Later that morning, the entire school of Dene students watched the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America get sworn into office on CNN, being beamed into every classroom in the school. It was an historic day, and as First Nations people, we were able to share in that momentous event as if we were there in person.
Our world has become smaller in many ways. Suarez-Orozco & Qin-Hilliard (2004) suggest that “globalization means that the lives of children growing up today will be shaped in no small measure by global processes in economy, society, and culture.” Clearly, television and internet are shaping the Dene world that once was limited to hunting for caribou and fishing for livelihood, and celebrating cultural events with traditional drumming and singing. Now youth wear their iPods to schools loaded with the latest rap music downloaded from iTunes. These youth no longer understand their identity as a singular culture, but as multiple identities as C. Suarez-Orozco argues that require youth to “function in diverse, often incommensurable cultural realities.” Globalization has not necessarily taught our youth to be better individuals, but rather has appealed to mass conformity or homogenization of identity that looks more American than First Nations. Maira discusses how cultural citizenship among immigrant youth in the United States has shifted from their countries of origin to a more “flexible citizenship” representative of two or more cultural contexts. While this research was focussed around the immigrant context, this phenomenon appears to be happening in our remote, isolated world in northern Canada.
While globalization is neither good nor bad, significant changes are taking place in cultural values and identities that are causing confusion and a sense of loss for many First Nations people. The changes have taken place so rapidly, that it has allowed for little time for gradual adaptation and understanding of what is transpiring. Educational institutions can play a significant role in helping youth transition and understand the complexity of challenges that arise from being exposed to other cultures and other worlds. Along with the exposure comes an increased expectation for youth to possess higher order and diverse cognitive skills for dealing with the wealth of information being thrust upon them. But in order for educational institutions to assist youth, they must examine whether they adequately equipped or resourced to prepare our youth for lies ahead. Do they understand the real issues youth are facing today? Unfortunately, many educational institutions are still using pedagogical methodology from the distant past, and are not engaging our youth with technology and creativity that assists them in facing the global world.