The saying goes, “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.” For education, the mountain usually represents the bricks and mortar of the school, and Mohammed the students. For high school Cree language students in Alberta, the mountain not only comes to them, it shows up simultaneously, wherever they are, through the modern miracle of internet technology. Even better (in our opinion, at least), the “voice” of that mountain is supplied by Cree Literacy Network member Dorothy Thunder, through Sunchild E-Learning.
Although her students never actually see her (they hear her via audio link, but see the equivalent of a whiteboard or interactive powerpoint on their computer screens), the group meets and interacts regularly via skype, and, according to Dorothy, they have a blast.
Among Dorothy’s favourite teaching resources are the stories of Janet Feitz and Mary Wells from the 1998 Ahenakew & Wolfart anthology, kôhkominawak otâcimowiniwâwa / Our Grandmothers’ Lives as Told in Their Own Words. [Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre.]
We’d love to peek through the window of Dorothy’s virtual classroom, but access is restricted to registered students. What we can do, however, is share a link to Sunchild’s promotional video currently posted on Youtube to get a sense of the Sunchild program and the sense of community it creates for students around Alberta. Sunchild E-Learning Promotional Video.