Pathways to Truth and Reconciliation
Emily Robinson Leclair, Community Learning Network
This Friday, September 30th is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As each of us journeys toward a better understanding of what that means to us in our home, work and community I thought I would share some resources that have helped me grow in my own understanding.
To start, I want to acknowledge that I live work and play in Mohkinstsis, the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3). I am grateful that my work allows me to travel throughout the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta:
I am surrounded by knowledge holders and allies who make their homes in Treaty 7 territory and are willing to share their teachings and learnings:
- Elder Lucille Provost writes about Growing up Niitsitapii in Canada
- Lisa L’Hirondelle, Indigenous Education Liaison Calgary Learns, regularly posts to sihtoskâtowin ᓯᐦᑐᐢᑲᑐᐃᐧᐣ Circle and did a beautiful job of sharing The First Peoples Principles of Learning
- Berniece Gowan, Literacy Specialist Calgary Learns, recently contributed to sihtoskâtowin ᓯᐦᑐᐢᑲᑐᐃᐧᐣ Circle and shared this powerful reflection:
"I need to think about ‘stepping in’ from the perspective of knowing that I am already IN, that this is a shared history – not ‘their history’ vs ‘my history’- and that it is necessary for me to consider and then act, respectfully and meaningfully participating in and supporting change.
I was reminded that my work begins with my community, that it is up to me to share what I am learning, what I am questioning, what puzzles me, what binds me to old ways of thinking, being and doing. That the burden of increasing awareness of truth and history and moving towards reconciliation must not sit solely on the hearts and shoulders of Indigenous peoples. As settlers, our work is our work."
The Community Adult Learning Program extends beyond the traditional territories of Treaty 7 to include Treaties 4, 6, 8 and 10 and the Metis Regions 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6. We are fortunate to learn from Métis, Indigenous & Inuit CALP staff throughout this network. Most recently, a special video presentation created for the Annual CALP Awards Ceremony, by Lori St.Cyr, CLN's Métis and Indigenous Liaison, featured Métis, Indigenous and Inuit CALP staff sharing their thoughts about reconciliation with us:
- Further Reflections from Métis, Indigenous & Inuit CALP practitioners
- Lori shares A Snap Shot of Land based Métis Settlements in Alberta
- Richard Van Camp, proud Tłı̨chǫ Dene from Fort Smith, NWT, author and friend of CLN, offered Gifts to the CALP system as part of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation last year
- Richard also shared with us his response to ‘what reconciliation means to me’:
"Reconciliation is about helping Indigenous people become themselves again as they reclaim their language, their culture, their community, their whole selves. It’s also very much about land and resources. It’s also about acknowledging and believing Indigenous people as they share their truths. It’s also about responsibility and action: it’s about showing up and helping when called. It’s about witnessing, and it’s about speaking up when you know further harm is happening."
And while we want to hear and learn more, I am also conscious of the caution shared by Eva Jewell, professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and research director at the Yellowhead Institute, on a recent episode of CBC’s podcast Unreserved: "I don't think it's sustainable for Indigenous peoples to have to trot out our trauma year after year. And I don't think that it's OK for Canadians to just sit back and consume our hardships."
Here are Professional Development opportunities that can support CALP staff who want to learn more:
- Engaging with Indigenous Learners -This (EwIL) Engaging with Indigenous Learners professional development workshop arose out of the recognition that success in an adult learning environment inclusive of Indigenous learners is best accomplished through understanding. It is unique in the sense that it engages participation from the variety of Indigenous peoples who live in the Treaty 6, 7, and 8 areas of Alberta, as well as with the Indigenous Post Secondary Educational Institutions.
- Creating Safer Spaces: Indigenous Learning in the CALP Model - Elder Dave Matilpi joined Kelly Schram and Georgina Supernault, Coordinator and Indigenous Liaison for Manning Community Adult Learning & Literacy Council, in the development of this e-Learning. This workshop explores some traditional practices that show respect for the culture from their community’s perspective. They encourage others to explore their community’s own practices and guidelines.
- Ask Us Anything about Metis & Indigenous Worldview - Lori St.Cyr and knowledge holders can be found in “virtual” circle during these informal conversations intended to draw on the wisdom and knowledge of the room.
It is clear that both truth and reconciliation impact our work every day. Just this year, the USAY Indigenous Literacy Assessment highlighted the weaponization of education and impacts of colonization on Indigenous adults today:
"The standout learning for USAY was the complexity of literacy, and how intrinsically it is tied to feelings of self-worth, confidence and historical trauma. Unpacking literacy through long-term connection, support and holistic approaches is the primary way in which to invest in literacy skill development among Indigenous adults in our opinion. Literacy will not be improved without building relationships and connection beyond simply trying to invest in skill building, for example reading and writing be the sole and only objective."
Let’s keep learning and unlearning together.
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