SAFE Conference Reflection

If I wasn’t awake at 8:30 on Friday morning, I sure was after Chelsey Vowel proposed the ideas to take away Canada. All of what she said that morning was very insightful, and I want to engage in reconciliation, but how do I do this other than teaching treaty education in my classroom? What can we do in a society to actively mitigate the oppression Canada has caused to First Nations people? Giving back land does seem like a good idea, but that raised a million and one questions in mind. It all comes down to the question of what I am willing to sacrifice on behalf the unattractive reality of my nation’s history. I do not want to get into that right now, but what I do want to get into are the voices that are being heard, or unheard for that matter.

I have learned, being exposed to, engaged in, accepted, got unsettled by, and uncomfortably realized much of the reality of the relationship First Nations and white people. I have heard what I can do and ways to be an advocate for change and the importance of treaty education. However, I will admit, I have failed to see and engage in the most important aspect of this process: gaining relationships with the voices that are only talked about. First Nations people have faced a terrible cultural genocide and continue to experience the generational effects of this. I know this, you know this, but what do they feel about this, and what do THEY want to me/us to do about, or not do? The reason that I am so fixated on the voices is from something I actually uncovered from the gender and sexual diversity session. This is about to get a tad personal..

Listening to someone be an advocate for gender and sexual diversity was something I was perplexed about. Obviously, it is important to accept individuals regardless of this gender and sexuality, and not to be ignorant of the fact that they face disadvantages on a social and personal level because of prejudice and discrimination. Hearing that from someone who does not identity with that category made me want to get up that and talk about my experience with my sister. I can tell you stories about what I have personally dealt with in supporting and learning from my transgender sister. How she struggles with stigma, family, and trying to be someone she felt like she couldn’t be for so long. I have seen and experienced hurtful, unaccepting things that I cannot just tell someone to do better about and understand. You need to here it from her, and you need to here it from me. This was something that dawned on me when thinking about the voices of First Nations people. I am not saying, by any means, that they have experienced the same thing, but what I am saying is that if you want to understand that someone is hurting, you need to ask them, gain relationships with them, hear their stories, and then maybe it will make things more personal and ultimately, more realistic.

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