The University of British Columbia Point Grey campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam people. We thank the Musqueam for their hospitality and support of our work.
Aboriginal (Un)History Month took place in June, and it celebrates Aboriginal creativity, scholarship, and intellectual traditions. It aims to educate, and cultivate conversations about relationship, representation, and recognition. This past June, the events introduced some of the dimensions of Aboriginal scholarship, and celebrated creative expression and pedagogy at UBC Vancouver and beyond. These events introduced a wide range of Aboriginal experience and examined different meanings of the term “history” through the leadership of Aboriginal youth, research, media, and curriculum resources. Historic representations of Aboriginal peoples have contributed to the development of negative stereotypes. Ways of dislodging stereotypes are explored through a spectrum of imagery, objects, and texts from various media, including student films. Some of the events held throughout the month included film screenings, discussions, lectures, exhibits, and tours.
Along with the UBC Library, CTLT presented the session What I Learned in Class Today: Using Film to Create Dialogue at UBC during Aboriginal (Un)History Month. The session explored an example of a film made by a UBC student, and it explored the useful resources that were used to make the film.
An Effective Short Film
Maryel Sparks Cardinal is a fourth year student at UBC, and has taken FIPR 469: First Nations Film Topics. As one of the class projects, the students were assigned to make a short seven-minute documentary. Although Maryel’s film is short, it is effective in highlighting the lack of knowledge that surrounds the history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. For the film, Maryel decided to interview a few of her close friends on what they knew about the basic history related to First Nations issues and their history in Canada. Maryel decided to create this particular film because she realized that many people in Canadian society were unaware of the history surrounding Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Maryel asked her friends three questions for the film interviews: “what do you know about the Indian Act,” “what do you know about the 60’s scoop,” and “do you think that this is an important learning experience?” Realizing that many of her friends did not know the answer to the first two questions, Maryel asked her friends to read a short four-page article that Maryel had compiled using the Indigenous Foundations website. Maryel stated that the website was a great resource, as all the information was “easily laid out, and written in an accessible language.” Many of Maryel’s friends found that they learned a lot just from reading the four-page article. They were “shocked” and surprised that they had not learned about this history before. Maryel stated that putting together the document was not difficult, especially because the Indigenous Foundations website is easy to navigate, and the content is very accessible.
The Indigenous Foundations Website
Amy Perreault, Coordinator of Aboriginal Initiatives at CTLT, added that the Indigenous Foundations website is a great resource because “it is not intimidating for students,” and that the information on the website is reliable. Amy stated that the articles on the website “have been checked by many faculty members.” Dr. Dory Nason, who holds a joint position with the First Nations Studies Program and the Department of English, added that the website is a great resource to orient students who do not have previous exposure to First Nation Studies classes. Furthermore, Dr. Nason stated that the section on identity is a great resource to help students understand a topic which is complex and not always easy to tackle in class.
Maryel’s film is evidence of the continuous existing ignorance surrounding the history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, but it is also evidence of how resources can effectively help change people’s lack of knowledge. The Indigenous Foundation website is a great resource providing faculty, students, and the community with basic, accurate information on the history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.