All posts by meagrach

We are all Treaty People.

“Now is the time for all people to come together and build a new relationship. If not, things could get a little awkward. After all, First Nations peoples are Canada’s fastest growing population and more than half of us now live in cities. It’s time to meet the neighbors.” (Wab Kinew, Indigenous in the City, 8th Fire – CBC Documentary)

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to engage in a lecture on Treaty Education with Moose Jaw teacher, Claire Kreuger. She shared with us her journey through a fairly challenging inquiry on Treaty Education, reminding us that despite any obstacles, we must never give up on teaching this topic. Through integration of technology in the classroom, her students created outstanding representations of their learning. The connections they made to their past, the present and their future really hit home for me, reminding me the importance of the relationships embedded in Treaty Education – we do not own the land, we SHARE it. Their words were inspiring, as one child claimed, “We need to own what we have done.” – a very powerful statement, for a child who was obviously not present at the signing of the treaties, yet is taking ownership for the actions of her ancestors. How can we move towards a peaceful future without mending damaged relationships?

My professor once shared her encounter with an elder where he asked: What do we do if we are studying oceans and we do not know something? We look it up. Why are we not doing this with Treaty Education?

As soon as culture is involved, it seems to automatically become a touchy subject. I often hear, ‘I don’t want to offend anyone by teaching it wrong” or “I don’t know anything about it”. As educators, we are not EXPERTS; we do not know everything there is to know about the world we live in. I believe that making mistakes alongside our students makes for authentic learning – showing our students that we too are vulnerable and learning something new everyday. That being said, our excuse should not be that we do not know anything about it. We should be realizing that making mistakes makes us human – our students will appreciate that and value the learning experiences they encounter through error.

In order to understand our place in society, we need to understand the agreements made through the treaties, as well as how we benefit from this today. We would not be living the life we have, on the land that provides us with so many opportunities if it were not for the treaties. This is valuable information that our students deserve to explore – it is part of their identity, and will be part of their future.

“As long as the sun shines, grass grows and river flows – we are all treaty people.”

Powerful Beyond Measure

Living the journey of becoming an educator is challenging. We are continuously pushed outside of our comfort zones and forced to explore our identity – our values, beliefs, opinions, goals. At a time when we often find ourselves feeling vulnerable, we must remind ourselves of one thing: why we are here.

I received an email from an individual whom I significantly admire, reminding me to continuously believe in who I am, and more importantly, who I am becoming. The message included a quote – inspiring:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela

Speaking Out Speaks Volumes.

When scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed today, I came across a post that I found quite unsettling – why are people still using the ‘R’ word to insult or belittle others?

Powerful message from an inspiring man: “Being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honour. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.”

“After Ann Coulter referred to President Obama as a retard in a tweet during Monday night’s presidential debate, Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens wrote this open letter:

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.

Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.

Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.

Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.

After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.

Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

A friend you haven’t made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger & Special Olympics Virginia” (Sue Fitzmaurice, 2014).