CJ #4: Decolonizing Encounters

The Indigenous peoples are well-known for their love of nature and relationships with it, which is why I believe it should play a huge role in environmental education classes. Instead, people tend to separate socio-cultural and environmental education, thinking they do not work together. Yi Chien Jade Ho states in her article Traveling with a World of Complexity: Critical Pedagogy of Place and My Decolonizing Encounters, “In the field of environmental education, regardless of the recent rise of critical, feminist and indigenous perspectives, the mainstream approach tends to neglect socio-cultural factors and fails to recognize the interconnectedness between environmental degradation and social injustice.” With that, people end up developing a Westernized way of thinking. Rather than truly appreciating nature and land that the Indigenous peoples worked hard to preserve and care for, we usually take it for granted or destroy it. In the fall semester, I took Indigenous Studies 100. Through this class, I gained so much knowledge on the Indigenous cultures, the truth behind Canada’s history, and the long-lasting effects of colonialism that still exist today. I also learned that colonialism is the reason why the earth is deteriorating and that if we do not learn and share the importance of decolonization or truth and reconciliation, the future generations will be the ones suffering the consequences and damage.

For my creative visual, I made a collage of articles and symbols to represent how colonialism hides the truth. The girl in the middle represents me and the blindfold represents colonialism. As I remove the blindfold, the truth behind Canada’s history is revealed. Through all my education classes and Indigenous studies class, I was able to learn that Canada is not as perfect as everyone believes it is. Canada has a heartbreaking history that includes the genocide of Indigenous peoples, residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and broken promises. One of the most difficult and life-changing moments that I have had so far during this journey to decolonization was our fieldtrip to the Regina Indian Industrial School Cemetery. Standing on the ground where the bodies of several children who suffered through the residential school system and never had the chance to return home to their families lay, I felt tons of emotions – sadness, frustration, anger, and just overall overwhelmed. Knowing and understanding that these events really did happen on the land we live on today is important to acknowledge. With that, I will conclude with another quotation that resonated with me:

“In my observation with the recent outdoor education movement, many of us think that somehow being in the woods we will magically understand what it means to inhabit the land, but what we have forgotten is that we are cultural beings. Without unpacking these deep cultural roots, re-inhabitation will not be possible, as Greenwood emphasizes ‘decolonization’ and ‘reinhabitation’ are not two separate steps but interrelated goals.”

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