The Journey

Posted on November 20, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, personal, Privilege, Race, reflection |

Yesterday I met with my friend, Tamara Ryba at Scott Collegiate. It was a great meeting where we covered a lot of ground on my final project. She has agreed to have her students help with research and language connections for my final project. It’s great to have all hands on deck when it comes to this Treaty 4 project, as it’s a big one.

However, today’s post isn’t going to be about the specifics of my project.  Today’s post is going to be about the mental and spiritual journey I have started that relates to this project. It’s going to be about the embarrassing, sometimes painful journey I have experienced as I work through these discourses.

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Photo Credit: Carlo Scherer

Through this summer’s anti-oppressive master’s course, my eyes were opened to the oppression and racism that is systematically infused into our culture and society. My mind and heart were changed as I began to see the world in a new way.  I began to recognize how I see the world through a female, privileged, white settler lens. My ideologies slowly began to change, and I started a path that is working towards anti-oppressive education.

Though the process isn’t linear per se, I am going to walk through the timeline of how I have seen my views change, and how I have seen my comfort challenged… even today.

Summer 2015- I took an anti-oppressive education summer institute. I read a plethera of articles about Canada’s unfortunate racist history. I had great discussions with colleagues about the TRC (Truth and Reconcilliation Commission of Canada) documents. I began seeing things in new ways.

truthandreconcilliation

Photo Credit: The Media Project

I read the TRC’s Calls to Action for education, and decided I wanted to use the ARIS app to create a Treaty 4 experience that allows participants to “experience history” rather than read about it.

September 2015- I started looking at the logistics of this project. I thought that I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted to go with the project.  I was encouraged and challenged by a friend/mentor that I should not try to be the “white knight” and re-tell history through an app, because I still saw the world through female, white settler eyes. I learned that I was going to need to come along side Aboriginal allies/ key players who are already involved in anti-oppressive education, and whose views I am trying to depict through this experience.

November- Met with Regina Public School’s aboriginal consultant, Sarah Longman.  She dropped names of people and resources that I had never heard about. Meeting with her did two things: 1) Made me realize how much I don’t know. 2) Made me feel like I have an aboriginal advocate who will walk through this project with me.

Yesterday-November 19, 2015- I went to visit Tamara Ryba at Scott Collegiate.  As I was using my GPS to drive to Scott, I realized that I had no idea where the school was, and in my close to 30 years of living in Regina, I don’t think I had ever driven by this high school in central Regina.  As I was parking, I looked to my right.  In the front passenger seat, I had a 4 Operation Christmas Child boxes that I planned on dropping off later that day, and I had my lunch sitting on top of the boxes in a Lululemon bag.  Embarrassingly, I am going to share with you the thought process I had:

  1. I looked at the Christmas Child boxes and thought about if someone would steal them.  I then thought, “Well it might be ok if they get stolen, because the people who steal them will probably need that stuff anyways.”
  2. I looked at the Lululemon lunch bag and thought, “Hmm, someone might think I have Lululemon clothes in that bag, and they might want to break in.” I then moved the Lulu bag under the boxes where it was out of sight from the window.
  3. I then glanced into the backseat to see if there was anything else valuable that might be stolen, and left the car, being sure to lock it behind me.

After the great meeting with Tamara, I got in my car and started to drive back to my school which is located in East Regina.  As I got closer to the main roads, and closer to the East end, I physically started to feel more comfortable.  It dawned on me that I drive from Harbour Landing (where I live) to the east end every day for work.  There is an entire part of our city that I literally never see or experience.  As I continued to reflect on my morning, I got more and more disgusted with my responses. The very racism and prejudice I am trying to fight with this project is so ingrained in my thoughts and everyday life that it affected my behaviour as I was outside of that school. I was/am disappointed with myself, but I am also aware that this recognition of my behaviour is the first step to change.

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Photo credit: Duncan C.

Next week I am going to be meeting with Noel Starblanket and Gramma Bear and learning how to offer them tobacco. This is a step I am excited for as it is a step out of my comfort zone, but something that is so valuable. They will be a giving me ideas and information that will help with the story part of my project. I am offering them tobacco as a ceremonial gesture that shows I value their knowledge and wisdom.

I know I will continue going through a process of “unlearning” thoughts and behaviours that I have grown up with. It is uncomfortable thinking about how I am not an expert in this area, and how much I have to grow. I know that sometimes it will be two steps forward, and one step back.  That said, I am committed to moving forward, and with supports in place, I know this journey is going to be good.

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[…] next month I met with Sarah Longman and Tamara Ryba.  Sarah works at my school division’s board office as an aboriginal consultant, and Tamara […]


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