I was a part of group 2 which talked about missing and murdered Indigenous woman and children. I have not had a lot of time looking into this topic while being in university. As well, I do not recall hearing very much, if anything, about MMIW&C in high school either.
I believe I was very important for me to do more reading about this issue. I have never actually realized how many Indigenous woman and children are missing and have been murdered. As well, the issue of people not thinking that these lives are as important as other’s lives, which is ridiculous to me. I can not believe people say and determine that these Indigenous woman’s lives are worthless because of their skin, the job, or the circumstances they have put themselves into. Many people do not understand that these women did not choose to be taken or go missing or be murdered. It is so important to realize that these women are daughters, sisters, aunts, and mothers and they are loved and appreciated just like you are.
During the seminar, we decided to do a faceless doll activity. We purposely did not give any information about the activity except for a video. We wanted to see how people would dress these dolls and their thoughts about it. During the talking circle, we asked if they would use this activity and what emotions were brought up as well. At this point, I have forgotten that this activity may not be the best to use and bring up emotional issues for people impacted by MMIW&C.
Evelyn ended up sharing first, and we soon realized that this activity hit home. I think that it was very important to have Evelyn share and see how she, as an Indigenous woman, felt about this activity. For me, it really opened up my eyes and made me realize that as teachers we find things that seem fun to do and sometimes do not think it through. Now that I am sitting here thinking about doing a fun activity that is connected to MMIW&C I think what is wrong with me. This is a very sad and painful issue that weighs heavy on many hearts. Why would I want to do a fun little craft to bring attention to this problem? I am so grateful we got to reflect and debrief on this activity, and I think it brought light to the issue teachers have deciding what is appropriate and helpful to teach topics.
In what ways could you take up the Principles of Truth & Reconciliation as a treaty responsibility (response-ability)? How does this relate to understanding yourself in terms of treaties?
Some ways that I could take up the Principles of Truth and Reconciliation as a treaty responsibility is to help to learn the truths about what has actually happened in the past and present and begin to share this information to my friends, family, and my students. We cannot reconcile without the truth first and justice.
Pam Palmater had talked about things that we need to do when in the wrong and I think that this can apply to taking up Principles of Truth and Reconciliation as a treaty responsibility. She says that for any situation like this we need to acknowledge what you did wrong, apologise and mean it, be aware of the harm done, never do it again, and make amends. I think that this is a very important part of Truth and Reconciliation to myself and every individual who lives in Canada. Now, I understand that we were not the people directly taking land and making poor decisions in the past, but it is important to think about how you are connected to that. This is when we can understand where we stand and what we need to do for Truth and Reconciliation.
On top of all of this, I think that we should look at things such as land acknowledgements, education, blindness, and racism and ask ourselves that hard questions to help us understand oneself in terms of the treaties. Pam Palmater had brought up many good points about some of these topics that have good intentions but has rushed things to surpass some Truths. This made me realize that yes it is important to talk about land acknowledgements and hang Indigenous art, but this is not what Truth and Reconciliation are actually about. Most of us have not addressed what needs to be reconciled like Pam has said, and instead have done what we feel is comfortable and what we think is right.
I think that I need to work on understanding myself in terms of treaties, ask the hard questions and actually teach and live for Truth and Reconciliation. I know that within the past few years I have started my journey and know that there is a lot more to be done. I am excited to learn more about treaties and how “strong,” “intellegent”, and “resilient” indigenous peoples and their nations are.
I think that during this course I will be able to engage in miskâsowin by participating in the important conversations we are having and asking questions. I think that contributing in the circles we have in class will benefit me in finding out more about myself and asking myself questions I may not have.
Some things I will do to help to continue to find my sense of origin and belonging/ center is to ask more questions about my family history, continue to understand more of how I am a treaty person and to find where I belong in all of this. I think that it is important to first know who you are and to know where you came from. For me, this does impact the way I may want to live out my life and how my ancestors played a role in the process of making Canada. It is also very important to me to understand and know about Treaty 4 and what that means for me as a white settler. Right now I am continuing to grow my knowledge on both of these topics. I feel like this is a long journey and there is something I can always learn to help me find my center. I think that this does not mean that miskasowin will always be out of reach for me, but rather that I can find it and I can always work on bettering myself and where I belong. Things change and so can this (to some degree).
The Blanket Exercise we did in class has offered me a visual and a reality check that was impactful in terms of my miskasowin process. The exercise helped me understand that my ancestors took away land from Indigenous peoples and it impacted them greatly. I do not believe or know that my ancestors had the intentions to impact the Indigenous peoples in this way but regardless of intention, there was a large negative impact resulting from their’s and many other’s settlements. This was important for me to see and be apart of because it left me with an image that helps me remember what has happened. I think that this exercise helps towards tapwewin by just what I have said, whether or not people had the intentions to do these things to Indigenous people, it has happened and we need to acknowledge this and begin to share the truth. I believe that it is important to speak your truth, but when you start making assumptions about others and try to speak their truth it becomes wrong. It is important that we show respect to others and their truths and that everyone speaks for themselves. I think that in the next 5 weeks I will begin to seek out my own truth and where/when there are times that I need to look towards someone else for their tapwewin.
Who do I think I am?
I am a white settler Canadian that lives on Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan. Like Chelsey Vowel has said in her book, the word “White” seems to bring up arguments and I agree. Today people are overly sensitive to be called White because people feel that is racist, but I understand what White means and am not offended to be called or call myself White because, in fact, I am. I am also a settler because my ancestors came and settled in Canada. I think this is a term that more people with similar ancestral situations as I should refer them to as. I like how Chelsey Vowel has explained what the word settler means, “a relational term, rather than a racial category…” (pg 18). I think that it is important to inform people what they term setter means and that it revolves around the relationship of Indigenous people of Canada and European settlers.
My ancestors are from Poland, Ukraine and Russia for the most part. My father’s grandparents came straight from Poland and my mother’s grandparents came from Russia. An interesting point I like to make is that my mother’s ancestors are known as Doukhobors who came from Russia and settled in Western Canada. They were known as a radical group who first gathered in the town of Veregin, Saskatchewan and sort of were pushed out further west into British Columbia. Veregin is only a 5-minute drive from where I grew up, so even though some Doukhobors were pushed from their homes for being radical, some decided to conform in some way and remain in the area.
My father’s ancestors moved from Poland and settled in Saskatchewan a few kilometres south-west from a town called Kamsack. They had farmland, had children and raised them there. My grandpa (one of their children) grew up to have his own farm only a few kilometres away from the land he grew up on. To this day we still have the farm and we value it as a piece of our family history.
My great-grandparents both moved to Canada in the early 1900s in hopes of a better life and new opportunities. They all settled in close proximity of Kamsack, Saskatchewan where I grew up.
I would have to say that the town I grew up in was very racist and that was seen as the norm. There is a large First Nation population as there are three reserves nearby. My family, I would have to say, saw racism as the norm too and there were hints of it in almost every conversation. I definitely grew up with a negative mindset towards First Nations peoples until when I was in grade 11. This past year I have done a lot of growth with calling out my own racist and critical thoughts against indigenous peoples and have been asking myself where these thoughts are coming from. This has been very important to me as Treaty education is something I want to be fluid and apart of my teachings and everyday life.
I think that my relation to Treaty is that my ancestors were apart of some of the conflicts and that I am connected to that by them. I know that it is not directly my fault for the troubles Indigenous people have faced, but I do feel like it is my responsibility to support First Nations people and help make sure that they are being heard. This does not mean going out and teaching Canadians about Indigenous peoples and Treaties with no guidance or reference from Indigenous peoples. I want to support these people and promote them and their words/stories, not my own thoughts about what I think needs to be heard. I think that this would be apart of my Miskâsowin: knowing where I came from, who my ancestors were and supporting and help promitng the words of Indigenous people and making sure that Canada is listening to these people.