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Communicating with children

Guideline 4D

Reflect and nurture the positive aspects of indigenous cultures and traditions


It is easy to impose a “master narrative” where images and solutions from the west, the educated or the important in a community are presented as the main or only point of view. But it is important to celebrate and promote the positive practices of all cultures and people: Practical and logical reasons can be found for many practices that are now deemed “outmoded”.

In fact, the circle of life often goes round to where a very old traditional practice (such as infant massage) is once again marketed as a modern medical marvel.
 In fact, some Anglo-centric or western solutions often have origins in old, rich cultures: local, oral stories promoted literacy and kept relationships alive; group consensus at community meetings formed some of the standard practices for today’s conflict resolution; stories from Africa, South American, Asia, the Arab world and indeed every region of the globe open vistas and celebrate local and international strengths.

© David Bouchard, MTW Publishers, British Columbia

Positive Example: Reflecting and nurturing positive aspects of indigenous cultures and traditions

 “I Am Raven”  (David Bouchard, MTW Publishers, British Columbia) is a book from a series about the First Nation People of Canada, developed for primary and older school-age children. The series was designed to promote the culture and pride of people formerly called “Indians”.

This particular book is the story of a wise chief who erects a new totem pole. He wants the pole to reflect not only who he is but also others who have been important in his life. As he travels, he meets several people who try to convince him of the importance of their image. But in the end, the chief learns of his own very special and unique totem spirit. He inspires children to find their own “totem” and their unique strengths. The book is a model to celebrate individuals and communities who are not part of the typical global narrative. Download book

 Turning Theory into Practice

This guideline can be translated into communication in many ways by modelling indigenous knowledge, local resilience, positive practices and cultural identity as complementing new facts and knowledge. For example:

  • Presenting elderly people in society as wise and with fascinating knowledge and insights to convey to young people that they really DO understand what it was like
  • Producing media for all age groups of children about the role of pioneering women from local communities
  • Developing materials and scripts about wise children and adults who helped communities in times of crisis using positive traditional practices
  • Guiding children to become “mini-anthropologists” exploring “the good old days” and discovering how much they have benefited from the culture and heritage of their ancestors


 Guideline 4A Guideline 4B   Guideline 4C  Guideline 4D



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