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週一, 21 十一月 2011 17:38

A Global Lens on Indigenous Health

Centre for Aboriginal Health Research (CAHR), University of Victoria, Victoria City, Vancouver Island

The University of Victoria (UVic) is a research intensive university considered a leader in Indigenous and cultural studies, with strong ties between Indigenous communities and researchers from a diverse range of disciplines. Established in 2008 the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research is dedicated to promoting and engaging in health research, in partnership with Aboriginal peoples (locally and globally), to improve their health. It is now a leading authority worldwide on Aboriginal health that is searching for a 'global lens on Aboriginal health', which made this visit all the more worthwhile. It was an excellent opportunity to find out more about Canada's Aboriginal health issues, and by comparing their problems, research and problem-solving methods with Taiwan's, to see how the issues were interlinked for Indigenous peoples all over the world. and what policies could be initiated to combat these problems.

When we arrived at CAHR we were greeted by researchers and several doctoral candidates. The director, first introduced the overarching missions of the centre, before the researchers introduced their personal research and discoveries in areas such as: suicide rates in different Indigenous communities, bringing together traditional Indigenous healing methods, western healthcare and the links between a healthy cultural heritage and healthy people in different tribes.

Filmed by Cerise Phiv, edited by Nick Coulson, subtitled by Adrienne Chu

For readers in Mainland China:

"At the UVic Centre for Aboriginal Health Studies, I asked one of the professors who attended the conference if the suicide rate of Canadian Indigenous people was higher than non-Indigenous Canadians. He said it was. He conjectured that the reasons for this were that the majority of these suicides were among those Indigenous people who had gone to big cities to seek their livelihoods, and as a result were put under great pressure; He said in the cases he had looked into, the more identification Aboriginal people had with their own tribe, the less likely they were to have suicidal thoughts. I really believe that identity has a massive effect on people."
Gyusi Meihua (Department of Indigenous Languages and Communications, National Dong Hwa University, Atayal Nation)

 

 

"During the discussion at the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, I realized that the issues are very similar in Canada and Taiwan, yet the way of dealing with the issues, are very different. For example, their solution to a lack of medical personnel was a project for increasing personnel. Yet, when they discovered that it was not successful in increasing the number of personnel returning to the tribes, they rapidly abandoned the plan. However, Canada, like Taiwan, had not yet produced a solution to the national health insurance problem. While everyone pays the same amount, people in the cities have far better access to medical healthcare than the Indigenous communities in remote areas. This becomes a question of fairness."
Wilang Watah (School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Atayal Nation)

 

 

"Because it relates to my major I was more concerned with the issues raised at the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research. The Canadian government has already built a national research centre for Indigenous healthcare. But here in Taiwan, we’re still in lack of proper research facilities or plans that may actually improve Indigenous peoples health status. This visit helped me to see what more we can do in the future."
Rimuy Watan (School of Nursing, National Yang-Ming University, Atayal Nation)

 

Photo by C. Phiv


週一, 21 十一月 2011 17:34

Standing on the Shoulders of our Culture

First Nations House of Learning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Education is a question right at the centre of the various global Indigenous movements and one of the students four focal groups. Apart from introducing the centres specific role in improving Aboriginal education, Rick Ouellet and Debra Martel also introduced to us how the Canadian education system worked for Indigenous peoples and what policies and projects had been successful. For example, British Columbia was the first province to make it a requirement that all teachers took courses in Indigenous studies. One area which the centre is working towards is in trying to reach a situation where people who acquire degrees, can go back to their communities after their education and still find a job.

"The House of Aboriginal Learning at UBC was full of Indigenous feeling in its architecture and interior. As a student of Taiwan’s first college of Indigenous studies, I noticed we only have one stone slab representing aboriginality at the institute, I felt we could also increase the aboriginal feel of the building by including art installations, to make ourselves truly ‘visible’."
Utun Titi (Department of Indigenous Languages and Communications, National Dong Hwa University, Taroko Nation)

 

"Dr. Bruce Miller introduced to us the history and development of First Nation’s policy, education system and social welfare system in Canada. It is unlike Taiwan’s division of normal education and Indigenous education into two parts. At the UVic Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, they told us, “We should educate non-aboriginal people, how to respect and help First Nations to form an Indigenous thought and perspective.” That is remarkable. At the University of Victoria, they said, “The youth are the strength and power.” This reminds me of how important the issue of Indigenous education is, especially cultural education, which is related to ethnic crisis of the marginalised."
Gagai (Department of Indigenous Languages and Communications, National Dong Hwa University, Paiwan Nation)

 

For readers in Mainland China:

Video filmed by C. Phiv and D. Chen, edited by N. Coulson, subtitled by Adrienne Chu


ubc_house_learning

 

Photos by C. Phiv


 


週一, 21 十一月 2011 16:58

Totems, Canoes and Sisiutl Serpent Spoons

Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

After receiving the lecture at the Department of Anthropology, we were guided through the Museum of Anthropology, founded in 1949, which houses over 38 000 ethnographic objects. Of particular interest to our students is that MOA is a world leader in collecting Aboriginal artefacts and there are approximately 6,000 objects from B.C's First Nations in MOA's collections, from totem poles, to canoes and carved boxes, bowls, and feast dishes. Furthermore the museum has an innovative storing methods and interactive software and hardware allowing one to explore the collections from the touch-screen computer or from the Internet. Visiting the MOA was an excellent opportunity for us to see how they run the museum to inspire curiosity, understanding and respect of other world cultures, while promoting innovation and inclusiveness. With the historical and anthropological background it was also a chance for our troupe to explore and share the similarities and differences between their Indigenous cultures.

For readers in Mainland China:

Filmed by C. Phiv, edited by Nick Coulson, subtitled by Adrienne Chu

"Despite not being huge, the Museum of Anthropology, UBC, made excellent use of space, using a system of wooden drawers, which could pulled out be viewed as flat exhibitions. They also made excellent use of new media, with a network of Macs with touch screen systems and practical, easy to use MOACAT digital library database system. As the ‘technology’ island, does Taiwan not have more potential to progress in this area?"
Yahu Kunaw (Department of Indigenous Languages and Communications, National Dong Hwa University, Atayal Nation)

ubc_museum_inside

Photos: Shuching Hsueh


週一, 21 十一月 2011 16:54

Practice: The Art of Making Something from Nothing

University of British Columbia, Department of Anthropology, Vancouver

A long-serving professor of Anthropology, Dr Bruce Miller, has huge experience in World Aboriginal affairs. He first gave a presentation on the history and development of First Nation struggle in Canada, before extending to examples of Indigenous struggles elsewhere in the world including Brazil, the US and Papua New Guinea. After leading into discussion he gave advice on the repertoire of tools available for advancing Indigenous empowerment. He emphasized the importance of manipulating the laws available to them, but also the adoption of various tactics to advance the cause, such as the 'politics of embarrassment'. For Bruce Miller, most important of all was that regardless of how much resources they had was to begin putting ideas into practice immediately, taking action now to create the future for themselves and their people.

For readers in Mainland China:

"For me, the UBC Department of Anthropology was the most exciting part of the trip. In a very short time, Dr. Bruce Miller gave us an understanding of the history of the First Nations struggle in Canada, and used his experience and observations to evoke discussion of certain focal points with us students. He listened to our questions and his reply was always a message of encouragement. For example, he urged us to use movement tactics such as the ‘politics of embarrassment’ to force the governments into making decisions rather than just suffering injustices and then pleading with the government that they empower the Indigenous people. What he was telling us was that power doesn’t come without a struggle. You must be ready and willing to take action.

In the future, as an Indigenous scholar, I would like to reinterpret Aboriginal cultural research through a new Indigenous lens. It will be a long and difficult road, but here I 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."
Piho Yuhaw (Department of Ethnology, National Chengchi University, Atayal Nation)

 

"Dr. Bruce Miller proposes that “everything starts with the law”. He emphasized the very tangible power of the law, and that it is not just playing strategic games on paper. He applied this concept to the tribal experience, and to how Indigenous people can have a big effect on their own culture, gradually bringing about the vision of the 'tribal development council'."
Takun Tado (School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Seediq Nation)

 

"As Dr. Bruce Miller said, “Laws are dead, but people are alive. You shall never be the living dead.” As Indigenous intellectuals, it’s our obligation to stand up and fight against the inequalities in our society. When we mentioned funding limitations, Dr. Bruce Miller lambasted us saying “There are lots of teenagers in Canada the same age as you. They have nothing, but it’s to their advantage. If you want to make some changes, start now.” Because of his inspiring words, we all have more confidence to go and do all the things we wish to do, and to defend our peoples’ rights."
Labi (Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures, National Dong Hwa University, Amis Nation)

Photo:Shuching Hsueh


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