My Miskâsowin process started out with me feeling very unsure and nervous. I didn’t know how to begin and I honestly didn’t know where I was going to end up. I knew how I looked at my identity was going to change, I just didn’t know how or to what extent. As I made my first blog post, I expressed how unaware and at times how uncomfortable I was with this topic and incorporating it into my classroom. I knew I had to find my belonging to help me feel more comfortable and aware. My second blog post was focused on the term Tâpwêwin, the second Cree word I had learned through this process. I learned that through all of this we need to begin with feeling comfortable with our history and the truth (with accuracy) that lies within. The blanket exercise was the activity that helped me find and realize the truth. It was so overwhelming and powerful. From this exercise I was able to identify that I am a white settler, cis-gender, heterosexual. I have also realized how “sacred” (important) my identity is.
My third blog post was based around the pipe ceremony and the significance of what it entailed. This was the week I added the term “female” to my identity. A word I am proud of. I was unable to attend the pipe ceremony due to being on my moon time. However, I learned how purifying and powerful my body is as a female, especially during this time. My body has the power to birth a child, the power to create a beautiful life. This was something I definitely took for granted prior to this pipe ceremony and prior to the realization of how important/sacred the female body truly is. My next blog post was based around appropriation vs. appreciation. I expressed that even when your intentions are good, you need to make sure you are aware of the reality. During my internship did a performance called Christmas around the world. Each classroom was in charge of making costumes and singing songs based on the culture they were given. My grade four classroom had Italy… they dressed as waiters/waitresses and sang a song about how much they love pizza. Unfortunately this judgment was based off of stereotypes rather than truth.
This next week I took a couple steps backward. Even though I had made great progress in my identity as my self and as a teacher, I ended this week questioning my ability to be a great teacher. I knew I could be a great teacher if I were able to keep my students safe and proud. How could I possibly do that when a young boy has died because of his identity? I was back to stage one of feeling uncomfortable and unaware all over again. I have also added fear to my identity. Despite it being a setback I know I am trying to grow from this and know I can still make a difference to at least a few of my future students. This week I had full intentions to move forward in progress again, but unfortunately I did not, instead I took another step back. I was left feeling unsure of what Justin Trudeau should have said during his apology to Colten and his family. It left me wanting more knowledge and education.
My next post was based around white supremacy. We talked about the importance of understanding our own privilege, but pushing back anyway to make progress. The airport walkway was an excellent example of doing so. The next week was focused around the question “should we be celebrating Canada’s 150th? I honestly felt this was a question I would have been originally offended by. Canada is our country, why wouldn’t we celebrate it? But I didn’t feel or think this way. It was a big important question and there is definitely a lot more we should think about on this day.
Next was our fieldtrip to Fort Qu’Appelle. It was very eye opening and powerful and likely had the biggest impact on my Miskâsowin process. I loved the feeling of giving back and saying a prayer. My tenth and final blog post was about our ReconciliACTION event. Our event was to help raise awareness and share the truth of our history so we could help reach reconciliation. Unfortunately there will always be backlash, but we have to keep moving forward on that walkway. I finally feel comfortable and ready for the classroom.
This is a journey I will forever be thankful for. I have learned new things about myself and pushed myself to new limits. I’m proud of this journey and my growth from truth to reconciliation. Thankfully I find that each step I do take backwards I am still learning something from, and maybe even sometimes you need to be tested and made unsure to have further growth. I hope I am able to help my students understand the importance of finding your true identity. My hand represents the root of where I have been planted, and my branches represent my identity, the many new things I have learned, and the importance of this journey.
This event was very eye opening and powerful. It took a little to get into, but once started and on a role, it was exciting and fun to get creative with it all. I was part of the promoting/marketing group, along with the 100 years of loss (road to understanding the truth) group. It was great to be involved and plan in a variety of ways with a variety of colleagues. It is said to be able to reach and accomplish reconciliation, you do need to fully understand the truth. This is why I enjoyed being on the truth part of it, because that is part of the first step. I loved learning about interesting information and loved reading some of these powerful dates to people who stopped by our booth. We made it engaging and interactive, along with powerful and frustrating. Reading about some of these dates make it hard to believe its true. I wish we could have turned it into an all day event and I wish we were given a little more time to perfect the plans and invitations, but we went with what we had and it still turned out great. I am proud to have been a part of such an inspirational and moving event, especially to end my final semester of Education!
This past Saturday we had a class trip up to Fort Qu’Appelle for the day. Unfortunately due to the weather I was unable to attend the morning. I was thankful to get there in time to take part in the afternoon plans with my classmates. What I experienced that afternoon was something I am so appreciative of, something I will take with me forever. I am thankful for conversations that were had, especially at Lebret. The man there had incredible knowledge and stories to share with us. The atmosphere he created during this time was powerful and comforting. There was so many things I took away from that, many of which were included in our closing circle afterwards with all our colleagues. As I mentioned, the number one thing that stuck with me was when he asked us how educated are we really? At first I was confused, because especially with internship and this semester I felt very educated. He took that thought deeper by asking how many of us know our great great great great great grandparents? Ha I sure didn’t! And he does. That is incredible to me. I have always wanted to further my education of my past and really, what is stopping me? I shared the story of finding out that this big beautiful chest I have in my bedroom is from when my great grandfather left Croatia with his brother as a young adolescence. This chest has shockingly been in my bedroom for close to 10 years and I had no idea. I am amazed, and proud. In fact, I am overwhelmed with emotions and feelings. I want to know my history and more interesting facts like this, things that make me who I am today! Another thing that stood with me was when he told us all he was going to go home and cry. I was shocked to hear this, but he followed it with how thankful and appreciative he was that we took the time, patience, and respect out of our days to listen to his stories. I thanked him numerous times, because of how much he cares. Not only about his past, but all of our futures. He prays for the peace between our children (white settlers) and his children, and so do I. I loved that it was ended in saying a prayer and offering tobacco to the fire. He asked each of us where we come from. This was so sweet to me, it warmed my heart that he cared to ask. But again it made me take my thoughts deeper, it made it feel more powerful of how this is his land. It made more sense as we were praying and thanking the land. He was an incredible man and I hope I get the privilege to speak or hear from him again one day. This was overall an incredible and powerful experience and I am beyond thankful I was able to experience it. Thanks again to all who organized it and took the time out of their lives to be there and help further our education.
The question in one of the seminar groups this past week was “should we be celebrating 150 years of Canada?”. This was a very powerful question, and honestly one I had not thought about in depth before. I shocked myself, and answered “no”. What we now know as Canada has been around for 150 years. The typical igloo, moose, syrup, etc. stereotypes of Canada have been around for 150 years, but this land was found and a culture was created long before that. 150 years marks the day we took away the complete freedom of the First Nation peoples and their land. 150 years should be a bitter sweet day for us, we caused a lot of damage following the beginning of that. We caused a lot of broken hearts, homes, families, and promises. I feel slightly ashamed that I had never thought of this side of things when celebrating Canada Day, because I do love our country! But we do have a lot of work to do still. I definitely think because of this seminar group, I will view and celebrate Canada in a whole new light. I will still have fun with my friends and family, but I will also remember what we took away on this day and damage that was done.
I feel after this week and my presentation, I have definitely added to my identity and Miskasowin. My group focused on white supremacy and the effect it has on everyone of all races. The airport walkway did a really good job of putting things into perspective for me. I never thought of it this way. I was always the one to say, well I don’t make racist comments, and I welcome all races in all that I do. But it goes so much further and deeper than this. The example of the walkway states that even if your standing still and not going towards racism, you’re still not pushing against white supremacy. Which is so so true! I’m standing still on that walkway and slowly still moving forward. I need to push back against the norm and push against the forces of white supremacy. I need to stand up for what I believe. I need to be aware of my privileges as a white settler. I need to understand that it isn’t hard for me to find band-aids and foundation that match my skin colour. I need to be aware that people every day struggle to find that perfect match. I need to not take the little things for granted, and be appreciative. I need to make my future students aware of white supremacy. I need to push back on that walkway of white supremacy, and I think that I made a great start of doing so during my presentation on Monday. This is just the beginning for me!
It was mentioned at the end of class that we could broaden our thinking and create a blog post about anything about the topics that were discussed in class. Mine today is going to have more of a focus on my confusion. The second group ended their presentation with our Prime Minister making a comment about the Boushie Case. I am not a fan of Justin Trudeau nor the decisions he’s made, but I am so deeply confused of what he said being wrong. This is where I feel scared to speak up against the rest and just simply ask, “What should he have said?”. Not to be rude, not to be judgmental, but absolutely out of curiosity, what should he have said? Because I feel that if he said nothing at all, the feedback would have been awful, I feel that if he said more or had more of an opinion, the feedback would have again been awful. If he didn’t mention the mom’s name, I feel people would have said “why didn’t he take the time to find out the mother’s name?”, and yet people were upset saying “he didn’t know her, he shouldn’t be allowed to say her name.” There also seemed to be shock that he basically agreed that the trial was wrong. Can you imagine the backlash if he had agreed with the trial? And he didn’t say he disagreed he just said he was saddened and hurt for everyone. There was also the statement that he shouldn’t speak for all aboriginal peoples when he said they must be heartbroken. Can you imagine the backlash if he didn’t make a statement about that? Again, I’m honestly just confused and it makes me more nervous and terrified to have an opinion in my classes and future classroom. So again, I just simply would like to know, so I can be slightly more educated, what should have been said?
I honestly do not know where to begin to show and express my confusion and hurt. As a future educator, so much truth and meaning has to be said on my part. I feel like I would owe my students answers, answers that I do not have. Again, I did not grow up with much diversity in my school or my community, especially First Nations peoples. I wasn’t taught anything about it and definitely felt sheltered. If I have First Nations students in my future classroom, I am not sure how to properly comfort them when these things happen. I do not know how to make them feel okay when I can’t tell them it would be different for them. Oh how badly I would want it to be different for them, I want it to be different for everyone. I could sit and tell them I’d fight for them and their story, but then I feel defeated again because I am just one person. That is the problem I keep coming back to. I am just one person. I am just one person, how could I ever make a difference? But then thankfully I keep telling myself that this is why I wanted to become a teacher. Because yes, I am just one person, but if I’ve impacted just one person throughout my career, I will have felt I’ve done my job. So if I can educate just ONE person on this Colten case and make them more aware about the depth of racism behind it, then maybe I’ve done my job. No I won’t stop there, but my focus to keep going and keep sharing these stories is one, just one person. Educating one person doesn’t seem so scary or so impossible, so thats where I am going to start!
Saddened with grief and hurt this past week,
I seem to struggle with these two terms and finding the fine line that lies between the two. During my internship, our school planned a Christmas concert called “Christmas Around The World”. This consisted of elves travelling to different parts of the world to find their reindeer. They do it every year and each grade gets to claim a different culture/country. My grade four classroom had Italy, my grade three classroom had Canada, and others had Mexico, Spain, and the Philippines. Initially I thought this was so cool and thought it was a fun way to bring culture into our school and into Christmas. As the time went on, we had more and more practices and started to begin making costumes. I couldn’t believe how much was based on stereotypes. For Italy, everyone was dressed up with pizza or as artists. They did sing a song that meant Merry Christmas in Italian, but their second song choice was fully to do with pizza and their love for it. I didn’t find it insulting or anything, but it was definitely more of an appropriation for it rather than an appreciation. We were appreciating their culture, but we were simply going by the stereotypes associated with them. It was a fun concert, but also an eye opener of how we all maybe need to be a little more aware of what we are trying to accomplish, even when our intentions are good.
Last week we were to be a part of a pipe ceremony. Due to being on my moon time, I was unable to attend. Realizing it was because of how powerful women are during this time was pretty inspiring. I felt I always grew up with it just simply being what it was… having your period. It never felt like there was anything powerful or special about it, and quite often was just a pain. But after taking the time to learn a little bit more about it in the Native culture, I have learned why it is said to be powerful. Your moon time is purifying and sacred, and is actually a ceremony in itself. It represents the power of birth, and the power of life. I enjoyed learning why it is called our “moon time”, which is because it involves the Grandmother Moon (a natural element in the Native culture). Some find talking about it uncomfortable or embarrassing, and honestly I used to as well. But it is nothing to be embarrassed of, if anything it is something to be proud of. I am able to create life. I have a time of the month where I am powerful and sacred, and am reminded of how important I am as a human, and a female. So even though I was unable to attend the pipe ceremony last Monday, I took the time to relax and enjoy the morning for myself. Even though it had started a day or two prior, sometimes you need a reminder to relax during this time and take some time away from all the chaos in your world. I woke up, stretched (which I don’t often take the time to do), poured a cup of coffee and enjoyed my thoughts and feelings to myself for a little while. In that moment I did feel powerful and sacred, which is how you are supposed to feel. From this pipe ceremony, I am going to try my hardest to remind myself to take this time for myself during my moon time and remind myself of the importance.
My name is Kennedy Loreth; I am white, a settler, cis-gender, heterosexual, and am part of treaty 4. Before this class, I would say that I am Kennedy Loreth, and that is my identity. Now my identity has more depth and meaning behind it, and I think that is important. The key word in that sentence for me is “important”. Vowel mentions in the textbook that some people are scared of the word “sacred”, and need to start using the word “important” instead. It says that people fear the word sacred because it can interfere with religions. However, our importance of our treaty identity shouldn’t interfere with our religion. Yes, our religion might also be apart of our identity, but it shouldn’t take away from the importance of something that also makes us who we are, being a treaty person.
The second Cree word I have learned through this class is Tâpwêwin, meaning speaking the truth with accuracy. This blanket exercise has helped me to do just that. I cannot believe how much this exercise has helped me to open my eyes and view something with a whole new light and meaning. It not only has helped me to tell the accurate truth, including with my future students, but it has also added to my identity (miskâsowin process). Even though the blanket exercise was overwhelming and gave me so many mixed emotions and feelings, I feel stronger with my identity and my history. I now feel it as a part of who I am as a Canadian citizen. When I previously thought about teaching Treaty Education to my students, I thought of it as teaching them the importance of how Canada came to be and its history, with how it affects us as a country. Now, with plenty more knowledge and feelings behind it, I will be teaching Treaty Education as a part of all of our history and how it affects each of us individually.