Menu Content/Inhalt
Event - Intersection Discussion Series - Face-to-Face Meeting (21 September 2006)

In September 2006, Jan Richards and Heidi Hazelton, both of the ATRC, travelled to Wikwemikong, Ontario to meet members of Debajehmujig and begin the Intersections discussion series. The purpose of this conversation was to explore the similar (and different) barriers that exist to online participation for people living within oral cultures and for people with disabilities.


  • 21 September 2006 


  • Wikwemikong, Ontario


  • Francis (Cotnee) Kaboni (Ojibwe teacher)
  • Heidi Hazelton (ATRC)
  • Jan Richards (ATRC)
  • Christopher Wemigwans (De-ba-jeh-mu-jig)

Discussion Notes:

Background: This is the first time that Jan and Heidi (from the ATRC) have met Cotnee, who will be a language consultant on the project. Eddie King, an elder who often works with Debaj members was unavailable at the last minute. There is no firm agenda, just a general discussion of the local use of The Language (Ojibway).

The educational focus for younger people is learning to read and write The Language and not necessarily to practice speaking it. As a result, students are able to read aloud from written Ojibway but are not strong in conversational use of the language.

Deaf culture seems to have some interesting parallels with oral culture such as lack of written language, importance of in-person communication, and keeping the language up to date with modern words.

Cotnee described how so much is lost when a conversation is moved to the written medium. For example, playful nuances are an important part of Ojibway interaction and are relayed mostly by facial expressions. Such things would be hard to convey in writing. An in-person conversation is thus far more intimate and multi-dimensional than words on paper could ever be, and this human aspect is a treasured part of communication in Ojibway culture.

We discussed how there is some knowledge that is simply not written down. It is oral knowledge, such as stories. If one is to learn a legend so that it may be passed on, it cannot be memorized through reading and writing, but through listening closely and practicing telling the story. This way the teachings are given more serious, genuine attention and can become more ingrained into the teller’s heart and mind.

We talked a bit about the availability of broadband Internet access in native communities. Wiki has quite good access and some of the fly-in communities have impressive high-speed connections. However, there are some that still have little to no access.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 April 2007 16:07