[Introduction to this set of posts: In the spring of 2015, I took a University of British Columbia EdX course called “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education.” For a variety of reasons, I found the course challenging–not so much the course materials, which were very interesting, but because it challenged me to think about many of my own assumptions and related experiences.

In the coming while, I will be posting some of my journal reflections, and also some of the assignments from the course. You may agree with my views–or you may disagree strongly. I would love to hear your input either way (so long as we keep the discussion respectful to each other, of course). Please feel free to comment!]

Feb. 7 2015

I am finding myself scared to do the assignments for lesson 2 of the “Reconciliation Through Aboriginal Education” course…  because not only is the course bringing up things I’d rather not think about (because then I feel all kinds of wonderings, fears, failures… and I can’t speak about it with the person who is so much part of my life, of me–my husband. For now, at least, it is something he is not prepared to talk about….

And I feel guilt and worry about our children’s experiences related to the outfall of ambiguities and anger and unresolved feelings about the whole thing…

I truly didn’t realize, of course, at the time, how intense was the outfall of colonization and residential schools and such. I knew there was something  “off/ wrong/” among my husband’s family, his village, his people… but the “social studies” lessons I’d learned in school about longhouses and totem poles and fishing and berry picking didn’t explain anything of the grim realities I was seeing and feeling and experiencing…

And nobody would explain anything… when I walked into a gathering, the conversation would stop and there’d be a moment (or many) of awkward silence… and then the topic would obviously change…

The only “honest” people seemed to be “the drunks” –but they too didn’t “explain” anything–they just were more open about “acting out” and “speaking” their anger and pain–I don’t think they could define it anyway… The drinking was maybe just a way to numb the pain and the memories… After all, it happened to them as children… and children “experience” but don’t necessarily “analyze”…

Hmmm… maybe I’m getting an answer here to the difficulty I’m having with the whole “reconciliation through indigenous education” approach… how do we as educators really help “the others” (and ourselves) truly feel the pain, the loss, the loneliness, the terror experienced by generations of children (and their families and entire peoples)–because I sense that “walking in another person’s moccasins” is a lot different from just looking at pictures… or even hearing stories (preferably from the people, the survivors themselves). The hearer is still “removed” from the reality of experiencing the emotions, the confused thoughts, the physical scars, the personal, familial, and communal experience.

And what of those who have been part of “the experience”–either directly, or inheriting it through living  through the outcomes in the lives of those closest to them who have directly experienced it?

Know what? I myself have absorbed my husband’s own reaction: man up, and don’t talk about it. If it’s really making you crazy, you can get drunk and yell and physically strike out–and feel a bit guilty next morning but excuse yourself, sort of, by saying, well, I was drunk, you know… But then, if you quit drinking (the choice he made)… and you try to bury it inside… and refuse to be drawn into the conversations… still, once in a while some of the anger explodes through the cracks you try to keep plugged… and anyway, how do you analyze and define what happened back then? And how do you explain it to your wife and children? No. Best to bury it. Focus on other things. Avoid it.

For how long? To what long-term effect?

 

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