When asked What are some current understandings that you have about Indigenous Peoples, I can pinpoint when I realized the extent to which First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Peoples have been erased and displaced: starting my Master in Teaching at OISE in 2015. My understanding of Indigenous Peoples up to that point was a product of that erasure because I had thought that Indigenous Peoples were living on reserves with enough resources to be self-sustaining; I had thought that mainstream society didn’t need to bother them. I’m grateful to have started my teacher training when the TRC's Calls to Action were published because our program developers interwove Indigenous perspectives and speakers into most of our courses. Learning about residential schools from survivors of the genocide was shocking, and it shifted my worldview: I thought I had a good understanding of social justice and that I had come into education with an understanding of the globalized settler colonialism that shaped today's world, but I didn’t have a clue what happened in my own country. I've realized since then much of my current understanding comes from the Western stories I heard, read, and watched, which often left out Indigenous voices all together (distinct were N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, which opened doors for me as I grew my understanding of time and language studying English and History in Boston).
When asked What are some of the "untruths" that society in general hold towards Indigenous Peoples? I remember driving to reserves with my dad in New York when I was young because he wanted less expensive gas and cigarettes, and I remember my lacrosse teammate’s parents talking with apprehension about playing Six Nations of the Grand River teams because they were the best at the sport. I realize now these memories are tips of the iceberg of covert vs. overt white supremacy. I keep calling back to my schooling at OISE because I don’t think I had conscious knowledge of what “untruths” society held towards Indigenous Peoples before watching Wab Kinew’s exploration of them on George Stroumbloulopoulous’s “Soap Box” (2012): alcoholism; the notion that Indigenous Peoples should “get over it” (which is something I recently argued over with a family member, because they held this view in regards to Land Acknowledgments); the “long hair thing”; the tax money spent on Indian Affairs (which, after reading Artuther Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson’s Unsettling Canada, I can see this a huge misinformation piece by the Federal government in which the general public does not understand how Treaty negotiations are circuitous and ineffective and come at the expense of the Nations involved…); and the “tax thing” that reinforces the myth that Indigenous Peoples are getting a “free ride” in Canada (another misconception rooted in misunderstanding of Treaty and the founding documents, including the Two Row Wampum and the 1764 Treaty of Niagara).
When asked, What are the truths that Indigenous Peoples want society to know? I think the legal ramifications of the many Treaties, and the recognition of wampum belts as an Indigenous legal custom and as recognized legal documents, are important truths all Canadians, including myself, need to learn more about. I think that our Civics classes are fertile spaces to better incorporate Indigenous perspectives, especially on politics, economics, and ways of governing, to better reinforce the Two Row Wampum and the need for Indigenous sovereignty. I also think truths about different Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous languages need to be made more clear to the general public, as a form of civic duty. Overall, I think that decolonization happens at personal, local, provincial, and federal levels and that it’s each citizen’s duty to work toward a society that acts for human rights, and that Mother Nature’s rights need to be protected, as corporations’ rights are protected, under law.
I am an enthusiastic and conscientious educator. I use my blog to connect my personal experiences and adventures to my pedagogy.