Our first field trip of the year took us to places around Regina. Leading up to the field trip I had a bit of a crappy attitude, because of course its Saturday taking a day away from my family, been to some of the places that were scheduled a time or two so what was the point yada, yada. Of course, with many things that I start out with a crummy attitude about attending, once I get going, my attitude changes sometimes slowly, other times quickly. This time my attitude changed relatively quickly because of the people who were on this trip. As we trickled into the classroom to meet and start our trip, we were having casual conversations about our lives. To me when I am in any type of group, this is my favourite part, getting to know people on a little bit of deeper level whether they share personal stories or just chat about class stuff in a more casual way.
We took a trip out to the Regina Indian Industrial School(RIIS) grave site. I had just been there in March with another class. Back in March, what stuck with me was how the parents didn’t know if their child was in there or not and mostly though was that I thought having unmarked graves was a huge injustice. In the couple of months between the visits I mulled over that having marked graves was not necessarily something that may have been important to Indigenous people but maybe a settler way of thinking. I did still think it was very unjust that there were no records or the records of who was buried were lost. What hit me most on the second visit was the vast difference between the RIIS grave site and the other grave sites in Regina. The RIIS grave site was on a busy road, it is not marked so anyone driving by would have no idea it was there, a train track is right beside, and planes are flying quite low. As one of the men in the video said it is not a restful place. Compared to the Riverside cemetery, it is well marked, it has a fence around it and paved paths for people to follow, it is a very peaceful place as it should be. The inequalities just astounded me.
Another space that I have been too countless times was the museum. This time though instead of just admiring the beadwork and looking at the artifacts in the Indigenous galleries, I paid closer attention to the wording used in the description of treaties. I found it ridiculous that one statement about why the treaties came about was worded that the First Nations needed to the treaties to “cope” with the white settlers. It just blew me away that someone thought that was a good way to explain treaties.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo was interesting to me in several ways. When she spoke about her sister (I think) being one of the Missing and Murder Indigenous Women in this country, it really made think again of the faceless doll project and how it keeps these women as abstract and that really nothing needs to be done about their plight. As Melinda shared about her sister it also hit me that perhaps if more Indigenous people had a platform like Melinda did to share about the personal side of the issues, perhaps there would be more of an outcry and demand for change. Non-Indigenous people use their influence all the time. I also felt that the success of her community with the solar power needs to be heard far and wide because I think it would give many people pause to think of the negative stereotypes they hold against Indigenous people. The community is taking on big oil to save us from ourselves. We need to sit up and take notice and listen.
In all it was a great day with great learning. Mostly though the conversations on our way to the different locations were great and while I don’t remember specifics, I do know that it provoked my thought process about what I had learned.