What are the implications if the world’s leading source of online information highlights the accomplishments of elite Indigenous athletes? It’s a question that Dr. Vicky Paraschak’s class at University of Windsor surely discussed as they created brand new Wikipedia biographies for Indigenous athletes from Canada as an assignment this last fall.
Tony Cote, the first elected Chief of the Cote First Nations and creator of the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer and Winter Games, has a brand new page. As a student from Dr. Paraschak’s Spring 2019 course wrote in the Wikipedia page for the World Indigenous Games (WIN), sporting events like the one Tony Cote created “have become a means to project positive images and garner social, political, and/or economic benefits for their communities. Organizers and Indigenous stakeholders wanted to use the WIN Games [in particular] to address challenges faced by Indigenous communities such as: stereotypes, lack of resources and opportunities for Indigenous youth, and vulnerability of Indigenous women.”
And head on over to Joy SpearChief-Morris’s new biography to learn about her career as a track champion. She received the 2017 Tom Longboat Award, “awarded annually by the Aboriginal Sport Circle to the most outstanding male and female Indigenous athletes in Canada;” “holds the 115th position in the World Ranking of the International Association of Athletics Federations for 100-meter hurdles;” and is training to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The world can also now read about taekwondo athlete Sara-Lynne Knockwood, who is not only a Miꞌkmaq hall of famer, but also a North American Indigenous Games multi-gold medalist!
The 6 students who completed the assignment added more than 1,000 words each and their work has already been viewed 1,400 times! We can all agree that that’s quite a bit more than if they had written a term paper that only their instructor would read…
As a professor at the University of Windsor, Dr. Paraschak focuses on “efforts to enhance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada specifically in the area of physical activity, in keeping with the five relevant calls to action found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission summary report.”  The Wikipedia writing assignment has played a role in her work since 2017 and since then, students have created or improved 194 Wikipedia pages within three main categories: First Nations sportspeople, Métis sportspeople and Canadian Inuit sportspeople.
Her commitment to the Wikipedia assignment shows the real impact that students can have on expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of Indigenous achievements. Well done!
Interested in incorporating a Wikipedia writing assignment into a future course? Visit teach.wikiedu.org for all you need to know to get started.