These 2016 Finalists Are Lifting Up The Voices Of Indigenous Communities

13 Jan 2016 | TaylorCampbell

Featured image: Belinda Daniels with students.
"I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the indigenous communities around the world." - Leonardo DiCaprio
This week, actor Leonardo DiCaprio paid tribute to Indigenous people worldwide during his Golden Globe acceptance speech on Sunday night. DiCaprio, who won the Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama award for his role in The Revenant, thanked Indigenous peoples around the world with an international call to recognize the contributions of Indigenous histories and cultures. Today we honour teachers working with indigenous students, who are contributing every day to the vitality of their communities. Education is a powerful way to create opportunities for the next generation of indigenous societies to allow them to prosper. The Global Teacher Prize is proud to have two wonderful teachers from these communities among our 2016 Top 50 Finalists. Their work has contributed significantly to the development of their cultures, and inspires us every day.

1. Lucinda Mamani Choque - Bolivia

Lucinda-Mamani-Flag-GraphicLucinda is a teacher who works in La Paz with indigenous communities. She became interested in equal opportunities education after witnessing discrimination against female students in Student Centre elections. Lucinda organised and led a series of projects to give women more of a voice and defend their rights. She united female teachers within the district in support of this mission, and together they designed a set of educational modules and produced booklets, theatre plays, radio broadcasts and videos to raise awareness across the whole community. These materials were then published as a book and presented at the Global Indigenous Women’s Conference in 2013. During the project they rediscovered the role of women in the Andean ‘cosmovision’ and ancient customs of respect for women. As a result of these initiatives, attitudes in the community towards women in general, and Aymara women in particular, have been changing. Female adolescents are better informed, especially with regard to their reproductive rights. Lucinda’s school has therefore found a new position within the community with the creation of the ‘Centre for the Promotion of Aymara Women’.

2. Belinda Daniels - Canada

Belinda Daniel Flag GraphicBelinda teaches Indigenous Studies and Cree language in Saskatchewan. She believes in the strong connection between language and identity, and seeks to create pride and self-esteem in her Cree students by teaching their history, traditional knowledge of the land, and proficiency in their language and texts. When covering social injustice suffered by Aboriginal people, she creates links to the issues that her immigrant students have encountered due to colonialism and racism in their countries of origin. Belinda has established a successful summer camp that has been running for 11 years, the Nehiyawak summer language workshop. She has also been on local television in Saskatchewan and created ‘How to speak Cree’ TV segments. She was involved in developing a high school curriculum for Core Cree with the Ministry of Education for Saskatchewan, and initiated and led a bilingual Cree elementary program. She lectures at Canadian universities and has shared her insights from educating Indigenous students in several publications. At every stage Belinda has taken care to integrate language learning with an Indigenous worldview. Review on Nehiyawak camp which Belinda created. Source: Nehiyawak Land & Language Camp. Congratulations to these 2016 Top 50 Finalists, you are an inspiration! Thank you, Leonardo DiCaprio, for uplifting the cause.