Indigenous Canada (MOOC)

Deviating slightly from the “books as education” format as well as the “structural engineering” theme mainly found on this website, I would like to share a course that I recently completed.

Indigenous Canada is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered by the University of Alberta and available on Coursera. It is a 12-week course that presents the Indigenous perspective on history and contemporary issues in Canada.

Indigenous Canada presents incredibly powerful and educational lessons that have modern importance. As a grade-school student in the 90s, we learned history and cultural lessons through the lens of White/European curriculum. The impacts of settlers was often given a strong, positive, one-sided spin: land was found, friendships were established, negotiations were agreed upon, life progressed rapidly into a modernity. Issues such as land claims, human rights, and assimilation were not presented with the urgency they deserve. Indigenous Canada is one way to re-educate ourselves and begin a process where equality and cultural compassion can be established. It certainly is not the end to our learning, but it is a way to start.

The presentation of this MOOC is through short series of lectures and interviews guided by experts in the field. Each module issues downloadable notes and a quiz on the information. The last piece of a module is an interactive painting as described by Leah Dorion. The format that the artwork is presented, featuring interactive clickable sections of the painting that line up with Dorion’s explanation, is an interesting feature that helps life to the art.