Treaty 4 Final Project

Posted on December 13, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, Technology |

For my Ec&I832 final project, the goal was to work on the tech part of my Master’s project.  This summer, I came up with an idea to incorporate some of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action.

As the project developed in my mind, I realized this was going to be huge.  I applied to change my Master’s program from course route to project route for this very reason.  The change was accepted, and I started my journey with this project.

When I entered Alec and Katia’s EC&I 832 class, I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to work on the tech component of this project.  I was going to be developing a GPS enabled Treaty 4 experience using the ARIS app.  The app allows participants to physically travel around a space and interact with characters, videos, websites and history using augmented reality. This University of Wisconsin developed app was going to be a large learning curve for me.  It had a lot of coding involved, and I was going to have to learn step by step how to incorporate my content into their app’s infrastructure. Luckily for me, there was an ARIS Global Jam happening on October 23 and 24.

aris global jam

Photo credit: Aris Games

The Global Jam was a full two day experience where people from all over the world came together online to develop their own ARIS game/experience.  I got permission from my school’s admin to take part on the Friday, so for the entire school day, I sat in my vice principal’s office and took part in the live stream.

Photo 2015-10-23, 9 54 30 AM

During the Friday and Saturday, I was able to talk to the app’s creators and ask questions while I developed my game.  I followed the ARIS app’s demo game structure and added each individual item.

Check out this video to see their demo game:

For example, to have a participant take part in a conversation within the game, I needed to create the characters involved in the conversation and a flow chart.  The flow chart allows the game’s participants to make a choice once they’ve taken part in a conversation. Multiply this by many conversations and characters, and my hours were flying by without, what I thought, was a whole lot to show for it.

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Furthermore, I didn’t just have to create characters and conversations, but plaques, player attributes, items and web pages.

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Over those two days, I painstakingly created some of the tech skeleton for my project. It was definitely the hardest thing I have ever worked on with a computer.  After the first day, I blogged about the experience.  I wasn’t able to put in any of the actual script because I hadn’t yet met with any of the First Nation’s allies who were going to help guide the content for this project.

The next month I met with Sarah Longman and Tamara Ryba.  Sarah works at my school division’s board office as an aboriginal consultant, and Tamara Ryba teaches at Scott Collegiate.  During my meeting with Sarah Longman, I share my vision and hopes for the project.  She listened to my ideas and told me she would be willing to help.  We talked about some of Saskatchewan’s history, and we discussed how residential schools might fit.  We decided that she was going to introduce me to Noel Starblanket and Gramma Bear so I could request their assistance with this project as well. She agreed to bring tobacco and help me offer it in exchange for their wisdom and guidance.  She explained that when I offer them tobacco, I am also requesting their prayers for me in this way.


“Sweet grass” Photo credit: Daniel Fuller via Flickr

When I met with Tamara, we planned out how I could collaborate with her high school students on this project.  I wanted this project to be more than just me re-telling the story of Treaty 4.  I wanted other Aboriginal and non Aboriginal students to be a part of creating this experience.  We decided that they were going to help with some of the language research.  Specifically, they were going to find some words that would be considered the “artifacts” or items to be picked up within the game.

Originally, I thought we could use some Aboriginal artifacts like tipis, buffalo skin, or arrow heads as items within the game, as the app allows you to “pick things up” and keep them in a game inventory.


Photo credit: Richard Elzey via Flickr

Tamara challenged that idea, (rightly so) and showed me how ARIS’s game structure in itself is very Euro-centric; the idea of collecting items and keeping them is not in step with First Nations beliefs.  Instead, we decided that participants will collect a Cree, Lakota or Saulteaux word every time they enter a new conversation or quest within the game. By the end of the game experience, they will have a “bank” of new words that they have learned. This felt like a much better way to honour First Nations history and language.

Sarah Longman had set up a meeting with Noel Starblanket and Gramma Bear in late November, but unfortunately due to illness, this meeting was cancelled and will be rescheduled for the new year. I am looking forward to sharing my project ideas with them and hearing their ideas of what “story” needs to be told through this.

To sum up, these are the things I have worked on for my Masters project during the  EC&I832 class.

*I’ve researched the history of the signing of Treaty 4. I read many government documents, OTC documents and re-tellings of what happened in 1874.

*Using the OTC’s resources, and other timelines, I made an online timeline of the treaty relationship in Canada. Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 7.43.17 PM

*I took part in the two day ARIS Global Jam on October 23rd and 24th where I created the game’s code skeleton.

*I met with Sarah Longman to discuss how Regina Public Schools could support and guide this project.

*I met with Tamara Ryba to discuss how she can incorporate this project into her student’s ELA curriculum. We co-planned her unit so that her students can take part in the research of Treaty 4 and the incorporation of Cree and Lakota words for the game’s word bank.

*I developed a theoretical plan to debunk some main misconceptions surrounding treaties and First Nations people.

*I made a presentation that allows me to quickly show and explain my project.  This will help others grasp what I am trying to do and help my explain to them how they can come alongside to help.Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 7.44.28 PM

Things I still need to do:

*Meet with key elders and Aboriginal allies to discuss what part of the signing of Treaty 4 needs to be told.

*Meet with another group of high school students from Campbell Collegiate. Sarah has some students in mind that she would like to see be a part of this project.  They will most likely be researching Treaty 4 history and finding Saluteaux words for the word bank.

*Using the research and following the guidance of the elders, I will create a story board and script that tells the story of Treaty 4 in an easy, concise way. The story/ game should be able to engage people of all ages including primary students, high school students, EAL learners and tourists.

*Get permission/ work alongside the First Nations University to use their land for the GPS coordinates and the “home base” of this project.

Thanks for following along this semester. Please let me know if you are interested in being a part of this project in any way, shape or form. My hope is that in a year from now, this project will be complete!

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Treaty Misconceptions and Facts

Posted on December 12, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, games, Masters, Privilege, Race, Technology |

As I have been developing my Treaty 4 ARIS game/experience, I have been thinking about what content should be included, and what misconceptions should be addressed through this experience.

I have looked at some information from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, and they have a lot of great resources when it comes to the history, story, and misconceptions of Treaty 4.

I am going to use some of their misconceptions through my project.  I want to find a way to incorporate the facts clearly by having my participants learn them through story and experience. Here are some of the things I want to address:

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When I meet with the Aboriginal elders and allies helping with this project, I will discuss how they think we can address these myths through the game’s story.

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The Journey

Posted on November 20, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, personal, Privilege, Race, reflection |

Yesterday I met with my friend, Tamara Ryba at Scott Collegiate. It was a great meeting where we covered a lot of ground on my final project. She has agreed to have her students help with research and language connections for my final project. It’s great to have all hands on deck when it comes to this Treaty 4 project, as it’s a big one.

However, today’s post isn’t going to be about the specifics of my project.  Today’s post is going to be about the mental and spiritual journey I have started that relates to this project. It’s going to be about the embarrassing, sometimes painful journey I have experienced as I work through these discourses.


Photo Credit: Carlo Scherer

Through this summer’s anti-oppressive master’s course, my eyes were opened to the oppression and racism that is systematically infused into our culture and society. My mind and heart were changed as I began to see the world in a new way.  I began to recognize how I see the world through a female, privileged, white settler lens. My ideologies slowly began to change, and I started a path that is working towards anti-oppressive education.

Though the process isn’t linear per se, I am going to walk through the timeline of how I have seen my views change, and how I have seen my comfort challenged… even today.

Summer 2015- I took an anti-oppressive education summer institute. I read a plethera of articles about Canada’s unfortunate racist history. I had great discussions with colleagues about the TRC (Truth and Reconcilliation Commission of Canada) documents. I began seeing things in new ways.


Photo Credit: The Media Project

I read the TRC’s Calls to Action for education, and decided I wanted to use the ARIS app to create a Treaty 4 experience that allows participants to “experience history” rather than read about it.

September 2015- I started looking at the logistics of this project. I thought that I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted to go with the project.  I was encouraged and challenged by a friend/mentor that I should not try to be the “white knight” and re-tell history through an app, because I still saw the world through female, white settler eyes. I learned that I was going to need to come along side Aboriginal allies/ key players who are already involved in anti-oppressive education, and whose views I am trying to depict through this experience.

November- Met with Regina Public School’s aboriginal consultant, Sarah Longman.  She dropped names of people and resources that I had never heard about. Meeting with her did two things: 1) Made me realize how much I don’t know. 2) Made me feel like I have an aboriginal advocate who will walk through this project with me.

Yesterday-November 19, 2015- I went to visit Tamara Ryba at Scott Collegiate.  As I was using my GPS to drive to Scott, I realized that I had no idea where the school was, and in my close to 30 years of living in Regina, I don’t think I had ever driven by this high school in central Regina.  As I was parking, I looked to my right.  In the front passenger seat, I had a 4 Operation Christmas Child boxes that I planned on dropping off later that day, and I had my lunch sitting on top of the boxes in a Lululemon bag.  Embarrassingly, I am going to share with you the thought process I had:

  1. I looked at the Christmas Child boxes and thought about if someone would steal them.  I then thought, “Well it might be ok if they get stolen, because the people who steal them will probably need that stuff anyways.”
  2. I looked at the Lululemon lunch bag and thought, “Hmm, someone might think I have Lululemon clothes in that bag, and they might want to break in.” I then moved the Lulu bag under the boxes where it was out of sight from the window.
  3. I then glanced into the backseat to see if there was anything else valuable that might be stolen, and left the car, being sure to lock it behind me.

After the great meeting with Tamara, I got in my car and started to drive back to my school which is located in East Regina.  As I got closer to the main roads, and closer to the East end, I physically started to feel more comfortable.  It dawned on me that I drive from Harbour Landing (where I live) to the east end every day for work.  There is an entire part of our city that I literally never see or experience.  As I continued to reflect on my morning, I got more and more disgusted with my responses. The very racism and prejudice I am trying to fight with this project is so ingrained in my thoughts and everyday life that it affected my behaviour as I was outside of that school. I was/am disappointed with myself, but I am also aware that this recognition of my behaviour is the first step to change.


Photo credit: Duncan C.

Next week I am going to be meeting with Noel Starblanket and Gramma Bear and learning how to offer them tobacco. This is a step I am excited for as it is a step out of my comfort zone, but something that is so valuable. They will be a giving me ideas and information that will help with the story part of my project. I am offering them tobacco as a ceremonial gesture that shows I value their knowledge and wisdom.

I know I will continue going through a process of “unlearning” thoughts and behaviours that I have grown up with. It is uncomfortable thinking about how I am not an expert in this area, and how much I have to grow. I know that sometimes it will be two steps forward, and one step back.  That said, I am committed to moving forward, and with supports in place, I know this journey is going to be good.

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Treaty 4 Project: Moving From Tech Specs to Story Starters

Posted on November 15, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, Privilege, Race, teaching and learning |

My final project is definitely a long work in progress. It is going to take layers of coding, story telling, and information gathering before there is a finished product.  Up until now, I have mainly worked on the tech side of the project.  I have been wanting and waiting to get in contact with some aboriginal advocates/liasons before I started the story component. This week I was able to meet with Regina Public School’s divisions aboriginal advocate, Sarah Longman.

For those of you who don’t know, I will give you a quick review of my plan for my final project.

  1. I would like to use a GPS enabled app called ARIS to recreate the signing of Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan.
  2. I will need to set up the web based code that allows participants to use a mobile phone for the video/game experience.
  3. I want to connect with First Nation’s allies and stake holders for the story part of the ARIS experience.
  4. I want this GPS re-enactment of Treaty 4 to be Saskatchewan’s equivalent to the Anne Frank House of Amsterdam.

At my introductory meeting, I basically explained my vision to Sarah Longman for this project. She was very interested, and she said she was definitely willing to help. She helped guide me with some future steps as I continue with this project. She also offered some of her own thoughts and wishes. I will discuss some of the things we talked about in our meeting:

  • Thomas Moore– Sarah would love to see an inquiry project into Thomas Moore and his story.  Below you can see Thomas Moore’s before and after pictures from the Regina Indian Industrial Residential School. Sarah was explaining to me some of the spiritual/cultural meanings behind the clothing and hairstyles Thomas Moore wore in the before picture. For example, his hair was in long braids.  In traditional First Nation’s culture, people only cut their hair if someone close to them passed away. The closer the person was to you, the more hair you cut off.  As you can see, Thomas Moore’s hair had been completely cut off. Without him speaking English, he would have had no understanding of why his hair was being cut. He most likely would have thought that his parents and family had been killed.  Thomas’s story and death is somewhat of a mystery, and Sarah would love to see an inquiry project into his life.  I’m not sure if Thomas Moore will fit into my project, but her explanation did cause me to contemplate incorporating Thomas Moore into the ARIS experience as one of the characters.
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Photo credit: Great Lakes Environmental Justice

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Photo credit: Great Lakes Environmental Justice

  • Tamara Ryba– Tamara is a teacher at Scott Collegiate.  I met her this summer through my anti-oppressive education class in July. Sarah suggested that I might be able to connect with some of the supports and teachers within the division.  In fact, Sarah thought that I might even be able to have some high school students (aboriginal and non-aboriginal) do some research about the signing of treaty 4. I have reached out to Tamara and will be meeting with her this week to discuss how her students might be able to help with this project. I will need help deciding who or what story to tell throughout the Treaty 4 re-enactment. Though I have done my own research on the signing of Treaty 4, my plan is to suggest that her students help create a timeline for my ARIS game.
  • Noel Starblanket, Alma Poitras, and possibly some other elders will help guide and direct my project.  It is extremely important that I am seeking the advice and council of Aboriginal elders throughout this process.  Sarah said that she can help me learn how to offer tobacco to some of the elders as I ask for their help and wisdom. There were Aboriginal ceremonies and rituals surrounding the signing of Treaty 4, and if I want to create an accurate representation/experience of history and honour the narrative of the people present, I will need to include the spiritual understanding that accompanied these ceremonies.

    Pipe ceremony Photo Credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta

    I also have to be hyper aware of my own place as a white female settler in this way. These ceremonies were and ARE symbolic, and I don’t want to downplay or showcase a ceremony that is meant to be experienced, not exhibited.

  • Residential Schools– Sarah and I discussed how residential schools might fit into this project or if they even do.  My Master’s project supervisor, Michael Cappello has suggested that I might want to consider doing a second, 2.0 ARIS experience that is around residential schools. I’m struggling through how much story I can fit into this mobile experience.  What is going to be the right amount of story that will carry participants through the history of Treaty 4 while not loading them down with vast amounts of information?! One of my main goals for this project was to keep it light on text, and accessible to grade ones, EAL students and tourists. If that is the case, where will I have to sacrifice information for engagement?
  • Next steps- Sarah said she would help me out by contacting some of the people I will need to meet with.  I will have to wait until she can set up a time for me to meet with the elders and teachers. During this time, I will continue digging in to find “the story” behind the signing of Treaty 4. My next step is really nailing down some of the misconceptions around the Treaty 4, and finding ways to overcome those through the ARIS story.
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Treaty 4 Project, Here I Come

Posted on October 23, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations | Tags: |

This project of mine has been in the works for months now.  Every week after school, a colleague and I run this free PD session called Appy Hour (#rbeappyhour) at W.S. Hawrylak.  Each week someone brings an app/ website or another tech tool to share. It’s kind of like a mini Edcamp every week. Sometime last year I shared this app called ARIS. It’s a GPS enabled app that uses your location to give you updates and information when you get to the right spot. Watch this little video to see it in action.

I was inspired, and I wanted to create an ARIS experience/game. At first, I was thinking about making some literature/book characters come alive, but nothing inspired me enough to start. Until…

This summer’s anti-oppressive ed course. It was here that I really had my eyes opened to the oppression and systematic racism that I am a part of.  I read parts of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation’s Call to Action and I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to make an ARIS game/experience that allowed participants to re-live the signing of Treaty 4.

I had visited Amsterdam when I was in Europe, and I got the chance to see the Anne Frank House. The story of Anne Frank came alive as you travelled through her house.

It was a very moving and engaging experience, and I wanted to create the “Anne Frank House” of Saskatchewan. I wanted people to be able to experience and really engage with the racism and oppression that existed at the signing of Treaty 4, and is still prevalent today.  This is the proposal video I made talking about my ideas for this project.

Fortunately, I have been challenged by people who have my best interest at heart on the idea of me being the “white knight.”  Is it really my place to swoop in and try to create an experience that liberates First Nation’s people’s history? Am I really any farther along if I, like Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott, am just trying to “get rid of the Indian problem?” What is my end goal here? Did I read the TRC and then decide that I am going to “solve this racism issue”? In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere suggests that it’s not the dominant group that can “free” the oppressed. It is actually the oppressed group themselves that have to free the dominant group AND themselves.

As I have been working on this project, it is very clear that my role needs to be as an ally. I need to come alongside other First Nations people who are working towards the same goal. I need to bring my gifts and talents to the table and see where they can be used to support the work of anti-oppressive education.

Today I started by learning the technology behind the ARIS app. The ARIS Global Jam (#arisjam) is happening today and tomorrow around the globe. (October 23/24, 2015) People from all over the world are putting together games and experiences using this app.  Some people I have interacted with today are creating virtual tours of schools/museums.  Others are making GPS enabled experiences at cemeteries to learn about the different famous people who have died and are buried there.  I was even shown some games that are similar to mine in that they are working towards anti-oppressive education. One game allows participants to experience life as a refugee, and another is an American Indian language revitalization project.

All of these projects take a lot of work and a lot of behind the scenes programming.

First I spent all morning following ARIS’s step by step demo guide.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 3.24.21 PM

It is here where I became familiar with how to add objects, start conversations, and provide choice within the app. The ARIS developers provided blue instructions if you just wanted to copy their demo game, and orange instructions if you wanted to start developing your own.

The hardest part about this was getting familiar with the language. I would often have to read a direction three times to really understand what it was asking me to do.

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The next problem I faced was at the end of the demo instructions.  It technically only showed me how to do three things: 1) start a conversation, 2) pick up an item 3) add a little bit of media.  Once I had done those things, I had to decide where I was going.  I don’t plan on telling the story of signing Treaty 4 myself. I am going to consult with aboriginal advocates, elders, and other key players whose voices need to be heard through this.  My only problem is that until I have this future script, I am guessing on the framework of the game.

I have decided that I am going to keep it simple by having the tech specs ready for whatever my Aboriginal allies decide. Perhaps we need to focus on the side conversations and way of living the First People’s were experiencing in 1874.  Maybe we look at the pipe ceremony or the treaty medals as “items” within the app.  Maybe the focus will not be on the “signing” of the treaty, but the promise and spiritual significance the chief’s word held.

As I progress, I am going to create flexible spaces within the app that can be adapted and added to as necessary. My fingers are crossed that this will continue to be a successful, eye-opening journey for myself and all the others involved in the creation and participation of this experience!

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This was one of the fill-in pictures I used today because I didn’t have a picture of my game’s character yet!

TRC Poster Project pdf < My full proposal from this summer if you are interested in some “light” reading.

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