When I sat down to create a visual representation of my journey to reconciliation, I was originally quite stumped on how to portray the personal journey I have went on. This is not the only time I have tackled the difficult learning surrounding Indigenous past, present, and future. In one of my classes we are reading the novel In Search of April Raintree, and I often cry while listening to the story in my car on my drive home. In another class, we have been focusing on Indigenous traditions, and while this is a more lighthearted topic, the learning moments are just as immense. I wanted my visual representation to encompass all of these things.
I have always been a person who is comforted through touch. When reading and hearing and watching these stories, the thing I want to do most is to reach out and hold the storytellers hand, to share some of the burden. I know this is unreasonable, and I’m sure even unwelcome in some cases, but I knew I could use this gesture symbolically. The hands in my visual representation are not merely clasped, they are relying on each other. I believe reconciliation is the responsibility of every person in Canada, and it cannot be achieved unless we work together and rely on one another. Rely on each other to reach out, share, help, and connect.
The details surrounding the hands are something I added in later after reflecting for awhile on the piece. I decided to surround the hands with the Metis symbol, also known as an infinity symbol. In Metis culture this symbol represents faith and Metis culture living forever. I felt this was an important addition, especially after learning more about the Indian Act and how Canada was complicit in cultural genocide. This also lead to adding the crosses as representation of the victims of residential schools. I chose to paint them red to symbolise the pain and suffering caused by the atrocities Canada committed. In Muffins for Granny, the stories shared showed how the schools were used as tools to disintegrate Indigenous peoples culture in Canada, and created intergenerational trauma that still needs to be addressed. Residential schools will forever be a part of Canada’s history and will always be an important story when discussing reconciliation, and due to this I felt it was necessary to include a symbol of it in my visual representation of my journey.
I wanted to address many aspects in my aesthetic representation, but wanted the message to remain clear and cohesive. I feel extremely privileged, daunted, excited and terrified that it will be my responsibility to educate learners about these topics, and I feel as though many of the classes I am taking are helping me piece together how to do this, and how I can be informed as a teacher. While I think the atrocities that Indigenous peoples faced will always be important to remember as we as individuals and Canadians tackle reconciliation, I also wanted my reflection to represent hope. That is what I feel when I look at the hands, that as long as we are discussing, listening, and reflecting, that there is hope of reconciliation.