Attawapiskat, I would like to note, should have been an opportunity to become an exploration of the history and lived experience of First Nations people and their relationship with Canada. The crisis, as it was uncovered by the media, should have opened up a discourse on the nature of First Nations/ Settler relations and the dichotomy of living under the Indian Act, its limitations and its (ironic) protections. Attawapiskat should have provoked Canada to take a look at itself and consider how the ongoing colonial paternalism practiced by this “benevolent society” was harming, deeply, a people.
Instead, there has been nothing but discussion in the media about what is wrong with the community, with the fault firmly placed on the community itself. Instead, commentary has not addressed the historical relationship, nor has it address the cultural connection between the land and identity. Instead, we have had proposals to privatise reserve lands, an issue I do not want to get into right now except to say you want to solve the “Indian problem” by taking away everything we have left?
Have you read beyond the commentary in the media or the spin of the Government? Have you tried to engage this discourse in the classroom? I have encountered resistance whenever I have tried. I have come away hurt, disappointed and angry. I have had some good discussion, but I have also had bad surrounding this issue.
Today is the one year anniversary of this blog. My first post was titled Why do we need Aboriginal Education?. I think I made the case at that time for the necessity of Aboriginal Education, hinting at some of the various reasons and elements that drive the need. I have tried, over the past year, to define Aboriginal Education, and I haven’t pinned down a definitive definition yet, which I think is okay. It evolves, it changes, it transforms. While the necessity is there to educate our Aboriginal youth, a very important aspect, yes, I do still believe that one of the main goals of Aboriginal Education should be to educate the general population about the Aboriginal experience in Canada. This is something that needs to be uncovered and needs to be shared, or we do run the risk of carrying on in this cycle as we have before. Within the public education system itself, the focus seems to be on the education of Aboriginal youth, to the point of learning about history and culture is viewed as a pull-out activity for these students, excluding everyone else from some important learning. As well, it does seem to be focused on the cultural aspects, or even the crafty aspects of the history and culture, with a definite avoidance of the contemporary aspects of the lived experience of First Nations people.
This post feels very random to me today, my apologies. I did want to acknowledge and thank Starleigh Grass (@starleigh_grass on Twitter) and Chris Wejr (@MrWejr on Twitter) for encouraging me to jump into the blogosphere.
I would like to thank you for reading. Thank you for taking an interest. I hope I was able to share something that you found useful.