My Miskâsowin Understanding

Hi everyone- please follow this link my miskâsowin understanding to view my final project for ECCU 400. This final project had two components; a video and a visual representation.

In addition to this, please view the visual representation that I created and read my artist notes– this project held deep meaning to me as it enrichened my understandings and further supported how I envision my role as a Treaty Person and Partner.

artist notes: 

  • connection to nature in relation to treaties. 
  • realizing ‘wild’ or ‘uncivilized’ nature is not necessarily bad– further rethinking colonialism stories.. why have we (colonial white settlers) been taught to fear the unknown? 
  • (ESCI 302) – attempting to rethink and relearn my pre-composed impressions and ideas 
  • once you begin to learn about treaties and the act of colonization + the everlasting effects you (metaphorically) begin to step off of the shore and slowly sink further into the mud and muck of the river. 
  • rivers + water symbolize life, substance and constant renewal 
  • this also connects to the treaties – “as long as the rivers flow” — represents our constant renewed commitment to treaties
  • waves + the current represent sudden obstacles and challenges that I must work to overcome 
  • beneath the surface, the rocks + jagged edges represent the pains and failures that I will encounter during this journey 
  • the fish and biodiversity, also below the surface, represent the environment I must work to create + the interactions with myself, others and the community that will occur during my process
  • the green/dirty colors represent that sometimes the journey is gross or undesirable (but this does not change the path of the river or the beauty of the course) 
  • brown dirt & mud- the path/journey through the river is not clean, clear or simple. Metaphorically, you have to get dirty because this is not an easy journey. 
  • the color gold is associated with love, compassion, courage, and wisdom– qualities I hope to gain through my process of self-discovery and the act of taking responsibility. 
  • the river does not show the ‘end’ or represent a finish place — the journey doesn’t end, it is a constant process. The current will both advance me and set me back, depending on the situation and the outcome associated. Regardless, the water will continue to move and so must I.
  • interweaving colors + design used to represent the crazy, confusing and complicated journey of becoming educated.
  • I must conquer different aspects + situations and life experiences 
  • the depths of the water representing the layers of understanding + knowledge 
  • I will gradually become stronger and better but I will never reach an end destination so I will never become ‘all-knowing’ or an expert. 

Process:

  • medium: acrylic 
  • style: acrylic art pouring 
  • well preparing you are not able to determine the outcome 
  • you can add components and hope, but the outcome cannot be explicitly designed and created 
  • the mess of the process is a learning opportunity — this relates to my journey as a Treaty Person and Partner. 

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Script:

Hi everyone!

My name is Jodie Munro. I am a third year pre-service teacher at the University of Regina.

This spring I have been a student in the ECCU 400 class: living treaties in education.

 

This course has been challenging; at times the process daunting, but overall it has been immensely beneficial. I do wish to note though, before explaining my miskâsowin journey, that I did not gain all of the knowledge I initially believed that I would gain through this course.. Though, I gained the ability to begin to think in a critical manner, aware of colonialism narratives and of the Canadian society predisposed rebuttals.

 

Before this spring course started, I expected to learn, precisely, how to teach treaty education and how to be a beneficial teacher for all my students.

 

Although I had spoken to Audrey in relation to this class before it had begun, I truly did think that somehow in two short months that I would come out of this course with the confidence and knowledge needed to tackle treaty education in the classroom.

 

This did not occur.

 

But, throughout the process of the semester I have learnt more than I anticipated; I learnt about myself in relation to my personal understanding, thought process, goals and in a wider view, I have had the continuous opportunity to reflect on my personal growth.

 

Growing up, I was raised on an acreage outside of Tisdale, Saskatchewan. I lived in Eldersley, a tiny hamlet that is stationed around a grain elevator.

Attach photo.

The town, and the people, are provided through the industry of farming

I find that since moving away from a rural Saskatchewan community I am able to notice the racism that is simply accepted in the area.

 

Non-hidden, publicly exposed, racism.

 

I grew up in a community to which I thought the separation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous (White) citizens was fine because it was just how society worked.

 

I grew up with a neighboring reserve, Kinistin Saulteaux Nation. The Indigenous students transferred to my school, Tisdale Middle and Secondary School, in the ninth grade. I did not understand that we shared the land; I had a basic, ethnocentric understanding of how we lived together, yet, I knew nothing of Indigenous culture, peoples or of the truth of our nation.

 

All students, Indigenous students deserved more.

We, white students, also needed to know the truth of the land, the people and the country.

Indigenous knowledge was and is valuable. It needs representation.

 

Fast forward two years and I sat in ECCU 400.

During these years I grew, gradually, to understand that white people, and their knowledge, was not the only important way of knowing.

I began to learn about, and reflect upon, my white privilege.

I realized that treaty education was not being taught, effectively, in Saskatchewan although it is mandatory.

I considered my identity and further labeled myself as a white settler Canadian on treaty land.

 

BUT

 

I did not consider just how uneducated I was, how my learning journey was still just in the preliminary stages and how my ethnocentric understanding and worldview were still very prevalent.

 

Though, I was excited and eager to learn more. I was willing to be vulnerable. I was fully ready to commit to new knowledge:

I was ready to feel tension, confusion, frustration and disappointment.

 

I took the jump into the stream, in a metaphorical sense. I took a plunge into deep water. Learning new, shocking, heart wrenching information as I tread the tides.

Show the visual representation.

 

I could not, and would not, go back to shore after learning this new knowledge because I have come to realize that gaining more knowledge and educating myself and others was my responsibility.

 

Though, I am only just learning how to teach others while not being an expert. In a way, I suppose this is my sense of self; I am not an expert, though I  am a Canadian citizen who strongly believes in my responsibility to educate, to critique and to question. I value the treaties and the responsibilities that are allied with them.

 

I did not anticipate the knowledge to be as emotional as it is– but as Pam Palmer stated in her ted talk, reconciliation is not easy.

The tides of learning, feeling and accepting are rough.

I am accepting, for my sense of self, my understanding of my relation to others and to sharing the land that truth needs to be told, widely represented and accounted for.

 

As a white educator and citizen, I am not always right. I do not own all knowledge. I will question my knowledge, constantly, but that is good because continuous education is needed. I am going to struggle to continue to understand myself, my origin and my place in this, in Canada. I will make mistakes as I did in my beginning teachings, such as presenting The Faceless Doll Project. I need to be cautious of triggers, of emotions and difficult conversations and learnings.

 

Yet, I must maneuver through the stream to stay afloat.

I will learn through my various circumstances– constantly becoming stronger.

I must continue to persevere.

 

My process of learning and living Treaties, of being a Treaty citizen and taking up my personal responsibility will only be fulfilled through growth, My growth is a process, not a destination. My sense of self is developed by my understanding of being a Treaty person– the responsibilities that are aligned with that and how I will learn to tackle challenges to own up to my responsibilities; as a teacher, and as a Treaty Person.

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Miskâsowin: How Do I Envision Myself in Treaty Education?

Earlier last week my class and I co-created a Treaty Event at the University of Regina. For the event, we were each asked to invite a participant- I brought my boyfriend, Noah. This event taught me that conversations surrounding Treaty Education is hard. The conversations did not, at times, flow easily– at times, we, the students, had to actively attempt to engage the participant. My classmates and I had to go out of our comfort zones in order to begin discussions. Personally, I realized that it was a lot harder for me to be vulnerable for discussion when I wasn’t speaking with my peers.  ..why? Because I was unsure of the guest’s prior knowledge, their emotions + experiences and how they may or may not react to my prompts. Emotions such as feeling tense and/or awkward did occur. This event taught me further that the ‘Canadian story’, common rebuttals and so forth are deeply engrained within our society– and one event cannot change this fact.

BUT

The event can begin to deepen understands (or create the beginning foundation); as well, the event can be used to ignite interest, generate questions and give the participating citizens desire to understand more. In my opinion, the participants were willing to learn new knowledge- this was an extremely positive experience.

Many of the people who attended the group seminar that Josh, Maddy, Jen and I created were interested. Interest is good- it is the foundation of learning knowledge.

At times throughout the event, I noticed that I did not know how to respond; this learning experience was crucial for me to experience as it taught me that conversations do not always play out as I had scripted in my imagination or preplanning sessions.

Moving forward, I believe that events such as this (perhaps with revisions) would be largely beneficial for the school and wider community. I do not only believe that young school-age students need this knowledge, all citizens of Canada need to learn about treaties and how the implications of these treaties apply to them. So, stating this, I believe it is my responsibility as an educator and as a Treaty Person to host activities for the community to be involved in; children, teenagers, adults and elderly people all need to learn. As shown through our event, individuals of all ages can learn if they are willing to accept the knowledge being brought forth– people of a certain age can learn new material, they are not ‘lost causes’ and using age as an excuse is not acceptable. It will be harder for us, the teachers, to educate others but we must find ways and strategies to be effective and to teach treaty education in a public context.

The truth needs to be told, regardless of the struggles we as teachers will face. It is my responsibility to learn from my mistakes, constantly generate new knowledge and to adapt to how situations flow.

 

The Reprocussion of Treaties: Seminar 3 + 4 Reflection

I believe that this weeks seminar presentation, group 3 and 4, were very well portrayed; in particular, I really appreciated having the opportunity to sit outside, in a non-ethnocentric learning environment, and learn in a realistic, honest environment about the truth and struggles of our society.

To me, my most profound learning experience from this was participating in the improve drama scenario representing a teacher responding to her students.. this was a difficult and daunting struggle for me. Although this was only a mock reenactment, it taught me that talking about Treaties in education, and beyond, is difficult. 

I have always understood the concept that it is my responsibility to teach Treaty Education and to have difficult conversations, BUT I had never actually participated in these prior to this opportunity. Rather, I had only ever created mock scenarios in my head about how conversations would go (smoothly) and how I would simply lead the conversation to have a successful, impactful message. I quickly realized that I needed this reality check.

Speaking in front of my peers I was nervous, anxious and I felt uncomfortable about the content, the truth, that I was speaking. I consistently was questioning what I was saying and my reactions although I barely had time to formulate my answer– this taught me that I have not pushed myself far enough out of my comfort zone to truly learn how to be an effective, helpful Treaty Education teacher, let alone a Treaty Person. I felt flustered and confused after my interaction.

Upon further reflection, these feelings were good because I was and am continuing to work through my own misunderstandings, confusion and feels of being insecure. This learning is a process– not only is my learning journey related to what treaties are, how they molded our society (including the misconceptions) but also how to react to conversations and how to approach these difficult conversations in an educational context.

This journey is difficult but rewarding– I am not only changing as an educator but as an individual.

The Faceless Doll Project: Reflection

My group and I presented our seminar on May 23rd, 2018. We presented on the topic of ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children’; this was a very hard, emotional and confusing topic to attempt to somewhat uncover. Our one-hour seminar did not hold this real, modern issue justice- I acknowledge that. This seminar did not go as I had originally planned, though through deep reflection I believe that I learned more through our ‘failure’ than if it was a simple, clean presentation. This class, more than anything else, has taught me that the process of beginning to comprehend what Treaty ed is and how and why we need to portray it properly in the classroom is very difficult.

Treaty Education is not just a mandated subject in the curriculum; many, myself included, have been taught through the Ethnocentric schooling system that you simply need to learn certain facts, take tests and then you proceed to ‘real life’… I mean, who didn’t struggle with calculus and pray the days to come to an end? The past two years of university have diligently questioned my ‘beliefs’, ‘values’ and my ‘ways of knowing’. It is hard to relearn what you’ve been taught.

I have come to realize that once you are willing to learn about the real history of Canada, it is impossible not to see the effects of colonization and to realize that the impacts of Treatys are deeply embedded and relevent within modern society.

This blog was difficult for me to formulate because I haven’t yet been able to conjure the emotions that arose during the seminar we presented. This topic is tough because it is so real. Emotions and fear are real. Our society is attempting to hide and mask the effects of colonization and Treaties. Too often, we find ourselfs victim blaming: “those women chose to be prostitues.” “if they worked hard enough, they could have found themselves in a better position in society.” – sidenote, the idea of meticroticy is not accurate nor a real depiction of the way in which individuals within society advance.

“The Faceless Doll Project” (refer to information at the following link: FDP, is a project used to illistate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children.

I do not believe that this project, or craft based task, is as simple, clean or benefical as it appears. I immediatly realized my own hesitations to the project, prior to our presentation, but have since come to uncover that those thoughts, emotions and understands were only the tip of knowlege.

I feel nervous and very catious to plan/ impliment more activities as I know realize how painful, damaging and negative an ill-exectuted activity can be for a class. This feeling of being scared and having hesitation is one that I need to learn to overcome. I need to learn more, put myself out of my comfort zone further and truly be vanurable in order to become an effective educator. This is a painful journey.

Miskâsowin: the process of hard realization

Pam Palmater’s discussion about reconciliation addresses the uncomfortable truth about how the process of reconciliation is not a happy and visually appealing process- ‘if it feels good, it is not reconciliation.’

I found myself flinching at various moments of the speech- I specifically found the following phrases, “if you go to a Powwow and sample bannock and feel good about yourself- this is not reconciliation,” “if you watched a documentary and feel like you know more- that is not reconciliation.” “you may have a friend that is Native- that is not reconciliation.” Through watching this video I have come to realize that I am not doing anything, currently, in terms of reconciliation; I have become educated through ‘mandatory’ seminars and lectures that I have attended. Or, at the most, I have voluntarily attended the Treaty Ed event hosted at the UofR; though I can not brag about this as it was convenient to go due to the location. I have not yet chosen to be active in the process of reconciliation. I have consistently become more and more informed, due to the classes that I have been taking + the novels, articles and other sources of information that I have been accessing, but I have not taken real or concrete action. I have shared my new-found knowledge with my close family members and friends- but I have not put myself in a vulnerable position in order to speak Canada’s truth. Yet, prior to realizing this hard truth I considered myself to be a decently active member of the public- only because I compared myself to those who remain in the small farming community in which I was raised.

Pam spoke of the need for White advocates to take action and to be self-motivated. Rather than posing the question of “what can I do?’” we, as the White majority, must offer what we are able to give.

I’m nervous to step forth and state my strengths that I am able to give- but this process is not a comfortable or easy one, I must relearn what I know about this country, my peers and myself.

I am a passionate learner.

I am a caring individual who has empathy.

I am willing to relearn what I have been taught and to constantly question my beliefs + morals and actions.

I am willing to change.

I am willing to feel vulnerable in order to potentially impact others.

I understand that it is my duty as a Treaty person to speak the truth of Canada and to oppose the normative narrative.. why? Because all people deserve justice. As stated in the ‘Principles of Truth and Reconciliation’ on page 4 “All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships”(6). I understand that the act of speaking the truth will not be ‘popular’ and that it will not always be easy to speak the truth; but truth has to be spoken. It is very hard to oppose those you love- it is difficult to realize the ‘truth’ you were raised to believe is not correct. Before reconciliation will occur, we as united individuals bound by the Treaties must relearn/unlearn the normative narrative of Canadian history and learn the truth.

Miskâsowin: what now?

Miskâsowin: finding one’s self of origin and belonging. How may I engage in this process? To me, the ideal of miskâsowin is a difficult term to undercover. I believe that I find this to be a difficult concept as finding my sense of belonging forces me to unravel my sense of origin and ‘belonging’ within Canada. What is my belonging? Identifying as a White settler Canadian, I acknowledge that my ancestors were active in the act of the colonization of Canada. My ancestors attributed to the damaging effects forced upon cultures of so many peoples. It is difficult to admit that the harrowing journey of ‘brave’ settlers is not the only story. It is not the true story as it does not encompass the dirty facts of the creation of Canadian. The stories that I have been taught my whole life were the Ethnocentric story of truth; a story blinded by the Whiteness of acts.

To move forward, I have often struggled with how I may come to be a better, active citizen who stands with, not for, the Indigenous population. How can I adjust my actions accordingly to become a person who is honest, respectful and representative of a changing nation?

I have been taught to reply with common rebuttals such as “I wasn’t alive when these events happened so it is not my fault” or “why can we not just make peace?” Even as I move onto my third year of university, I find that I consciously have to attempt to change my initial reactions and catch my incorrect thoughts because I realize that they have been so ingrained within my ‘ways of knowing’ (Ethnocentric) that I am struggling to find others. The Woodrow Lloyd lecture allowed me to work through my feelings of hesitations, doubts and to pinpoint why our Canadian society simply is not cutting it.

Lloyd stated, “you can’t tokenize your way out of justice”.

Her statement struck me. As a future educator, I realize the crucial importance of teaching the true history of Canada. I understand that I must teach students that the Ethnocentric way of learning is not the only way of knowing. I know that teachers must do better and be better.. but I struggle with the idea of how.

Last week, we participated in ‘Blanket Exercise’. I first participated in the Blanket Exercise during the winter 2018 semester- I loved this activity and saw no faults. I remember an overwhelming feeling of how ‘humanizing’ this activity really was. However, participating in this experience a second time I see flaws. How can a 45-minute activity humanize the pain and loss of culture that hundreds upon hundreds of people felt, endured and continue to endure? I realize now that the Blanket Exercise, and others alike, have positive aspects but cannot be used as a ‘quick and easy’ process of relearning Canada’s history. They do not give an actual representation of the effects of colonization, nor do they allow justice for the Indigenous Peoples.

I am committing, for the next 5 weeks and beyond, to be critical of what I am learning, reading and viewing. I will be critical of the source, the representation and the implicit and explicit effects that arise. I will go on this journey of learning, of relearning and of understanding of myself and others with my eyes, and heart, open. In order for me to learn, I must allow myself to be open to the painful and non-simplistic journey of realizing my place in the Canadian society. It is my journey as a White Canadian Settler.

 

Miskâsowin: My Sense of Origin

The act of labeling oneself is uncomfortable. Finding a phrase or description to describe yourself, your family and your heritage can appear to be a daunting task that is put forth in order to ‘shame’ or create segregation. It is hard to pinpoint the correct characteristics to put forth, publicly, in order to self-identify. The process of self-identifying is a confusing and messy task that encompasses many components. At times, perhaps, we would choose to identify as something or someone we are not. I believe it is important that we recognize this as we have been taught through the construction of our society, and the creation of societal normalities, that some descriptors are indeed desired while others are not. Although, I recognize that because of the position that I was born into of society, I do not face structural racism because I am White. I identify as a White woman who was born of Settler heritage. As stated in Chelsea Vowel’s textbook, Indigenous Writes, “names are linked to identity, and notions of identity are fluid.” (pg 8) This quote describes that identities do, in fact, adjust and form over time and experiences; though, I believe that it is important to recognize that regardless of the situation I am in my life, I will always identify as a settler Canadian because it is a fact interwoven within my identity. I am White; I have White privilege. I am apart of the ‘middle class’ society. I am privileged because of colonialism. This aspect of Canadian heritage, which built the society we now call ‘home’, was forced upon ‘Canadian’ soil because of the forced assimilation of the land and the Aboriginal Peoples. My ancestors did not have the right to own the land in which they homesteaded on.

It is a tricky task to choose labeling words, I suppose I would consider myself to be of English, Scottish and Irish descent. I do not practice any customs associated with this cultures. I believe that my own customs, and my families, have become aligned with the ‘Canadian’ identity. My grandparents, on my father’s side, settled in Canada in 1920. This family homestead on Vancouver Island. My grandparents, on my mother’s side, came to Canada (1947) after meeting in England during the Second World War. This family homesteaded in Medicine Hat. My family practices Catholicism, though I myself do not identify as Catholic.

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To go further into my identity, and how it has come to play apart of the “Canadian Origin”, I believe that I should recognize my ancestors. I would also like to note now, rather than later, that I am not ashamed of my families history. Through recognizing their impact on the colonization of Canada, I am not undermining their struggles as settlers. I do not feel guilty. The point of recognizing personal family ties to colonization is not to feel uncomfortable, but rather to allow for a common understanding to begin to uncover actions towards future reconciliation between now segregated nations. As stated in Vowel’s textbook, on page 2, “when you are talking about the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada, it is very difficult for the conversation not to get personal if you live on these lands.” These confusing and sometimes overwhelming feelings that appear are positive because the uncovering of emotions allows for us (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) to begin crucial conversations. My family played a part in the colonization of this nation; therefore, it is my responsibility to carry forth and attempt to begin reconciliation. Not to amend the actions of my ancestors, but to take responsibility for the actions that should have occurred long before.

I recognize that I, along with all citizens that live on Canadian soil, am a Treaty Person. I was born and raised in Treaty 6 territory. I now reside on Treaty 4 land. I am privileged by living on this land due to the treaties that were signed generations ago.

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Vowel, Chelsea. Indigenous Writes, A Guide to First Nation, Metis & Inuit Issues in Canada. Highwater Press. 2016.

Learning Journey Video

Hi everyone!

I teamed up with Ayla Schwandt to create my final reflection piece. In the video we hit topics such as; our insecurities, redefining our idea of learning, colonization and the Whiteness embedded in environmental education, as well as how our society isn’t addressing environmental ed correctly. Ayla and I are currently in the process of uncovering our biases, unknowing knowledge and redirecting our understandings. Our learning is deep and will continue beyond this course because learning is a process.

Please visit this link to watch! Learning Journey Video