personal

Parenting: The Calling (Ch. 1)

Posted on June 14, 2017. Filed under: Books, parenting, Parenting: Gospel Principles, personal |

I am currently reading Paul David Tripp’s book called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that Can Radically Change Your Family.  It is from a Christian perspective, and though not everyone will agree with all of the advice, here are some of the things I’ve learned from the chapter.

Chapter summary: This chapter was about how parents have an extremely high calling. The chapter begins with this quote:

Principle: Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.

This chapter was pretty sobering in its reminder of how important parenting is. It started off by walking us through the stages of a child through little scenarios.

  1. The two year old won’t eat his peas.
  2. The Kindergarten teacher is sending home notes because your kid won’t stop talking.
  3. Your children are misbehaving and making the day extremely difficult to get through.
  4. You’ve just had one of the best conversations with your eleven year old… EVER.
  5. Your pre-teen is embarrassed by you and doesn’t want to be seen with you.
  6. You take your family to a movie, and the fun family comedy has way too many sexual innuendos that you will need to talk about with your kids later.
  7. Your kid moves away to college and doesn’t need your help anymore.
  8. Your child moves home from college while she is looking for a job. You have to find the balance of parenting an adult.
  9. You’re haunted by regret. (This is where I got emotional.) You remember the little promises you didn’t keep, or all the moments of failure.

Tripp points out that all of those little scenarios have one thing in common: they are all about a calling as a parent. He breaks down our calling into two categories: 1) Parents are treasure hunters, and parents are valued spiritually.

His first point about being a treasure hunter is that our choices and decisions are all reflections of our core values. Many things compete for our attention and to be on the “throne” of our hearts; possessions, recreational activities, people, etc. We often get overwhelmed with them and they hold too big of a spot in our life.

“Parents who are too controlled by possessions (houses, cars, lawns, furniture, artwork etc.) tend to be so busy acquiring, maintaining, financing, and protecting their possessions that they have way too little time to invest in their children in the way God intended. Or parents who love possessions too much tend to be so uptight about protecting their possessions that they unwittingly turn their home into an uncomfortable furniture and craft museum that their children are taxed to live in” (Tripp, 2016, p. 26).

Tripp challenges his readers to humbly look at their own lives and identify any areas that might compete with the value of parenting. What gets in the way of giving parenting the importance and value it deserves?

The second point explains how our high calling as parents is about getting to be “a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in his hands for the purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission in your children” (p. 30).  Parents get the amazing job of helping their children understand spirituality and pointing them to Jesus.

My take aways– After reading those initial scenarios, I thought to myself, “thank goodness my actual parenting hasn’t started yet.” But when I thought more about it, I realized that it has. I believe that my every day choices are reflective of what my parenting will be like in the future. If parents are truly treasure hunters, then what I value today definitely has consequences on what things I will value down the road.

Photo 2017-05-23, 12 40 28 PMThe ‘regret’ scenario really struck a chord with me.  I don’t want to make it all the way through my life and then look back and wish I had spent more time savouring the little moments. When Adelyn was first born, many people told me to cherish the time because they grow up way too fast. Cliche, I know… but I have actually tried to take that advice to heart. Jim and Pam were given this advice for their wedding, and I have been trying to do the same thing with Adelyn.  I am trying to live in/cherish the moments we are in. As much as possible, I am trying to be present when I am with her.

It has been really interesting entering into this journey of parenting.  When people ask Photo 2017-05-12, 10 16 46 AMme what it’s like to be home with Adelyn, I have a hard time explaining how much I am enjoying it. You see, I am one of those people who has always been GO GO GO. I have been extremely busy and seemingly involved in everything. Being home with Adelyn has caused me to slow right down.  And let me tell you, there is beauty in the rest. I have really enjoyed this slow pace and spending time with my daughter. We work around her schedule and I’m at home A LOT. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I am.

 

It also makes me happy/excited for my choice to go half time next year.  I know this IMG_2564choice isn’t for everyone. Some would rather be home full time, some would rather go back to work full time… but I’m going to be half time, and I think it was the right choice for me. I am learning that my family needs to come first before my job; I need to practice
making my husband and daughter a priority as I LOVE teaching, and I know it can easily creep in as a higher priority if I let it.

Some people may wonder why incorporating a spiritual worldview while parenting is important. Tripp does a great job of explaining why our role as parents is to help our children see the Creator.

“Your children have the perverse and life-shaping ability to look at the world around them and not see God. They will consistently see the signs (the created world), but they will consistently fail to see what the signs point to (the existence and glory of God). And if you don’t acknowledge God… you will then insert yourself in the middle of your world and make it all about you” (p. 30)

When we make this life about us, we end up living for the unsatisfying flavours of the week. We keep filling our lives with things that we think will make us happy. Often times these things can be good like family, work, career, aspirations, love etc. But they never fully satisfy us. When we shape our worlds around ourselves we end up always needing more because nothing human/earthly can meet these deep needs.  I believe that it is only a spiritual relationship with the Creator that can give us ultimate purpose and joy. When we have that, we can rest and live in a state of gratefulness/contentedness because it is not affected by our shifting circumstances.

What I want for Adelyn is for her to have a steady rock to hold to. I will try my best to teach her to have a spiritual awareness that will outlast her day to day troubles.

Just for fun:

Parenting fail #4- There have been three times when I’ve got home and realized that I forgot to do up Adelyn’s seatbelt in the car. Oops…

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Parenting fail #5- I accidentally took her to her six month check up appointment when she was only five months.  I didn’t tell the doctor/nurses when I realized three minutes in. I just smiled and nodded at all the milestones. Thank goodness she is a big baby. She came out as 97th percentile for six months!

 

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Parenting: Introduction

Posted on April 22, 2017. Filed under: baby, Books, Christian, parenting, Parenting: Gospel Principles |

I am currently reading Paul David Tripp’s book called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that Can Radically Change Your Family.  We were given this gift when our daughter was

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Adelyn was dedicated Jan. 15, 2017

dedicated at our church. Now that I’m finished my masters, I actually feel like I have time to read it!  I will start reading some other novels as well, but I figured why not start with a parenting book while she’s young! Not everyone will agree or believe everything this book says, but I thought it would be good for me to blog my way through it and share what I am learning as I go. (Also a great place to post some of the pictures I have of Adelyn just sitting on my phone!)

Currently our daughter is just about 7 months old.  I started reading the book tonight, and though the chapter was already talking about behaviour, sibling fights, sports teams and academics etc. (which don’t apply to our current situation quite yet), I figured there’s no better time to learn about parenting then now. And sure enough! I was already convicted of some things in my heart that I feel I need to work on.

Chapter summary

The Introduction’s main point was that parents can either be ambassadors or owners. Tripp explains this as your worldview about your children; do you believe they are yours to own or is your job to ‘steward’ them as gifts from God?

“Ownership parenting is motivated and shaped by what parents want for their children and from their children. It is driven by a vision of what we want our children to be and what we want our children to give us in return” (Tripp, 2016, p. 14).

This is very similar to the marriage advice he gives in his book, What Did You Expect?
He said that we often use our spouse as vehicles or obstacles to get what we want. It can be the same with our children. It becomes a user/consumer mentality.

His alternative is ambassador parenting.  This is the view that our children are gifts from God and we don’t own them, but we steward them to the best of our ability.

“The only thing an ambassador does, if he’s interested in keeping his job, is to faithfully represent the message, methods, and character of the leader who has sent him” (Tripp, 2016, p. 14).

An ambassador parent’s job would be to try their best to reflect godly principles and messages to their children.

My take-aways

1) My identity does not come from Adelyn. Period.  “Owner parents tend to look to get

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‘Auntie’ Ashley having fun with some Snapchat filters!

their identity, meaning, purpose, and inner sense of well-being from their children” (p. 17). Funny how I used to find myself struggling with getting my identity from my job!  Have a kid, and sure enough… that can be easily replaced by a little one.  Now, I know I can take great JOY in my daughter.  I can love how cute she is, how good she sleeps, how well “behaved” she is when she is tired etc. but this does not, and should not reflect my true worth. The point is, that if my worth comes from her appearance and behaviours, then I will be the most proud parent one minute, and the most discouraged, disappointed parent the next.  It’s the “Saviour” complex.  Looking to Adelyn to have her make or break my day is not a role she was made for.  Ambassador parents are “freed from asking family life to give them life because they have found life and their hearts are at rest” (p. 18).

2) I don’t have to dread Adelyn’s awkward older years. I am a primary teacher for a reason. I love the cuteness of kids ages 3-7. I find them adorable, funny, clever, and their

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Photo credit: Laura Barberis via Flickr

imaginations are magical.  I’m not going to lie, I find 9-13 year olds kind of annoying. I do want to eventually teach that age group as I love that they are getting to be more independent and critical thinkers at that age.  (They also behave way better for their teachers than their parents)… but to be completely honest, I find them awkward and sometimes irritating.  My husband Jon and I have already joked about how those years with kids are going to be terrible.

This chapter totally convicted me of my selfish desire for my child to always be cute and funny for MY selfish wants. Owner parents “struggle with the crazy, zany phases that their children go through as they are growing up. They’re not so much concerned about what that craziness says about their children, but what it says about them” (p. 20). On the other hand, ambassador parents “have come to understand that parenting will expose them to public misunderstanding and embarrassment somehow, someway. They have come to accept the humbling messiness of the job God has called them to do” (p. 20).

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Speaking of messiness…

If I am to honour Adelyn in every way that I can as her parent, I need to allow her to grow into the little human God has called her to be.  I can release her from living up to my expectations, and I can try my best to impart knowledge, grace, and love to her. She is already an awesome baby DESPITE me, not BECAUSE of me. I’m doing my best, but have already had so many parenting fails! I need to remember the truth and strive to be an ambassador parent.

Just for fun share time. I keep track of many of my parenting fails in a note in my phone. It keeps me humble 🙂

Parenting fail #1

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First week of parenting: I thought breastfeeding was going great! I figured she was perfectly latched and that the milk was going, I don’t know, into her mouth?

Parenting fail #2- I spelled her name wrong on the invitation to her church baby shower. Oops!

Many more fails to come! Anything connect or resonate with you? Do you struggle with ownership parenting? Comment below and share your experience!

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Can you use breast milk on your own face?

Posted on April 12, 2017. Filed under: breastfeeding, parenting, personal |

I think these were the exact words I googled about 4 months ago. There wasn’t a lot of info out there, but I did find one girl’s story about using her sister’s breast milk on her face for her acne so I figured I would try it!

When I had my daughter 6 months ago, she basically scratched herself as soon as she

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The breast milk used here was colostrum, so it is quite a bit thicker and left a residue.

was out of the womb. The nurses told me to just rub a little breast milk on it, and it will heal the scratch extra fast! Sure enough, they were right! The breast milk made the scratch go away within a day!

But… the magical properties of breast milk didn’t stop there! I kept hearing that breast milk was this magic formula (no pun intended) that heals all a baby’s ailments; eye infections, ear infections, diaper rash, and the list goes on! There was even an article I read that had multiple uses for breast milk. But none of the suggestions mentioned using it on an adult’s face, so I thought, “what the heck! I might as well give it a try!”

Well, what do you know? It works on adults too! Not surprisingly, all the vitamins and health benefits it has for baby’s bodies also works for adults! The first night I tried it, I was starting to get some zits on my face around my chin and on my nose. The girl who’s blog I read put it all over her face and then washed it off, but I figured I would try it as a spot treatment. I usually pump right before bed anyway, so I just used some of the milk left over inside the funnels, and rubbed it on my nose and chin.

I didn’t find the breast milk sticky or weird smelling (which is more than I can say for the kate somerville anti bacKate Somerville anti bac blemish cream I normally used before bed! Man does that stuff stink! My husband literally won’t even kiss me before bed if I’m wearing that stuff!). The breast milk dried quickly and just made the skin feel sort of tight. In the morning, any zits that I thought were appearing the night before had disappeared.

I have used breast milk on my face almost every night since then, and my complexion is probably the best it’s ever been! Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not getting rid of any fine lines or wrinkles or anything, but it really has made a difference with my zits and blemishes!

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No makeup selfie

^ I just took this selfie right now while writing this post. I am not wearing any make-up or foundation. The lighting is from our bedroom window with the blinds closed, so natural light definitely helps, but if you zoom in,  you will be able to see that my complexion is not perfect by any means. BUT, I also don’t have any visible zits I don’t think! I went out like this today, and didn’t feel like I needed to use any cover up.

Now… I know how gross and weird it sounds. I’m even one of those people who is kind of creeped out and scared when people encapsulate their placentas. So I would not consider myself a “granola/hippe” type person who does stuff like this. I am just a new mom who happened to wonder, if breast milk is good for babies and their skin, wouldn’t it work for ours too?

Are you breastfeeding? Go ahead and try it! Let me know if it works for you as well!

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How Indigenous Learning Stories Can Combat Colonialism

Posted on March 27, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, baby, cultural, eci814, educational, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, Unsettling the Settler |

Mary Caroline Rowan discusses Indigenous learning stories in her article, “Resituating carol rowanPractice through Teacher’s Storying of Children’s Interests.” Rowan believes that learning stories can be a device to impart Indigenous knowledge and practices. The “learning story” derives from Aotearoa/New Zealand and is a structured, narrative style observation story that documents children’s actions and incorporates them into a story that walks through a child’s interests, ideas, and emotions.  In her chapter, Rowan uses the learning story model, and incorporates Indigenous vocabulary words that support Inuit culture.

(Warning: understatement of the year…) Colonization has had a strong impact on the Canadian Inuit’s culture. Through strict policy and violence, the Inuit people were forced to attend Residential schools where they were taught White ways of knowing and denied access to their language, culture and families.  “Inuit approaches to living have been systematically undermined in relationship with a southern society that believed that it knew best how to use the north, how to develop its economic potential, and how to improve the moral, intellectual and material lives of its inhabitants” (Rowan, 2013, p. 175).

The Inuit language and culture have been silenced through years of colonial policy and forced assimilation. Rowan’s approach to her research is rooted in the understanding that “locally based social and cultural knowledge(s) provide a foundation for meaning, understanding, and strength at the community level” (Rowan, 2013, p. 174).  She journeys down the path of decolonial theory to find ways to incorporate this local knowledge and disrupt hegemony in her early childhood education action research. Through the practice of transformative pedagogy, “which recognizes the value of home and community knowledge” (Rowan, 2013, p. 180), Rowan chooses to write two learning stories that use traditional Indigenous knowledge and language.

Rowan uses Hugh Brody’s research (1975 & 2001) many times in this chapter. hugh brody Brody was a British anthropologist that visited the Canadian Arctic in the 70’s. Much of his work influences Rowan’s theoretical approach. Brody (1987) wrote, “The voices of the people must be heard; their words breathe life into our understanding. We cannot know other cultures by looking at them; we must hear their accents, absorb their intonations, and enter their points of view” (p. xv). This is vital to Rowan’s work with Indigenous children.  In her learning stories, she enters an Inuit child’s world and writes about kamiik, (sealskin boots) illu, (a snow house/igloo) and a play structure on a local playground.

Through her stories, children were spurred on to wonder and question about other traditional cultural practices. One child “really wanted to see the quilliq (stone lamp) lit.qulliq This eventually led to an important event that involved the lighting of the quilliq” (Rowan, 2013, p. 182). I believe this is the magic that an engaging story can hold for a child. It begs them to enter into the story, and wonder and question in much deeper ways. The amazing thing about a learning story is that the children reading it are the centre of the story. It is their behaviours and actions that are documented.

When I decided to write my own learning story, I decided to centre it around my five month old daughter.  I am currently on mat leave, and do not have a classroom where I can use my students in the story.  I decided to take pictures of important events in Adelyn’s day where I saw her learning and engaging with her environment… AKA my home.  Because I didn’t want it to only be applicable to our family, I tried to use objects or experiences that could transcend culture. I openly admit however, that by being a White female settler, I am already working within a privileged, dominant discourse.

However, I tried to write the learning story in a way that allowed the opportunity for other languages and cultures to insert their own local vocabulary/understandings. On each page I underlined a word that I thought could be traded out for something more culturally appropriate or local if applicable.  For example, I wrote about Adelyn sleeping in her crib.  I know that many other cultures use moss bags, boxes, bassinets, parents bed, etc. Those reading/translating this story are encouraged to switch the vocabulary when necessary.

On the topic of translating, I guess I should mention that I had some friends/family translate the learning story for me into their own language.  I am so privileged to have acquaintances from many cultural/linguistic backgrounds, and thankfully many of them were willing to help me translate the story into their own tongue.  By the time the story was finished, it was translated into 7 (almost 8) other languages: Inuktitut, French, Korean, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Swahili, (and Cree is on the way). But considering Brody’s quote about “hearing their accents and absorbing their intonations” (Brody, 1975, p. xv), the story was not finished yet.  Through technology, we now have the capacity to actually HEAR other languages being spoken. I asked each friend to also record themselves reading the story in their language so I could import the recordings into the ebook.  This was successful, and now beside each translated line, there is a button one can click to hear the sentence being read in the corresponding language.

Again, I know there are still many faults with this process and product. By inserting other languages over a White, privileged experience, I am inviting minority groups into my dominant narrative rather than the reverse. I realize that this project is occurring because of a chapter I read while taking my Masters degree at a University. (The ivory tower image can’t be much stronger than that.)

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“Ivory Tower” photo credit: Billie Grace Ward via Flickr

I also realize that it is quite problematic that the book I have made is available in ePub format which is best read on an iPad, eBook reader, or a computer with the correct software installed. I know this type of technology is not accessible to everyone, and by doing this, I may just be perpetuating a very privileged group’s access to these materials.

That said, in offering this story in more than one language, I hope to accomplish some inclusivity.  I am sending a copy of my story to each of my friends/family that helped me translate it, and I hope it will be read to their children and children’s friends in their home language.  I am also hopeful because of my story’s ebook format. Because it is an ePub, it can be opened in the Book Creator app so that the pictures can be changed.  Perhaps someone would like to take out the picture of my daughter, and insert one of their own child in their own environment.  This ePub format also allows the story to be printed for those that may not have access to an iPad, ebook reader or computer.  It does lose the ability to hear the languages being spoken, but the written text in the different languages will still be there.

 

I will leave you with a few questions that I have pondered throughout this work.

  1. How can I (you, we) ally with other Indigenous peoples who are wanting to “breathe life into their understanding.” What does it look like for me (you, we) to support the amazing work already being done by Indigenous people who want to keep their traditions, culture and language alive?
  2. In what ways can I, as a white settler woman help disrupt hegemony and colonial thinking among settlers? In what ways can I infuse Indigenous ways of knowing into my teaching, or my every day life? What stories will I read to Adelyn that don’t have her (or people like her) as the central focus?
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Moving to an Asset Based View of Special Education

Posted on February 1, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, educational, Masters, Privilege, reflection |

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A Spiritual Journey to Reconciliation

Posted on January 23, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Braiding Histories, cultural, Ed890, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, reflection, Unsettling the Settler |

Before you begin reading, know that this is not a blog post. It is a final paper that has been cut and pasted into a blog post. It is my attempt at answering all of the questions I previously asked in past blog posts from my Ed890 class. It is written for a professor, and I posted it so that I have record of the final steps in my journey through that class.

A quick update as well would be that since having my daughter, I decided to postpone my project until I have officially finished my masters of education through course route. I still plan on completing the project, but I will be taking as much time as I need, not rushing to complete it so I can finish my degree. Here you go!

As I move forward with my Treaty 4 Reconciliation Project, I know there will be some hard decisions to make, and difficult questions to answer, especially as I start getting into the practical production of the project. I have already asked many of these questions on my blog, but I came at them hypothetically. I wasn’t really looking to answer them. Now it’s time to engage with them on a bit more of a practical level. As I enter into the creation of my project, I will begin to answer how I am going to come at some of these difficult decisions/questions. Below I will engage with each question separately and begin to answer how I plan on taking some of these bigger epistemological questions and engage with them pragmatically.

How can I help settlers unlearn Canada’s typical national story? 

Before participants enter into the Treaty 4 story, they need to be reminded of the dominant Western expansion story and its pitfalls. I would suggest that before participants take part in my project, they watch clips from “Canada, a People’s History” videos. There are some clips on YouTube, and the whole series can be borrowed from the library. Students should be asked to think critically about who is represented in the story, and who is not. By watching just a few clips, can they recognize who “Canada’s people” are? Who is the story about? What/who is missing?

Once students have looked into the dominant narrative of Canada’s history, the Treaty 4 story can be entered into thoughtfully. The Treaty 4 story needs to be re-told through the eyes of First Nations people. “I describe our stories as (re)tellings to signal that I am telling again – but telling differently – stories that have been narrated before… I want to convey to others, to elicit in others, the desire to listen and (re)member, to listen and acknowledge that which has happened” (Dion, 2009, 46-47). Voice needs to be given to the experiences and history of the First Nations people that were involved in the signing. That said, it cannot shift to become “just Treaty Ed.” The re-telling needs to look more like what Claire Kreuger calls “Settler Ed.” During the ARIS experience, students need to be questioned to be mindful of how this re-telling differs from the dominant narrative, and where they and their ancestors fit into the story… Aboriginal or not.

“Although this is distressing work, it is not to be done in the absence of hope – hope for a new and better relationship between Aboriginal people and Canadians is exactly what motivates me” (Dion, 2009, p. 113). How can I, like Dion, emphasize the power, strength, and wisdom of the First Nation’s people within the Treaty 4 story?

I think the videos I create need to show how resilient and strong the First Nations people are at the signing of Treaty 4. Each character that is introduced in the story needs to have a bit of a backstory and introduction. They shouldn’t just be a random character. I will have to be careful how many characters I introduce into the story so that participants can connect with each on a personal level. I think 4-5 characters is probably a good number for participants to follow along with. Using the backpack feature of the app, participants will pick up Cree words that emphasize these character’s strength qualities. Participants can pick up a word of strength and resilience before they meet each character in the story. I will do my best to tie in the correct word to the right character.

How can I foster an environment where the acts of colonial settlers can be investigated, and questions of responsibility can be taken up?

“If the current quest for reconciliation is no different from settler practices of the past – a new colonial tool of oppression – it has now become imperative to challenge Canada’s peacekeeper myth. Peeling back the layers of myth reveals that we must confront our own repressed and unscrutinized past as part of our own truth telling” (Regan, 2010, p. 67). I struggle to know how to push someone to investigate acts that have become so commonplace. I often think why didn’t anyone question what was happening to the First Nations people when thousands of Settlers were coming to Canada and First Nations people were being displaced right and left? We know that obviously there were some people who questioned what was happening, and certain people who challenged the policies that led to residential schools and reserves. That said, they were not loud enough, and we know that these systemic oppressions continued for too long, and still continue. I think the best way to have participants investigate these acts is to allow the participants to “interview” a Settler within the Augmented Reality Treaty 4 story. The app gives options for the participants to ask characters within the app questions and receive answers. I think one of the characters will have to be a Settler, and as the participants ask them questions, their racist worldview will have to be exposed, as will the benefits they received because of the Treaties. With some proper questioning afterwards, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on Settler actions and policies.

When is it our turn as colonizers/settlers to take responsibility for our own history, and work towards reconciliation from our end? Where do these understandings fit into the way I take up my Treaty 4 Reconciliation Project?

I believe the time is now. As Vanessa Watts from University of McMaster and Hayden King from University of Toronto point out in their article, “TRC Report a Good Start, but now it’s Time for Action,” there have been many Canadian reports done in the past that report on the violence and atrocious conditions First Nations people have had to deal with.

“The formulaic response to these moments of clarity and accompanying opportunity has been tacit acceptance, followed closely by delay and obfuscation, then apathy, and finally the status quo. It is a tradition in this country to ignore progressive solutions to the Canadian problem. This aversion is rooted in a resistance to sacrificing privilege and sharing power” (Watts & King, 2015).

Watts and King believe that it is no longer good enough to ignore yet another report about the racism and oppression facing our First Nation people. After reading the Truth and Reconciliation report’s Calls to Action, anyone can see how clearly something needs to be done.  That said, these Calls to Action in some ways are much bigger than me, and in other ways, they are exactly for me.

“The dynamics of symbolic violence are evident in the visceral exchanges between residential school survivors, government officials, and church representatives in public forums and less visibly in the everyday bureaucratic processes and practices that serve to reinforce colonial power relations. This subtle violence is all the more elegant because it is embedded in a language of healing and reconciliation that is seductive to both the colonizer and the colonized, albeit for different reasons” (Regan, 2010, p. 116).

I do not want to be a part of more subtle violence towards First Nations people. First Nations survivors have been putting in the time, the effort, and the back-breaking work of fighting policy, stigma, and oppression for years. It is time we as colonizers/Settlers stand behind them as allies and support the important work they have been doing all along. Reconciliation does not require me to re-tell the Treaty 4 story. Reconciliation does not require me to create a new lesson/unit for my own students. Reconciliation requires me to take responsibility for my own Settler history, learn about the ways I take part in racism and oppression, and work towards making that right in my own life. For me specifically, that has come as a call to make this Treaty 4 Augmented Reality app. I have realized that as I begin to take responsibility for my portion of history, I can work towards helping others understand where they might fit as well.

Who/What audience should my project be intended for?

After reading through the course texts, I have decided that this project should be mainly intended for Settlers. Sure, others can take part in the experience, and learn alongside us, but the First Nations people of Saskatchewan have been historically re-victimized by being asked to continually share about the oppression their people faced, teach others about this oppression, and then fight the governmental policies and systems that continue to oppress their people. It is time that Settlers learn about our own oppressive history and challenge our own ways of knowing.

“Decolonization is about changing lives and, in connection with research, conducting studies in different ways that directly benefit Indigenous peoples, instead of once again subjecting them to a research process that has ‘extracted and claimed ownership’ of Indigenous ways of knowing only to reject the people responsible for those ways of knowing” (Strong-Wilson, 2007, p. 117). I feel like I am struggling to find a balance between my desire to re-tell the history of Treaty 4 from a First Nations point of view and my desire to help White Settlers disrupt their own historical understanding of Saskatchewan’s history. Can I do both well?

When I first asked this question, I was bound by the fear that I had to do both well. In the weeks following, I have realized that the freedom lies in an open hand mentality. Though I have previously stated that I don’t want to be the White Knight, my thoughts and even actions proved otherwise. I felt like this project was my one shot to get it right. How on earth was I going to help Settlers disrupt their racist thought patterns and honour Saskatchewan’s Indigenous people through the re-telling of Treaty 4? I have now come to a place of open hands. It is not my responsibility to do anything in anyone else’s hearts or minds. God, the Creator, has set me on a reconciliation journey. I have realized that my role is to walk in obedience to what I feel called to, and trust that He is big enough and strong enough to guide the rest. This project’s success is not measured by how many people it reaches.  If this project reaches 100 people, or just 1 person, (myself), it has been useful. This project has been a spiritual journey for me, and as I have begun to de-colonize my own life, I have come to realize that success cannot be measured by Western standards. In fact, if I try to do that, I am losing sight of the spirit of intent that began this whole project in the first place.

Where do I fit as I blend my own spiritual understandings of creation and promise with those of our First Nation’s ancestors?

This process has also caused some inner turmoil for me over the past few months. I consider myself a Christian, a believer, and a Jesus follower. With these names have come years of Bible training, church attendance, and Euro-centric understandings of the world. I don’t think all of these experiences have been bad ones, and I don’t think all of them have been good either. What I do know is that my basic understanding of God has been framed through a Western church lens. That said, I have had many moments of deep spiritual connection with the Creator of the World, and for these times, I am forever grateful. I believe God has set my path for me, and called me into a relationship with Him. In the times when I have experienced God in the deepest ways, it is not surprising that they were free from the constructs of church policy, church business, and church frameworks.

I wish I could say that I have figured it all out and can now give you a solid vision statement of what I believe and how First Nation’s understandings of the world fit into my Christian beliefs. I can’t.  What I do know is this:

  1. I have a lot to learn when it comes to First Nation’s spiritual practices and ceremonies. I don’t have much experience with them, and my understanding in this area is limited to historical accounts of these practices or other’s experiences with them. I would like to grow my knowledge base of the spiritual side of ceremonies and traditions. Especially those surrounding the signing of Treaty 4.
  2. “Indigenous peoples are those who have creation stories, not colonization stories, about how they came to be in a particular place – indeed how they came to be a place” (Tuck and Yang, 2012). Right now, I feel like God is calling me to go deeper with Him in my understandings of Him as Creator. I have been convicted that I don’t have much of an appreciation or relationship to the land or creation.  I have been conscious of this, and have began taking time to appreciate the outdoors in ways that I haven’t before. It has started small by giving gratitude while on a run near my local creek, thanking Him for the cat tails and birds flying by. While driving through the prairies, I have looked out the window and tried to imagine what the natural Saskatchewan landscape would have been like before the farmer’s fields. I thank God for the beautiful never-ending sky and clouds that seem to represent His vastness. I also feel like I want to take a bigger step and devote a day or a weekend to being outdoors; learning and appreciating all that the Creator has given to us. This would be deeper than just a camping trip. The intent and spirit behind the day/weekend would be connecting with God as Creator and honouring all that comes with being on the land. I am trying to wait on the Lord in this respect, and trust that I will know when this trip should happen, where it should happen, and with who.
  3. This is a journey. I don’t have to have all the answers, and I don’t have to be at a certain point to feel like I can move forward with reconciliation. I want to meet with, and dialogue with First Nations people who are on this journey as well. I want to learn from Elders and listen to teachings that challenge my mind and heart. I want to trust that the work God is doing in my life is a good one, and that it will continue. I believe this journey is bigger than myself and as I move forward, I know I must remain humble and contrite in spirit.

To conclude, I have realized that this journey is a messy one. It’s not always clear what road I will go down next, and I’m not always sure where I fit or how. I know I have grown tremendously over this last year as I have learned about these topics, yet on the same hand, I feel just as helpless and just as inexperienced as before in many ways! I look forward to starting the practical part of my project with open hands, and I am willing to see this project change, shift, and grow as it continues.

References

Dion, S. (2009). Braiding histories: Learning from Aboriginal peoples’ experiences and

perspectives. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Regan, P. (2010). Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press

Strong-Wilson, T. (2007). Moving Horizons: Exploring the Role of Stories in Decolonizing the Literacy Education of White Teachers. International Education. 37, 114-132.

Tuck, E. & Yang, K.W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. 1, 1-40.

Watts, V. & King, H. (2015, June 5). TRC report a good start, but now it’s time for action. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/trc- report-a-good-start-but-now-its-time-for-action/article24824924/

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