ECCU 400

ReconciliACTION

On Monday we hosted our ReconciliACTION event. I am glad that others had a powerful experience. I felt like I didn’t have exactly the same experience as others did. Our table’s theme was Roads to Connecting Languages. We did not have that many people interested to come and talk to our table, which at first made me feel like it was unsuccessful. Then, Audrey told us that we were doing great because even just by us smiling and saying good morning, would help them associate our appearance with the word, “Reconciliation”. This was very comforting. When we are advocates, sometimes our successes might not be as grand as we wish,. It might be as simple as putting a thought in someone’s head.

I had one impactful conversation with a woman that was very brief but filled me with warmth and hope. I saw the woman walking by and I asked, “Do you want Coffee? Would you like a chance to win some candy?” She asked what we were doing and I explained that our theme for the tables around the university is for strengthening and building relationships with Indigenous and settler-Canadians. She nodded and smiled, and looked at the resources and exclaimed how much she likes 100 Days of Cree by Neal McCloud and that she loves the author. I agreed. She then said, “I appreciate what you are doing here. This is the start. But also, I have one thing to say. Restoration needs to happen before Reconciliation.” I nodded and agreed with her, and thanked her for visiting the table and sharing that. I did not engage with her much, and I think it is because it brought out a newfound insecurity. I think that I struggle with having these conversations with strangers because I do not know their history, do not know of their knowledge they have, do not know their experiences, and do not know how they may respond to something that I say.

Audrey shared that in time this will get better and that this is a start. I have so much respect for people speaking their truth, and being able to have the courage to really engage in these conversations. This event was a stepping stone for me. The more I have these conversations with others, the more I will become comfortable with it.

But for now, I will embrace being uncomfortable.

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ECCU 400

Field Trip Unsettling

We attended a trip to Fort Qu’Appelle. I appreciated all of the opportunities on the field trip, but there is a piece that stood out to me.

We had a man, Wendell, speak to us on Labret Indian Residential School land, and provided a different look into residential schools. He opened up about his experiences but asked that we not pity him. He shared his stories in a way that was empowering instead of discouraging. Something he said that impacted me was that he pointed out that we cannot be educated unless we know our ancestry. I was offended when he said this, and I think that it struck a chord with me because it is one of my insecurities. I am extremely close with my immediate family, but the further the family tree deepens my ties become strained. This could be of many factors, but I think that maybe it could be in settler fashion.

I also remember feeling, “Okay, so I will research a bunch and build my family tree.” But what will that really do?? I cannot build a relationship with them because they have already passed, and I do not think to memorize their names will reach atonement. I need to come to terms with this.

Since my immediate family is so important to me, I think that for myself it is vital that I keep my relationships with my family strong. To love one another unconditionally. If and when I have future children, I want to offer them the ability to be close with their grandparents and know their family in the way that I don’t.

I am starting to understand that miskasowin is a very deep and personal thing. Sharing these insecurities is not something that I regularly do, but it is necessary.

ECCU 400, ECCU 400

What resonated with me?

I was incredibly intrigued in the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Children presentation. I have followed the REDress project for quite some time and it always impacts me on a different level. I appreciated the red dresses on the tables and sharing the stories of the different women. It is so important to talk about the women as people with lives and identities instead of numbers and statistics. These women need to be remembered in an honouring way. Too many times we see in court cases or stories of these women, they are labeled and dehumanized. This presentation provides a look into how these issues should be confronted.

I was impressed with the presenters sharing their own privileges and the ideas they shared being based on that. I thought that this showed effort and intention. Overall, the presentation was incredibly respectful.

ECCU 400, ECCU 400

#3- Participation in Pipe Ceremony

This week we participated in a Pipe Ceremony. I have witnessed a pipe ceremony before but was not able to use the pipe. This time around I was, although I chose to acknowledge the pipe. To defend myself, I have hay fever and was worried about how these natural elements would affect my insides. Alma made me feel comfortable and confident in my decision when she stated that she understood different reasons for acknowledging a pipe. I was so worried to offend someone by not smoking the pipe. Throughout the Pipe Ceremony I battled with myself, because I so worried about offending or feeling the need to defend myself. I can transfer this to everyday, as I will come to something that is uncomfortable or I am unsettled, and I need to become aware of why and figure out how to be balanced again.

After reading Chapter 27 of Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel, I felt some clarity on my understanding of treaties. As mentioned before, it helped settle my anxiety of unfamiliarity with something I do not know.  She explains that we should avoid looking to Treaties for explicit and static rules and guidelines (pg.249). Like others I have done this personally, wanting to explicitly teach each rule or promise in Treaty 4 to feel like I rightfully taught Treaty 4. During the pipe ceremony, Alma noted that we cannot do this, because when treaties were written the meaning and promises made in oral communication was lost. This made me realize that I can teach about Treaty 4, but maybe part of the teachings is in part with spirituality. I need to approach this teaching from a holistic and less object-based Eurocentric way. I need to provide my students with experiences that connect to one another, build relationships, before they can come to understand the complexity of Treaties.

ECCU 400, ECCU 400

#2- miskâsowin & tâpwêwin

On the previous post I shared my identity as follows:

  • Mothers side: Scottish, Irish, German, Russian
  • Fathers side: French & English
  • Treaty person
  • Granddaughter
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Auntie
  • Girlfriend

Identity is a very personal and evolving element of life. I previously shared that ancestry doesn’t play a part in my identity, but when reading Indigenous Writes I quickly realized that it does play a huge part in my life. In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel supports being complex with your identity by saying, “For example, I’ve been asked to just say “Canadian,” but Canadian is a category of citizenship and is so general as to be useless when we’re trying to understand the history of this country.” (Vowel, pg.15). For me to not include my ancestry would make my identity very simple. Whether I like it or not, my ancestors came to a land that was new to them, and with that “settler” became attached to me. What is also important with that is since I have this diverse background, it helps build what we understand as Canada today. What is important to me is presenting myself in a positive way that I do not get a negative connotation attached to my settler identity. I was not the one that came to new land, but I can be a difference. I can have settler identity and still decolonize my classroom in a meaningful way.

To extend my identity and make it more complex, I am going to add to my list. Ciswoman, heterosexual and Anglican are all pieces of my identity. Being a heterosexual woman who is cisgender has gave me privilege in my life. This is something that I cannot deny and need to include. I also include Anglican as it is very personal to me, but is absolutely part of my identity.

In the discussion after the Blanket Exercise, a fellow peer mentioned the debate of, “Why does this matter to me?” Her answer was that if you have European descent, the content presented in Treaty Education is almost more important than if you don’t. This really stuck with me. It absolutely makes sense, and is hard to deny. You NEED to know the history of where you live, because it defines you. Everything that has happened in some way has shaped or impacted you. I am still in the process of understanding how this has shaped me, but for now I can say that it has absolutely made me be conscious of myself. I am conscious of how I interpret learning and how I share them in my classroom. This has also made me empathetic. Hearing the personal stories after the Blanket Exercise made me try to imagine the heartache my peers felt in these events. I want to foster those feelings into my teaching practice.

Identity update:

  • Conscious Settler
  1. Mothers side: Scottish, Irish, German, Russian
  2. Fathers side: French & English
  • Treaty person
  • Granddaughter
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Auntie
  • Girlfriend
  • Ciswoman
  • Heterosexual
  • Anglican
  • Empathetic
ECCU 400, ECCU 400

1-miskâsowin- Who Am I?

Merriam-Webster defines ancestry as a, “line of descent lineageespecially honorable, noble, or aristocratic descent”. I was asked to explain my ancestry and share my lineage to connect with how I am a Treaty person. 

This task impacted me more than I thought it would. I expected to do this in passing, but something stuck with me.

So here it is:

  • Mother’s birth side: French, German and Scottish
  • Fathers side: French & English

When I shared this with my partner in class I instantly felt troubled. My mom is adopted, and whenever I am asked to share my background I always give my answer tied to blood. I suppose that is the whole point of ancestry. I feel unsettled to automatically side with a set of people that I do not know and have absolutely no ties to. Why is there such a push to identify ancestry? I do not follow any of these cultures in a specific way when it comes to culture or practice. To be honest, I do not even know what those might be. When someone asks about my background, I promptly list off these labels but I do not truly identify with them.

In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel brings up the point of some Indigenous people not identifying as Canadian. I completely understand this. And I can empathize with the inner reflections or turmoil that this could cause for an individual. Relating to myself, I do identify as a Canadian. I also identify as a Treaty Person. But this is a new addition to my list. I am on my own personal journey about what this might mean and how I make sense of it. Through this class I hope to better understand and develop this part of my identity. To understand it in a better way so I can embrace it. Identity to me is like a working document. It is fluid. Ever changing and developing.

My last question for myself is why do I identify as a treaty person (when my ancestry is not from Canada), yet I identify with my mother’s birth side before my raised grandparents side?

For 21 years I have provided my list like the one above. Here is my updated version of my own identity:

  • Mothers side: Scottish, Irish, German, Russian
  • Fathers side: French & English
  • Treaty person
  • Granddaughter
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Auntie
  • Girlfriend