I found Pam Palmater’s discussion quite interesting. I found her speech to be quite direct, and enjoyed that she was straight forward with what she was trying to say. I found it interesting when she explained that truth needs to happen before reconciliation can happen. I was stunned by the statistics that Palmater shared. I was at a loss of words when Palmater stated that that Indigenous Women were seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women. This was hard to swallow, as I think of my Indigenous females I see at school everyday. This is a risk they face, just because of their culture.
When linking Palmater’s discussion to the Principles, I am drawn to Principle 6 – “Reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health, and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians”. I think this is key in order to move forward. As Palmater stated in her speech, we need to “decolonize the hearts and minds of our neighbours, our friends, our family members…” (40:40). I believe that in order to create a more equitable and inclusive society, we first need to make sure that everyone sees the disadvantages Indigenous peoples face when it comes to social, physical, and mental well being. It is crucial that everyone confronts these disadvantages, head on. Palmater also states that, “Indigenous people shouldn’t carry the burden of educating everybody. There is a role for our allies to play” (41:38). When I think of my role in a diverse school, I think of how important this principle is. Our students hit every socioeconomic status, and come from almost every type of family imaginable. No two students are walking the same path. Therefore, I think it’s important we make all young people aware of the inequities our peers face on a daily basis, while still keeping the integrity of these people.
Next year, our staff is starting an initiative called Following Their Voices. Although it is still in the beginning phase, and I am unclear of what that will look like, I’m already aware of how this program will affect my teaching. For example, some of the research this program is based off of shows that Indigenous students feel their teachers hold them to a lesser standard than their non-Indigenous peers. Hearing that students within Saskatchewan feel that way has challenged how I operate within my classroom. I already find myself aware of how much time I spend with each student, and that I provide as much one-on-one time with each student as possible. Although this is simple in theory, I find myself being pulled to the more vocal students. It is the student’s that ask for help, or have parents that advocate for their child, that sometimes take up more of my time. Since we looked at the Following their Voices research, I’m challenging myself to spend less time with those students, and more time with the more reserved students. I hope that by in doing so, these quieter students feel that my expectations are the same for them as they are for everyone else in my room.