Miskasowin is a term that very few people know and I myself didn’t know what it was in the beginning of this semester. However it’s now a term that I find myself thinking about all the time, and it has become a huge part of my life. I created my visual based on the two different ‘parts’ of me. The first half is what I believed was me. This strong tree who knew everythi9ng she needed to know with my roots holding me up (friends, family, school, health). These roots were me and they were what I lived for. These were the things that were always on my mind so in my eyes, the journey of finding myself had already been completed. I have changed greatly since then and the things that I thought mattered don’t matter as much as I had thought. Family: this is my family, my niece, my sister, my grandparents etc. These are the people that matter most to me and when asked about my family, this is who I talked about. This IS my family. However, the journey of miskasowin has showed me that there is so much more then what lies on the surface. This opened my eyes because I quickly realized that I don’t know who my family is. I don’t know who they are or where they came from so how can I say that family is a root of mine? The things I love to do: I enjoy going on trips and being outside that was something that was truly important to me however I rarely took the time to do these things and I don’t know why. Part of my journey is taking the time to do more of what I love. Friends: going out, having fun, socializing and getting out of the house is something that mattered to me. This is what I thought I needed and wanted. I still love going out with friends but there is more to it then that. I have learnt that I need to think more about who I am surrounding myself with and if they are improving my quality of life or not. These things do matter to me but I find myself saying that there is more to it and I’m just at the surface level of things but I still looking for what I’m digging deeper for. I feel like I am supposed to get dressed up and put on my glasses and be this picture perfect teacher that teaches children but I don’t know who I am as a person so how can I go teach children about things that will impact their lives? The last half of my visual is who I am now. I don’t know exactly who I am or where I am heading in life. I don’t have life figured out yet and that’s ok. These leaves are things that matter to me right now. These leaves are all of these photos and some of them are going to die off and fall of my branches because they won’t matter anymore and I need to accept that and learn that thats life and it’s going to happen. These logs are what I cut down. The biases and the thought that I need to know everything all the time because I’m a teacher and Im educating others. My miskasowin process is me realizing and learning that not knowing where I am headed and my purpose right now is ok.
This morning, Myself and thirty six other colleagues planned and held an event based on the road to #reconciliACTION. It consisted of many different stations breaking down these biases and barriers that we all have inside. I was part of the recreation of the REDress installation along with 5 other colleagues and we based it on Regina. We hung 16 red dresses throughout some of the windows in the University of Regina and attached the names, pictures, and bios of 16 indigenous women who were murdered or missing just in Regina. As you’ll see in pictures below, it was a very powerful image and it drew in a lot of attention. We had the opportunity to educate people on this discomforting issue of social justice and that disturbing raw facts that go along with it. I also had the opportunity to chat with a young man whose cousin was one of the missing women we were representing and hearing the story from a family member was even more powerful. We had a lot of feedback from the event, both good and constructive and it was a huge learning experience in my life that I will never forget.
The REDress installation was powerful, but what stuck with me the most was a conversation I had with a student who travelled here from Pasqua First Nation. He wore a sign on his shirt that said “Ask me something that’s on my heart” and so that’s exactly what I did. He took a chance and completely opened up to me sharing all of the things that he has overcome, many of them being a side effect from his parents being forced to attend residential schools and being able to see the pride is in eyes when he shared how proud he was to have overcome these battles was priceless. We each shed a few tears and exchanged some meaningful conversation but the way I felt walking away from this boy is a feeling that I have never felt before. I was lost for words for quite a while after and so very grateful that I took that few minutes from my day to ask him what was on his heart.
Yesterday, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel out to Fort Qu’Appelle and Labret with some of my colleagues. The trip out there I felt very anxious and nervous for what I was about to experience. I for the first time would step foot on land that once held a residential school and that did not settle well. After listening Wendell, a knowledge keeper that came out to share his story, I felt a sense of relief. I felt that me being there brought him joy and made him proud of what we are doing as future educators. I at the same time felt a sense of discomfort when he mentioned to us that if we don’t know where we come from, do we even have an education? My first response to that was “how dare you question my education, I worked my butt off to get to where I am” but then I took a minute and actually thought about his words. I sat there and digested what he meant when he said and questioned why I was so upset about it. It was then that I realized, that I have no idea who my family is. I can’t even tell you the names of all of my great grand parents, and that’s not ok. However, this has inspired me to take the time given to me on this extra long weekend to spend it learning more about my family and where I come from. I can write a paper in APA no problem, and finding peer reviewed articles is a breeze for me but I can’t you who my great grandparents are and that knowledge has been available to me for free for twenty years. THIS IS NOT OK! So I end this blog post challenging all my readers to take a few hours out of your busy lives and find out who you truly are and don’t just stop after your great grandparents, keep going, keep digging deeper!
Is it possible to celebrate Canada Day and still be an authentic culturally responsive educator?
I absolutely love this question. We often think of Canada as a day to celebrate this country and the creation of it but rarely think about what we should be celebrating. I for one have never thought about the true meaning on Canada Day and what this day means. Let’s look back to Canada Day 2017 (the big 150). What was I doing? I was drunk on a boat with 23 of my best friends wearing a red hat because I was celebrating Canada. Did I once turn to anyone on that boat and say “what is it we’re celebrating?” No, because I didn’t even care. Now I look back at the posts that were shared and the commercials that were created and realize that although I thought I was doing the same as everyone else who lives in Canada, I was celebrating the wrong reason. I was celebrating the land that makes up Canada being taken from the ingenious peoples through lies and deceitfulness. I was celebrating residential schools and disease that were given in return for the land. I was celebrating the fact that this country has lied about it’s true creation for 150 years because they know the truth is wrong.
So, as an educator, it’s more then alright to celebrate Canada Day with your student’s because it is the country we live in and it has done many great things but you need to be aware of the reason this country exists and talk about the past events that led to the creation of this country.
This is a hard blog post to de-construct. This brings me back to a second year education class where Mike Capello stood in front of close to a hundred second year university students and told us all that we are a racists. My first response was “who are you to tell me I am a racist?” then my mind went to “I am a future teacher, I can’t be racist, right?”. This sat with me for days and lingered in my mind until I began to grow and deconstruct who I am and how I am feeling. This might be something that you can do with your high school students but standing in front of your elementary students and calling them racists probably isn’t your best bet so how I am going bring up this large and complex topic of white supremacy? How am I going to explain to a bunch of nine year olds that they are white supremacists by default just because of where they live and the colour of their skin?
The topic of white supremacy can not be discussed until the topic of culture and race has been not only discussed, but pulled about and really deconstructed. You can’t tell someone their a white supremacist if they don’t understand where white supremacy comes from or why it’s even a thing
Responding to this saddens me lately due to the fact that I can sit here and say that I have never been affected by racism but I pass the faces of hundreds of people everyday who have. I can go shopping in as store and never feel like I am being watched or followed. To be honest, it’s never even crossed my mind. I go in, go where I need to go, grab what I need to grab, and pay often only running into one employee and that’s at the till. Up until this day, racism has never affected me personally and yet as I type this, there is someone out there being accused of stealing lately due to the colour of their skin and no one is doing anything to stop this. I would love to be able to tell employees of a store to only follow around the white people that enter the store and watch them like hawks to make sure that they don’t steal anything and then interview every single one of them afterwards and see how it made them feel. I think this would truly open peoples eyes to how wrong racial stereotyping is and how much it affects people. Maybe then would see past colour and work towards creating a better and happier community.
I need to learn to fear less what people are going to say about me based on the actions that I take and the words that I speak. I hear things and I see things that I am aware are wrong and uneducated conversations and yet I find myself changing the conversation or simply just walking away. I am in constant fear that someone is not going to like me or is going to talk about me behind my back because I stick up for something that I believe in and that should not be the case. Why do I care what people think or say? If these people truly give a shit about me as a friend then they’ll engage in a conversation and listen to what I am passionate about. I feel like I am constantly worrying about what other people have to say that I am wasting time that could be used to stand up for what I love. This course has made me take my insecurities and lay them out on the table and for that I am grateful. My goal is to make these needed conversations happen and fear the outcome less.