The Story Team, led by storyteller and elder William Dumas, and Warren Cariou, the Director of the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture at the University of Manitoba, is responsible for creating the cycle of stories based on the six seasons of the Asiniskaw Īthiniwak and set in the protocontact period. The team works with community members to identify specific, significant locations in Rocky Cree territory to be used as the story settings, and collaborates with knowledge keepers, archaeologists, and historians on cultural and historical accuracy.
The Archaeology Team is directed by Professor Scott Hamilton of the Department of Anthropology at Lakehead University. Kevin Brownlee of the Manitoba Museum co-led the team from 2017-2020, and continues to work with the team. The team will conduct fieldwork at six sites identified by the community as the setting for each of the stories with a field crew of archaeologists, student researchers, and community members. The team will build upon existing collections and research in the central boreal forest of Canada. Community members will be the primary source of information on landscapes and site use. The Archaeology Team will record oral history on the sites and document the places using still photos and videos of sites and adjacent areas and aerial photography and videography using drones.
In addition, the team will conduct research in archival and museum collections to contextualize their fieldwork; the Manitoba Museum cares for over 500,000 artifacts from northern Manitoba archaeological sites recovered over the past 50 years. These collections have been the basis of numerous research projects; this project will apply new types of analysis including AMS dating, residue and sourcing analysis on these collections which will advance our knowledge of this area and enrich the books. The team will also acquire or create replicas and reproductions of artifacts (some through 3D printing) for use in exhibits and EduKits; and digitize the tools from the Nagami Bay Woman’s burial to support the development of the books, ancillary texts, and exhibits.
The results of their work will be available for use by all other project teams, including the picture-book illustrators, the digital text designers, and the curriculum development team.
The History Team, led by University of Winnipeg Professor Roland Bohr, has a goal to build a rich historical understanding of the people, places, and cultures of Rocky Cree territory in northern Manitoba by using and gathering oral history accounts from Rocky Cree elders and traditional knowledge keepers and by careful comparative research into analogous contexts as identified by the existing ethnographic, oral, historical and archaeological records. In this initial phase, research assistants will search academic databases, especially the records of the Hudson’s Bay Company at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg for pertinent information related to various aspects of ethnographic material on Indigenous Peoples in the Hudson Bay watershed, especially the Churchill River drainage and produce an annotated bibliography.
At the heart of the Six Seasons project is the development of a series of six picture books set during the protocontact period of the mid-1600s and a corresponding series of six picture book apps that invite players to actively engage with the Rocky Cree world. Both picture books and apps are grounded in archaeological and historical records and research and will follow from the first book in the series, Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow. The Production Team, which is directed by Mavis Reimer at the University of Winnipeg, oversees the production processes for the print publications and for the transmediation of the picture books into picture book apps.
The primary objective of the Curriculum team, which is led by Doris Wolf, is to develop resources for educators to support the use of the Six Seasons picture books and apps in formal and informal educational settings and to provide training for educators in culturally competent pedagogies. The resources will provide a basis for land-based education activities, Cree-language teaching, and the teaching of curricula in and across the areas of Science, Social Science, and English Language Arts. The resources will include models of Indigenous pedagogy; be correlated to Manitoba curriculum frameworks; and be adaptable for use across Canada. The team is supported by an amazing group of people and institutions, including Margaret Dumas, a Grade 5 teacher at Wapanohk School in Thompson, MB and long-time member of the Six Seasons team; and Dr. Dawn Sutherland, who specializes in Indigenous Science Education in UW’s Faculty of Education; the Indigenous Inclusion Directorate (IID); the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), and University of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Education-Access program, especially its Community-Based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program.
Research Evaluation and Policy Development Team
Linda DeRiviere leads this team in the development of protocols for documenting the collaborative, participatory, community-based research practices of all of the Six Seasons teams. Myra Sitchon was a Co-Team Leader from 2017-2020. This team works to assess the successes and challenges of various methods, and articulate best practices for collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, with a goal of informing legislation, public policy, and program development. This meta-analysis of working methods is expected to be useful not only to our government partners, but also to other non-profit and educational organizations with initiatives involving Indigenous interests, including land-use planning, natural resources management, Aboriginal and Treaty rights, curriculum design, museum collection, and exhibit creation.
The team uses evaluation tools to assess whether the materials being developed (i.e. picture books, apps, video games, curriculum guides, etc.) and other project activities, (e.g. teacher training), are generating positive outcomes in the settings in which they are introduced such as public schools. The evaluation approach is collaborative and strength-based in the sense that it integrates community input in selected methods and data interpretation. Evaluation will foster a better understanding of the overall response that the project materials and activities are generating, and through our planned knowledge mobilization efforts, it will inform policy on ways to strengthen Indigenous education in the public school system.