Blinded

My upbringing I think I was pretty blinded about what other children may have been experiencing in their home lives. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a loving home with two parents who have been together for 35 years now and who would do anything for my brother and me. I had grandparents still alive and multiple play dates with near by cousins. I thought everyone’s families were like mine. My Dad was a grain farmer and my mom worked a few odd end jobs to keep busy, but she was home lots with my brother and I, to help with homework, drive us to our sporting events, spend our summers at the cabin etc. We did many family activities together and I never worried about where my next meal was coming from, or who was going to wake me up for school the next day, or how I would get to the bus to attend school. Now as an adult and talking with some of my friends that grew up in the same town as me, but had different cultural backgrounds, I feel silly or naïve. One of my best friends had grandparents attend Residential Schools. She has now told me that she watches her own Mom and aunties/uncles struggle with alcoholism. Her Mom and aunties/uncles found her grandma (their mom) passed out in a snowbank and she ended up passing away – imagine the trauma those kids would have went through. I spent many days in our childhood playing at this friend’s house and being around her family and I never noticed a difference in us, until I was older and learned more about the hardships Indigenous peoples face everyday.

My schooling I do feel privileged that I had many teachers of Indigenous backgrounds. I learned how to make pemmican in grade three (this is one teaching I still remember), the teachers that I had did share with their classrooms their traditional ways as much as they could while following a curriculum that would not have included their traditional teachings.

Biases and lenses that I have entering my future classroom would be my white privilege and growing up speaking only English and only understanding English. We can unlearn or teach against these biases by incorporating diverse literature, incorporate different languages and cultures into our classrooms, have guest speakers and take field trips to explore other cultures and learn about them. I think it is important for our students to learn from people who are of different backgrounds instead of me standing at the front of the room talking about different cultures. The impact of my words will not affect the students as it would coming from someone who has experienced hardships, language loss, and culture genocide/shock. Showing our students that we see and recognize them and their differences in a good way and encouraging them. Building relationships regardless of race is important to my future classroom and me. I want to be a person the students can rely on and trust.

The single stories present in my schooling were mainly viewed from white middle class men. That is how society wants us to grow up to seek income and jobs and to be a law-abiding citizen. The colonized European settler way was the only truth that mattered. That is why Canada’s history about Indigenous people were not spoke about. Chimamanda Adichie talked about only having books that were based off what White wealthy men deemed important even though she lived somewhere that did not experience most of the ideas that were in the stories. It is unfortunate that it is hard to find books relating to other cultures and races. I do believe that there are good books out there and they are starting to appear in School Libraries, but its taken this long to get them, so it is going to take a while for them to be recognized as an important as the story books I grew up with.