#TreatyWalkintheVillage

For my university class, Treaties in the Classroom (ECCU400), we put an evening event on about having conversations on the road towards reconciliation, through reconciliACTION.  Our event was located at the Orange Tree Village here in Regina.  My colleagues and I set up our individual exhibits around a room and joined in on the conversation toward informing and educating the public, to raise awareness about healing and reconciliation for our former students and their families of Indigenous culture, as apart of our Canadian history; past, present, and future.  It was a successful night, I would say.  The exhibits that were set up were focused on: the resource  Gladys We Never KnewWalking with Our Sisters, Indigenous Rights, The Project of Heart, Modern Treaties, Understanding White Privilege, The Secret Pathand a few more.

 

(My ECCU400 Class)

My partner, Rashelle and I did our presentation on The Secret Path.  

This resource is explained thoroughly in our presentations as:

In 1966, Chanie Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy,  ran away from his residential school (Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School), accompanied by two friends. The boys stayed with relatives of the other two boys and soon Chanie felt left out and set out on his own along the railroad tracks in an attempt to get home to his family. Though he had a map, he was unable to read it. His family was over 600 miles away.

He didn’t know the distance, or how to get home but like so many kids, – more than anyone can imagine he tried to escape the horrific realities of residential schools.

Gord Downie began Secret Path as ten poems incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, Gord was introduced to Chanie Wenjack (miscalled “Charlie” by his teachers) by Mike Downie, his brother.

The music and images are beautiful and haunting, seeking to imagine what Chanie must have been thinking and experiencing as he trudged toward home in freezing temperatures, wearing clothing that was ill-suited to the conditions.

Here is a ‘Heritage Minutes’ video narrated by Chanie’s sister, Pearl Wenjack who survived residential school…

At the end of our presentation, we put together an interactive and thought-provoking activity for the public to use as a ‘take away’.  The activity outlined that before they left, they were to take a sticky note, think of a commitment (small or big scale) that they can attain toward reconciliation and stick it up for all to see, by using the famous Twitter hashtag #myreconciliationincludes…  It was quite engaging and we had a lot of people comment and say how great of a way it was to end our presentation.  Below is the final product of the activity, (it is a bit blurry), the responses of the commitments that were written by the individuals were:

  • #learnthetruth
  • Be More Inclusive
  • Be sure to wear an orange shirt on ‘Orange Shirt Day’ on September 30
  • “I want reconciliation to cost me something, it can’t be cheap or empty… #restofmylife”
  • Become familiar with the TRC (Truth & Reconciliation Commission), Calls to Action and share them with others
  • Visit and support Indigenous projects to help raise awareness of injustices
  • Educate my future students about residential schools
  • Include reconciliation in curriculum and resources K-12
  • Attend more Indigenous cultural events and activities
  • “I commit to continue learning about Indigenous challenges and work to advance the cause Righting Relations”

It was so great to see such a comprehensive list of things these people were willing to commit to toward healing, respecting relationships, reconciliation, and in honouring and validating the healing and reconciliation of former students and their families.  This is the beginning of a change that I am seeing in our society, which is amazing!  I hope we continue to build upon these changes and further our journey to mending these respectful relationships.

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From University to the Classroom

It wasn’t until university that I got the opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture, and what impact colonialism had on our Canadian history and story.  With each class I have taken throughout my degree (especially my ECCU400 – Treaties in the Classroom course), I have learned and unlearned things that were embedded in my mind/thoughts and gained the new proper/accurate knowledge.  It isn’t to say that I was ‘racist’ before coming to university, it has helped immensely in educating me in these important topics of matter and helping me piece together a huge part of our Canadian history that I didn’t know of before.  Now that I have gained this knowledge, I am prepared to teach, introduce and help my students learn, incorporate into the classroom and educate the ignorant generations before me, about the era of colonialism, residential schools and all other topics of issue that branch from our country’s past story.

via giphy.com

It is Canada’s story.  It is about Canada.  We are not the country that we thought we were.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has been an issue for a long time and it still is very prevalent today. It is one of those things that I shake my head at, especially in every case, which is more than 306, the police involvement is very scarce. They get called to the incident and make a case out of it and then they make up excuses as to how they think the crime played out, and it stops at that. They say, “oh they probably just ran away,” or they automatically call it a homicide and they don’t take it further nor does anyone do anything about it. It is just downright demoralizing and very sad. I just don’t get how they are allowed to leave them unsolved, the cases remain open and leave the families and loved ones left wondering and forever grieving with no closure… It may date back to colonialism and how it has never been completely fixed?? We are just reliving our horrific Canadian past history all over again. Something needs to be done to end it all once and for all!

For more information and if you want to learn more about the cases of these 306 missing or murdered Indigenous women or girls, there is a profile written about each one of them, ranging from babies to women of 50+.

The REDress Project: focuses on the issue of missing or murdered Indigenous women across Canada. The project seeks to collect 600 red dresses by community donation that will later be installed in public spaces throughout Winnipeg and across Canada as

a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. Through the installation, it is the hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence.

via google image search

The Highway of Tears 2015 Documentary – 

  • The Highway of Tears refers to a 724 km section of Yellowhead Highway 16, from Prince Rupert on the northwest coast of British Columbia to the central interior city of Prince George, BC where many women (mostly Indigenous) have disappeared or been found murdered. The Highway of Tears is part of a larger, national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
  • Twenty-three First Nations border Highway 16. The region is characterized by poverty and, until 2017, lacked adequate public transportation, which forced many locals to resort to hitchhiking as a form of transit.
  • Elected in October 2015, the federal Liberal government promised to hold a national inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered women. From December 2015 to February 2016, the government completed a series of Canada-wide meetings with the victims’ families, to determine both the expectations and scope of a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Hopes are high that the national inquiry will result in significant action — an action that the families of victims along the Highway of Tears have been working towards for more than a decade.

via google image search

We’re all in this together Canada.

via giphy.com

HANDS OFF MY CULTURE!

Emily Giesbrecht‘s seminar presentation on Cultural Appropriation was very insightful. In her presentation, she talked about how cultural appropriation is everywhere, it isn’t just in one culture and not another. Cultural Appropriation is that act in which “using or wearing restricted symbols from that specific culture and has little knowledge of the meaning behind it, or importance of said symbol; therefore cheapening the symbol and achievement,” stated by Chelsea Vowel.

An example of Cultural Appropriation is wearing an Indigenous headdress, which holds sacredness to their culture.

Adapted via giphy.com

I have not been directly affected by Cultural Appropriation first-hand, but once we talked about this dire topic in class, I began to realize the realities of it. The mukluks and moccasins that people wear as part of everyday fashion, dressing up in traditional dress/outfits of various cultures for Halloween, getting cultural symbols as permanent tattoos on one’s body and the list goes on. This didn’t become prevalent until this class and bringing the issue into light with having a seminar and discussion about it.

Cultural Appropriation should be something every person is educated about. It would be beneficial for from knowing this issue in all cultures.

**Watch this video that further explains Cultural Appropriation in more depth**

The Importance of Teaching Sensitive Topics

It is so important to teach sensitive and difficult topics such as residential schools to our students because it informs them about our Canadian and shared history with cultural genocide, and lets them be less ignorant to these such topics.  If we are going to reconcile the wrongs that originated from the residential school system, we need to become educated and educate the non-Indigenous peoples to fully understand what happened and what those schools were all about.  With that being said, schools are gradually incorporating and implementing Treaty Education as a way to introduce the sensitive topic of residential schools.  Schools are told to raise awareness of our dark history and conduct age-appropriate instruction and facilitation to students on residential schools.  I believe that it is best, if you do not feel comfortable teaching on this topic, that we let the survivors and communities to share their own experiences and stories with new generations.  I feel that this is the best way to teach, is through oral traditions, speaking and storytelling.

In some areas, such as Ontario, they are mandating and working with Indigenous peoples to enhance their curriculum in order to support what is necessary to teach and learn about residential schools, the legacy of colonialism and the rights and responsibilities we have as Treaty people.  This is what every school should be doing everywhere.  There can be no reconciliation if there is no truth portion to go along with it.  It is great to apologize and say “sorry” but that does not fully heal and solve the broken individuals that attended and endured the traumatic ways of residential schools.

Adapted via giphy.com

This is why it is so important that we continue to make change to how we teach, and what we teach from the curriculum, as these ‘hidden/invisible’ topics should be shared with our students, but to remember that it needs to be in a way that resonates with them: age-appropriate material, content, language and resources.  Let’s start now!!!

Making Land Acknowledgement More Meaningful

In class, when we got to make our own land acknowledgement statements, it was somewhat difficult to create something that wasn’t already said in the Faculty of Educations land acknowledgement statement, which was, “The University of Regina is predominantly situated in Treaty 4 Territory with a presence in Treaty 6 Territory. Treaty 4 is the traditional territory of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Lakota and Dakota peoples, and is the homeland of the Métis people.” It was challenging to conger up ideas to put in our own. This is due to the fact that we have a fear of being offensive or incorrect.  It also has to do with having a difficulty in making a connection that we are treaty people and have a relationship to the land. 

In order to make land acknowledgement become more meaningful and thoughtful is to  acknowledge that they are important and they need to be sincere and encourage action. It is more than just reciting the statement and moving forward. When my group created our own land acknowledgement, we thought of some key viewpoints to add in. We thought to add the notion of continuing for future generations, work towards reconciliation, and that we are fortunate enough to have this land shared with us and to be thankful that we live here and build our lives on this land. We thought this was more meaningful to us, even thinking that we didn’t have a strong connection to the land in the first place. 

Adapted via giphy.com

“We Are All Treaty People”

Saying that ‘We are all treaty people’ means that both Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada are apart of the treaty.  Also meaning that both are benefitted in the wealth generated from land and the rights provided in these treaties. The phrase mentions that “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow, we are all treaty people.”   It is the understanding of each other, in schools, community and workplaces.   We are treaty people because we are Canadian and treaties were signed by 2 parties.   It is learning to break down the barriers of the reality of racism and work together to educate ourselves and others on treaties and treaty education.  It is part of my identity as a Canadian citizen, with knowing and modelling that every body is equal, educating others and helping them better understand about Indigenous culture and history through treaty education teachings, and also to inform that cultural appropriation/misappropriation is derogatory and wrong.

Cultural appropriation is something that people do, but don’t always know that they are doing because they are ill-educated towards it.  Cultural appropriation is when one culture dominates and adopts the elements and customs of another culture and deems them less or the minority culture.  This is mainly due to the fact that there was a presence of colonial elements and imbalance of power.  For instance, as we talked about in class, how wearing a headdress can be detrimental and should not be replicated by any other culture as it is sacred and important to the Indigenous peoples.  As Chelsea Vowel states in her chapter about cultural appropriation, “even if you have “Native friends,” or are part-Indigenous yourself, individual choices to “not be offended” do not trump our collective rights as peoples to define our symbols,” (Vowel, 2016, p.84).  This goes the same for dressing up in another persons cultural clothing and dress for Halloween.  It is both misrepresented and inappropriate to do so.  I wouldn’t want someone to dress up for Halloween in my Italian cultural clothing, because I find that very disrespectful and the meaning behind it gets lost.

More recently, more and more schools are getting into treaty education (age-appropriate language/content) in every grade and in every subject.  This is what I can do to help, to educate young minds so they know what is proper and right and grow to have the knowledge needed for understanding and learning about the history of our country and Indigenous ways of knowing.

A Strong Connection Between Mother-Earth and Sky

Recently, we have studied the key understandings and significance of a pipe ceremony.  The pipe ceremony is such a profound celebration to take part in.  When Elder Alma was in our class, she introduced and described how powerful a pipe ceremony is.  It is a sacred celebration that connections both the physical and spiritual world together.  The pipe itself holds extreme power as it links mother-earth to the sky.  The smoke that rises is our words that speak to heaven and the spirits above and then it reciprocates a blessing upon our body and us.  The reason that tobacco is used within the pipe ceremony is to connect the deep roots that are in the earth to the Creator and the sky above.  It is a way of giving back to the earth what was taken away.

What I thought to be a take away that resonated with me was when Elder Alma mentioned the term ‘moontime.’  This was a term that I have heard of when I took a social studies 30 course back in grade 12.  Elder Alma went on to further describe moontime (a woman’s gift from Grandmother moon) as the time of month when a woman is menstrating.  This is a time to abstain from ceremonies as it is a time of purification for women.  Moontime holds great power and should not be present when using such powerful sacred objects like the pipe, feather, etc.  It is shown as a place of rebirth, beauty, honour and respect that women abstain from ceremony when on their moontime and meditate or call to prayer in a nearby gathering place or sweat lodge.

This was such a great opportunity to hear the stories and lived experiences from Elder Alma and to hear the significance of a sacred traditional pipe ceremony.

The “Aboriginal worldview” – guiding principles and traditional values of Aboriginal societies. This suggests the way Aboriginal peoples see themselves in relation to the world. It is a holistic process where learning takes place across different spheres of human experience including spiritual, physical, emotional and mental dimensions. Worldview’s may also consider relationships and experiences of the past, present and future as interconnected. ——-WNCP: The Common Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Language and Culture Programs, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2000)–

I added this quote on ‘Aboriginal Worldview’ because is correlates with the purpose of a pipe ceremony.  It is what Indigenous peoples stand for and commemorate. The understandings of worldview’s, cultural customs/traditions, celebrations/rituals, and so on, link with the understanding of Treaties as well.  Treaties were primarily constructed to unite solely to the spirituality, respect and great honour that Indigenous peoples had/still have with the Creator.  It is meaningful take the time to build upon our relationships with differing worldview’s and reason with why it stands today.

kihci-asotamâtowin [Keeh-TSI-us-SOO-tu-MAA-toe-win]

kihci-asotamâtowin [Keeh-TSI-us-SOO-tu-MAA-toe-win] – Sacred Promises to One Another, the Treaty Sovereign’s Sacred Undertakings

Adapted from google images, all rights labeled for noncommercial reuse

Visual Representation of a Blanket Exercise

I participated in my second blanket exercise, and even this time I took something different away than I did when I was first introduced to it.  A blanket exercise is a great way to visually see how colonization happened, during the time of residential schools and how our history came to be.  Seeing the visual acted out and facilitated with the variety of scripts that some individuals voiced during the time of contact, was and is extremely eye-opening.

In school, I was always taught different aspects of Treaty Education through textbooks or handouts, which doesn’t impact you the way it does when enacted through a visual representation.  I find this to be very effective to bring into the classroom as a way of introducing colonization and the way our Canadian history still affects us today.  As someone mentioned in class last week, I would love to know and learn how to use the blanket exercise and other resources from the Treaty Ed Kit within an early childhood classroom, such as in kindergarten or grade one.  I know that this is an exercise that is becoming more and more common in teacher education, but it would be highly important and effective to be facilitated and offered in our elementary schools.  We need to keep educated as teachers, but also need to educate the ignorant generation(s) and the youth of tomorrow.

 

 

 

miskâsowin[mis-skaa-soo-win]

miskâsowin [mis-SKAA-soo-win]- Finding one’s sense of origin & belonging; Finding ‘one’s self’ or Finding ‘one’s center’

Adapted via giphy.com

Home for me is here, in Regina, Saskatchewan.  To narrow it down a bit more, home is the place(s) where I feel most comfortable, where my loved ones are, my family, where my friends are, a place that I feel the safest, a place where memories are made, a place to relax…my home is a place where I was raised and where I grew up. I consider my place of residence, my grandparents’ houses, my boyfriend’s house, my sister’s house, my elementary school and my high school, all places I call ‘home.’  I cannot just choose one particular place where home is for me because the aforementioned places are what has shaped me into the person I am today, and has defined what community means for me.  Home is also a place where I am free, where I can be myself at any given time of the day and no one is there to judge.  I have lived in Regina my whole life and I would not change it for the world…Home sweet home.