This picture represents my journey to reconciliation that I started in ECS 100.

The girl in front represents the way that I saw Native culture when I started. On the arm of the girl, I wrote captive in Cree and she is bound and kept in the basement, the feather represents the culture that has been broken and discarded. Often we’re told about the brokenness of the culture and it seems as though we are meant to pity the people who have gone through residential schools and colonization. While researching I started by searching through that idea. I researched the cycle of trauma and I found articles about how hurt and broken people were. There was a metaphor that I read in my research  It talks about Native people being hosts of a home and the Europeans taking over a home graciously offered to them They loot and destroy their belongings – even though many Indigenous groups do not believe in the ownership of land – and then lock the hosts in the basement. That’s what I started to paint because that’s what I saw: a broken community that was trapped and broken by European colonizers. That’s what I was planning to turn in.

But I began to reflect on my view on Indigenous people. I thought about how that would be helpful to the students in my classroom and how teaching from this perspective would be harmful. I was worried that it may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I had a choice of perspective. When you see a flower growing amongst weeds you can pity the flower for growing in such bad conditions. You could also marvel and celebrate the strength of the flower to grow and flourish in the face of adversity. I wanted to be the latter and to teach my students to do the same. I began to look at residential school survivors with reverence and it helped me to learn from them. I saw culture that was thriving and regrowing even though powerful people did evil things to subdue it. So I drew another girl and I wrote “strength” on her shirt and “future” on her arm because she is pointing towards the future. She is wearing her culture with pride and it is full and thriving.

To clarify, I do not use this realization to excuse myself to continue to seek reconciliation and knowledge. There is still hurt and trauma that exists that deserves to be recognized, taught and reconciled. This was just an important perspective shift that I find is much more empowering to Native people and in a way more respectful to what they have gone through.