KIDS FROM KA-NA-TA is a national telecommunications project linking urban and rural Native and non-Native students and teachers via the Internet. The project represents a significant step in the important process of establishing working relationships and dialogue between Aboriginal communities and other communities across Canada.
Schools are grouped into clusters of three (a triad) and form their own unique electronic "virtual classrooms" among themselves for the duration of the program. The project is designed to create an exciting learning environment and raise the self-esteem of students as they take charge of an investigation to discover more about their own identity and their triad buddies across Canada. By discovering differences and similarities with their peers, students learn to recognize and honour their heritage and to value the uniqueness of themselves, their new buddies, and by extension, each person.
Participating in KIDS FROM KA-NA-TA also provides a unique and personal experience of Canadian geography and history as students eagerly search for more information about the location and backgrounds of the communities of their newly found friends and also of themselves. At the same time, issues of racial tolerance are addressed by the program emphasis on the diversity of cultures. Students find that their new friendships quickly lead them across barriers of prejudice and stereotyping developed and maintained by generations of adults who did not have an opportunity to establish the kinds of personal links featured by this project.
While all this 'education and self-development' is taking place, teachers report that important and practical skills are being developed. As the students become excited about the project, they become highly motivated to improve their keyboarding and communications skills and to become more familiar with their computers, which are then seen as a key tools for communication.
In the eight years of the project so far, hundreds of schools and more than 10,000 Native and non-Native students have established friendships. These friendships have the potential to creating lasting relationships and to influence actions and decisions in years to come. Canadian and Aboriginal students are working with the KA-NA-TA program to investigate and describe their own unique personal and cultural experience of Canada. This becomes an important component in the individual process of growth and discovery as students develop into informed and compassionate adults and world citizens, shaping the future of Canada, starting with their origins as KIDS FROM KA-NA-TA.
KIDS FROM KA-NA-TA is operated in partnership with the Canadian Education Association and the Faculty of Education at York University. The program has also established partnerships with the GrassRoots program of Industry Canada's SchoolNet and with the YMCA's Youth Exchanges Canada.