Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Weeks 4 & 5

2.5

During these weeks, I found myself more open to Indigenous ways of understanding than ever before. As we were learning in our seminars, I took bits and pieces of information that were brand new to me and it helped me challenge my privilege. For example, during one of the seminars, we were asked to fill out a form to buy land. But it was in a completely different language. I could not even fathom having to do go through that. This too me back to the complexities of naming, but also of how important language is. I am challenged to be a teacher that does not only rely on my first language to teach every student. I am going to have students in my class that will come from different cultures than myself, and some will without a doubt speak another language. It is my responsibility to learn what I can as a form of reciprocity. Does it scare me? Yes, because it seems impossible. But I think just taking one step at a time is realistic.

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Week 3

3

We had a field trip to Fort Qu’Appelle and Lebret. I was both excited and nervous for this field trip because I knew it was going to bring a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. But I also knew it was going to be very raw. We were going to be in the exact same area as where Treaty 4 was signed. We were also going to be in the exact same area as where one of the residential schools was. The fact that there was a gym still standing, was surreal to me. When we had the opportunity to spread tobacco on the land, I was scared at first. I was scared because I thought it was contradicting to my beliefs. But, the best thing I did was ask what it actually means. As I stated in a previous post, it is easy to just take what many people say as truth, when many people also lack accurate knowledge or understanding about the practices. Because I was able to seek the truth, I was able to contribute to scattering tobacco on the sacred land.  But, I also took it upon myself to pray as I walked around. I did this in my head. My heart was heavy, knowing what had happened, and what is still happening on this land.

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Week 2

3.5

The complexities of naming is what we started with this week. I had never realized how important language really is to ones identity. It is easy for one to ignore something if it does not affect them personally. Learning that people do care about the language I use, requires me to have courage to even ask an individual. It is not a one size fits all. Some individuals may prefer to be called a broad term of First Nations, while another individual would rather be referred to as specific as a Lakota or Cree individual. Always keeping in mind that for so long, these names were stripped away from the first peoples of this land, and the complexity of it is understanding why it is so important today. To have courageous conversations with the people I meet to find out how they want to be named.

When I heard about the pipe ceremony, I was a bit nervous. I went into it not really knowing what to expect. Except that I had to wear a skirt. I did not own any skirts. So I e-mailed Sheena and asked that if I did not own a skirt, what would be the more respectful second option. I believe there is wisdom is actually making the effort to take part in this ceremony despite the fact I did not own a skirt. When Sheena e-mailed me back and said I could use a blanket to wrap around, I felt a sense of relief.

As a single mom and university student, I don’t have a lot of money. So although Sheena said I could use a blanket, I really wanted to make the best effort I could to take part in the ceremony as appropriately and as authentically as possible. I was able to find 5$ and I quickly searched the internet to find a used skirt. And I did. For exactly 5$. It felt good to be a part of the ceremony, and going into it with eagerness to learn and give it my best attention. I think I can also see it as a form of reciprocity, because I used the only money I had left, to engage in the pipe ceremony sincerely and humbly.

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Week 1

3

We opened this week with an ice breaker. Sheena had all of us sit in a circle and share who we think we are and where we are from. The plot twist of it was that each individual has to reiterate what the previous person(s) stated about themselves first. This required careful listening. But it also required vulnerability because it was the first day and we are already getting personal. Also, it took courage to have to speak aloud and remember what everyone else said.

We ended the week with the blanket exercise, which also required vulnerability and courage. I am specifically referring to the talking circle at the end, as well as the final handshake of showing reciprocity. I have never experienced any of these practices before. The smudging ceremony before the blanket exercise was also brand new to me.

As a Christian, I want to love everyone, regardless of differences in beliefs or cultural traditions. But, I also want to use wisdom and discernment to know what I should and should not get involved in. But what I know is, is that smudging is a scared ceremony. And after experiencing everything that day, I realized that if I want to know the purpose behind each practice, I am capable of finding that out, and not taking other peoples words for it. I believe wisdom requires one to do their own research and not always accept what others tell you.

Learning Summary

By clicking this link, you will be able to hear a brief summary of some of the things I have learned and been challenged by during my studies in ECS 210. I enjoyed this class very much, as it reminds me to always look at the world from different perspectives and to consistently reflect on my learning and teaching practices.

Reading the World – “Christian” Lens

a) How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?

I grew up in a fairly conservative Christian home. The Bible is viewed as a manual on how to live, not just some story that has no relevance to today. Because of this mindset, my biases and views of how I read the world came from those roots. Although I did not always follow the Bible personally, I definitely tried to view the world in that way. For example, when it comes to topics like gender, sexuality, abortion, relationships, etc; my opinion would be based off of the way my family viewed those things. It is not until my early thirties that I met other Christians who did not have the same views as that of my Christian family. This is a good thing, because it opened my eyes to another perspective. That just because we may have similar beliefs in faith and who created the world, our beliefs may differ on other topics. Because of this, I feel I have grown in my understanding of the world. It has not changed my faith, rather how I read the world. I read the world in a way that is more loving, non-discriminatory, and have become more passionate about anti-racist, anti-oppressive behaviours. The only person I can change is my self, and keeping an open mind and sharing space with other people allows me to possibly unlearn those biases that I was raised in. I have also noticed that since learning new perspectives, that my passion has given me a bold voice to share these positive behaviours with my family, and their biases have been challenged and changed.

b) Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

The single stories presented in my own schooling was that of a Euro-centric, hetero-normative, male point of view and truth. The books we read, the resources used, the teachers who taught me. There was very little to no representation in any of it. Although we are on Treaty 4 Land, I was never once taught from an Aboriginal perspective, nor was I taught about the contributions to our society by anyone other than Europeans and majority were males. This included things such as classic literature that was being read, like Shakespeare, for example. Or scientists like Albert Einstein. This is the prime of example of the male, pale, stale. This is not to say that they did not contribute something good to the world, but they are not the only ones. In fact, in the lecture by Gale Russell on mathematics, she explained how in our education system, we were taught that one of the greatest mathematicians was Greek, as to appease the white people, when in fact, he was Egyptian. Unfortunately the truth and stories of that of white people were considered the most important to share, and that was and is still being taught in our schools today.

 

“Mathematics is everywhere, everywhere there is mathematics.” – Gale Russell

At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

My experience of oppressive mathematics was that in which it was all viewed from a Eurocentric and Westernized point of view. There was only one way of being taught math, and if you did not understand, you will struggle. However, I did not always struggle with mathematics. It wasn’t until around high school when math became difficult for me. This wasn’t necessarily based on the math itself, rather my experience with those who were teaching it. I experienced teachers who would quite visibly show their frustration with my lack of understanding and that lead to me stopping to pursue guidance and instruction to continue to learn. Since entering University of Regina, and Math101 being a required class for the program, I have “attempted” to take the class multiple times, but alas, I have dropped it 3 times within the first week because of fear of asking for help when I don’t understand. The professors have been kind thus far, but because of my experience, I am still wary of seeking help, especially in a subject that I feel I am completely inadequate.

Although there were all white, European settler students in my classes for majority of my academic career, we were never taught anything other than what has always been taught. As I stated in the previous paragraph, we did not learn math from any point of view other than that of our ancestors. Unfortunately that personally lead me to believe that, that was the only form of mathematics, which I have been awakened to the fact is not the case.

After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas of mathematics because their math is relevant to culture and environment. For example, (1)the base 20 system which refers to fingers and toes. They make it very clear that mathematics is tied to every other aspect of life, it is not just a singular topic or subject. (2)When the Inuit students are being taught, it is not the traditional pencil and paper, rather observation through elders and real world environment like land and spatial aspects in general. (3)For example, using their hands and palms to measure in length when making parkas. These three examples are quite different from the Eurocentric view of math, and when you look at the way the Inuit teach mathematics, it actually makes a lot more sense than that which I have grown up learning. It leaves me to wonder that if I were taught mathematics from another perspective, perhaps my understanding of it would be a lot different.

Citizenship

What examples of citizenship education do you remember from your K-12 schooling? 

My k-12 schooling was over 15 years ago, so it is a little bit difficult for me to remember exact moments where citizenship was promoted. But, I suppose overall we were taught a lot about how to be personally responsible and participatory citizens. By this, I mean we were encouraged to volunteer in ways like going out into our community and cleaning up garbage, or raising money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation by doing a school-wide fundraiser called ‘Jump Rope for Heart’. I also think of examples of voting as a child for class leaders for the SRC (Student Representative Council) or having penny drives where we would bring in as many pennies as possible as a means to collect an abundance to donate to those in need.

What types of citizenship (e.g. which of the three types mentioned in the article) were the focus? 

Personally Responsible Citizens are mentioned in the article as those who help in their community by voting, donating and paying taxes. Although it seems that these are three basic ways of being a personally responsible citizen, it is not that black and white. We discussed in class how this can made impossible for some, for example, if they are incarcerated, or living in poverty.

If I think of this in regards to my personal life, I have been a personally responsible citizen by donating my gently used clothes to different organizations like the Diabetes Foundation or Community Living, as well as Sophia’s House which is a centre for women and children fleeing domestic violence. By the governments standards, I am low income and do receive subsidies for things like rent or putting my daughter in activities, but I have still found ways to help those in more unfortunate circumstances than my own.

The Participatory Citizens are stated as those who actively in engage with their community and organizations that are meant to better their community and help those in need beyond just donating money. For example, instead of giving a cheque to Souls Harbour Rescue Mission each month, they would perhaps help serve food in the soup kitchen once a week or a few times a month. This is not to say that it is not important to give money to such organizations, as this is also a need, but it is also important to participate in the serving of others.

Ways in which I see this within our own school, for example is when Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi were to be deported by the Canadian government for working while on a student visa, they were hiding in refuge to avoid deportation back to Nigeria, and some staff and students from the University of Regina were protesting against the deportation of the two women. All in all this made a difference by the government changing the laws of students who are here on studying visa’s to be able to work off campus much easier.

Justice Oriented Citizens are those who basically engage in all forms of citizenship and work towards the equity of everyone. Instead of only participating in the common betterment of all, they work towards finding the root problem of how these things came to be in the first place and don’t just want to find ways to bring change, but actively work towards bringing change.

If I think about the possibility of this, I think about my own privilege as a white woman. Because I am automatically placed in a position of privilege and power, I do believe I have a responsibility to work towards justice for all. Or what this class in particular is doing, both Mike and Katia are teaching us to think critically about the world, our communities and ourselves and to question the status quo and what we can do as future educators to bring justice to the education system which can hopefully be executed outside of the classroom as well.

 

 

 

Treaty Education

The purpose of teaching Treaty Education is so that everyone, but particularly settlers of this land, understand what it means to be part of the treaties between the First Nations, Metis and Inuit of Canada. To understand and see the benefits and privileges we have received by being treaty settlers. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Right to One’s Own Religion. As most of the settlers are of white, European descent, the most common spiritual practices were of Catholic and Protestant origin. Therefore, although the treaty was made that both the First Nation’s of Canada and the European Settlers could both worship their own beliefs freely and peacefully, the settlers benefited by this treaty. By looking at Residential School’s in particular, the purpose was to assimilate the First Nation’s students to believe in Catholicism, meaning that if the dominant belief has always been in favour.
  2. Right to Agriculture and Economic Activity. Although the treaty was in in agreement that settlers were able to engage in economic activity produced by the labour of their hands within the confines of their “own” land down to the depth of the plough.  However, treaty settlers have benefited by this by breaking the treaty and have entitled ourselves to free access natural resources that go beyond the depth of the play beyond our “own” land but of as much of the land in Canada as possible, despite the treaty agreement. This also meant that the dominant view of economy was favoured and put in place and still is.
  3. Right to Peace and Goodwill. Settlers have benefited by this treaty because the First Nations people of Canada were the only ones to keep their end of the agreement. The right to peace and goodwill meant for both settlers and the First Nations people of Canada to live together in harmony. However, the settlers forced the First Nation’s people onto reserves and only allowing “peace” of the First Nation’s people did whatever was told of them by the Crown. Settlers have “benefited” from this because our children were not forcibly taken from our homes, put into schools that were intentionally made to assimilate every part of their being to be like someone else’s.

It is important to give a voice to the First Nations people of this land, because we have taken away that voice. We need to share their story, because their story is also our story. We need to teach the history of the relationship between both groups of people so that relationship can grow. Tyler McCreary of Briarpatch Magazine stated it well when he said,

“It is this understanding of relatedness, of being lovingly adopted by the First Peoples of this land, that should be the most provocative enticement for settlers to follow the protocols of good relations. A better society is possible if we allow ourselves to use the treaties as a guide.”

Resources: https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/settler-treaty-rights/

Learning from the Mushkegowuk

  1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

 

One thing in particular that really stood out to me was when the elders were discussing the lives of previous family members who were buried along the river. This is a way for their lives to continue through the flowing of the river and was also a marker to remember different points within the river and land of the area; a map if you will. Furthermore, the land is not simply meant to be lived off of. This was experienced through community by way of intergenerational means. The elders of the community were able to share and show the youth and young people how they can live with the land. For example, that the Moose knows when the people need food, so it will provide itself to the people of the land. In Mushkegowuk culture, when the frog sings, it is a sign that the water is safe to drink.

There was also a lot of use of Cree scribbled over the English map as a way to decolonize the map. Because of the crown and treaties made, along with residential schools, there had been a loss of language which is largely tied to the land which is also tied to the identity of the people. So the continuous use of Cree throughout their research with the intergenerational participants was also a form of decolonization. The young people were taught that it is not about accumulating all the resources of the land for their own gain, rather to work with the land socially and economically so both the people and the land grow and flourish together.

 

  1. How might you adapt these ideas towards considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

 

Allowing my students to learn from others is a huge way I could adapt. By bringing in different generations to engage with my students is a way of also building community. Whether it is an Indigenous elder or parent of an Indigenous student in the classroom. Because my primary study of focus is middle years education, I think it is very feasible to access the outdoors as a means of learning as well. This also arranges the opportunity for each student to find ways they can identify with the land surrounding them. Within the classroom, a way of considering space is that bring on Treaty 4 Land, each day the entire class could learn a new word in Cree. Perhaps each subject that we learn, we can tie in a cree word or words. Also when thinking about land and social studies, it is important that we learn the Canadian map prior to colonization, and one way of doing this could be through learning about the treaty map of Canada.

This answer to this question has a plethora of opportunities to consider space within each subject that will be taught. I have never thought about it from this perspective until this required reading. It opens up a world to me that is not a new world at all, but a rich history of those who have been been here before me, and there is a lot I can learn from them.

 

Politically Rooted

How do you think that school curricula are developed?

Before Reading:

I believe that school curricula is developed by the provincial and federal government. For example, the Ministry and Board of Education. Within those two categories, I would imagine that there are a variety of educated people in different areas who contribute to how the curriculum is developed. Perhaps an anthropologist, psychologist, educator, etc. However, an educator would seem like one of the best resources when creating a curriculum, because they are the ones teaching. There is likely a group of experts who decide what should go into the curriculum based on the present culture, but depending on funding, may not be updated for a period of time.

How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?

After Reading:

School curricula is actually developed by the government on both a federal and provincial level.  They decide what students are expected to know and what they should be able to do with the education that is provided to them. In other words, this is referred to as public policy. Because public policy is rooted in politics, it is safe to say that school curricula is also rooted in politics. On page 8 of the article, Tinder (1991) describes a political system as “a set of arrangements by which some people dominate others” (p.162). If we look at those who are in authority within the political system, it is generally individuals who are white and male. Therefore, this would imply that those with the greatest influence over school curricula are also white and male. As this has been the case for many years it has only brought information and perspectives from a Eurocentric and patriarchal mentality. This is concerning because the people who education effects the most, are the ones who are not part of the curricula development. This is also confirmation that Eurocentric culture has dominated the education system as well.

Page 9 talks states, “every government has to pay some attention to the views of the elites of various kinds, even if not to citizens more generally”. What I gather from this statement is that in order to have some sort of influence outside of the government, if only slightly, is based on hierarchy. Most people that are elites within society are usually those with the most money. Which again, is generally white men when looking at the context of Canada and even Saskatchewan in particular. Page 10 states the despite those in political power, they are also making decisions with inadequate knowledge. With these few reasons alone, leaves a lot of concern because we are putting curricula in the hands of people who only represent a portion of the population. Page 15 mentions how there have been disputes over what history to teach. It is a bit ironic and not surprising at all, as there is only a dispute because the change would mean teaching subjects beyond just a colonial and Eurocentric perspective. 

In its entirety, this is all new to me. I never realized that educators don’t have as much of a role in curriculum development as I thought they did. But what surprised me more is that the students have very little say. I understand that if we look at this from a view of hierarchy, why should students have a decision in the development of curriculum and how it is implemented? Because as time goes by, and culture shifts, and diversity enlarges, as should the way we approach education. Therefore, the students are changing and it is important that we learn new ways to develop and implement curriculum as well. 

source cited: https://www.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upmbinaries/16905_Chapter_1.pdf

The Problem with “Common Sense”

 

According to common sense, being a good student is to not challenge your view of the world in a learning environment. That a student is meant to think and act in specific ways; and if they regurgitate what the teacher has said and what they are told to read, they will do well on exams. Kumashiro referred to this as “meeting standards.” This does not allow any critical thinking or reflection of the individual. Not only that, what the students are being taught in school is the “common sense” view that supports a socially constructed society which supports the white, heteronormative, able bodied person.  As stated in Chapter 2, Kumashiro talks about how this environment is not learning at all. It makes it impossible to see the oppression and inequities that we are not only being taught in school, but what we have learned outside of school. It proposes that the “common sense” view is the only view that really matters and continues to allow the student to remain sedentary, if you will, in their “knowledge” base, which only continues to perpetuate the stereotypes and view that differences are a negative thing.

source cited: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kkJc7k2AyKB-Usl3pujiMAeWpfzmpZRK/view

Teachers = Leaders

“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.” – Paulo Freire

paulo-freire

Teachers are in a position of leadership. We have the opportunity to both grow and encourage growth in our students. Without dialogue between both student and teacher, this is not possible. As an educator, if all I do is stand in front of a classroom of students and speak what is my norm, and what is the norm of what is in the curriculum, without the interaction and involvement of others, I am showing that what I have to say and teach is of superiority. I believe what Freier is trying to say here is to empower one another through critical conversation. It is known that what happens outside of the classroom can affect the experience within the classroom. Therefore, what also happens in the classroom can have a profound affect on the outside. When teachers are aware of their role in preparing students to be critical thinkers, they are empowering them to not take everything at face value. To question and challenge what they are learning.

As a mature student, this dialogue opportunity had only arisen once I attended the Education program at the University of Regina. Through my elementary and high school days through out the nineties, what we learned was strictly colonial history. There was very little dialogue or critical thinking involved. Do what you are told and you will be a good student. That kind of environment created majority of individuals who fit with the status quo. There is nothing liberating about being expected to be like everyone else. To think, to act, to look and to speak the “right” way. Freire is making it evident that there is not one “right” way. That without dialogue we will never have the opportunity to know other ways beyond our own. There will always be more than one context and perspective, and a good leader will guide their students to also engage with one another to learn different aforementioned perspectives and contexts.

image source: paulo-freire.jpg

 

Traditionalists

I have experienced the Tyler rationale in my own schooling for majority of my life. I am 31 years old and everything I seemed to be taught had the intention of producing a student and person who is rooted in Western culture. Mathematics, English and Science were always the focused subjects and the ones that matter the most. When seeking to get transcripts to apply for University, the main classes that mattered to determine how “capable” I am of being a student in University, was defined by the grades particularly in those three subjects.

The major limitations of Traditionalists and viewing curriculum and education as product is that it favours the dominant group. As we discussed in lecture, that it is based off of the ‘male, pale and stale’.  Other limitations include considering individuality and thinking for oneself. The goal for traditionalists seems to be to learn from “the greats” and anything outside of that is not deemed as necessary, which limits one from thinking outside of the box and seeking new ways of thought.

What is made possible and the benefits from the Traditionalists is that there is a foundation built. Because of this foundation, both educators and learners can both continue to build on that foundation. For example, learning how to master specific subjects. Although this can be seen as a negative, this can be carried over into any subject, not necessarily the Mathematics, Sciences and Literature.

sources used:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/12yUit4yJm9nhWB_wYXGMTZNiCJumaT02/view

https://www.memoriapress.com/articles/traditional-vs-progressive-education/

Common Sense or Not Common Sense?

Kumashiro defines ‘common sense’ as the norm that reflects that particular society. For him, common sense was the United States definition of education, which was viewed as more superior than that of the Nepali. Hence, why the Peace Corps sent him there to “help” bring “better” change.

It is important to pay attention to ‘common sense’ because it is rooted in culture. It is something that we rarely ever question because it is considered the norm and as a culture we have made it a tradition and going outside of that is would challenge the status quo. Unfortunately ‘common sense’ is also rooted in oppressive behaviours and in order to understand that in the first place, we must question and challenge it.

source: (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI)

Writing the Self-Analysis – Looking for Normative Narratives – Gender 

i) Normative Narratives- Pressure to Be Feminine 

 

When deciding which topic to choose from between gender and race, I concluded on gender as it is something that I am aware of everyday of my life. Unfortunately, race was not something I consciously spent time thinking about because I have been privileged due to my skin colour. When it comes to being born a female, I didn’t always conform to the stereotypes assigned to me. But I have definitely spent more time fitting into the stereotype than not. For example, in my blog, “My First Crush” I discuss feeling the need to be more feminine as a means of having someone from the opposite sex being attracted to me. Before I would make my way to their house, I would check myself out in the mirror. Combed? Check. Fitted clothes? Check. Nail polish? Check.” I went from never wearing nail polish to suddenly wearing nail polish, I went from not caring about what my hair looked like to making sure it was combed and not one strand out of place. I didn’t necessarily learn these things from my family, however, the media was good at portraying females as looking a particular way. In the following two stories, each of us discuss how we have been guided by society in some shape or form to present ourselves as females a certain way in order to be accepted by the rest of society. Chapter 7 of “Is Everyone Really Equal” states, “Corporate-produced popular culture has become a more pervasive institution in our lives through multiple points of entry such as advertising, sponsored curriculum in schools, and mass media. For example, corporate-produced toys amplify rigid gender roles, socializing girls into femininity (nurturing, caring, and beauty play)” (Sensoy and DiAngelo 2017 pg. 108) 

 

In Esther’s blog, “Girly-Girl Lessons” she and her friends look for another female who they believe has mastered what it is to be a female. Esther talks about how the older friend Brianna shows them that in order to be feminine, they must dress in heels and learn how to walk in them, no matter how ridiculous they feel and look in them. The other narrative in Esther’s story is that Esther and her friends made sure they had the approval of Brianna to make sure they were girly enough. This is a very common occurrence among females. We will make sure we have the approval of others before we deem ourselves good enough. This includes when Brianna tells the girls We shouldn’t let anyone see us out of character.” We all know a female who feels they can’t leave the house without their hair and make-up done. The pressure to look and behave a certain way is a pressure that has been put on the female population. 

 

In Yuyi’s blog, “Get Out of the Water” she talks about how she was also pressured to make sure she is not out of character. I wiped my eyes and I saw a woman was looking at me. She was surprised and yelled to the crowd loudly: “Who’s girl is that?” She looked at me and said: “You are all wet, get out of the water quickly!” I was confused, I did not know what was going on. Suddenly, a boy came in front of me. I assumed he was the son of that woman because nobody else looked at me except her and the boy. He said: “Can you understand Chinese? Where are you from?” I felt awkward to answer this question. I opened my mouth but did not know what to say. That woman pointed at me and talked to another person. She successfully made more people notice me, a girl with soggy clothes and hair standing in the pool. I felt ashamed and quickly ran away.”  This narrative proves itself when Yuyi jumps in the water fully clothed. Because she had done this, she is quickly reprimanded because a female is not supposed to be in public looking unpresentable.  

 

 ii) Disrupting the Normative Narrative

 

In Nikki’s blog, “Barefoot Tomboy” she states, “My wild not brushed hair flowing in the wind standing on the swings going higher and higher and higher. The race is on to see who can go jump the furthest. Chris is going faster than me, Derrick is too! I gotta pump harder! “Nikki don’t you think you should slow down?” My auntie yells from beside the swing set. Ignoring my auntie I push harder.” Regardless that Nikki is a female and that her aunt is trying to perpetuate that a female should present herself as more delicate by not doing what the boys are doing, she ignores it. Nikki decides that no matter what, she is doing what she is enjoys. She didn’t think about whether or not she looks different than the boys. What is more important to Nikki is that she can not only do what they are doing, but she can do it even better. And she proves herself. She lets her hair roam freely in the wind and she beats one of her cousins when they jump off the swings and land in the sand.  

 

In order to move away from the pressures of femininity, we must first be aware of the avenues in which they are being promoted. Being feminine is neither right or wrong, however, it should not be put upon any single person in orderfor them to feel approved by others. Being aware is the first step to understand that the gender binary is a social construct that is meant to favor one person over another. The pressure of femininity is not just for men, but also a hierarchy amongst women to deem who is more physically attractive. Although society is becoming more aware of the social construct, we must each daily make a choice to have the courageous conversation that open up these discussions to make this become less of a normative narrative.  In the TED Talk: Ending Gender by Scott Turner Schofield, Scott talks about disrupting the normative narrative that gender should not define any human being, and Scott is living in his true self, but his identity is not found in his gender, that they are just words. That if we all identity as others, that we are all others, so no one is marginalized. 

 

Work Cited: 

Sensoy, O., & DiAngelo, R. (2017). Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education. New York, United States of America: Teachers College Press. 

Self Story #4 – Got Gas?

We always disagreed when it came to money. “Gas is $1.20 now!” I said in a shrieking tone. “Why do you always bring up how much things cost?” he responded frustratingly. As we were driving down Albert St. in my dark blue Ford Focus; my gas meter said I had about a quarter tank left. I kept thinking in my head about how much I could make that gas stretch till I got paid again. This wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last time that I would have to calculate such things in my mind.

 

He comes from a two parent home who both have successful businesses. He has traveled the world since childhood. He grew up having housemaids and drivers. He would tell me about how every Sunday after Mass, his family would go to the bakery to buy fresh French pastries. I listened intently as I would imagine living such a life in my mind. It’s not that I had a terrible childhood by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I grew up in Regina by a single mother who worked hard, although educated, she didn’t pursue it fully, which lead to not having a job that necessarily paid to live beyond paycheck to paycheck. We didn’t have someone to come and clean our house, and we definitely didn’t have a personal driver. I remember about every three years my mom would have to buy a new used car until the next one would break down. I had never traveled anywhere outside of Western Canada until I was an adult. I went from attending a public school to transitioning into a private school.  

 

Despite these differences, it wasn’t until he responded with, “Why do you always bring up how much things cost?” did I really notice how socioeconomic differences play a part in our view of not only money, but also education and family relationships. I made that quarter tank last me until my next paycheck. As we kept driving down Albert St., I kept thinking about how much things cost and hoping that one day, I won’t have to be so concerned about something so simple, yet a privilege to have, a car to drive to fill up a tank with gas.

 

Self Story #3: The First Crush

I was ten years old and he was seven years old. He lived across the street in this big house right on the corner. I lived in cooperative housing with a lot of low income families and single mothers. Regardless of the class difference, we became friends. His parents invited me over to play. The first few times it was just the two of us, until one day, a brown haired, browned eyed boy walked through the doors. It was older brother. Not only was he older than him, but he was two years older than me.

I instantly became infatuated with him. At the time I was a “tomboy” who loved to wear baggy clothes that I picked out of a Salvation Army bin. Hair so fresh and clean right out of the shower. No brushing or combing necessary. And I thought I looked great. I felt cool, comfortable and myself. All of that changed when I met the boy across the streets’ older brother. They didn’t need to invite me over anymore, I would simply show up. His older brother was nice to me, the first boy that ever really gave me positive attention.

I noticed that right away and thought that maybe he would like me as more than a friend if I was less of a “tomboy”. Before I would make my way to their house, I would check myself out in the mirror. Combed? Check. Fitted clothes? Check. Nail polish? Check. I showed up, he would invite me in to watch some 90’s TV series that I can’t recall the name of and he offered me a bowl of ice cream. I ate it in less than 2 minutes, he offered me a second bowl. The nail polish must be working, I thought to myself.

 

 

To Be a Treaty Settler

The word treaty can have a couple meanings. For example, I am a Treaty Settler, whereas a First Nations individual would be a Treaty Indian. It wasn’t until a month ago when we started this class did I become aware that I am a Treaty Person. I have heard the term status Indian by many First Nations acquaintances in the past. Until this day, I am not sure if even they knew we are all Treaty People either. Because of the European/Westernized education system and dominating culture, this was never a topic…until now.

 

What has changed since learning that I am also a Treaty person is that I have a responsibility to educate myself on what the agreements are between the two parties. I have learned that treaties are the stone in which Canadian society originated. Despite this being the case, as a white woman of European descent and settler of the Treaty 4 Territory, I have privileged 100% because of the Treaties, whereas the First Nations did not. This is not how it is supposed to be.

 

I would not say that racism is something that I just began to see. I noticed it even as a child. I would hear comments and opinions about First Nations people during family functions. I had gained a perspective based off of other peoples ignorance which in turn lead me to be ignorant as well. I would feel nervous around First Nations people because I would see First Nations people represented in the news as the “dangerous” and “criminals” of the prairies. How ironic it is, because the colonization of this land is what is dangerous and criminal.The truth is, regardless of what someone else preaches or shares, it is up to me as the individual to do the research for myself to find the truth. The truth I am learning is that of the authentic history of how Canada was colonized and what part my ancestors played a role in it. And that I still benefit from it today. It is my responsibility as a treaty person to uphold the treaties made by the Settlers and First Nations people of Canada.  I truly believe that knowing this is the first step in the right direction.

 

Writing the Self 2: Prompt B

“Let’s get inside before it gets busier!” I said to my friend as we jumped out of her parents shiny, new SUV. It was the week of the Mosaic and we were just about to head into the India: Punjabi pavilion. I was 23 years old, 5 months pregnant and ready to eat for two. As we were walking towards the entrance, my friend made comments I will never forget to this day. “I can’t believe you’re having a baby”, she said. I nodded and smiled in agreement. Then she continued with, “I hope your baby has a nose and hair like yours.” I was completely taken off guard. “What do you mean?” I quickly responded. “You know, straight hair and a nose that looks small like yours.”

It would take nearly a year later until I actually confronted my friend about that conversation we had a year prior. I held in the pain I felt from those words. Both my friend and myself are white women of European descent, while my daughter who is now nearly seven years old is a mix of my ancestry and of West African ancestry. It wasn’t until the day of that conversation that I realised how much skin colour makes a difference, but also physical features make a difference in how people are viewed and treated. Straight hair and a pointed nose are what society deems as the most beautiful. I see it in every form of media.

Since having the realisation of how a body is being racialized, I have been very intentional about surrounding myself with more diverse representation. Not only for myself, but for my daughter. What I mean by this is, reading books about people from different parts of the world, different cultures, different faiths than our own. Listening to music or watching movies with diverse characters. Despite this, however, I almost daily will hear comments from my daughter who has the cutest curls, brown skin and brown eyes, that she wishes she was white like me and had straight hair like me. I have very fair skin with pink overtones and straight, dark brown hair and green eyes. I have no idea what it is like to be her, and I never will. 

Even though it has been over 7 years, I have become more aware of the comments that are being made about the physical features of those who are not white and who do not look like me. Beauty is subjective and should be celebrated for its diversity. There will always be strength when there is unity in diversity.

Attached is a picture of my daughter and myself taken in the summer of 2018.

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Self and Other – To Be In His Arms

I crawl into the bed and tightly wrap the grey, abstract designed duvet around me. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud. I hear his voice from another room in the meticulously cleaned apartment. “Where are you?” he asked excitedly. “Where I always am” I shouted gently. His footsteps keep getting closer as I lay comfortably in his bed. I suddenly feel his right arm slide under my neck and his left arm stretch around my torso.

We start to talk about how our day went. This is the most familiar part of our daily conversation. Even though we babble about the tediousness of work life and student life; we make it a point to discover something new that each day brings. I turn around and face him, while he still has his arms wrapped around me, even tighter than the duvet. I feel peaceful and safe when he holds me close. His big brown eyes staring in my green eyes, he lets out all of his thoughts. I make sure to listen intently as to not miss a single word. Sometimes he just needs me to listen. He isn’t asking for advice or some cliché response, rather an open mind and heart that is willing to hear what he has going on in his mind.

Once he finishes, I continue to be engulfed in long, dark arms. Now it is my turn. I share with him about how my mind is constantly moving; like a toddler who has just learned how to walk for the first time. Battling with Major Depressive Disorder, he doesn’t understand what it is like, but he is also willing to hear what is running through my mind and to accept me regardless of what the mental illness brings to the table. He continues to stare straight into my eyes as I speak, assuring me that he is interested in everything I have to share. I feel at peace again. I can be myself. He can be himself. We lay together for hours in his bed exchanging thoughts, feelings and unconditional love.

Whenever he holds me, I am home. Being in his presence. We could be in his apartment, we could be sitting on a park bench, or be sitting in his car on the top of a hill gazing at the stars at midnight, and it would not matter. I am home, whenever his touch penetrates my being. It doesn’t matter how long or how short. We could be in Canada, we could be in Togo. I can be pink, he can be brown. He can speak French, I can speak English. No matter our differences, home is wherever he holds me.