As part of my work and passion for personal learning and improving my teaching practice, I’ve participated in cultural competency training and engaged in a MOOC to learn more about reconciliation through Indigenous education. These learning opportunities have given me new understandings and continue to bring new concepts to my awareness.
Two terms that have meaning and resonate for me are ‘NUMWAYUT‘ and ‘KASWENTA‘.
But let me share a story first.
I wrote a blog post quite some time ago, filed it in my draft folder, didn’t post it through fear and reluctance, but returned to it recently. After re-reading, I had to reflect deeply about why I hadn’t posted it, particularly with the term ‘hospitality’ fresh on my mind.
Now, with the conversations from the Festival of Learning conference held in Vancouver, and the conversations held through Virtually Connecting still resonating in my mind, I’m reframing, yet again. I can also thank Steven Hurley and Doug Peterson for this reframe, coming from their conversation In Ontario Edublogs conversation about my blog post Curate Your ‘Self‘.
It comes down to taking care, and having courage to make it public. Thank you for reading this post, considering how you can publicly show you care, and for sharing a courageous comment. Here’s my original draft post:
Imagine. You have a lovely home, well positioned in town, with the yards looking their best. The interior design suits your needs and showcases all that you hold dear. Your children run happily in the yard, learning about nature and life cycles as they play. A car pulls into your driveway and unexpected guests arrive. You welcome them into your home, seeing that they have food and drinks. You show them how things work and give them a tour so they can find their way around.
These guests decide to stay awhile. They begin to eat more than you can provide. They don’t clean up after themselves or extend a hand to ease your burden. They take over the living room and move you into the basement, saying you’ll be more comfortable there. Your children are sent away to attend school, since they are not learning what they really need to survive in this modern, new world. You are powerless to remove these ‘guests’ because they are claiming squatters-rights. You have nowhere to turn and are powerless to stop what is happening.
This is a simplified story, but brings some perspective to what I’ve been watching the past few weeks. As I hear the emotional and heartfelt stories of First-nation people sharing their experiences in residential schools or the ‘60’s scoop’, I am torn from my white, privileged perspective. My heart goes to those who have lost so much. With the publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, difficult stories are revealed and lives are laid bare. Cultural genocide is a challenging, complex concept to recognize. My own culpability is revealed.
My personal involvement is implicit if I remain silent. It’s time to accept that I am one of those guests who came to stay. That’s a difficult truth to admit. If I am to make a difference, I need to read the whole story. Awareness and knowledge is key. Reading and learning from the TRC report is an essential first step.
To be fully human to one another, we need to acknowledge our part in the stories revealed in the TRC report. As a nation, we need to know what has happened or it will continue to happen. We need to reconcile the roles of homeowner and guest. Moving beyond squatter’s rights and basement dwelling will be extremely difficult. Supporting and acknowledging First Nation heritage and stories is an important place to start. Become informed. Learn from lived experiences. Recognize the truth. Find a way through, together. Our relationship as a Canadian rather than guest or host, immigrant or First-Nation depends on acknowledging our twisted and tangled roots. A renewed sense of Canadian hospitality will result.
Now! Today! I come to new understandings – of shifts in relationship and hospitality, of an ethos of care, and how I can publicly stand ‘together as one’.
I share this acknowledgement since it is mine as well.
“I would like to acknowledge the place where I began my journey, the traditional territory of Attawandaron First Nations peoples of Turtle Island and neighbouring territory of the Munsee-Delaware Lenni Lenape, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Chippewas of the Thames First Nations peoples. The colonial name for this place is London Ontario, Canada.” (Sisco, 2015)
How will you publicly acknowledge, build relationship, and honour kaswénta? How will you develop a sense of numwayut?
Begin by taking one step to learning more:
- What is the significance of acknowledging the indigenous land we stand on? CBC News
- Our home on native land: Why acknowledge territory?
Peterson, D. (2018, May 30). This week in Ontario edublogs. [podcast] Retrieved from https://soundcloud.com/voiced-radio/this-week-in-ontario-edublogs-with-doug-peterson-may-31?in=voiced-radio/sets/this-week-in-ontario-edublogs-with-doug-peterson#t=33:00
Peterson, D. (2018, May 30). This week in Ontario edublogs. [blog post] Retrieved from https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/this-week-in-ontario-edublogs-310/
Sisco, A. (2015). Honouring the kaswénta (two row wampum): A framework for consultation with indigenous communities in Canada and Australia. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Wollongong. Retrieved from http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5352&context=theses
Image attribution: Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash
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