I have created a visual representation as well as written and oral corresponding explanation of my miskâsowin process and treaty walk during this term. The video is available for viewing at this link.
Below is the corresponding script.
Connections to curriculum treaty outcomes/indicators.
I see myself bringing older students to Fort Qu'Appelle in the future. Specifically, the Grade 9 curriculum highlights 'Understanding Treaties Around the World' within Treaty Relationships. I want to practice building meaningful relationships with others to model for my students how treaties are part of a relationship. The Treaty Education resource for K-9 provides Possible Learning Experiences, I think that visiting Fort Qu'Appelle and Lebret should be included in this resource for all educators to utilize.
Share something meaningful related to your treaty walking wîtaskêwin field trip experiences.
The most meaningful experience was learning about the Indigenous medicines from Wendyl, a traditional knowledge keeper. This is not a common learning within Education or Indigenous studies classes. Reflecting on that experience, I now wonder, what is the most common medicines within Treaty 4? I am also interested in who owns the land where Wendyl gets medicinal plants from and how ownership of land affects Indigenous medicines. I think this would be an interesting conversation and history topic for Middle Years students.
What stories are told about treaties in Fort Qu'Appelle? Whose worldview is predominant?
Both views within Fort Qu'Appelle represent Indigenous and colonial world views, but the stories that are heard depend on those listening and what they want to hear. The settler story is mostly apparent for those that choose to see it. The museum's stories and the artifacts framed Indigenous peoples in a way that exhibits that these people no longer exist. While touring the museum, I challenged the ideas that white men were telling us Indigenous and treaty history; another representation of settler view point. In some ways, I see the museum experience related to Indigenous peoples are cultural appropriation.
The Indigenous world views are demonstrated with the Eagle statue that we saw, however, that being said, the idea of a statue is European. With students, I think educators need to encourage and guide students to see Indigenous world views throughout curriculum content and at Fort Qu'Appelle.
How could treaty education (truth, justice, reconciliation, decolonization, indigenization) look like in your classrooms, schools, homes & communities? What might the Treaty invitational event teach you about this important endeavour?
My contributions to the Treaty Event made me more comfortable to teach Indigenous content and Treaty Education in the classroom. Mostly I am afraid of saying the wrong thing, but the participants allowed me to be open minded and accepting of being corrected. The individual did so in a polite manner and seemed pleased to share knowledge with me. His “correction” about the information I presented even seemed like less of a correction and more of a conversation regarding a different viewpoint that he had that contradicted what I said. In fact, trying my best to share information and then being corrected benefits everyone involved; I gain correct knowledge that I can continue to pass onto others, and the individual that corrected me was given an opportunity to share a part of his identity and culture that he identifies with, and these learnings are profound. This experience makes me feel more hopeful that I have a place, as an educator, towards reconciliation and truth; previously, I felt as if I was being held back by my fears and uneasiness.
What are the biggest challenges you believe you will face when it comes to indigenizing and decolonizing? How will you combat these challenges (personal challenges/challenges with others)
I think the biggest challenge with indigenizing and decolonizing will be balancing personal and professional obligations that come with doing this. Personally, I know it is right to indigenize and decolonize my classroom, and eventually try to do so with my school, however, this may be go against the intentions of other colleagues. In order to combat this, it would take a team of supportive colleagues to encourage better beliefs.
Tuck and Yang (2012) state in their article that there are these settler fantasies of adoption that alleviate the anxiety of settler un-belonging. How does throwing around concepts of indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation alleviate that settler un-belonging?
Within the article it states, "the too-easy adoption of decolonizing discourse (making decolonization a metaphor) is just one part of that history and it taps into preexisting tropes that get in the way of more meaningful potential alliances" (Tuck and Yang, 2012, p. 3). This makes decolonization seem less important or impactful for Indigenous peoples that were affected by colonization, and tends to dissolve the intergenerational trauma that is apparent to those experiencing it. Furthermore, a metaphor, or "fantasy" also gives a sense of unrealistic, hidden or a light feeling of decolonization. In fact, in the article there is a quote that states, "Let us admit it, the settler knows perfectly well that no phraseology can be a substitute
for reality (Tuck and Yang, 2012, p. 2), which is exactly what the metaphor/fantasy does. The settler fantasy of adoption makes it seem that it did not happen.
By throwing around concepts of indigenization, decolonization and reconciliation it may contribute to make Canada's history of colonization more real and honest, if these concepts are brought up with tâpwêwin.
Tuck, E. and Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor, 1 (1). pg. 1-40. Retrieved from https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/18630/15554
During the stereotypes part of our presentation you were shown some images of the Indigenous Peoples in a way that forms discrimination. How does this relate to colonization of North America as well as the treatment of Indigenous Peoples since then? Reflect on who creates these images and why you think these images are acceptable in our society?
The forms of discrimination in North America relates to colonization because the images reinforce the negative and derogatory treatment towards Indigenous peoples. The images that were shown (Edmonton Eskimos, Redskins, etc.) portray Indigenous Peoples as less than human and comparable to animals, as typically ferocious animals are mascots. This is no different than how Indigenous Peoples were treated in residential schools are further in history.
I think the images are accepted because the are attached to sports teams which society highly values. As well, many fans of these sports may not be educated about the images/mascots that reinforce discrimination and colonization, so they often go unacknowledged. Furthermore, the people that create these images are typically White, privileged males. These people won't acknowledge the discrimination their images perpetuate because it puts their privilege and power at risk.
Within Middle Years classrooms, it would be powerful for the future generations of citizens to explore stereotypes and messages about Indigenous peoples in the media in order to fix these persistant attitudes.
For example, in grade 6 ELA students are required to:
- "View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., Growing Up), social responsibility (e.g., Going the Distance), and efficacy (e.g., Making Our Community More Peaceful) (CR6.1),
- "View, respond, and demonstrate comprehension of visual and multimedia grade-appropriate texts including traditional and contemporary texts from First Nations, Métis, and other cultures containing special features (e.g., the visual components of magazines, newspapers, websites, comic books, broadcast media, video, and advertising) (CR6.4),
These are just some examples of outcomes that would relate to exploring this content in the classroom.
Government of Saskatchewan. (2008). English Language Arts Grade 6. Retrieved from https://www.edonline.sk.ca/webapps/moe-curriculum-BBLEARN/CurriculumOutcomeContent?id=32
How can we as teacher try to combat systemic racism in our daily lives and classrooms?
As a teacher, we are at the forefront of shaping students and communities to combat systemic racism. How we do this requires careful consideration.
One way we can combat this relates to Nick's part of Seminar 6. I was reminded of educators' role in the foster care system in Canada. Teachers are a frequent face for students to see every day, so we gain insight into students ' lives, including families and lifestyle. If students come to school without a lunch or with a bruise, however, teachers may want to jump to conclusions about the child's parents/guardians in order to protect him/her. But now knowing more about the foster care system, this may not be the best approach as the issues that are within families have systemic and historical causes:
“This is very much reminiscent of residential school systems where children are being scooped up from their homes, taken away from their families and we will pay the price for this for generations to come" (The Guardian, Nov 2017)
Data and documentation are critical for teachers to keep to accurately make judgements and reports about students' home life. This hopefully will prevent Indigenous children from being taken away from their families, an example of systemic racism.
Additionally, within my daily life it is important to call out other White people on their racist beliefs and remarks. The beliefs that are reinforced by privileged and powerful people in society are the common norms that last the longest. I think this would take a lot of courage, but would create a huge change in a fairly small way.
The Guardian. (Nov 2017). Ratio of indigenous children in Canada welfare system is 'humanitarian crisis'. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/04/indigenous-children-canada-welfare-system-humanitarian-crisis
How can we encourage students to look critically at the structures in the world around them?
I think beyond looking at structures in students' world within subjects such as Social Studies and Health, teachers should highlight current events, such as the Colton Boushie/Gerald Stanley case.
In regards to the court cases discussed in Seminar 6, the Leader Post stated:
"Whether some or all of the offences were racially motivated or not — each instance turning on unique and nuanced facts and law far more detailed than the above summaries, and perceptions and mindset that reach deeper than court transcripts — they unequivocally became racially charged. And the effects linger in distrust and suspicion within and between communities and peoples, the pressure left to build toward the next time" (Leader Post, Feb 2018)
As the above quote mentions, there are attitudes and beliefs that go deeper than what is said in the court system. Within a classroom, the profound and thought provoking discussions that could come from current events may be lasting memories for students. This can provide encouragement for students to look critically at the structures in our society without forcing a certain belief or standpoint on them. As well, teachers can highlight the lenses in which students see through not as something to be ashamed of, but simply something to be aware of.
Leader Post. (Feb 2018). Court of Contention: A look back at crimes that divided a province. Retrieved from https://leaderpost.com/news/crime/court-of-contention-a-look-back-at-crimes-that-divided-a-province
How can this process of looking into the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and the racism connected to them influence your miskâsowin process? What can you do to amplify these stories? What truth can you tell?
This process connects to my miskâsowin process because the government in which is involved in my life and origins have played an influential part in this racism. My origins and background, I feel, are grounded in Canada as this is where I was born and raised, so anything that relates to the history of this country I feel relates to me and my miskâsowin as well.
To amplify these stories, I feel that I owe it to these fellow women to acknowledge them in small and large ways. This could include starting conversations about these women on social media to get the word out by sharing news reports and photos of the women; this may bring positive or negative attention, but, nonetheless, needed attention. “Every time we do take action, we create change, and it may not be change that happens that day, or that week, or that month, but it is change" (Balfour, n. d). As well, discussing these women's stories with friends and family to bring about uncomfortable feelings that will hopefully resonate with them may be enough at times to amplify these stories.
As well, honouring these women and highlighting the systemic racism within my classroom with my students will bring truthful conversations about Canadian government and its history. These conversations and truths are necessary to be told because “these are realities that require our immediate attention in order to shift the current trajectory and build a safe community for women and people of all genders to live, work, and play" (Balfour, n. d).
Balfour, Taylor. (n.d). Regina's Women's March highlights MMIWG. Retrieved from http://www.carillonregina.com/reginas-womens-march-highlights-mmiwg/
What improvements to the school system would you implement in terms of truth and reconciliation?
I think that school system improvements require an effort towards miskasowin, tâpwêwin, miyo-wîcêhtowin, wîtaskêwin alongside an Elder and/or Indigenous community members and organizations. This would take an adjustment in the mindset and attitude within government, board of education, principals and teachers. I envision this process starting with personalized and empathetic land acknowledgements and education.
Cardinal and Hildebrandt (2000) suggest what must be done to reach improvements to the school system under the miskâsowin heading; negative stereotypes of Indigenous peoples must be eradicated and accurate histories of North America and First Nations need to be developed, including origin stories. I hope that this happens and are distributed among Canada as a step of reconciliation and school system improvement. This may be possible with proper comprehensive education to truthfully reflect Canada's past involving Indigenous peoples' (Cardinal and Hildebrandt, 2000).
As well, the Saskatchewan curriculum requires updating in which I would implement. The gaps of Indigenous knowledge is apparent, especially after completing the Choice Project - Unpacking the Curriculum.
"Within Social Studies, the Power and Authority unit includes few indicators of negative effects of actions that Canada has taken to oppress rights; however, the indicator that does involve this excludes the suggestion to relate societal oppression to Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan and Canada. Instead, indicator b for PA9.3 states, “Investigate examples of the oppression of rights of particular groups or individuals in societies studied including examples in Canada (e.g., slavery, limited franchise, restrictions on property ownership)” (Saskatchewan Curriculum Social Studies, 2009, p.24). By doing this, the curriculum makes Treaty Education connections even less apparent and appear less valuable, as well as silences Indigenous peoples’ voices by pretending that they are not affected by Canadian power and authorities" (Fulmek and Zinger, 2018).
In relation to miskasowin, how does finding one’s self help you move past white guilt/forming your identity as a treaty partner?
Knowing about my own miskasowin and why I have white privilege may allow me to accept the fact that I am white and white settlers are historically a part of a dark past for Canada. This acknowledgement will help me to move forward as a treaty partner by accepting settler past, which in turn allows me to move past white guilt. Furthermore, knowing about my own histories and miskasowin can help me to relate to others' histories and better form these critical relationships as part of being a treaty partner.
What teachings do pipe ceremonies offer you, related to treaties as covenants - kihci-asotamâtowin [Keeh-TSI-us-SOO-tu-MAA-toe-win] - Sacred Promises to One Another, the Treaty Sovereign’s Sacred Undertakings? (refer to the assigned reading in the Treaty Elders of SK book). How do you understand spirituality as part of your treaty-identities miskâsowin? note: spirituality doesn’t necessarily refer to religious practices, i.e. Christianity, but these could be included as well as considering yourself as a whole being - mental, spiritual, emotional, physical.
Spirituality as part of my treaty identity I see as being mindful. This would take place in multiple strands of my identity and relates to each of the 4 strands of this course. Within miskâsowin, I should be mindful of where I come from and my own histories. Respecting myself and the ones around me is important; “respect is an essential pillar in which good relationships can be brought about (Cardinal & Hildebrandt, p. 22). Within tâpwêwin, I must be mindful of what I speak about and consider if I could do so with even more precision and accuracy. Within miyo-wîcêtowin, be mindful that participating in our circle discussions, and ceremonies, allows me to mindfully make good relations with others. Lastly, within wîtaskêwin, being mindful of my relationship, as a settler, with the land, and the rightful owners of the land that I use.
The pipe ceremony, and discussions surrounding the ceremony, offered me an opportunity to be mindful. By doing this I am doing my part to listen and take in the knowledge of Elder Alma as well as appreciate that I am able to participate in a pipe ceremony. I thought about when ceremonies, such as the pipe ceremony that I participated in, was banned. The impact - mental, spiritual, physical and emotional - on a person would be tragic. I view covenants as promising promises and kind, but when they are put in the context of treaty, this does not stand true.
Cardinal & Hildebrandt. (2016). Treaty Elders of Saskatchewan.
Vowel (2016) describes a very prevalent and ugly stereotype that all Indigenous peoples are alcoholics. This is something that I have heard repeated over and over again in public settings and family members in subtle and not so subtle ways. Attaching a label to any group of people, such as this label, is never acceptable, because it is not true for everyone. Often the people that retell this narrative/belief are unaware, or may ignore, the reasons behind why the stereotype was conceived in the first place. Counter-narratives are needed to attempt to turn stereotypes around.
“The root causes are pretty well documented at this point - residential schools, the Indian Act, child welfare issues, Indian agents, geographic isolation, racism, intergenerational trauma - the list goes on” (Vowel, p.151-152)
Substance abuse is not defined by race (Vowel), but I would say that it can be more accurately caused by past traumatic experiences. This starts with colonization. This narrative/stereotype fails to show compassion towards Indigenous peoples and their loss of culture, loss of family/friends and loss of rights and independence. As with any addiction or substance abuse, it is difficult to control and overcome, regardless of race. However, many Indigenous peoples in Canada are not alcoholics.
A better narrative about Indigenous peoples is that they are resilient. They have experienced intergenerational trauma and, likely, daily racism but still manage to show compassion and kindness towards settlers more than resorting to alcohol. In fact, Vowel explained that more Indigenous peoples abstain from alcohol than the general Canadian population. This is not surprising as “Indigenous people tend to have a more negative view of the use of alcohol compared to non-Indigenous people" (Vowel, p. 155), so to assume that all indigenous peoples are alcoholics is guided by misinformation. The negative connotations that Indigenous peoples associate with alcohol stem from settlers that invaded their land; "[alcohol] was deliberately introduced into [Indigenous] communities in highly destructive and violent ways by settlers" (Vowel, p. 156). Here is a photo to sum up my thoughts:
Here are excerpts from Indian Horse (2012) (first p. 180-181, second p. 181 and third p. 189-190 that highlights the reasons for alcoholism among Indigenous peoples, told from the point of view of the main character, Saul Indian Horse.
Why did I chose this stereotype? What insights did I learn about the information to support the counter narrative?
I chose this counter narrative due to the proven facts that debunk the Indigenous alcoholic stereotype. It's a common one that is reinforced by many people that I know, so I thought that it would be the best to debunk in hopes that I can pass along the information. I have never learned about the information that debunks this stereotype and the 3 beliefs that go along with it (Indigenous people cannot metabolize alcohol, all natives are drunk, alcohol abuse is an Indigenous cultural trait) (Vowel, 2016). As well, I think the excerpt from this novel clearly explains the reasons for alcoholism among some Indigenous peoples as the novel follows the experiences and trauma for the character; however, I wonder if narratives similar to this one (that do include an alcoholic Indigenous person) help us towards reconciliation.
How do counter narratives fit in the curriculum?
Counter narratives fit within the Saskatchewan curriculum, especially in grade 8, shown below.
SI82: Assess the impact residential schools have on First Nations communities.
CR8.6 Read and demonstrate comprehension and interpretation of grade-appropriate texts including traditional and contemporary prose fiction, poetry, and plays from First Nations, Métis, and other cultures to evaluate the purpose, message, point of view, craft, values, and biases, stereotypes, or prejudices.
Using a piece of literature, such as Indian Horse or other Indigenous literature, students can work together to identify stereotypes/myth that are presented. Then, through partner research, students debunk the narrative that is presented with factual information. These tasks align with the outcomes above as it requires analysis of the effects of residential schools and critical evaluation of stereotypes that are constantly reinforced. This would be powerful for students to internalize and evaluate what they hear in their community.
Vowel, Chelsea. (2016). Indigenous Writes. A guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada.
Wagamese, Richard. (2012). Indian Horse.