Below is what I have created for my final representation of my treaty walk throughout this class. I have created a visual representations that brings in the importance’s to First Nations culture along with the notion that even though this class has ended my treaty walk and this journey that I am on will continue on and I will be able to add more pieces along the way. The pieces that I picked to use in my representation are the top experiences, activities, and understandings that I have explored along my journey so far.
I thought our land experience day was a fantastic day together where we were able to walk and explore where treaty 4 was signed, learn from new elders, and get to know each other a little bit more than in class time.
To start off our day I thought it was great that we were standing in the right place at the right time and got to look inside the Hudson’s Bay building. It was very neat to see what is left in there that is original to the build like the ceilings and the structure in the basement. It was very fascinating and a great way to start our day. It also brought to our attention at the beginning of the day that we were just going to go with the flow and everything will happen as it should, in a way trying to let go a little of our schedule and set times for each activity which came into play again throughout the day. I think it was great that we just went with the day.
Throughout the day I was very intrigued by the two Elders that we had speak to us. I found them very inspiring and encouraging that we as teachers or even just people living on the land came help make a difference. First off we got to meet with Elder Lindsey Starr who was able to share his experience and knowledge about the Lebret Residential School with us. Elder Lindsay was a survivor of the residential school and was able to share some heartbreaking and some inspiring stories with us. I throughout that Elder Lindsay’s stories were very powerful and made me think a lot about the impacts that the residential schools had on the students. Lindsay also talked a lot about the importance of his family and how he stayed back from the navy to support his family and now his daughter has stayed home to help him when in need as well. I was glad to see that he brought his daughter along with him and she sang a beautiful song for us at the end. Elder Lindsay also talked about the land where the residential school was and how it is used for ceremonies and healing today. Elder Lindsay showed me that reconciliation can happen everywhere and sometimes you just need to listen a little closer to understand.
At the healing hospital I was inspired by their ceremony and medicine rooms. I thought the ceremony room was beautiful with the wood along the top and the animal furs covering the floor again to show some traditions in their culture. The Elder was able to share some new things with me during this time. He showed the importance of smudging and how to properly smudge which I had always wondered about. Remembering to start with the mind, the heart and then the rest of the body. The elder also talked about the importance of 4’s and how there are 32 4’s within First Nations culture. He also brought up some miss understandings I had about why women could not participate in certain ceremonies on their moon time and this is because at this time is when women have direct contact with the creator and can speak directly to the creator. After the ceremony room we were able to see inside the medicine room which was very interesting and was filling with a lot of different plants and natural healing methods. While inside the room we were able to try a piece of black root which the Elder says he takes whenever he feels a cold coming on. This was very different than the medicines we use today and I was very interested as to what each one was for and possibly even trying more of them. The Elder also told us that Fist Nations people contribute to 65% of all medicines.
Lastly we got to see inside the sweat log. This inspired me to want to take part in a sweat log ceremony and the Elder make us feel very welcomed to come and experience one of their ceremonies. I think it is important to continue to take part in ceremonies like this to further help me along this continuing journey that I am on. Overall I thought our land experience was a great day filled with a lot of new learnings, understandings and wonders to help me continue on my journey.
Last week I was able to take part in a very meaningful ceremony for First Nations people. Elder Elma came and facilitated a pipe ceremony for us. Throughout the pipe ceremony I developed many new learnings and experiences. This was the first time that I had participated in a pipe ceremony and I would definitely do it again.
First off I learned that a pipe ceremony is a way of prayer for First Nations people. It is a way for them to speak to the creator and ask/pray for what they wish. Elma said multiple times that she loves pipe ceremonies and being able to smoke her pipe because it makes her feel stronger and gives her the courage she needs. I definitely felt calmed and relaxed after the pipe ceremony was over. One thing that I was unsure of going into the ceremony was if every had/was able to smoke the pipe. This was something I was not sure if I wanted to do and further found out the you did not have to and you could pass but I felt to get the full experience of the pipe ceremony and to honour Elma for coming and doing this with us, I wanted to show her respect and do it for her and the creator we were praying to.
Another thing I learned during the ceremony was the significance of the colours of the cloth and the order to place them in. From what Elma told us I believe she said that the cloth, from top to bottom, goes red, yellow, white, green, and blue. As far as the meanings of the cloth the red represented the creator that we were praying to, the yellow represented the east and the rising of the sun, the white represented the north, the green represented mother earth and the south and the blue represented the water/rain and the west. It was very interesting to see the significance of the colours of cloth and to see the connections between the colours and the meaning. I also thought it was interest how Elma said that after the ceremony she places the cloth outside, hanging in the trees, to give back to the land and the creator. And they would be placed in direction according to the meaning of the colour.
At the very end of the ceremony Elma referred to us all as allies. I found this very interesting and it also felt good to hear it from her. It is her and her people that are struggling and recovering daily from actions of my people and settlers like me, so it felt good to hear her say we are allies. I felt that Elma recognizing us as allies is an act of reconciliation, which is a term I am still trying to fully figure out on this journey of mine. Overall the pipe ceremony was a touching experience and I feel more people should have the opportunity to take part in one.
I thought group seven’s presentation was very important as it is showing the impacts of students which is who we will be dealing with every day as teachers. Their introduction activity was a great way to show how students, in particular indigenous students have inequalities within their education. The students taken outside most likely did not have a writing utensil, a computer or device to look up questions and cold/unpredictable weather. As Casey said this is a reality for our Indigenous students and some of them have it even worse with buildings that are not safe or healthy for the students to be in on a daily basis. It is disgusting to see some of the schools they have to use and then knowing that Regina is just currently building three brand new schools within the city. Yet the government says they do not have money to build schools on reserves. All students deserve equal education and equal accounts of health and safety within those environments.
Shannen Koostachin’s dream was something that I had never heard of before, I had not even heard of Shannen herself. I feel she was a very powerful youth speaking out for her school and her people. I think Shannen’s dream is something that would be great to use within my classroom to show students the inequalities in our world. It was great to know that Shannen’s school got replaced but this should be happening for all First Nations youth schools. Shannen wanted safe, comfy schools and a culturally based education for First Nations students and I do not think that is to much to asking for. I hope that one day her dream can fully come true.
This group of students were a very powerful and determined group of young men that are proud of who they are and the traditions they take part in. As Elma said oski-pimohtahtamwak otayisiniwiwaw, they are into their new journey to knowledge. After hearing these students speak and present to us I thought that this title was very fitting for them because they are a group of young men who are open to and passionate about learning from their elders and carrying on the traditions in their families. Many of them also spoke about learning these teachings to be able to pass it onto their younger siblings which is great. I thought that they were brave students to come and present to a University class about their beliefs and traditions. One students also said that before being apart of this current class he would not have been able to present like that, I think it is great that these students are becoming more aware of and willing to share their culture and traditions with others. We need people like this to help educate us non indigenous teachers so we can also teach this information to the best of our ability to our students.
Within this group of students there was one in particular that stuck out to me. I believe his name was Chris, even though he informed us that this not his real name but his European name. This young man presented to us 10 things that can be learned from the blanket exercise. Chris was very knowledgeable and you could tell that he has had many deep and dark conversations with elders in his family that have passed this information down to him. He did a wonderful job of presenting this information and said quite a few times that this topic could be spoken a lot darker about which goes to show and really make you think about the tragedy that their people went through and are still healing from today. I believe we need people out there like Chris who are so passionate about their culture and traditions and are not afraid it speak of it all so that other people, like myself, are aware and better understand.
I think this program that these students are apart of is a wonderful experience and as they said they believe an Indigenous class should be mandatory in all schools so students can learn as well. Sheena Koops also appears to be a very powerful teacher. Even though we did not really get to hear her speak her students had nothing but positive things to say about her. She did help me to understand reconciliation though and simple things such as her students coming to present to us can be reconciliation.
Yesterday’s group presentation was very powerful and reading all the accounts of missing and murdered indigenous women really hit home for me and made me feel disgusted with how people could do that to women. Especially the accounts of the younger women around the age of 15. I think I read three accounts about 15 year old’s and it hurts to read those stories. I took a lot out of this groups’ presentation and also left with some questions still.
During Jason’s group discussion one of my peers had brought up the point that we are fortunate to be white people but yet unfortunate to be women and this really stuck for me. It made me think that yes this is very true and I couldn’t imagine being both nonwhite and a women because you would face even more discrimination. You always hear that white people are so fortunate but really when we think of things from a woman’s perspective it would not be as easy as seeing things from a white man’s perspective.
Brooke’s group discussion and readings of personal accounts was very hard to read and imagine people going through those situations. To read how the women would continue to be abused and to try to get away but basically have no way around it and having to just stick it out and deal with the abuse. That it not fair or right to our women, no one deserves those experiences and I could not imagine going through it myself. I have had a family member put through an abusive situation like this and as much as everyone and herself always knew it was an unhealthy situation she would always stick up for the man and continue to stay with him. To then hear the men’s stories and how they always say they don’t want to be the abusive man and husband but yet they continue to do so anyways. These are the men that need the help but will never accept it or do not have the help that is needed.
I left this presentation with many different feelings but I also left with a wish that the numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women decreases and eventually is at zero. I hope that I can bring forward these topic as I approach my teaching career to make students more aware. #MMIW
This week I have been opened to a lot of new information regarding the role of Metis people in treaty making and the impact it had on them. This information was retrieved from Russell’s presentation as well as Groups 5’s presentation.
One thing that struct me the most from Russell’s presentation was just the realization of all the information about the Metis people that I was unaware of. A lot of the time when thinking about Metis people I would group them with First Nations people but I have come to the realization that there are major differences between the two groups and the roles they played in treaty making. In order to declare as a Metis, Russell mentioned that there are three important aspects. You must be recognized by a Metis community, you must self declare as a Metis and you must be able to trace your ancestry back to a historic Metis community. This is what defines who a Metis person is, a Metis is not a half breed. Russell also mentioned the scrip that the Metis people were given which was another new concept that I had not even heard of before. The game that Russell used to demonstrate the power of the scrip was very beneficial and it showed just how much was taken away from the Metis people, and even though promises were made in return they were not always held true to.
From group 5’s presentation the part that struct me the most was the role that the Metis people took as the interpreter during treaty making. This role gave Metis people a lot of power during the making of treaties. You would hope that as the interpreter the Metis people would be honest to both parties but this was not always the case. Some interpreters would pick a side and relay a different message than was given to them which could result in treaties being signed but different from what the First Nations or Europeans agreed upon. The interpreters were not all intentionally changing what was said between the two parties but sometimes there were still communication barriers and information would get slightly changed or lost. This also resulted in treaties not being signed to what both parties thought they wee agreeing upon. This role of power that the Metis people had was something that I was unaware of and it came as a surprise to me.