by Ryan McMahon
(This copy may vary slightly from the broadcast version.)
If I could buy Canada one gift on its 150th birthday, I’d buy it a 12-step program.
No, not that 12-step program. A 12-step program on decolonization.
In fact, if I had three wishes and a shirtless, magic genie … well, it’d be awkward. But, I’d use all three of those wishes on an effort to decolonize this country.
I don’t have a magic genie or three wishes. And herein lies the rub.
Many probably don’t even believe Canada has a history of colonialism.
This country is pretty good at ignoring its not-so-pretty past. Famously, just a few years ago, our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it himself.
So, I grew up under the tutelage of my grandmother who influenced me in a variety of ways. In many ways she set the tone for the kinds of thinking that I do now, the kinds of work that I do in community building, and also the kind of work I do in taking a look at the concept of Native science.
She was a matriarch. She was very knowledgeable about farming; very knowledgeable about plants and animals; very knowledgeable about Pueblo traditions.
She grew up herself in a time when Pueblo communities were very cohesive and very self-sufficient in their social relationships and social organization. It was a time when what you learned in the community was what helped you to sustain and to remain sustainable within your family and community.
Those are the kind of influences that I had as I was growing up that I still remember today — being taught about relationships, relationships to my immediate family and also extended family. The whole notion of who you are related to — notions of respect — working in different kinds of context where you are working to help others.
All of those kinds of notions of relationship, respect, and responsibility that I learned and internalized at a very, very young age, I think are the foundations of what I continue to do and elaborate on in my career as a teacher, as an Indigenous educator.
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