Finding miskâsowin

Engaging in miskâsowin in this course for me is a mental process with some research thrown in.  I say that it is research and mental process because I thought I knew who I was in terms of my family and my heritage.  I also thought I knew what it was to be a proud Canadian.  As I journey through the Faculty of Education, my old ways of thinking, my colonial ways of thinking have been literally rocked to the core.  From my first ECS 110 class where we were very blatantly told we were racist even if we are nice, to now ECCU 400 where my vision of my country is being turned upside down, Canada does have a dark past and sometimes its difficult to admit that.

The research part is learning about the Treaties, what they meant, and what they mean now.  I need to understand those to move forward to be a good teacher.  If I don’t have the knowledge, I can’t lead my students and own children to their miskâsowin, knowing where they come from.

The research can only take me so far, I have make that knowledge my own.  I think over this course the most important thing I can do is recognize that some of these ideas are going to make me uncomfortable.  It is how I deal with that discomfort that will either bring me closer to miskâsowin and tâpwêwin or further from it.  In order to come closer, and embrace the process, I need to acknowledge the discomfort, rather than brush it aside, and consider myself a bad person for the thoughts and discomfort.  Acknowledging the discomfort is the first step but delving into the whys of what is causing the discomfort is very important.  I need to remember to ask myself, why did that information bring on this thought?  Is this something I truly believe? Is it old ways of thinking?  Do I not have enough knowledge about the topic to think differently?  Am I afraid I am going to offend my friend if I voice a different opinion?  Exploring these questions rather than dismissing the thought or feeling is much more productive than berating myself for the thought.  Exploring the outdated thoughts that come into my head, will bring closer to be confident to speak the truth even to the friend I was afraid of offending.  Over the duration of this course that is going to be my main focus, to explore rather than suppress my feelings when these topics come up.  Hopefully by the end I will be just a bit more confident in engaging in the conversations.

 

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Who Am I?

In the simplest form I am Pam to most people, mom to a select 6.  Pam is the simplest and my preferred way of identity.  Pamela is to formal for my personality and liking.  Adding my last name identifies me from all the other Pams or Pamelas out there.  Besides my name who am I?

I am mom of 6 children, the way I am most proud to identify myself.  I am also a 48 year 3rd year education student.   An identity I am also very proud of because even though its late in the game, I am proud that I am following my life long dream to be a teacher.  I also identify as a wife and a woman.  I am proud to be married for 28 years and a wife but don’t often include as part of my identity.  I am also a woman, which happens to be my biological gender which again is something I don’t include in discussions about my identity.  Wife and woman to me while they are something I am has also been a complicated identity

In the broader scope I am white, and my ancestry is British, Irish and German.  I identify most with my British ancestry, because I was closest to my Grandma who was a war bride from England and heard the stories of her growing up in England.  I am also Canadian.  I am proud to be Canadian.  My Canadian identity is a bit troublesome as well because of the past, but also the present knowing that many of the things I take for granted as a white Canadian are still denied to some because of their identities.

I don’t consider myself having a Treaty identity simply because I don’t know enough about being a Treaty person to form an identity.  I know I still benefit from the treaties but that is not enough to form an identity. I have a sense there much more to identifying as a Treaty Person than I know about at the present.

Who I identify as is much more complicated that the names I give myself or others give me, but those names simplify things to make it easy. Chelsea Vowel used the term settlers or Indigenous or First Nations for simplicity but the identities of all are so much more complicated.  I think we need to keep that in mind when we are identifying each other and ourselves.  Simplicity is good in some instances, like writing but knowing the stories behind the simple identities is something we should strive for.