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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
Thursday, June 18 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
CON07.13 - Knowing the land beneath our feet: Integrating a digital Indigenous walking tour into University of British Columbia classrooms

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In this talk, we share our experiences piloting a digital Indigenous walking tour with over 300 undergraduate students. Knowing the Land Beneath Our Feet (KLBF) is a digitally-augmented walking tour of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus, researched and designed by Spencer Lindsay and Sarah Ling with advisors from academic and Indigenous communities on the traditional, unceded, ancestral territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam people. Using Global Positioning Systems built into cellphones, KLBF augments the University of British Columbia environment with stories, videos, photographs and text drawn from archives and interviews with community members and elders. While the tour is designed for a range of users, this presentation focuses on students’ learning experiences. University of British Columbia Vancouver is marked by a longstanding engagement with Indigenous communities and cultures, but this continued presence remains invisible to the majority of students. This situation is not unique to University of British Columbia. Throughout Canada, Ashok Mathur argues, “if there is any awareness of First Peoples and their inhabitation and proprietorship of this land, it is most frequently mediated through colonial narratives of contact” (3). By sharing Indigenous narratives of the land, KLBF’s pedagogical design provides students the opportunity to connect their learning to local contexts and make their classroom experiences more relevant to their everyday lives. Students engage with campus sites that tell stories, encode values, and point the way to respectful relationships with Musqueam and other First Nations. The tour asks participants to, in Paulette Regan’s words, “learn to listen differently” (15) to Indigenous histories and to reconsider their own histories and their place on this territory. During our session, we demonstrate how students navigate the tour and show examples of sites they visit. We share challenges and successes in how we integrated this technology into our course designs, blended in- and beyond-the-classroom learning environments, identified learning objectives and assessed these objectives through activities and assignments. More broadly, we reflect on the ways that digital campus walking tours might contribute to students’ deeper appreciation and understandings of Indigenous histories and issues in colonized and contested spaces (see Claxton, Loft and Townsend 2005; Loft 2014). 

Claxton, D., Loft, S., & Townsend, M. (Eds.). (2005). Transference, tradition, technology: Native new media. Hamilton: Walter Phillips Gallery Editions. 

Loft, S. (Ed.). (2014). Coded territories: Tracing Indigenous pathways in new media art. University of Calgary Press.

Mathur, Ashok, Jonathan Dewar, and Mike Degagné (Eds). (2011). Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the lens of cultural diversity. Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series. 

Regan, Paulette. (2011). Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada. University of British Columbia Press.


Thursday June 18, 2015 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Bayshore Salon ABC

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