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Indigenous Canada: Storytelling, Community, and Sustainability

It's National Indigenous History Month in Canada, and I just finished University of Alberta's 12-week course of Indigenous Canada.


When you visit Canada, you can easily find a connection to Indigenous culture in many forms such as road signs and public arts. However, it is not easy for everyone to understand the complex history behind the scene; if we take the cultural icons without knowing the background, we cannot establish a mutual understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in a true sense, and it's impossible for the society as a whole to build a better future in this beautiful country of Canada. Here, the online course was a great introduction to Canadian history and gave me an opportunity to realize how little I know about the country, where I currently (and permanently) live.

In fact, every single fact I learned from the course was eye-opening, but there are 3 key takeaways I strongly recall:

  • For Indigenous people, storytelling is a major way to transfer knowledge from generation to generation.
  • Community-based activity is vital for Indigenous people to live, learn, act, and strengthen their identity.
  • Indigenous lifestyle is based on deep appreciation for our mother's land and natural resources, which can be essential for modern sustainability development.

It should be noticed that these Indigenous ways of living/thinking overlap with what's been discussed lately in the context of global economy, and the practices have been completely normal for Indigenous people from the beginning. That is, Indigenous history, in general, is important not only for correctly understanding the past but also for making present & future better.

Knowing such a practical aspect of history, I'm now motivated to continue the learning further with other resources such as "21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act" and "Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World".

Luckily, we have a lot of learning contents both online and offline, including the ones at the public library where I frequently go these days. In particular, museums are my favorite source for learning as I mentioned in Learning Canada's History; I recently enjoy visiting local museums to get a deeper insight about Canadian history. Interestingly, the course for Indigenous Canada completely changed how I view the exhibition at the museums. While I'm taking the course on Coursera, I visited a couple of different museums across British Columbia, and as I accumulate my knowledge about the Indigenous history, the time spent at a museum gets longer and longer. I'm always impressed how informative individual museums are.

Considering why I learn, Indigenous Canada was clearly one of the best courses I've ever taken on Coursera in terms of how strongly my curiosity is stimulated and how much real world impact I can envision. Mountains 101 is tied for the place. So, what's next, University of Alberta?


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  See also

Reviewing Things I Do Not Know About the Indian Act #NDTR
Rethinking Why, When, and How I Learn
Learning Canada's History


Last updated: 2022-09-02

  Author: Takuya Kitazawa

Takuya Kitazawa is a freelance software developer, minimalistic traveler, ultralight hiker & runner, and craft beer enthusiast. With a decade of experiences as a full-stack software developer, machine learning engineer, data scientist, and product manager, I am currently working at the intersection of technological and societal aspects of data-driven applications. You can find what I am doing lately at my "now" page, and your inquiry is always welcome at [email protected], including comments on my blog posts.

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