Since the 1960s, the Native North American Travelling College (NNATC) has been running programs in the Mohawk community at Akwesasne centred on traditional culture. It’s created safe spaces for youth to learn from elders and develop a sense of pride in their culture. Beyond that, the NNATC sends a traveling troop of educators to nearby schools to educate non-Indigenous students about their traditions and contemporary lives.
Like many Indigenous communities, Akwesasne suffers from the legacies of colonization and the violent effects of Residential Schools. The NNATC uses culture as prevention against the negative influences of colonization, like stereotypes held by outsiders, while it inspires community well-being.
As part of its efforts, the NNATC has teamed up with researchers from Carleton’s Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language, and Education (CIRCLE). Together, they will assess and map NNATC programs for other communities that may want to implement similar programs. That kind of data is also often requested by the funding bodies that keep NNATC going.
Dr. Miranda J. Brady is one of the researchers involved in the partnership. As a co-director of CIRCLE, she works collaboratively on research initiatives and community-building activities. Brady explains, “Historically, non-Indigenous researchers have exploited Indigenous communities for their own benefit giving back little or nothing in return.” Conversely, CIRCLE works toward activities that mutually address the goals of Indigenous partners, learning opportunities for students, and research objectives.
Brady says the community will play a fundamental role in all aspects of this project — that includes participant observations in workshops, story work with elders, archival research, and interviews with former NNATC students and staff. Researchers will even work with students to create multimedia projects that reflect their own experiences.
Dr. Brady has written extensively on the construction of Indigenous identity in the media and cultural institutions, as well as the legacies of the Canadian Residential Schools system and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Her broader interests encompass the intersections between media and race, and communication and identity.
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