my miskâsowin journey

My miskâsowin journey has been much different than I thought it would be. I expected all these revelations and self-discoveries about myself. Instead, I found that I challenged my thinking and beliefs a fair amount this semester. Conversations and actions I thought were positive, I realized were maybe not as advantageous as I once thought. I’ve learned that sometimes when I don’t know the appropriate way to respond, or I’m not sure I know the ‘right’ facts, I will avoid confrontations with people. However, if there is one thing I have learned through my miskâsowin journey, it is that as a treaty person, I am responsible for speaking up and sharing the correct truths.

“Now that you’ve seen it.. You cannot unsee it. Now that you’ve heard it, you cannot unhear it… There is no innocence now that you’ve heard it, and now that you’ve seen it” – Noel Starblanket

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miyo-wîcêhtowin

The Treaty invitational event reinforced in me that truth, reconciliation, and decolonization will only happen if we widen the circle. I think it’s important that as a settler Canadian, I continue to be an active treaty partner and work to widen the circle of truth and understanding. I believe our treaty event allowed for meaningful and informative conversation in a way that wasn’t forceful or hurtful to any one person. I think we did a good job at recognizing what discussion topics were important to us, and taking the opportunity to share our areas of interest/passion with our guests.

At our school, we work hard to honour and commit to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. Last year, we did a school-wide project with the Calls to Action, and this year many teachers have continued to recognize and incorporate the Calls to Actions in their classrooms. One way I think we could further expand our knowledge and promote the work we are doing is by involving the community. It seems we do these great things, but it primarily just stays within the building. I would like to see how we can take our work of recognizing the Calls to Action and introduce those into the community centres. By expanding school’s treaty event to more than just friends, families, and classmates, schools can continue to expand the circle in communities.

One thing I think that is important if I were to do this at school would be to ensure there is no cultural appropriation. It would be important that those running each aspect of the event are aware of their parameters on the information they can share. For example, as a Settler Canadian, it would be inappropriate and disrespectful for me to explain the teachings of drum groups, then lead a drum group.

I think a treaty event in our building would be a great opportunity for all learners to incorporate Indigenous teachings into their practices. This would be beneficial for Indigenous learners to promote their cultures, while the non-Indigenous students can promote the work of being active treaty partners. We currently are fortunate enough to have two strong Elders in our building. This treaty event can help students and family members become connected with our Elders.

The treaty event really allows students to take ownership of their learning. I believe students learn best when they have some control over what they learn and how they learn it. This would be a really good opportunity for students to collaborate with one another, inquire into themes that are important to them, and figure out how best they want to show what they know.

For me, our treaty event has opened up conversations with my family. I think that my mom walked away with a lot of new information, and a different perspective than she was used to. So, we have discussed her new information since then. Although these discussions surrounding truth and reconciliation with family members may not always end in agreeance, there are more of these conversations happening. I think this is a step in the right direction, and I hope to continue the discussions with my family regarding truth, justice, and reconciliation.

Seminars 3 and 4

Seminar 3 brought forth a lot of myths that I was unaware of. I knew there was controversy about Davin school, but I never knew why people wanted to change the name. It was eye opening to hear all about all the shady things Mr. Davin did. It astonishes me that someone can do all these awful things, and is rewarded with having a school named after him. Even fast forward to now, and the decision to leave Davin as is further proves that certain institutions are still not ready to take responsibility for the harm that was done to Indigenous people. It really made me think, “what other buildings or streets do we have in this city that are named after these types of people?” I think as we continue to work towards truth and reconciliation, we will see a lot more of these situations come out throughout our city.

I liked how Seminar 3 didn’t just focus on Davin and Dewdney. I enjoyed learning about Indigenous taxes and the myths surrounding those topics. I frequently hear people say, “well they get so much for free”. And although I knew that wasn’t true, I never knew what was true and how to correct that myth. Although I still am unsure of all the ins and outs, this group made me want to explore this misconception further to better understand.

As part of Seminar 4, we chose to carousel our seminar. When planning on how we would answer our prompt, we always left with more questions and fewer answers. Everyone’s understanding on what it means to be a treaty person is so different, so we thought it would be best to brainstorm with our peers what that means. We wanted our seminar to raise further questions and allow our peers and ourselves the chance to really think about what it means to be a treaty person. It is important as a settler Canadian, that I am aware of what being a treaty person means to me and the privileges I have because of these treaties. When thinking of what it means to be a treaty person, there are major imbalances between settlers and Indigenous peoples. Therefore, we thought the best way to work through those imbalances was through reflection and discussion.

Seminars 1 and 2

Every day I come to this class, I leave feeling like I’ve learned so much. As I drive home, I frequently have those “wow. I really have so much to learn” moments. Not only do I leave feeling more knowledgeable, I also leave feeling challenged. I feel challenged with how hidden, yet obvious racism is in our city. I feel challenged about the ways in which I thought I was supporting my Indigenous students. And I feel challenged to do more to help the Indigenous students I work with in my room.
The two seminars last week were no exception. I really enjoyed taping out the treaty map of Saskatchewan. It was a great chance to have a visual, and collaborate with peers. I think this would be an awesome Kickstarter activity in classrooms. This would be perfect before students were to delve deeper into the treaties within Saskatchewan. I was really proud to show up to Congress on Saturday and see that our stellar tape job was left kept perfectly in tact! Tammy’s speech blew me out of the water. Her real life comparison was a strong connection for me. I think almost everyone can relate to Tammy’s speech. We all are either in relationships with an unequal balance of power, or know someone in this relationship. For me, Tammy’s speech made treaties more relatable, and personal. I thought Tammy accurately articulated the feelings and processes that went into these treaties, and it was inspiring to hear how she plans to take her truths from the past in order to move forward.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women presentation was quite impactful. When I thought of all the times I’ve walked to my car late after work, or walked home from downtown, I always felt a little uneasy being alone. However, I never had to think about being seven times more likely to go missing. When I think of the Indigenous girls in my classroom, it terrifies me to think this could happen to them. No matter your gender or your race, you shouldn’t have to be unsafe walking home at any hour. It frightens me to think of one of my girls just walking home from a friends house, but never making it home, just because of her race. Although it’s been over a week since we did the faceless dolls project, I was reminded of it today at school. One of my male Indigenous students had to write a poem about what love means to them. He started rapping about his mom and how much he loves her. I all of a sudden got hit with a “oh my gosh” moment. What if that was his mom? I can’t imagine going through life without my mom there for me. I’d like to think I’m a functioning adult, and I still call my mom for help once a day. It is awful these women are susceptible to this every time they leave their house.
The faceless dolls is something I have seen many times. In fact, the year before I started at my school, students worked on the faceless dolls project. I was pleased we had the chance to try it in our ECCU class. During the talking circle, looking over the collection of dolls really hit home on what those dolls represent. Who are these women? Is it appropriate that there faceless, or are we not acknowledging who these women are? My interpretation of having them be faceless is that these dolls can represent anyone. By having the dolls faceless, people might stop to think about why they’re faceless. That then might lead to people acknowledging that this topic is rarely spoken about, and the women going missing are rarely named and talked about. I also somewhat agree with the video we watched. Is it fair for different people across the country to label the dolls with a person and share their story?