Here is the link to my final project video.
The treaties were signed by Canadian government and most Indigenous leaders, with the idea to coexist in Canada. From that we are all treaty people, we all share Canada as a whole, and we all share history. However, the language barrier and the ulterior motives of the Canadian government lead to Indigenous peoples being taken advantage of and genocide by Canadian government and the settlers. This created the cause for concern now, especially here in Canada.
The article “Racism – It’s a Canadian Thing” was very eye opening, the article states that “half of First Nations live in poverty compared to 17% of other Canadians”, how can there not be a racial bias when 50% of First Nations people are in poverty and Indigenous peoples are only 16.3% of the population. That shows that 22.3% of the population is living in poverty, with 8.1% being First Nations and the other 14.2% being split between other Canadian groups. If Indigenous peoples and white people lived equally here in Canada the First Nations peoples would not be earning an average of $19,000 per year, compared to the average of $33,000 per year for other Canadians. Why are we not educated of these facts at a younger age? our children will be the people who can change the way this country works, if they were to be taught about the facts, statistics, and even daily issues, they will grow to make the differences we fail to make. Maybe future generations could even in some way restore the broken promises our settler ancestors made to the Indigenous peoples that caused this ripple of injustice for Indigenous peoples.
Growing up as a white female, I was not aware of my privilege and lack of knowledge; looking back I wish I would have been given the opportunity to learn more. I remember in History/Social Studies when we got to learning about Indigenous peoples it was a very short and very basic lesson. You were basically taught that settlers came, and the Indigenous people showed them their ways, leading to a “friendship” and cooperation between both sides once the treaties were signed. Then you grow up and learn about the horrific situations created by the settlers. Magnifying that Indigenous history should be a larger focus in school. Our entire history involves Indigenous peoples, so how can that be left out? How can you leave out learning about treaties when we are all treaty people? Is the thought of future generations turning the tables so scary? The lack of education involving Indigenous people eludes to the fact that racism is a systemic issue rather than individual. We are purposely not taught about racism so that we can continue to believe that “well I don’t judge people by race, so really it’s not an issue” when in fact that is the exact issue.
We need to be taught about race throughout our schooling, and we need to learn to stand up against and educate people who say or believe racist things. By keeping quiet our country will not change. Only when a vast majority of us stand up to make a difference can we start to truly start to reconcile the relationship with Indigenous peoples.
i) Normative Narratives
Choosing to discuss race was a tough one for me to choose, not because I am uncomfortable talking about it, but because it is something I have never really bothered with. But maybe that is the issue, maybe I act colour blind too it. Lord knows I can see a billboard or a movie on Netflix and have a negative thought, but they are always followed up with giving myself crap for thinking that way. One negative thing I hear is people saying Fort Qu’Appelle is a “bad” place because there are many First Nation peoples living there, which is hardly a fair assumption. And I know that it is untrue because as stated in my self story #2, I spent a lot of time there when growing up. I think it is a beautiful place with so much culture, and yet, many people just assume it’s a “bad place with a bunch of drunk Indians”, which is highly offensive for many reasons. Not once in all my time going there have I ever had an issue with First Nations peoples, and I have met many that are hard working individuals. In fact, in all my life experience I have had more issues with drunk white people. Drinking with friends and family seems to be a common pass time in small communities, so why is it okay for whites and not First Nations?
When reading Drew’s self story #2 I could immediately relate to her, and her appreciation for First Nations culture. The part about Drew’s self story that resonated with me was when she said “I was so proud of this fact that I would go around telling people I was First Nations” even though she isn’t First Nations. As a child I knew I wasn’t First Nations because I had bright blonde hair and extremely pale skin, but I always wanted to have the tan skin and long black hair and be apart of their culture. I also chose Jaclyn’s self story #2 as her reaction was very accepting like Drew’s and mine. Jaclyn learned that her classmate had a different art style then her own because of where her family was from: “Anime is a type of drawing style they use where I’m from in Japan”. Her fascination with her classmate’s art style reminded me of being amazed by the crafts my aunty would make for me: “beaded necklaces, earrings that looked like a Headdress, a pink dream catcher”. I think you could argue that all of our stories reproduce colour blindness as normal. For example, in my story I say “[c]hildren know that people look different from one another, they just don’t understand why”, which looking back now could really show how I didn’t learn about or see any other cultures growing up (aside from First Nations). Then in Drew’s story she states, “I recognized that her skin was a different colour than mine, but I had never thought anything of it”, showing that we do recognize the difference, but we don’t have enough education on other cultures to understand the difference properly. And again, in Jaclyn’s story she says, “I also had never thought about Judy being from any other place then here before”, so when do we start making education on other cultures part of our learning? Because ignorance is not bliss.
ii) Disrupting Normative Narratives
As I touched on above, I think that lack of education on culture lets us act colour blind when it comes to race. The previously mentioned stories were of us as small children with exposer to our own culture and/or First Nations culture. Where as in the fourth self story #2 I have chosen is by Emily H. and she went into meeting a little girl knowing she was from a different culture: “was just adopted from South Africa”. Her story also states that “house is freshly decorated with traditional South African décor”, which to me shows that the family, whatever race they may be, takes an interest in where their new daughter is from. From that interest, I think all her future friends would have the opportunity to learn about where she was from. Seeing something beyond her black skin, they would also see culture. Just like in the previous stories of Drew and myself, we didn’t really see the skin of the First Nations peoples, we saw their culture: “I understood that the Indigenous people had different culture and customs than I did and because I had participated in their activities I believed that I was a part of their race”. Being integrative of other people’s beliefs and cultures forms an understanding that is beyond the colour of a person’s skin.
The importance of including other races and cultures in education is brought up in the article Nationalist Histories and Multiethnic Classrooms by Timothy J.Stanley: ”for many students that curriculum shows that Canada is ‘the best country in the world,’ for others it presents a Canada that is at best an alien place, far removed from their day-to-day experience” (1). For me, that’s sad to think about, knowing children sit there not being able to connect with the material they are being taught. Knowing that we skip over the incredible work that other races have done to make Canada what it is today, we could never have done it without the people of minorities. They should be celebrated and seen beyond skin deep, and only when we understand them beyond a label of skin colour or the country they’re from, can we start to break down colour blindness. It’s okay that they’re another colour, we don’t have to ignore that, but we have to understand the incredible histories behind them.
- Stanley, T. J. (2002). Nationalist histories & multiethnic classrooms.Education Canada. 42(3), 12-15.
I’m not sure if I have ever come to know myself as gendered; I’ve never put any thought into my gender. I mean yeah sure, I’m a girl physically, and I grew up painting my nails, playing barbies, listening to Britney Spears and all the other “girly” things. But it was never pushed onto me by family or friends, it was just simply what I enjoyed as a child. In fact I think I used to push my friends into doing more “girly” activities then they would have like.
Growing up I had an older brother and my parents were together till I was 10. My dad and brother were into total “guy” stuff, like car races, building cars, smashing cars, pretty much everything and anything to do with vehicles. We were never a sports family either. And my mom was more into what my dad and brother liked as well, instead of liking “feminine” things. But as a child I was just naturally drawn to the more feminine things in life, I always had pink and played dress up, I was even so obsessed with boys that a couple of my friends questioned their sexuality at a very young age because they just didn’t get it yet. I was a total and complete girl.
As I got older though, I started to enjoy more action and superhero movies, cars, demolition derby’s and mud bogs. Started making guy friends went skateboarding, biking and did other dumb kid stuff that parents often relate to boys doing. Went from dressing “girly” to wearing baggy clothes with skulls and rips; I became sort of a “tomboy”. But through all of that I still never thought about my gender much, it was just what I liked, and I guess maybe a bit of teenage angst. But maybe right now is the moment that I am coming to know myself as gendered, maybe right now I’m realizing that I started out so feminine is because as a child the media marketed “girly” too me. With being young and not knowing to never thinking about it, it just flies under the radar. Then as I got older and had friends into “boy” stuff, I probably started realizing that I liked it and never understood why I had never given it a chance before. And I think it turned into me not wanting to be girly anymore either, like girly was a bad thing, and I needed to be different.
Now being an adult, I find that I am a mix of my childhood ultra feminine self and my tomboy adolescence. I love having my hair and nails done, wearing heels, dresses, and purses. I love being a mom and I would enjoy being a wife, because taking care of people is in my nature, I don’t see it as a role. But even though I look like a complete girl majority of the time, I would still dive into a pool of mud, race/crash cars, or learn how to build an engine, because it’s fun! I think people tend to stay away from things because they “shouldn’t” act like that, but if you enjoy it, do it!
Stepping out into the fresh air, sun shining down on me, what a beautiful day. Leaving work always gives me a rejuvenation of energy. Walking around to my 2012 Nissan Rouge, thinking about how happy I am to have finally bought a “new to me” car, I hop in and start it, plugging in my phone to play some music. I throw the vehicle in reverse and head away from the hair salon, on my way to pick up my son, I decide to stop at Shoppers and pick up a few things. Walking towards Shoppers, loving the confidence I am feeling in my new outfit. Feeling on top of the world because I am finally moving towards my goals in life.
I enter Shoppers and decide to go look at the make up, there’s two girls standing at the end of the aisle talking to each other. They’re dressed in the “scene” or “emo” trend, skinny jeans, vans, colourful hair mixed in with black hair, thick black winged out eyeliner and piercings. It makes me think back to when I dressed like that, so many fond memories with my elementary friends, and I smile. But then they look over at me and I feel as though they think I am a “mean girl”, which probably makes them feel like they’re being judged, and then I stumble on my high heel. They laugh at me and it hurts my feelings, I am no different from them, I was just like them once upon a time. Now I feel insecure, and in my embarrassment, I walk away with swirling thoughts of my past, reminding myself of where I am from.
Remembering never being bought new clothing until I started working, never going on trips with my family when so many of my other classmates did. I’m not from a rich family, we were never even middle class, and thinking about how hard I have worked to someday move myself up classes. The thoughts were swirling in my head of how I became pregnant right after graduation and getting fired from my job, to then not be hired by every job I applied for because I was pregnant. Babysitting the children of a family friend so I could pay my rent till I had my son, then in his first twelve months I was on social assistance. Finally, when my son was a year old, I got a job, and started making monthly payments to my mom so I could have her car, then moved into Regina housing. I was so proud of myself, but after almost two years I decided making minimum wage wasn’t going to be good enough for us, I needed education. Once I was accepted into school to be a hairstylist, I worked my butt off to graduate, get a good job, build clientele, start to improve my wardrobe (image is important in my field of work), and buy a new car. Two years into the trade and I noticed it would be hard on my body, so once again I made a step to improve mine and my son’s life, I enrolled into the Education program at the University of Regina to hopefully move myself from being working class to middle class someday.
The pharmacist says my prescription is ready, snapping me back to reality. The confidence I had felt coming into Shoppers now dwindled, I no longer knew how to feel. I had worked so hard to better my life, only to end up feeling disassociated from people I once would have gotten along with by stumbling on my shoe.
She is beautiful, she is strong, she is independent, she is a Disney princess. Pocahontas was what made me notice skin colour. Her movie was different from the other Disney princess movies, her story seemed real. I envied her freedom to explore the land and have animal friends. I wanted to be her. Although you cannot be a Disney princess, and the real story of Pocahontas is not a fairy-tale. As I child it did not matter. Pocahontas made me notice skin colour but more so notice that people have different cultures, but it was a positive realization. Watching Pocahontas informed me as a child that white people took over First Nations land. It also implies that the white settlers were being greedy: “because we invaded their land and cut down their trees and dug up their earth”. So, from the beginning I knew that there had been injustices.
My aunty has been with a man since right before I was born, he has a lovely tan complexion, dark eyes, dark hair, a voice with its own type of accent. He is my uncle, and he is First Nations. It was never out of the ordinary for me, I spent a lot of time growing up in Fort Qu’Appelle. First Nations cultures were prevalent in the parades and daily life there. I always wanted to know more about First Nations culture but being so young – about five years old – it’s hard to ask to be taught about it. My aunty would make me gifts, beaded necklaces, earrings that looked like a Headdress, a pink dream catcher that hung at the head of my bed for years. I always wanted to know how she made these beautiful gifts, and if there were any stories to where they came from. And even still I am absolutely obsessed with the beauty and hard work that goes into Indigenous art.
I feel as though noticing skin colour as a child is not a ground-breaking discovery, you see it every day. Children know that people look different from one another, they just don’t understand why people look different. Taking a minute to research why people look different (Ex. darker skin or hair) and explain that to a child in simple terms takes power away from the negative associations that society has come up with. I have heard many negative things about every race, as far back as I can remember. But being immersed in First Nations culture helped avoid connecting skin colour to the stereotypes people give them.
Dust kicking up behind the truck as we fly through the gravel, wheat fields waving in the wind, day dreaming of playing in the trees that stand tall and strong. Memories that are ingrained in my mind from the multitude of trips to the old farmhouse. At my grandparents farm the possibilities were endless, the trees around the property were my jungle just waiting to be explored, and treasures to be found hidden amongst them. Behind the quaint white and brown farmhouse was a large hill where the cows could roam over and around to the barn on the left side of the yard. On the right of the house was aromatic lilac bushes, they scented the laundry that my Grandmother would hang on the line that was attached to the swing I would go back and forth on as I watched her. In front of the old farmhouse was the largest garden my young mind could ever imagine it was spanned across the yard beyond the road, I would spend most of my time pulling up carrots, shucking peas, stealing sweet strawberries and smelling the brilliant and fragrant gladiolas.
That farmhouse was my home, it was where I would spend all of my summer vacations and school holidays. To me it was the most magical place on earth, I never wanted to leave. I can still taste the sweet canned peaches I would have for an afternoon snack, and the delectable warm cinnamon buns before bedtime. And feel the enjoyment of sitting at the table learning to play card games with my family, or building boxes into stages for fashion shows to reveal the barbie clothes I helped my grandma sew. I remember running up the old wooden stairs to my bedroom in the attic, crawling into bed with my bunny named Mr. Wiggle-Nose, and Camper the teddy bear. I still feel the love as I snuggled up to my grandma so she could read me books before I fall asleep.
The countess memories of cooking, baking, and playing with my grandmother merge together now but still I hold every one of them dear to me. One of my favourite memories at my grandparent’s farm was on a sunny winter day. The snow glistened under the rays of the sun, my cheeks and nose were rosy from the brisk air, the snow crunched under my boots as I walked along in my purple snow suit holding my grandma’s hand. She was taking me out in the yard to see my dad who was getting his Ski-doo ready to go for a ride, I remember the smell of gas and the roar of the engine. As I watched him zoom around the yard, I was amazed by how fast he was going. When he came back, I wanted him to pull my sleigh behind his Ski-doo, I thought it would be fun but my grandma did not agree with my plan. So, my grandma decided she would go first for a test round and as they travelled away, I watched in excitement for my turn. But when my dad turned the Ski-doo, my grandma tumbled off my sleigh and got all snowy, it was comical scene. Once they arrived back to where I was patiently waiting for my turn, my grandma told me she did not want me to go on by myself. When I got on and wiggled to the front of my sleigh, my grandma climbed on behind me. Quick check to see if we were ready and my dad took off at a smooth pace. Chilly wind on my cheeks and a huge smile on my face, I had never been so happy to have snowy winter.