I’ve begun the course Indigenous Canada offered by University of Alberta. This is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. I’ve already learned a great deal and recommend it. This is a free course described at the end of this post. https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
For years I’ve been praying for ways to bring about Beloved community. I’ve gone through many iterations of this diagram to help me visualize our current circumstances and what might be done to move toward such a community.
I’ve been blessed to become friends with and learn from Indigenous people. A common thread throughout my life has been to protect Mother Earth. For a long time, I looked for opportunities to make such connections because it was obvious that native peoples had always lived and continued to live in ways that protect Mother Earth.
The physical infrastructure of Beloved community was easy to see, but what I had trouble with was spirituality and governance, which are tightly bound together. I could see that Beloved community would not work with the mindset of capitalism and dominance. White people would have to learn to abandon those systems.
Two years ago I was blessed to become involved in a local Mutual Aid group which has been transformative. This is a model that teaches how to reject capitalism and dominance. A key is to leave the vertical hierarchies of power and decision making and instead use a flat or horizontal structure that gives everyone a voice. And encourages critical thinking and self-motivation. https://landbackfriends.com/mutual-aid/
I was fascinated to see this discussed in the Indigenous Worldviews course. “The hierarchical structure of western world views that places humans on top of the pyramid, does not exist. The interdependency with all things, promotes a sense of responsibility and accountability.”
Indigenous ways of knowing are based on the idea that individuals are trained to understand their environment, according to teachings found in stories.
These teachings are developed specifically to describe the collective lived experiences and date back thousands of years.
The collective experience is made up of thousands of individual experiences, and these experiences come directly from the land and help shape the codes of conduct for Indigenous societies.
A key principle is to live in balance and maintain peaceful internal and external relations.
This is linked to the understanding that we are all connected to each other.
The hierarchical structure of western world views that places humans on top of the pyramid, does not exist. The interdependency with all things, promotes a sense of responsibility and accountability.
Thriving in the harsh Arctic climate, Inuit people relied heavily upon each other for survival.
Each person had value and contributed to the community.
This reliance established codes of ethics and behaviors, or Maligait. Maligait has many meanings and translations, but to Inuit people it means, things that had to be done, and includes four main principles:
- work for the common good
- respect all living things
- preserve harmony and balance
- plan and prepare for the future
Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.
Thank you for signing up for Indigenous Canada. This course examines the historical and contemporary lives, identities, cultural expressions, rights, and goals of Indigenous peoples in Canada. In this course, we have worked to bring Indigenous voices and perspectives to inform your learning experience.
The course material will be covered in twelve modules. Each module offers a series of videos communicating Indigenous experiences of history and current events. Topics covered include: the fur trade and exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art, and its expressions. Together, these modules provide a basic familiarity with Indigenous perspectives as well as Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations.
We are excited to have you with us and be a participant in these learnings. Spread the word of this unique education experience by telling a family member, a friend, or a colleague. We hope that Indigenous Canada will serve you well and offer new insights.
Thank you and take care,
Dr. Paul Gareau
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