Saturday, December 31, 2011

the silence where the outcry should be

I have been wondering something lately.

It has felt, for some time that we are going backwards in our efforts to advocate for Aboriginal Education, both in imparting the knowledge and understanding of the Indigenous experience to the non-Native population and in the education of Indigenous children in a manner that would allow success in both the non- Indigenous world and the Indigenous world they will be living in.  It hasn't helped that much of the media attention and federal & provincial policy decisions have given the perception of a definite anti-Native Rights agenda.  What hurts in this regard is the feeling that we, as Indigenous people, are to blame for all the challenges we continue to face as a result of historical government policy.

What hurts more is the silence.  Deafening in its completeness, harsh in its contempt for our efforts to move things forward, somehow.  Where was the outcry at the "Report Card on Aboriginal Education"?  Where was the outcry at Attawapiskat?  Where was the outcry when the discourse over the mine Prosperity Mine proposal at Teztan Biny turned into "us vs them" racism?  Where was the outcry when the whole thing is starting over again?  Where was the outcry when First Nations kindergartens were being downsized?  Where was the outcry when Aboriginal programs were cut in some districts?  Where is the outcry over the lack of support for the Aboriginal programs that are struggling? 

I know I have tried to bring attention to these and other issues here on the blog.  I know many people who have as well.  Most of them are Aboriginal.  To the deafening silence, we have no voice.  When we speak together, we do make noise, but it is too easy to ignore, to dismiss as the special interest group is whining and complaining again.

There are so many opportunities when an Ally could stand up and speak.  Could allow their voice to be heard, to break the silence.  It can't always be up to me to address the issue that needs to be addressed.  Success for all of our children is tied to our willingness to advocate for them, not just as educators arguing over learning conditions, but as educators challenging injustice when we see it happening. 

Our students see and hear and experience the injustices perpetrated against Indigenous people, through the media, government and education policy.  They feel it.  It is a part of their every day.  As it is with Aboriginal educators.  They, I learned recently, are aware of the work we, as Aboriginal educators are doing and are grateful for it, even as they understand our essential powerlessness.  They also feel the silence where the outcry should be.

1 comment:

  1. Robert,

    By staying silent... we state that either we don't care, we don't want to know, or we don't want to do anything.

    You post might make some people turn their head and do exactly what you are saying... and that is the opposite of what is needed for our children.

    So many policies and changes in education and society are made with the idea that it will benefit those with voices... but there is very little thought into how it will impact those without a voice.

    Thank you for the reminder to speak up... I will continue to look to you and others for leadership in this area as I come with a cultural bias/lens that I work to overcome/change.

    Thanks for continuing to challenge my thinking and advocate for all learners.

    The challenge continues to be: how do we get people to speak up when they do not directly experience the impact of decisions? That is where you, me, and so many others need to raise our voices.

    Please continue to share learning with me so that I can become more aware of the injustices occurring in our society.