Erenlai - 按標籤顯示項目: aborigine in tawan
週一, 21 十一月 2011 18:16

Bringing Home the Seeds of Indigenous Autonomy

The Council of Indigenous Peoples held the 13th Taiwan Indigenous Students Cultural Exchange Program (TISCEP) this year. The destination was the Vancouver region in Canada's most western province - British Columbia. eRenlai's mother organisation, the Taipei Ricci Institute was the organising committee. In contrast with previous years, the students had a more central role, submitting a proposal for the goals and program of the exchange trip. In eRenlai's December Focus we will bring you accounts of the trip from the students who took part, along with a mini-documentary in eight parts, which documents their journey from start to finish..

We begin with an interview with the director of the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), Ta-chuan Sun, in which he expresses the need for reform of Indigenous cultural industries, and sets out a mission for future generations of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Responding to the CIP's call for applications, thirteen Indigenous students from Taiwan came together as a team in a quest for knowledge and experience that could be used to improve the situation of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. As they prepared to fly into an unknown world, the students were full of anticipation, nervousness and gratitude for this once in a lifetime opportunity, which would hopefully lay the foundations for a new chapter in the history of their peoples.

The students divided themselves into four groups, each tasked with engaging with an issue of great importance to aboriginal people: Autonomy, Health, Education and Media & Cultural Enterprise. Insights into these four issues allowed them to focus on various aspects of the decision-making processes behind policy formation, social engagement and cultural heritage. Each group was tasked with engaging with various organisations they would be visiting in Canada, in an effort to glean as much knowledge as possible from the short trip. Canada is often considered a world leader when it comes to dealing with indigenous affairs and there are over two hundred First Nation's tribes and 37 languages in British Columbia alone, making Canada an ideal place to learn about the interaction between governments, settlers and indigenous peoples.

The team was taken into an unknown world in their quest for knowledge, experience and identity - the seeds of indigenous autonomy - to bring home to Taiwan. The students explored indigenous studies and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia's Aboriginal House of Learning; at the same university's Department of Anthropology, Dr Bruce Miller talked about the practice and process of achieving autonomy from nothing; furthermore, the students were introduced to an array of new perspectives on Aboriginal health research at the University of Victoria. Visiting successful examples of sustainable tourism that incorporated traditional rituals, song and dance with natural beauty at the Aboriginal-themed Klahowya Village in Stanley Parkand the U'mista Cultural Centre, demonstrated to them the potential for development of indigenous cultural tourism and industry. Meanwhile, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC made evident to the students the importance of preserving their cultural heritage and protecting cultural relics. From their time spent at the Victoria Aboriginal Friendship Centre, they took back home with them first-hand observations of how a charitable organisation could help urban Aborigines better cope with the transition from a First Nations reserve to urban life. Furthermore, during their trip toDuncan City Hall, Mayor Phil Kent and Councillor Joe Thorne honoured the students with a convivial welcoming before describing Duncan's intercommunity relations and experiments with participatory democracy at a local and federal level.

Piho Yuhaw, was one of the student leaders who was involved in writing the groups project proposal, here he gave his final thoughts on the exchange and his personal goals for the future:

"I think the East could learn from the West and its experiences with autonomy. The Eastern discourse views self-government as ‘seperationist’ or ‘splittist’, while in the West they see it as national or ethnic ‘self determination’. In the future, as an Indigenous scholar, I would like to reinterpret aboriginal cultural research through a new native lens. It will be a long and difficult road, but to quote Dr. Bruce Miller “The indigenous movement needs to be put into practice, even when you have nothing”. Looking at the indigenous struggle and indigenous empowerment from a historical perspective, something has always come from nothing - this is called practice."

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Photo 1: Yubax Hayung
Photo 2: C. Phiv


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