Indigenous Knowledge Conference with a focus on Mentoring a Generation of Leaders

beSuperior will be hosting an Indigenous Knowledge Conference in the Fall in Thunder Bay with the Title “Mentoring a Generation of Leaders’

The focus of this Professional Development opportunity will be determined as time and effort to hear from prospective presenters. If you feel you’d like to present please submit your information to me at besuperiorlearning@gmail.com

There are many themes to look upon which are the layers of support we need to do what we need to do well: Land based, resilience, family, self care, wellness, safety, cultural teachings, health, education, mentoring, & entrepreneurship.

I have a larger vision of building more supports for youth.  Identifying what this means, and how this looks for the north shore of Lake Superior.

While the conference will have an approach of Indigenous Methodologies, the conference will focus on being as open to partnerships and in recognition of making helping to support better relationships and build support.

Parameters of presenters should fall under:

Respectful: what is it that I have to offer that relates to respect.

Relevance: what or how or why is what I have to share relevant.

Reciprocity: how does what I have to offer give back to the community, and even lending itself to sustainability? Or what or how is this sustainable?

Funders

At the moment, beSuperior will be seeking funders who can help to support this conference.

 

 

Dr. Leroy Little Bear – Order of Canada

http://www.cjwe.ca/news/news/dr-leroy-little-bear-order-of-canada/

“A good leader looks at things from a different angle, always changes the conversation and attempts to build a good foundation and work themselves out of existence.” – Dr. Leeroy Little Bear

An Indigenous education leader from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta was honoured earlier this year.

Dr. Leroy Little Bear, a founding member of the nation’s first university-based Native American Studies program, was named to the Order of Canada.

Now serving as a special adviser to the president of the University of Lethbridge, Little Bear has earned recognition as an international scholar and a speaker, as well as a pioneer in advancing post-secondary education for First Nations students.

His latest honour, announced in Ottawa, follows an Alberta Order of Excellence citation, a “Key to the City” presentation by Lethbridge City Council, and honourary degrees from the U of L and the University of Northern B.C. 

Little Bear was also named “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year” by the U of L’s alumni association in 2003 and was presented the U of L Speaker Research Award in 2017.

In 2003, he also received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Education.

Angela Gee :

“Excellence is no accident.. it is intentional with the heart and mind. So thankful to be on this journey with you. I don’t know why Creator blessed us so much with you, but I am eternally greatful to call you my father.  Congratulations to the Right Honorable Dr Leroy Little Bear (Iikaiskanii/ Kainai) in receiving the Order of Canada”

https://youtu.be/MIbqObLdP6o

Teaching Indigenous Knowledge

Relationality

When I work in my field I use a lot of circles.

My work in using circles is a way we are familiar with back home. Knowledge Keepers & Elders back home in the traditional territory of my mom, in Pic River First Nation, nestled in the boreal forests along the north shore of Lake Superior, use circles often as they work. Its something I have come to know and understand as my norm.

Our Elders always understood the power of two things: being together with family and promoting unity and harmony as teachers.

When I was twelve, I remember first going home to Pic, and attending ceremonies: naming, sweat lodge, and other ceremonies. It wasn’t until I taught a group of learners in Thunder Bay Ontario where I introduced myself in my language, including my dodem, and where I was from, that it occurred to me, “this is the first time I have ever introduced myself in a culturally responsive aka the way I introduce myself in my circles that are cultural, ever” Whaat… really.. I had never introduced myself and my cultural lineage in a post secondary institution culturally. Nope. Never as a teacher, definitely as a learner. Being the teacher and setting the tone for the class this way set the class up for a different level of sharing. This is what culturally relevant teaching looks and feels like. It feels like home.

As I grew older in life, I would be invited to other places sometimes rejected as well, the rejection that I faced hurt. The rejection was not something our Elders would agree with and something they knew well, and definitely strived to protect us from it. The rejection of not being from the community and then not being invited because we or our family did not meet that criteria, which essentially rejected us or left us out, was a common theme in my life, especially being mixed race: see Bill C 31, see favouritism, see nepotism, see alienation, for your own definitions.

Humility has taught me that inclusion is a universal right. Inclusion and kinship are related. My angle of relationality stems from this place of ensuring that all stories that learners bring to the space designated to teach about Indigenous Knowledge

Respect

Working in the field and area of Indigenous Knowledges and with hope to do my part in repairing, helping to build bridges, and support Best Practices in sharing and creating spaces for Indigenous Knowledges. Being in my home territory of Thunder Bay was important for many reasons. For one reclaiming was a part of it.

It mattered because I needed to find a way to be respectful to my many roles: mother first and always, educator, teacher, consultant. The mother first story always seemed to poke poke thanks to the many years and layers of lateral violence women experience especially those of us who are career based women when we are forced to chose: job vs. kids. The mother story was also significant this is my common denominator to every other Indigenous mother; just because you launch out there in your areas of expertise, you never lose your being Indigenous. If anything, it becomes more pronounced in your work and areas of expertise. Why would we do things any differently?

Realizing my own research in Indigenous Methodologies and decolonial efforts in research and at the university level, meant, I had a role to play. Seeing the lack of expertise in this area made me want to offer my support more. Additionally holding space to share knowledge with all learners wanting to learn about Indigenous Methodologies was aligned with what and how I had taught, as a qualified educator. Holding space meant being respectful to the voices and stories that made up my research: Indigenous youth, Indigenous Mothers, Indigenous Fathers, Grandparents, Leadership. Holding respectful space mean chosing the design that would make sense for two things: healing & building creatively and story sharing, that could move towards influencing design or future work and projects. Holding space for me was about being accountable to my relationships, to the mothers who I felt kinship relations to.

One area my work has focussed upon is social justice. When social justice became too much, I turned to methodologies that made sense for the issues and areas, and personal experiences, as well as doing and being respectful to the lived experiences of those I work with. Evaluating to ensure the way I worked with the Elders was respectful, engaging and thoughtful was how I worked. Respect as Design was a way I felt was always important, and following protocol. There was no other way to design my work with the Elders where my role was more like Granddaughter- Scholar-Artist-Friend. My experiences with the Elders whose presence was so important to me and ensuring things were done correctly, in a culturally ethical way.

Ensuring respectful ways are also followed with learners and those I have worked with means I follow not only my heart, but I never leave that behind. My heart is at the centre of my work. Because of this I ensure that spaces I work in suit my work, like a surgeon or an other expert needs a space or a lab, to work in that can help support relationships, connection and healing as well as transformation. Yesterday when I came across from the University of Calgary which speaks to the necessity of proper learning spaces that value and are respectful to the learners:
Fluid classrooms: The importance of flexible learning spaces .

This aligns itself greatly with my business and me wanting to ensure spaces reflect that need for comfort, and healing when engaging in critical. Dr. Poitras writes:

“Her research into teaching difficult subjects in that type of classroom helped design the graduate class being taught in the bright and airy Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. “Students have the freedom to sit and reflect on the stairs or mull things over with peers in the hanging pods. They have all kinds of places to go on their own or sit with someone,” says Poitras Pratt. “Students need to be able to step away from what can be emotionally intensive work.”

She writes:

Open, naturally lit spaces can make it easier to discuss difficult topics.

As well as having abundant natural light, the space is abundantly flexible. The walls, technology and furniture can be easily and quickly moved to suit the subject matter – theories of decolonization in the morning and creative expression in the afternoon. “We transform the space all the time,” she says

When I approach my work from a consulting base, space becomes a huge consideration.

From my angle as an Indigenous Educator, Consultant and mother, going outdoors and finding Learning Sites on the Land is the most ideal. The one thing I have seen is the desire to Indigenize spaces, especially the ones we frequent so they truly become alive with our stories and experiences, and not in a dominant manner but in a way that makes sense for our children and our families, but also importantly to facilitate healing and relationship building.

Finding places that have and hold good vibes, are safe for the learners and accommodate needs of those I am working with. Better, finding natural light and beautiful studio like places to work in. Or, best, travelling to the site location and working with current spaces. My preference though are like any practitioner or teacher would want: an ideal learning location and site that matches the outcomes and learning that will take place.

Reciprocity

Having reciprocity is as much as receiving reciprocity. Critical thinker and researcher, bell hooks writes:


When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other.
Bell Hooks

Working from an angle of love in sharing Indigenous Knowledge is about knowing the knowledge keepers, respecting the value that parents bring as experts with so many diverse gifts of knowledge. We carry so many titles. Reciprocity is that recognition. To be continued.

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Tying up the Leadership Conference on Mentoring a New Generation of Leaders

Its been a week since the conference has completed itself. As everyone journeyed and left the day of, I wanted to make sure to touch base and say thank you to each and everyone who attended. The sharing of knowledge was rich and many new and old ways were shared. I kept hearing how we need to do more of this. This seems to be common in the professional development that I have offered is the need to do more. As hugs were given, pictures taken, moments documented with iphones. Presentations shared. The much work that goes into events, sort of reminds me of the amount of time when preparing a feast. You want to bring your personal best. Then as the presentation happens, and the digest occurs of knowledge, it is soon done. So what than do we capture? How then do we proceed? I took videos of the Regional Chief’s speech which I will share here on my page, and I did take other photos which I did share to Instagram, and some to Twitter. I will be taking some time to go back in and gather up the main themes so that they can be built on. From each speaker I am going to compile one main idea that I remember from their presentation and speech;

Hal EagleTail: Opening & Closing, is important as it grounds and offers the prayers and spiritual guidance.

Chief Lee Crowchild: One theme on kinship and how important this is as well as acceptance and in building relationships, especially in thinking about the far reaching relationships that our children and grand children will have. The importance of recognizing relationality.

Chief RoseAnne Archibald: Speaking to many themes, what did stand out is the importance of Diversity in leadership and in valuing all the ways leaderships is expressed. Also that bringing the spirit of heart centred leadership allows for an open exchange.

Noella (Little Mustache) Wells spoke the importance of Elder respect, and protocols when asking for their expertise, and in this case, with post secondary institutes. Much clarity around the significance of Elders and Knowledge Keepers in the work to support learners, and in building good spaces in institutions to foster and support reconciliation, leadership and respect.

Gerald Ratt Ai’ssoo spoke on leadership and how youth are lacking and that youth are needing this care, attention and support. Gerald’s multi tiered presentation spoke to this succinctly which included youth he has worked with across the country whom he included in on his presentation.

Elections Canada was interactive and shared historical narratives of the vote, and also included interactive activities, which got us all moving and experiencing what this process feels like. As well they drew up a mock vote, where we all voted upon priorities: ours included- including the TRC in curriculum, housing.. for example.

Crystal Manyfingers & Darmondy Mumford delivered their presentation on how culturally relevant teaching has impacted their learners in a positive way sharing how they use space and Land within the City of Calgary, in this case, Fort Calgary, and in teaching Math to learners and using the theme of building a tipi. Inspiring to hear!

Christina Fox Iixsisaanoowa shared from her story and book which she is writing and talked about her experiences growing up and the impacts of the IRS on her life. She shared her life experience so honestly and kindly, as well as beautiful art which she designed. So much detail and expressions.

I shared how she draws from Indigenous Methodologies to build her work and what this looks like on an entrepreneur side of things.

Russelle Burns shared on her perspectives from the Awotaan Healing Lodge and how they provide programming for youth that is rooted in cultural knowledge.

This brief overview is a simple acknowledgement of the hard work. I will be compiling a report, as well as asking for copies of presentations to be shared.

Thank you!