Thursday, August 9, 2012

Schools : The Intl Day of the World's Indigenous People

International Day of the World's Indigenous People

The International Day of the World's Indigenous People, is celebrated each year on 9 August. It marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World's Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

The focus of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices".  

From community radio and television to feature films and documentaries, from video art and newspapers to the internet and social media, indigenous peoples are using these powerful tools to challenge mainstream narratives, bring human rights violations to international attention and forge global solidarity.  They are also developing their own media to reflect indigenous values and fight against myths and misconceptions. 

"The media are a key to unlock the visions of indigenous peoples of sustainable development. We must harness this power for sustainable development for all." 

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message 2012

Moreover the theme highlights how the use of media by indigenous peoples, in its traditional and new media forms, enables them to promote their cultures and languages, to transmit their knowledge, and to represent their own views that often may differ from mainstream analyses.

"Indigenous peoples live in all regions of the world and own, occupy or use some 22% of global land area. Numbering at least 370-500 million, indigenous peoples represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity, and have created and speak the major share of the world’s almost 7000 languages. Many indigenous peoples continue to be confronted with marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. Through partnerships with indigenous peoples, UNESCO seeks to support them in addressing the multiple challenges they face, while acknowledging their significant role in sustaining the diversity of the world’s cultural and biological landscape."

The power of the media in shaping the lives of individuals and communities is widely acknowledged. Communication and media are the keys to raising awareness, sharing knowledge and supporting a broader debate on indigenous knowledge, culture.

"New information and communication technologies play a significant role in enhancing the access to, and quality of education, science and culture. Their applications transform the way we share, preserve and transmit knowledge and languages. 

UNESCO has much to contribute in this respect through its multidisciplinary mandate in education, culture, communication, social and natural sciences which is completely unique on the international stage. However, the rapid development of ICTs has also contributed to creating new divides, and UNESCO is committed to building inclusive knowledge societies for a sustainable future."

© UN Photo/John Isaac

A Heiltsuk girl holding one of the paddles of the "Glwa", the Heiltsuk canoe, during the official opening of the Qatuwas Festival, an international gathering of maritime indigenous nations of the Pacific Rim.


At a time when debate has opened on the contours of a new global sustainability agenda, the voices of indigenous peoples must be heard. Their rights, cultures and the knowledge systems must be taken into account." 

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message 2012

Human rights, cultural and linguistic diversity, the role of the media are such a good subjects to discuss in school curricula.

One of the clear things that we see among a lot of students is the desire to connect with other students and that's something that technologies, media can cleary facilitate.

Students and educators from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message and UNESCO message on indigenous peoples. 

Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples, their cultural and linguistic diversity

An interesting motivation to discuss in school curricula human rights, cultural and linguistic diversity, the role of the media to interact with people of all over the world.

Activities may include:

  • Messages from your students for indigenous young people and educators via UN, UNESCO or UFCW Canada websites (links on the references);
  • Performances about indigenous artists and culture;
  • Panel discussions on cultural and linguistic diversity, gender equality;
  • Videos watching on research for cultural and linguistic diversity:
  • Role of women as navigators in indigenous people. 

Let us use the media – indigenous and non-indigenous – to create bridges and establish a truly intercultural world, where diversity is celebrated; a world where different cultures not only coexist but value each other for their contributions and potential.

Students and educators are an important part of socety to built bridges on a true dialogue. They are spontaneous, curious and love to learn about different cultures.

Satawalese navigator Mau Piailug talks about the story of the first navigators. 

Thousands of years ago, when most European sailors were still hugging the coast, the island peoples of the Pacific held the knowledge and skills to explore the great ocean paths around and beyond their homes. Women were the first navigators, and Pulap was the first navigator island...

UNESCO launched a new wbsite today, August 12, Indigenous People where you can research for images, videos, information, and interaction.

"Indigenous peoples face also the sharpest edges of change – from poverty and 

social injustice, from discrimination  and marginalisation. This cannot stand. To 

succeed, sustainable development must be inclusive. All voices must not only be heard but listened to."

Irina Bokova, Director-General
Message 2012


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References for educators:

International Day of the World's Indigenous People

Indigenous People and UNESCO


International Day of the World's Indigenous People 2012 | UFCW Canada

Message of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

UN | Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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