Brian Walmark, KO Research Institute Coordinator is on his way to Rome to present the KO Telecom story at a Special session on "Indigenous People' Communication for Development" being organized by the World Bank and the United Nations.
The First World Congress on Communication for Development, jointly organized by FAO, the World Bank and Communication Initiative is being held in Rome, Italy, from October 25-27, 2006. The Congress is bringing together about 500 communication professionals engaged in development initiatives, policymakers, development practitioners, donor and NGO representatives, and academics from around the world to share perspectives and advocate for greater integration of communication in development policy and programs.
The first WCCD is discussing the use of communication for development in four main themes:
The objectives of the gathering include:
Furthermore, a series of special events are also being organized on the applications of Communication for Development to important developmental issues.
Within this framework, a special session on "Indigenous People' Communication for Development" is being organized by UNPFII, CIDOB, IFAD and FAO to promote the mainstreaming of Community Development policies in support of Indigenous Peoples'
development. The objectives of the session are:
Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Research Institute (Brian Walmark) is invited to be part of that session to contribute to the results with your experience and to present the point of view of our organization/institution towards the mainstreaming of communication for development.
On Oct ober 12, Treasury Board's Independent Blue Ribbon hosted a roundtable of national and regional Aboriginal groups to learn about their experience with accessing federal government grants and contributions. Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-Net Service initiative was invited to share their experience with the panel members.
Federal government takes next step to restore accountability and to ensure effective and efficient program delivery - June 6, 2006
OTTAWA - The Honourable John Baird, President of the Treasury Board of Canada today announced the creation of an independent blue-ribbon panel to recommend measures to make the delivery of grant and contribution programs more efficient while ensuring greater accountability.
"People who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules want accountability from their government," Minister Baird said. "With some $26 billion dollars going to grant and contributions each year, we owe taxpayers a thorough review of these programs as part of our ongoing efforts to restore accountability to government and to leave the legacy of political scandal in the past."
The government committed in its Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan to establish this independent panel. It will have three main areas of focus:
"A top priority of Canada's new government is to restore the public's confidence in government," Minister Baird added.
"Examining grants and contributions is an important step in helping to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of these programs."
The three panellists were selected based on their extensive experience in the private or public sectors. They are Ms. Frances Lankin, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way of Greater Toronto; Mr. Ian D. Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer, Council of Ontario Universities; and Mr. Marc Tellier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yellow Pages Group.
"I am delighted these three distinguished individuals have agreed to provide informed and objective advice based on their knowledge of how government works and what Canadians need," Minister Baird concluded. "Together, they bring a unique and valuable blend of political, not-for-profit, public sector and business experience.
I am confident that their recommendations will reflect their sound judgment and ability to get to the heart of the issues."
The government intends to issue a new policy on transfer payments that will reflect recommendations of both the blue-ribbon panel and the Auditor General's May 2006 report on the Management of Voted Grants and Contributions.
In addition, the government will undertake two other initiatives to help government work better for Canadians: strengthen and streamline management by reviewing its procurement and financial management policies and repeal policies and regulations that inhibit the effectiveness of the public service.
Attached is a backgrounder with information on the Terms of Reference of the panel, biographical information on the panel members, and a fact sheet on grants and contributions programs.
- 30 -
For more information, contact:
Office of the President of the Treasury Board
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
The early winter storm that hit Red Lake on Tuesday evening added another level of excitement to all the chiefs and KO staff traveling to Balmertown for the board of directors meeting on Oct 19 and 20. The meeting has now been extended to Friday to ensure all the business is discussed.
Geordi Kakepetum welcomed two former board members who were recently elected as chiefs of their First Nation. Chief Sally Kakegamic of North Spirit Lake and Chief Eli Moose of Poplar Hill were recently elected to lead their communities and once again become members of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak board of directors.
Other chiefs attending the meeting include:
Check out the pictures at http://photos.knet.ca/albuo59
Brian Walmark, Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Research Institute Coordinator, was recently reappointed as a member of the Northern School of Medicine Board of Directors, representing the city of Thunder Bay.
NOSM’s new Board of Governors
Six new members have joined the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. At the annual member’s meeting the audited financial statements were approved, amendments to the corporate by-law were ratified and new members sworn in.
Barbara Beernaerts, was nominated by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, Dr. Amar Cheema, was nominated by the post-graduate medical trainees, Austin Hunt, nominated by the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, Jeanne Naponse was nominated by the Union of Ontario Indians, Neil MacOdrum was nominated by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association and Elizabeth Moore was nominated by the Nishnawbi Aski Nation.
Dr. Jean Anawati, Helen Cromarty, Ron Chrysler, James Gordon, Dr. Peter Hutten-Czapski, Jeremie Larouche, Dr. Neil McLeod , Dr. Dermot McLoughlin, Dr. William McMullen, Tracey Ross, Lou Turco, Dr. Stephen Viherjoki, Brian Walmark and Carl White were re-appointed.
The two day First Nations IT capacity building "think tank" workshop (Sept 29 - 30) was hosted by the First Nations Technology Council in Vancouver, BC. Brian Beaton, K-Net Coordinator participated via video conference from KO's Sioux Lookout office. Susan O'Donnell from the National Research Council also joined the session via video conference from New Brunswick. Bridging and archive services were made available to the gathering by K-Net within Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program.
From a message written by John Webb for workshop participants ...
The provincial BC government has a plan to connect all 203 First Nations in BC to broadband networks over the next couple of years. They realize that just making broadband available is only part of the job. An accompanying capacity building program is now being planned to ensure that the communities have the resources in place to begin to use information and communications technology effectively.
The participants in the workshop reviewed the government's draft plan for capacity building and provided suggestions and directions for the team at the First Nations Education Steering Committee (http://fnesc.bc.ca) for the implementation strategy.
The draft plan that secured the provincial funding included ...
Discussions at the workshop included presentations from participants and the use of the open space workshop process to explore topics including:
Many of us have been talking about the issue of First Nations ICTs for a number of years. I do not expect to be given a second chance at this and I appreciate greatly the support and council you folks will bring to this project.
Executive Director, Communities and External Initiatives
Office of the CIO
Province of British Columbia
tel: (250) 952-0671 fax: (250) 387-1940
First Nations Connectivity Research Project
The Province of BC is committed to bridging the digital divide for First Nations communities to provide access to e-Health, e-Learning, and e-Business opportunities. To accomplish this goal, the 2006 provincial budget included a commitment of $15 million over two years to work with federal partners to provide broadband, last-mile connections, computers and training for First Nations in BC. Providing broadband infrastructure is a high priority for First Nations organizations and several provincial and federal ministries. The School of Communication, at Simon Fraser University, has extensive technology research expertise and is ideally suited to design and conduct an evaluation of the impact of providing First Nations with high speed connectivity. This multi-year project will assist in providing a third-party evaluation of the First Nations Connectivity Project, baseline information on the impact of connectivity to first nations, and identify gaps and issues with connectivity. Please visit our research wiki for more information and to participate in the project.
Dr. Alice Eriks-Brophy from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto spent this past week in Sioux Lookout learning about Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-Net Services and meeting with potential partners in a research initiative she is leading. The project involves examining the use of video conferencing as a means for delivering speech and language assessments with First Nation schools.
Join at http://meeting.knet.ca / Research / Speech-language Pathology
Remote Delivery of Speech-Language Pathology Assessments for Aboriginal Children in Northern Ontario using Videoconferencing
This project will examine the feasibility of conducting speech and language assessments of Aboriginal children referred for possible communication disorders living in remote areas using videoconferencing technology. The project will validate a protocol to examine the potential of obtaining an unbiased assessment of speech and language using videoconferencing and will examine the role of technology in enhancing the effectiveness of community-based speech and language intervention. The project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services and has received substantial technical, equipment and resource support from K-Net. The project represents a collaboration among professionals, local community personnel, researchers and telehealth and Internet connectivity providers in the Sioux Lookout Region of northern Ontario and other southern regions of the province. The project will also include a capacity building component whereby the participating Aboriginal community members will receive training in the nature and assessment of communication disorders in children and the appropriate procedures to be used in the assessment of children using videoconferencing. It is hoped that this project can lead to the implementation of innovative telerehabilitation-based speech-language pathology services in Aboriginal communities.
Speech-language pathology (SLP) services are limited by a system-wide shortage of trained professionals, while the demand for such services is high. Individuals residing in remote or isolated northern communities, including Aboriginal communities in particular, may experience serious obstacles in obtaining access to appropriate assessment and intervention services. Speech and language skills are crucial components for academic, vocational and social skills. Deficits in speech and language propagate through a child’s life with increasingly negative consequences for learning, employment, social and personality adaptation. Early identification and intervention services for children with identified speech and language difficulties has been shown to result in long-term improvement in communication development and educational achievement for these children. Any means of reducing wait times for assessment and service provision had great potential benefits for these children and their families. These benefits should be extended to all children residing in Ontario, including those living in northern Aboriginal communities where access to service if often delayed or even non-existent.
The application of technology to the assessment of children in remote, isolated, and/or Aboriginal communities has great potential in removing barriers to appropriate services for these children. Ontario has developed a strong telehealth network that has been used extensively in providing medical assessment and treatment to individuals living in remote areas. Providing pediatric rehabilitation services to children and youth in First Nations and Aboriginal communities is very different from providing these services in other rural communities and requires careful research and training of all involved. Videoconferencing has not commonly been used in Canada for performing assessments of children referred for potential speech and language difficulties, and for Aboriginal children in particular.
The incidence of children and youth with speech and language difficulties in Aboriginal communities is reportedly very high, while the waiting list for initial assessment and treatment is lengthy and may exceed 12 months in areas where SLP services are not available. In Northern Ontario, SLP services have become more difficult to obtain recently since Federal funding for transportation for SLP services was discontinued. In addition, the recruitment of medical and rehabilitation professionals for isolated First Nations is an ongoing challenge. The need for alternative delivery of SLP services has therefore become more urgent than ever.
The College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO) has developed a position statement on the use of telepractice approaches in providing services to clients with speech, language, or hearing difficulties. The use of teleconferencing meets the College’s requirement for face-to-face assessments through interactive, real-time visual and auditory access to the individual being served. Nevertheless, the potential for such technology to introduce bias in the assessment process, particularly when the child being assessed and the professional doing the assessment represent different cultural backgrounds, is high. Sources of bias in the SLP assessment process may stem from the referral source, the examiner, the procedures and materials used in the assessment, and the interpretation of performance, all of which have a potentially significant impact on placement decisions and the perceived need for services. To date, no standard test protocol to assess Aboriginal children referred for potential speech and language difficulties has been developed, nor has the capability of teleconferencing to provide an unbiased, valid assessment of Aboriginal children presenting with a variety of communication and behavioural characteristics been sufficiently explored.
In this project, the feasibility of conducting remote speech and language assessments of children of various ages and from various Aboriginal communities through statistically evaluating the results of face-to-face versus remote assessment results. Speech and language assessments will be carried out through videoconferencing technology with children who have been referred for assessment due to concerns regarding their speech and language development. The children will be located in communities served by the KO Telehealth North Network. The researcher will be present at the near site to interact with the child, and will assist in the administration and scoring of the assessment. The remote site SLP will be located in various southern locations where compatible videoconferencing technology is available. This SLP will direct and administer the assessment in real time as it progresses using videoconferencing and will record and score the responses of the child. The results of the assessment from both sites will be compared and the degree of correspondence between the obtained scores will be evaluated. The project will include measures of client satisfaction obtained from parents and teachers of the children who participate in the assessment and intervention phase of the study. Unbiased assessments would strive for inter-rater agreement levels of 95% or higher across all sections of the assessment with the exception of articulation measures, where 85% agreement will be acceptable. Data from the pilot project will be used to further develop a proposal aimed at the development of a major implementation study of SLP services in First Nation Community schools.
Aliya Pardhan, a University of Guelph Masters of Science graduate completed the defense of her thesis this past summer. Her thesis, "EXPLORING KEY STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVES FOR A COLLABORATIVE FIRST NATION RESEARCH PROTOCOL", is an important publication for anyone interested in working with First Nations in the delivery of health and other services.
Dr. Ricardo Ramirez was her Academic Advisor at the University of Guelph for this work. Aliya visited Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout and Fort Severn to complete the research portion of her thesis, working with the Keewaytinook Okimakanak team and Fort Severn leadership and community members.
From the abstract ....
This thesis proposes a set of recommendations to assist the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI) in developing codes of conduct of research with the First Nation.
It places the discussion of research ethics in the context of cultural world view and the struggle for self-determination as peoples and nations.
It affirms that the First Nation Peoples have a right to participate as partners in research that generates knowledge affecting their culture, identity and well-being.
To provide the context and rational for the recommendations presented, the thesis outlines how ethics are framed in the First Nation with respect to research design, informed consent, entry into the field, confidentiality, approaches to data collection, participant roles, ownership of data and dissemination of results.
The thesis also describes how First Nation perceptions of reality and ethical behavior contrast with the norms prevailing in western research. The perspective of community ethics suggests that representation of multiple voices, enhancement of moral discernment, building capacity, empowerment, and self-advocacy need to be critical components of research.
This study emphasizes that the research process needs to be reciprocal and collaborative, with communities, researchers, research organizations, academic institutions, research councils and funding agencies working together to shape the conception, definition and direction of research in the North.
Concerning her future adventures, Aliya writes ... "I actually did get accepted into a PhD program here at Guelph in epidemiology/population medicine. I do intend to build on my thesis with more of a health/infectious disease perspective. My research is being funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada."
Keewaytinook Okimakanak congratulates Aliya on her successes and looks forward to working with her on her doctoral research.
George Ferreira, a University of Guelph doctoral candidate successfully defended his thesis, "PARTICIPATORY VIDEO FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES" on Monday, Sept 18, 2006. Doctor George is now available to take on new and exciting challenges that will hopefully further his research and production work.
The two hour session was video conferenced with professors, students, friends, co-workers and special guests (Don Snowden's family members) at the the University of Guelph, University of Toronto and Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Sioux Lookout office linked together for this special event. The video conferenced session is archived for online viewing. Click here to watch George's defense of his doctoral thesis.
George began working with Keewaytinook Okimakanak back in the spring and summer of 2003, becoming part of the Kuhkenah Network's Smart Communities evaluation team (Don Richardson, Helen Aitkin and Ricardo Ramirez). He travelled to each of the KO First Nations providing video production training and capturing how the KO First Nations were utilizing ICTs. His footage has been used in the production of a number of online video presentations about K-Net and our partners. Cal Kenny, K-Net's Multi-media Producer and others worked with George over these past few years to develop some great video material that is available on the K-Net website.
The production of the "Turning the Corner" video in the winter of 2005, provided George with the opportunity to meet with a number of government officials to further his research on the use of video as a means of influencing public policies and programs. Click here to see the KNEWS story about the "Turning the Corner" video presentation in Ottawa.
Brian Walmark, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute Coordinator, was part of George's advisory team and thesis review committee along with Doctors Ricardo Ramirez, Al Lauzon and Isobel Heathcote at the University of Guelph. Dr. Susan O'Donnell from the National Research Council in New Brunswick was part of George's thesis review committee.
From George's thesis abstract (the link to the entire thesis will be added once it is finalized) ...
This research is based on the Fogo Process which used film to bridge communication between a group of remote Newfoundland fishing communities and government policy makers and politicians in the late 1960’s. The research expands the scope of the Fogo Process by integrating principles from participatory video, a development strategy used to build local capacity around socio-economic issues, participatory action research and advances in video technology.
This thesis is an investigation of the role of participatory video as a tool to influence government policy making. The research is set within the context of a group of five remote Aboriginal communities in northwestern Ontario, Canada. These communities, collectively know as Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO), were part of a federal pilot program to encourage innovative broadband infrastructure development across the country. These communities represent a rare research environment because prior to the introduction of broadband services, they were minimally serviced in terms of telecommunications, with one telephone available for all the communities needs.
The research was initially made possible because of the need for program evaluation data. Video was used to gather testimonial stories in support of KO’s Smart Program evaluation report. Video was chosen because it was felt by the evaluation team and KO leadership that Industry Canada, the primary funding agency, could make a more informed assessment if the data was contextualized through the provision of real life accounts and experiences with broadband. Very few Canadians have ever visited communities such as these and the impact that broadband was having on health care, education and community development required a communication mechanism beyond conventional evaluation approaches.
Local leadership quickly realized the potential of video to link their needs with policy makers located thousands of kilometers away. Research continued into the development and dissemination of locally produced videos in the service of policy needs. During the course of the initial video productions, I provided training workshops in the communities thereby creating a critical mass of people who could produce their own video media and, in turn, teach others.
After the collaborative production of twenty two videos, and numerous others produced independently by former trainees, the research culminated in the production of Turning the Corner. This was a 17 minute video produced in cooperation with the Privy Council of Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat and KO leadership. The purpose of the video was to relay the message that bottom-up planning and funding strategies were essential to the success of broadband expansion across Canada’s Northern Aboriginal communities. This message was based on the lessons and experience of the KO communities where broadband had transformed community life from telehealth applications and internet assisted education to overcoming isolation and community development. The video made real the need for local planning and initiative to be brought into the planning process for broadband infrastructure through a series of screenings to senior policy makers in the nation’s capital, Ottawa.
G8 Program Registration is Now Open
The G8 Supplementary Courses Program ("G8 Program") was created to help First Nation students prepare for the demands of high school. This program provides First Nation grade 8 classrooms with online courses that highlight key skills and knowledge in the areas of Science, Math and English Literacy as outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
All courses are free and run for about 2 months. It is important to stress that these courses are supplementary in nature. While a number of grade 8 curriculum expectations are covered throughout this program, these courses are not meant to act as a substitute to the regular classroom instruction.
The first course (English Literacy) will run from Oct 8, 2006 to Jan 26, 2007. Students are required to be online for at least 3 hours per week (anytime). Registration is now open.
The goals of the G8 Program are as follows:
The courses are delivered via a secure online platform that was adapted to showcase First Nations communities across Ontario. Students and teachers can use their online profile to exchange messages, chat and share pictures. Students are asked to log in three times per week (the local teacher determines the actual day and hour). During this time, students review lessons and complete assignments. The flexibility of the G8 Program allows teachers to make the program fit their local schedule. The course content is geared explicitly for Aboriginal students. Lessons often use subjects, places and situations that promote or reflect First Nations topics and environments. To find out more about the G8 Program, please visit www.g8.firstnationschools.ca.
Leonor Slavsky (email@example.com) is working with the National Institute of Anthropology (National Culture Secretariat) in Argentina. She is also working with an IDRC-ICA support community project to develop connectivity services in the Indigenous communities across Argentina. The project web site can be seen at www.lofdigital.org.ar.
She is in Ottawa doing research on the Canadian cultural policies towards indigenous peoples. She is also networking with potential partners for developing broadband connectivity solutions for the rural and remote communities in her country. Luis Barnola, Senior Program Specialist at the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas/IDRC (http://icamericas.net) introduced Leonor to the work K-Net is doing. The 2003 ICA funded publication, "Harnessing ICTs: A Canadian First Nations experience - K-Net Program", detailing the K-Net story are available online at http://www.icamericas.net/Cases_Reports/K-Net/KNET-Final%20light%20ENG.pdf (it is also available in Spanish).
Leonor is spending a month in Ottawa learning about the cultural policies towards indigenous peoples on a grant from the Canadian Government. Working with Industry Canada's First Nation SchoolNet team, Leonor was able to connect via video conference with the K-Net team on Sioux Lookout on Thursday, Sept 14.