Growing up, I never really noticed different diversities among my peers in the classroom. I was either oblivious to my surroundings, or I never had to worry about it because of my background and my upbringing. I also do not recall it being talked about or taught. I was fortunate enough to go to school with students of different races. I was also in classrooms that were being taught by Indigenous teachers. For my aesthetical representation of my journey, I have decided to use t-shirts. The t-shirts represent what I have learned during my first year at university, along with experiences from my past. The t-shirts represent my understandings of a child growing up and being placed into residential schools, and the lasting effects that the residential school had on them as adults. The last t-shirt represents myself, and the learnings I have received throughout my journey thus far. In my response, I will talk about people that have affected the experiences of who I am, and resources that have given me some insight about the terrible hidden history of Canada.
After viewing the documentary “Muffins for Granny” I learned things, troubling things, about what a human race had to endure because of what settlers to our country believed were right. It is harder, and more emotional, to listen to the people telling their stories about what had happened to them during their times at residential schools, than it is being told by someone that does not have the emotional connection to that experience. I think it is very important to share experiences with students of real events from the people that had to endure and overcome them. This documentary was an important contributor to my visual project. The people in the documentary explained life when they were small, what happened to them at the residential schools, and how their life has been affected since being an adult and growing old. Suicide was something one speaker in the documentary talked about. Suicide among Indigenous people is a real epidemic right now in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan. “The rate of death by suicide among First Nations people in Saskatchewan is 4.3 times higher than the rate among non-First Nations people.” (O’Soup, C. 2017, December 5.) I have also recently watched the movie “The Grizzlies”. This movie is a true story about a group of Inuit students that are living in a small Artic town, with the highest rate of suicide in North America. They are introduced to the sport of lacrosse by one of their teachers that sees potential in changing the outcome of their lives. The students and parents did not make the journey for this teacher easy. The students challenge him, and the parents question him. They wonder why he wants to help these children. He was persistent, and would not give up on them. Being persistent and voicing what I believe in, and how I want to educate others about my journey towards reconciliation, is important for students to see. I need to show them my passion and how much I care about making changes in our education system. Their sense of belonging in my classroom is very important to me. I want my classroom to be a safe, inviting area where you can speak your opinion, but you also need to listen to and understand the opinion of others. In my opinion, having open dialogue and learning from each other, even if you disagree, leads to living a more positive and successful life.
I was fortunate to attend the Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle two years ago with students from McLean School. I learned more from that one day than I had ever learned during my time in a classroom growing up. It was great to see the young students interacting with the presenters and learning from them, rather than their classroom teacher trying to explain it. They were able to see and experience how to make rabbit stew, enjoy story telling, go inside a tipi, attend a powwow, and much more. There were so many passionate people wanting to explain their traditions and heritage. The wealth of knowledge from the people at the Treaty 4 Gathering is an amazing experience. It is also very important that the people that have experienced unthinkable events are given the opportunity to share what has happened to them. As an educator, I will take advantage of events such as Treaty 4 Gatherings so my students can learn and listen their stories.
I will be wearing the last t-shirt for my visual project. It depicts an ear on it with words of learning and growth. The ear represents that I am always hear to listen, and that I want to continue to educate myself any chance I can get. I chose to use words from the “Truth and Reconciliation” textbook. The words were precise and simple, but bold. My responsibility as an educator is to provide understanding, a welcoming presence, and show that I am willing to grow alongside my peers to make changes. I need to start my journey within myself. I need to dig deep to explore my own feelings and understandings of how I was educated, and how I want to educate my students. I need to have a clear, unbiased mind and see people as humans, as we should be seen, and not judge people based on race or family background.