Indigenous World Net Lets Educators Chat

May 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-4: International Indigenous Education, Tribal College News

Indigenous World Net was launched recently as a First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium (FNAHEC) project. The website is designed to provide an Internet-based platform from which indigenous ways of knowing can be shared with the world.

“Indigenous World Net will enable communities to share, communicate via chat and video conferencing, document their histories, and have a central repository of traditional knowledge,” according to the FNAHEC website.

The concept of an online, international, indigenous education forum was first tested prior to the 2002 World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE). Indigenous people around the world communicated with one another via the WIPCE website, asking about forum topics, housing, and travel logistics. Occasionally the questions ranged into more philosophical topics about indigenous education.

FNAHEC (the organization of 10 First Nations colleges and learning centers in western Canada) hosted WIPCE in 2002. The steering committee members in Canada took turns responding to questions.

Since the website has remained active with international traffic, FNAHEC obtained monetary support from the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund to give a separate home to Indigenous World Net (www.indigenousworld.net).

Much of the email has been from indigenous educators in South America, but it has not been posted because it needs translation, according to Vivian Ayoungman, executive director of FNAHEC. “You want to know what you are posting,” she says.

Consequently, FNAHEC is working with the Six Nations International Development Agency, which will help with Spanish translation. FNAHEC hopes to facilitate a bid for WIPCE by a South American community in 2008. (The conference is every 3 years; 2005 is in New Zealand.)

FNAHEC hopes the website will also support itself through advertising. Ayoungman says plans for the website oversight are still being finalized. “We need a process for monitoring our chat lines and bulletin board, which are very active,” she says.

An organization modeled after the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, FNAHEC was founded by post-secondary institutions in Canada in 1997. At the present time, its members include: Old Sun Community College, Red Crow Community College, Maskwachees Cultural College, Blue Quills First Nations College, Tsuu Tina Adult Education Program, Piikani Adult and Career Education Centre, Yellowhead Tribal Council Education Centre, and Nakoda Nation Post-Secondary Education Centre.

For more information about FNAHEC, contact the office in Calgary, Alberta, at (403) 281-9779, see the website www.fnahec.org, or email Vivian Ayoungman vayoungman@treaty7.org.

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