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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Language Teaching in Anishinabe Mowin, the Sun,

James Vukelich , speaking about Geezhis, the Sun. And the many different ways which the Sun captures and varying descriptions.  He describes in the beginning. Speaks about self care and healing. Speaking also on his travels to the Treaty Three territory.

When I was learning about Language as a teenager it was organized in our community and was just as animated, and rich. I love learning language in this way. This truly captures how relational learning is within our communities, as there are so many language teachers out there, teaching in their own unique ways which is amazing. Glad to see James take his work online, makes this meaningful and engaging and accessible. Stories.. sharing.. details.. oral histories. Knowledge being embedded in the names, as he speaks about.

Indigenous Youth, Land & Art

I came across this interview which describes first hand how youth from the Thunder Bay area were involved in a residency program through the Thunder Bay Art Gallery involving art and Land Connection. Through expression. Through renewal. Though art making. Through shared moments and experiences. Space to talk, etc. I think what is important is making the space, and giving opportunity to express, with historical contexts,

beSuperior offers their first Online Course

This four week online course will take place on a Facebook Group called Courageously Resilient which is about understanding resiliency, and why it is important.

Being resilient and learning about vulnerability as a source of strength as it comes from your most authentic self.

What and how to become aligned & stay aligned, Self Care & Land Connection.

This is beneficial for entrepreneurs, leaders, and learners of all kinds.

This mastermind will include pdf worksheets for participants, reflective journalling prompts and a place to a zoom session for one hour for each Module. One on one through facebook messanger for the duration of this program upon scheduled request.

We will also meet up on scheduled dates on Zoom.

This online course is developed to reach an online audience to reach as many people as possible in a safe repective manner.

Here is the link: Courageously, Resilient

Using Pinterest To Design things

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I have lived near the Lake for most of my life and been drawn to its beauty. One day I went for a walk with my family and found sea glass in the jewel theme colours of lavender, pinks, clear, green, then imagine sand and turquoise themes, hence colours of the water and land near a beach. There are many ways you can go with this them.

On Pinterest, you would Create a Board. Match up colour themes to that main picture you have chosen as your guiding colour theme.

So I came up with: THIS

Being  courageous is hard enough in a world that sets judgement calls on how you look, what you wear, who your are and possibly sends messages about your value. Remembering that your self worth is your everything.

Remembering our role as teachers and leaders that everyone has a space and needs to be respected for their individuality.

Your Are Sacred ‘Last Jedi’ actress Kelly Marie Tran breaks silence about online harassment

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