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Indigenous Innovator: Lorna Gillanders

Posted May 22, 2024 in 

This is the fourth edition of our Indigenous Innovator Series where First Nations Technology Council alumni tell their stories about how digital skills have made a positive impact in their lives and communities.

  • Name: Lorna Gillanders
  • Nation: Ojibwe
  • Course Completed: Fundamentals
  • Where is she now? The University of Northern British Columbia

Words by Lorna Gillanders, Technology Council alumna

You can’t change the past, but you sure as heck can learn from it. I decided to learn from it. My goal in life now is to be there for my children, grandchildren, and friends, an example and a role model for them. This was a big part of my decision to enroll in the Fundamentals Program at the First Nations Technology Council.

I had taken courses a long time ago, but life stepped in. The desire to learn has always been something within me, and I believe that if you start something you should finish it. When I began toying with the idea of returning to school, I was excited but intimidated. I wasn’t sure how learning had changed, and it had been a while since I had used a computer. In learning about the Fundamentals Program, I thought to myself that this would be a good first step to see whether or not I would feel comfortable attending higher education. If I completed this course, I would apply to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). The Fundamentals Program was interesting, informative, and challenging, and guess what.. I passed.

I am now working towards my Degree in First Nations Studies in 2025, which matches a certain age I will not disclose here (this stays between me and my birth certificate, haha!) Learning about my culture has been a bittersweet experience, to say the least. I am learning not just for myself but for my grandchildren. I am also learning because I want to encourage others around my age that if you’re not pushing up those daisies – you’re still breathing – why not do something where you can feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth, that maybe was taken from you during the sixties scoop, boarding schools or what have you.

By embracing technology, you can connect more with your children and grandchildren and find innovative ways to teach and learn from them. Balance is an important part of our teachings, but how can you teach it if you don’t know anything about technology? In our communities, if children spend all of their free time using technology, the family core of communications and relationships will come to a standstill if elders are not using it themselves. How can you pass on your knowledge if you’re not using the same communication tools your loved ones use?

More so than I did before the Fundamentals Program, I believe that Indigenous Peoples need equal access to technology to encourage us to step into the world as it is today. Those who have embraced technology are starting to awaken the awakened; our people are going into arenas they have never been in before, but the next generation needs the skills and tools to also be part of it. The beautiful thing is that technology is open to everybody.

There are three guarantees in life: change, death, and taxes. Instead of fighting change, I suggest you make friends with it so you can have input as to its direction. Change is going to happen, and technology is here to stay.


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