Unfortunately, I was absent on Monday and did not get to see the presentations that happened. However, I took the time to check out the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women PowerPoint and read a few different articles. After reading everything and viewing the Ted Talks video, I felt a variety of emotions…sadness, anger, frustration, guilt.
What stood out to me most was going through the CBC website just looking at a very small portion of those murdered women and CHILDREN. It bothered me that I have not even heard of any of these women in the media, in articles, etc. It is like their deaths are almost hidden away from the public. I had no idea that lots of those deaths happened right here in Regina! The way their deaths were handled by police services and investigators is horribly wrong and unjust to those poor women and their families. The cases were silent, their deaths were silent. It isn’t fair. Another thing that bothered me was the statistics of missing and murdered Indigenous women VS other Canadian women. This, I believe, is where my own identity comes in.
I am a white settler women. I have never experienced anything like this. I have also never thought about how my whiteness keeps me safe. To realize that, is very upsetting. To think that Indigenous women are more likely to be taunted, taken, and even murdered by a total stranger is way higher than that of a white woman. I think that these articles really made me aware of my white privilege, which is something that I am thinking more and more about.
I believe that to be a good teacher, is to learn from your students and others in your community. To be a good teacher is to be open minded, encouraging, and a good listener. I believe that each student should feel valued in my classroom.
I have learned so much in my university experience so far. I have learned plenty of factual information about Treaties and our history. However, I have also learned that it isn’t just about facts. It is about moving away from that Eurocentric point of view. I will admit, this was not the easiest thing to do at first, because that was all I have ever known growing up. However, it has become apart of my practice and the way that I think.
I believe that my students’ opinions and stories are valued. I want to be able to teach them that it is okay to ask questions. It is okay to question the “norm.” It is okay to talk about history and learn from it, and it is okay to listen and learn from those around you.
Canada’s history is not as light and innocent as I was taught growing up. There were many wrongs that happened at the hands of European settlers (that is a fact). Therefore, as a Treaty Teacher, I hope to have conversations with my students and open their minds to new ways of learning about what has happened in Canada, and what still continues to happen. I have felt uncomfortable in many of my class discussions, because of the shift that happened in my learning. My previous knowledge has expanded and changed for the better. This is the kind of knowledge that I hope to pass onto my students as a Treaty Teacher. We need to continue to question the dominate, Eurocentric thinking and practices, and teach the next generation to do so as well!
I say “powerful,” because that is what it truly was for me.
On Monday, I had the opportunity to participate in a Pipe Ceremony, facilitated by Elder Alma. I honestly was not sure what to expect. I usually cannot be around a room filled with smoke, as it irritates my eyes and throat. However, this was different. I wasn’t bothered by the smell of the tobacco burning. I felt calm; the whole room felt calm. There was so much peace and faith all around me. When the pipe was being passed around, it reminded me of my church in a way (going up to get the Holy bread). This connection that I made to my own faith and identity encouraged me to think about how important this ceremony is to Indigenous peoples. In the past, Indigenous peoples’ identities were stolen and they were forced to learn new ways of life and throw away their old celebrations, ceremonies, etc.
I thought about my own faith and my own way of celebrating. I could not imagine having that being taken away from me. Elder Alma was so inviting as she allowed every one of us to experience a beautiful healing and prayerful ceremony. I could tell that the smoke from the pipe meant so much more than just physical smoke. Alma mentioned that the pipe is the connection from the earth to the sky. The prayers that we say and think are the smoke which rises up into the sky so that our prayers can be answered. Again, this made me form a connection to my own beliefs and faith. It fascinated me to think about.
I participated, not knowing how I’d feel afterwards. I came out of it feeling like I learned about prayer, respect, love, healing, tradition, connection, and ceremony. My hope is that if more people (of any race, culture, age) participated in pipe ceremonies like the one I did, that more people would feel the same way as I do.
This picture that I found on Google, reminds me of what I saw at the pipe ceremony that I experienced with our class and Alma.
Today, I participated in my first blanket exercise. It was a very eye-opening experience. As embarrassing as it is to say this, I had no idea what the blanket exercise even meant. Did I have to speak? What did I have to do? Do I need to memorize facts? What did this whole thing consist of? I started to feel a bit of anxiety when I first stepped on to the blanket. As the “scroll person” started handing out scrolls, and people started walking around kicking the blankets back and throwing dolls away from people, I had so many emotions rush through me. It was an amazing way for those who are visual learners, and even those who are not, to participate and engage in learning about what has happened and what continues to happen to Indigenous peoples and their land. It shows the real history of Canada; even stuff that can be emotionally challenging and hard to think about. However, this is something that I am so grateful to have done.
I feel like when I am asked to describe my “identity,” I don’t really know what to say, other than “I am a women. I am 22 years old. I live in Regina. I am Canadian.” However, I feel like there is a lot more to it than just that. Especially after participating in the blanket exercise, I feel like there is more to who I am and where I came from. I feel like there is so much more to think about than just the basic answer. Looking back on the last part of the blanket exercise (when there were just a few people left standing on tiny pieces of “land,”) was truly saddening, in my opinion. I then think to myself, what can I do to help? What can I do to change this? The first thing is education. I am so thankful to be able to learn about this, and have the opportunity to participate in activities like this, so that I can then educate those who I teach (not just my future students, but my family and friends as well).
For the choice assignment that we will be doing, I think it would be very interesting to go to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, and focus on the “We Are All Treaty People and Trades, Treaties and Today” exhibits. I have been there before, and I have even taken my grade one class there to observe. However, it will be interesting for me to look at it in a different perspective. I want to challenge myself to think critically, ask critical questions, and take notes on my observations and ideas.
I live on Treaty 4 land; that is where my home is.
I did not consider my elementary school to be my “home.” To me, a home is a safe place. It is a place where you should feel loved and be surrounded by people who care about you. I was bullied in elementary school and I did not feel comfortable being there. My goal is to be able to turn my future classroom into a safe “home” for my students. One where they can feel free to speak, learn, and feel loved.
I consider “home” to be where my family is. To me, family is the most important thing. I would describe my home as warm, loving, fun and also a little crazy at times. I have a family of five; my mom, dad, myself, my sister and my brother. My mom’s grandparents came to Canada from Ireland and my dad’s side of the family is from Germany and the Ukraine. My name is a combination of Irish and German (Erin= “peace” in Gaelic, and Schmidt = a very common German last name). My family is Canadian, and we were all born here in Canada. However, we still consider ourselves as “settlers.” In Chelsea Vowel’s book, Indigenous Writes, she talks about how she refers to the “non-indigenous peoples living in Canada who form the European-descended sociopolitical majority” as settlers (16). Although my immediate family did not physically move to Canada; my European ancestors did. We are still apart of history and cannot erase that. Therefore, we are settlers, too.
We hope you enjoy our digital reflections! Our first video got caught off. Therefore, we had to create a second one to finish it. The one titled “IMG 0159” is the second one, so watch the “ECS 210- Digital Reflection by: Erin & Manuela” one first. We enjoyed this class and seminar, and we learned a lot of new information, which we explained throughout our reflection.
Thanks for watching!!
Something interesting, that I never even thought about before, is the fact that classroom teachers have the LEAST say in developing a curriculum and the government has the MOST. I do not understand how this is logical. I am definitely a believer that this should be the opposite, because classroom teachers (us) will see our children develop first-hand. We will see how they learn, build relationships, see what works and what does not, and we go to school for 4 years to be able to do just that. We as classroom teachers are constantly learning about our students! Yet, we have little or no say on what goes into the curriculum that will be taught to our students. Yes, I understand that we are able to teach the curriculum how we want, and are able to add in creativity, etc. However, I still believe the curriculum would be stronger and more valuable if teachers had more of a say in how they are developed, and I was surprised to hear that they do not.
I think that curriculum impacts every teacher in one way or another. We as teachers use the curriculum to GUIDE us as we teach in classrooms. I capitalize the word “guide,” because that is how I will interact with the curriculum I am given. I will use it as a guide, to look through the outcomes and indicators and see what topics/subjects I need to work on with my students. However, I will use my own judgment and creativity to help my students achieve the topics that the curriculum needs them to succeed. We ALL need to be mindful that the curriculum is just a guide for us as teachers. A lot of people, including myself, come into education worrying about following the curriculum step by step and doing everything “by the book,” which is not necessarily how it has to be. If we think of curriculum as a guide, it becomes a lot less scary or intimidating, in my opinion. Students and their unique learning abilities should be our focus.
It has become clear to me that classroom teacher’s do not have much say in how the curriculum is developed, and what it covers. In my opinion, this is not right. The government holds the majority of the power when it comes to the decision making for the classroom curriculum. Yet, do they really know what they are doing? We (future teachers) go to school for 4 years (sometimes longer) and learn about children, how they develop, what they need to succeed, etc., and yet we have no say in what is being taught to them. However, the one thing we do have control over is HOW we teach what we are given, from the government. I believe that this is very important. We make the best of what we can, in order for our students to learn and succeed. Classroom teachers have the option to be creative in the way they teach their students, and I think that we should use that to our advantage!
According to “common sense,” the good student is one who obeys. He/she will sit quietly with correct posture, and not speak unless asked too. They will take in all information that they hear, and do well on tests. However, we ALL know by now that this is rarely the case. Children learn and behave in different ways, which is why I think it is great that there are so many different options to help children learn (stand up desks, bouncy ball chairs, etc). The few students who DO learn by sitting quietly and “obeying” the teacher are the privileged ones (and from what I have seen in my days of being in a classroom; they are usually the “teacher’s favorites”). It is impossible to teach with the “common sense” mindset. As a new teacher, you will get a huge wake up call if you enter a classroom believing that all children will sit still and listen to you, without any interruption. I think we need to go against the common sense way of thinking, in order to build relationships with our students, and in order to effectively teach each of them.