nations people and I am glad knowing that I will witness it all unfold. 

February 7, 2009 Posted by | Media Events | | Leave a comment

A Temporary Legacy for Canada’s Aboriginal People in the Heart of the 2010 Winter Olympics


The image shows what the Pavilion is projected to look like.

The image shows what the Pavilion is projected to look like.

Vancouver – “This pavilion is our Longhouse. This is where we will welcome friends, family and visitors,” said Tsleil-Waututh Chief George-Wilson. “The Olympic focus on youth and on sport, combined with the experiences this pavilion will offer, will become a very positive story to be told and celebrated by many generations to come.”

On February 2nd, the Four Host First Nations (FHFN) and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympics (VANOC) unveiled the 2010 Aboriginal Olympic Pavilion which will showcase Canada’s First Nations Peoples across Canada.  The Pavilion will be temporarily situated in the heart of Vancouver near GM Place and BC Place.  Due to financing issues, the project formerly estimated to cost $20 million was cut back to $3.5 Million if the “Native Groups” could arrange the financing.

 During an Interview with National Chief Phil Fontaine, I asked how he saw the Pavilion Inspiring Aboriginal Youth across Canada and how he hoped the youth will perceive the Legacy of the 2010 Games.  “We must ensure that the young people are aware of the incredible opportunities about telling the world who we are and how very important it is to whatever success we are able to achieve through the 2010 Olympics.” Chief Phil Fontaine answers. “As I said, it isn’t just a sporting event, it’s a celebration and as we heard today, it’s about sharing our stories and the celebration of our culture, our dances, our songs, and the most important thing is to denote that we are “Hollywood Character”, we want to Capsize the Hollywood Version of our People and show them who we really are.”

 The FHFN and VANOC both show great enthusiasm in showcasing the Rich Diversity of the First Nations people in BC and Canada. The Pavilion will be enriching us with Live Performances, Displays and other Fields of Achievement.  


National Chief Phil Fontaine and BC Premier Gordon Campbell speak about the Pavilion.

National Chief Phil Fontaine and BC Premier Gordon Campbell speak about the Pavilion



February 7, 2009 Posted by | Media Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strengthening Connections

2008_1129Conference_Pics_Day20074 2008_1128Conference_Pics0073 Engaging Aboriginal Students Through Imagination Workshop

Strengthening connections was the theme of the 14th Annual FNESC Provincial Conference. So, what does strengthening connections mean? Does it mean upgrading your wireless router for a better connection? Adding some extra duct tape to your shoe so the sole will stay on? Or does strengthening connections mean engaging students more in their learning by including more cultural content and by doing so strengthening their connection to their education? Or does it mean strengthening the connection teachers have with their student by improving the structure of their classroom and their teaching style? I think the last two make much more sense and that is what I got out of two of the workshops I attended.

The Engaging Aboriginal Students Through Imagination workshop discussed many of the ways teachers can better engage aboriginal students, though their imaginations and emotions. Dr. Lee Brown said earlier in the day that “You can feel without thinking, but you can not think with out feeling.” He also shared with us that how well a student does in school is directly related to how well he or she is developing emotionally. Speaking specifically of aboriginal students, Dr. Brown said that if teachers bring in more aboriginal content and aboriginal values into the classroom, these students will be engaged emotionally and therefore become more likely to succeed. The presenters at the workshop expanded on this subject by giving suggestions for lesson plans, sharing personal experiences and by explaining how including more cultural content in the classroom can give aboriginal students a better sense of identity, and a better sense of belonging. This was also one of Dr. Brown’s beliefs as he said “Emotions become values, and values become identity.” Students and teachers both have to work on being emotionally connected to learning to be successful.

In the Putting the Pieces Together work shop, presenter Stacy Bernard spoke on building a curriculum of caring. Her emphasis was that teachers need to love their students, and build a relationship with them so that the teacher can become an attachment figure for the child. She added that it does not mean a teacher has to love the student in an adoring way but to care about their feelings and their education. Stacy stated that teachers need to build a “climate of support” in their classrooms, and create structure so that everyone knows what is expected, or in her words, “You know that I know that you know that I know.” She said that teachers need to learn their responsibilities as educators, so that students can feel safe at school and be guided through the most important years of their life. She closed by saying that we need to have emotional and morale educators in order to create a safe atmosphere to express emotion for students. Stacy told teachers to “give the students their hearts, because they are giving you theirs.”

This conference has truly shown that it takes a community to raise a child. It is not in the hands of one single person. It’s through the efforts of students, teachers and cultural leaders that success rates of aboriginal students can continue to rise so that we may look forward to a brighter tomorrow.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | FNESC 14th Annual Provincial Conference, Media Events | Leave a comment



Originally uploaded by carmelita.abraham

Andrew Mark Dexel


This artist is one to be remembered!  I felt so happy to see such a young artist.  I am pulled in by the colors and strong feeling of  First Nations history. It’s so good to see youth working in a cultural medium as a career choice.
I have a business too and I know that any sale is a good one!  I am proud of my business and I’m thrilled to see other young, First Nations entrepenuers getting their stuff out there!  Good work!

Yours truly,

Carmelita Abraham

Miss Takla (Blogger of the North.)

December 7, 2008 Posted by | FNESC 14th Annual Provincial Conference | 1 Comment

Spirit Dancer

Spirit Dancer
Originally uploaded by carmelita.abraham


Spirit Dancer
What a great name! I like the whole vibe in this picture and I have a soft spot for the child who is so smart.   The children who attended the 14th Annual FNESC Provincial Conference made the whole event worth attending.  It’s beautiful to see the future in the eyes of the children we are working to better education for. The children are important and should be recognized for working and attending at an event such as this one.

So I am happy to present to you:

Spirit Dancer

• Hand Engraved
• Silver plated & diamond cut on copper
• * No Polishing
• Surgical steel

Calvin Harry

(604) 598-3032
(778) 386-6071

December 7, 2008 Posted by | FNESC 14th Annual Provincial Conference | Leave a comment