My mental illness

As an educator, I’ve learned a lot about identity: others and my own as well. The best way to find allies is through speaking up so that’s what I intend to do in the hopes that I can be an allies for others suffering from mental illness and also that I will find allies if I speak often and loud enough.  I’m a strong advocate for social justice and making the world a little bit easier by deconstructing the ideas that society has put in my head about gender roles, sexuality, ability, skin colour etc. to help every single individual feel more comfortable but the most recent thing I myself have been struggling with is depression and mental illness. I recently was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It took me years to go to a psychologist even after being asked numerous times. I always thought I was the strong one in the family and didn’t need help; that I could work through whatever I was going through on my own. Around July, I got to a point where I knew I couldn’t handle myself on my own and I started seeing my family Psychologist who then made my diagnosis. I was too terrified that I would go to the psychologist and have her tell me that I was fine. I was literally petrified that I would be okay (silly, right?). But I’m glad that I did and I’m so grateful for the people in my life. I now know that being strong isn’t handling things on your own but instead being strong enough to ask for help or to ask for a friend when you need it. I’ve got a wonderful group of friends who put time and effort into building me up and who I hope I do the same for. My family tries to help as much as they can despite my discomfort with them. I wish I knew what to say to them but our relationship isn’t nearly as open as those with my friends but it is getting better and that’s all I ask for. I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of having to choose my words carefully when I’m “not feeling well”. Today I went into work and asked to leave halfway through my shift because I was so frustrated yesterday, cried on my way home and for an hour in my driveway and then slept for a total of 3 hours the whole night. I’m really not feeling well as you can imagine but not because I’m hungover or because my boyfriend called into our workplace as well (which I didn’t know about but I can see why a manager would be suspicious of that) but because I’m exhausted and sobby and mentally not present at work. So now I’m at home, about to take a nap that will hopefully be 3 hours or more, publicly identifying for the first time  as someone who suffers from mental illness (which is terrifying). Mental illness is just as real as a cut or a cold but no one talks about it the same way we do for physical illnesses. It’s less acceptable. Seen as lazy or shy or bitchy or grumpy( all excuses I’ve used instead of being honest about my depression -which I know now fuels stigma towards mental illness) But it doesn’t make it any less valid. It’s important to take care of yourself when you’re ill and this is no exception. Take time for yourself, build your friendships up, take care and talk about it. The only way to relieve the stigma of mental illness is to talk about it. Be courageous and kind with your story. 


Speaking up about Identity

I loved high school. I thrived in the small,  Lutheran private school. The community was uplifting and challenged me spiritually and mentally. I had good friends, that I can’t call good friends anymore but I still care about, we just took different paths. My path has led me to new friends that flex better into my new mindset. High school allowed me to challenge and find my strengths. I took art, english and environmental studies as higher level classes and I thought that would be enough but when I entered university I took an education class called self and other which allowed me to look at how I identify and influence other identities.

And thus a feminist emerged.

The quick definition is someone who fights for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. The part about the sexes is what everyone is hung up on but basically it’s someone who promotes equality and rights for all people who could be oppressed through any way that they identify. For myself, I identify publicly as female, cisgender, white, heterosexual and able. As for my personality, I identify as an environmentalist, a feminist, and a sexual and mental health advocate along with many other things. In my inner discourse to myself, I often wonder about how I identify and I’m scared to identify in other ways for fear of public reaction. Sometimes I even worry about how I know if I identify as a certain thing and how to be genuine to that identity. If I come out as a certain identity, can I change my mind? But then, of course, how I identify now is just as authentic as it was ten years ago because my reality as changed and so have I. I also don’t see identity as black or white. Identities are spectrums that intersect with each other to create unique people. The biggest example for myself is the spectrum between heterosexual and homosexual. They created the words:  bisexual for someone who is attracted to both sexes, pansexual for people who are attracted to any gender or sex and asexual for people who aren’t attracted to to any sex or gender, but I don’t think that anyone should make themselves try to fit into these definitions – they should only be used as an aid to help other people understand your thought process and how you feel. Sex and gender are also both spectrums for me. It’s neater and tidier to fit into societies boxes but it’s not genuine in my opinion.

I’m still scared to be true to some of my identities but university has given me confidence to, at least, question my identities as more than what society dictates I should be. I’ve surrounded myself with people who care about the same things and through this I’ve been able to learn more through them about myself, how I treat other people, how they treat me and how relationships work. I question every relationship I have and every word that I say to ensure that, with what I know to be true at this point in time, I am saying and being the most empowering and healthy person that I can be.

Being a social justice advocate is mentally taxing because it requires constant care. It’s also very relieving because I can allow myself to just work towards this. I will never create pure social justice by myself so I don’t have to worry about being the perfect social justice advocate. For a perfectionist, like myself, this is strangely peaceful; to know that I am doing the best I can with the knowledge that I have at the time is relaxing. In a year when I know better I can correct myself or if I feel that I have made a wrong choice then I can deconstruct my thoughts and wonder why I chose to be oppressive and not have to worry that I am the issue but instead recognise that society creates these standards and I’m learning to move against them.

It’s just as scary to stand up for what you believe in as it is to identify with something. Lately I’ve been worried that my voice is being brushed off by those around me. Being an advocate for things that don’t fit into the status quo means that the majority of the people you talk to will brush you off. Some of my friends couldn’t care less when I start getting passionate about the environment and other people’s eyes get hazy when I talk about rights and equality but having these conversations and speaking your truth is the only way to deconstruct the way that society is fashioned and upkept. “Say it loud and go from there” from the tenth season of Grey’s anatomy is how I choose to speak. Even if you think people don’t want to hear it sometimes you just have to say it for yourself. I was at a social justice panel held at the University of Regina and the one thing that I took away from that was if you say things loud enough, you will find allies who care about the same things you do.


Bearing Witness & Hope To Reconcile

“We need to honor the survivors and remember the children who were lost. We need to speak openly about these stories to ensure this never happens again.” – Carey Newman

Reconciliation has become so important to me, as I continue to come to understand my role and responsibility within this process. For myself, the first step in becoming an ally for reconciliation was coming to understand the concept of bearing witness: “To bear witness is to show by your existence something is true.” – Carey Newman, Witness Blanket Artist. I feel as though I have gone through an extensive learning experience (even though there is FAR more to accomplish) alongside the Witness Blanket that has allowed me to truly bear witness – acknowledging the past, accepting the present and having hope for the future. I have realized the influence my white settler ancestors have had on the formation and betrayal of Treaty Relationships and Promises, as well as the quality of life for First Nations Peoples past and present as a result. I understand my privilege and all that it has and will continue to afford me at the hands of the oppressed (specifically in this context, First Nations Peoples). I also acknowledge my responsibility, as an educator and human being, in the process of reconciliation – this will begin within myself and alongside my students as our learning reflects gestures of healing.

“We need to recognize the truth of our collective past. We all need to recognize that intergenerational traumas are real. We all need to learn how to heal from the legacy of Residential Schooling; and we must change our relationships with one another.” – TRC

 I learned… that the Residential School system was put into place to erode the Treaties and to assimilate Aboriginal Peoples. Children were removed from their families, had their culture and identity ripped from their very being – we continue to see the effects of this horrific act of colonization (‘removing the Indian from the child’). I learned where my place is within this entire narrative past, present and future. I was able to further recognize my ignorance, as well as my passion and empathy towards creating a stronger future for all people.

I wish… that I would have had the opportunity to learn about these atrocities sooner rather than later – my process of coming to know (and unlearn) could have occurred earlier than it did. I hope that all students have the opportunity to learn in ways that I was unable to – the process of reconciliation will take commitment throughout generations and will rely on them to continue moving forward.

I promise…to integrate Treaty Education into all aspects of my teaching – not as a sole entity, but woven throughout all learning experiences authentically and meaningfully. I promise to teach students to the best of my ability surrounding these ‘uncomfortable’ topics – providing them opportunity to explore, unpack, question and critically think. I will continue to bear witness, while helping those around me either begin this process for themselves or continue moving forward with their journey as an ally. I promise to show respect for all people, working towards a future that is relationally healthy and strong – I will not give up on this.

bearing witness 1

I created this visual representation as reflective of my journey thus far bearing witness, as well as my hope for the future.


Bearing Witness & Hope To Reconcile

“We need to honor the survivors and remember the children who were lost. We need to speak openly about these stories to ensure this never happens again.” – Carey Newman

Reconciliation has become so important to me, as I continue to come to understand my role and responsibility within this process. For myself, the first step in becoming an ally for reconciliation was coming to understand the concept of bearing witness: “To bear witness is to show by your existence something is true.” – Carey Newman, Witness Blanket Artist. I feel as though I have gone through an extensive learning experience (even though there is FAR more to accomplish) alongside the Witness Blanket that has allowed me to truly bear witness – acknowledging the past, accepting the present and having hope for the future. I have realized the influence my white settler ancestors have had on the formation and betrayal of Treaty Relationships and Promises, as well as the quality of life for First Nations Peoples past and present as a result. I understand my privilege and all that it has and will continue to afford me at the hands of the oppressed (specifically in this context, First Nations Peoples). I also acknowledge my responsibility, as an educator and human being, in the process of reconciliation – this will begin within myself and alongside my students as our learning reflects gestures of healing.

“We need to recognize the truth of our collective past. We all need to recognize that intergenerational traumas are real. We all need to learn how to heal from the legacy of Residential Schooling; and we must change our relationships with one another.” – TRC

 I learned… that the Residential School system was put into place to erode the Treaties and to assimilate Aboriginal Peoples. Children were removed from their families, had their culture and identity ripped from their very being – we continue to see the effects of this horrific act of colonization (‘removing the Indian from the child’). I learned where my place is within this entire narrative past, present and future. I was able to further recognize my ignorance, as well as my passion and empathy towards creating a stronger future for all people.

I wish… that I would have had the opportunity to learn about these atrocities sooner rather than later – my process of coming to know (and unlearn) could have occurred earlier than it did. I hope that all students have the opportunity to learn in ways that I was unable to – the process of reconciliation will take commitment throughout generations and will rely on them to continue moving forward.

I promise…to integrate Treaty Education into all aspects of my teaching – not as a sole entity, but woven throughout all learning experiences authentically and meaningfully. I promise to teach students to the best of my ability surrounding these ‘uncomfortable’ topics – providing them opportunity to explore, unpack, question and critically think. I will continue to bear witness, while helping those around me either begin this process for themselves or continue moving forward with their journey as an ally. I promise to show respect for all people, working towards a future that is relationally healthy and strong – I will not give up on this.

bearing witness 1

I created this visual representation as reflective of my journey thus far bearing witness, as well as my hope for the future.


Moving Forward, Never Forgetting

This experience has been vastly overwhelming – a process of unpacking and personal (emotional) growth.

I have recently become passionate about integrating social justice issues in the classroom. Naturally then, I was looking for ways to provide the students in me pre-internship classroom with an impactful, socially just experience. After dialoguing with my co-operating teacher and a few education professors, I decided that taking my students to the Moving Forward, Never Forgetting exhibit at the MAG was exactly the kind of experience my three-week block planning was missing. I had heard great things about the exhibit and really looked forward to the experience – my enthusiasm was evident, that is for sure!

Upon entering the gallery, my breath was immediately taken away. I am unsure as to whether this was because of the evident beauty among the diversity of the art pieces or because of the impactful first-impressions I felt from some of the pieces. I do not know what I was expecting walking into the exhibit – something that provided students with meaningful learning but was not “in your face”? I am really unsure.

I felt overwhelmed; I had trouble swallowing and felt my eyes welling up with tears. It was an emotional experience to say the least and I felt vulnerable and discomforted the entire time. The first thing to run through my mind: is this content appropriate for my grade six students? I began feeling guilty; if I had not attended this exhibit ahead of time with my university class, I may have naively walked my grade sixes into an experience that is too overwhelming for them. I do not think that in the short three-week period I have with them, I will be able to provide them with the knowledge base they need in order for the exhibit to be meaningfully impactful opposed to emotionally damaging. Our trip to the MAG was planned for the last day of the teaching block, meaning there would be little time afterward for me to provide the students with an opportunity to unpack the experience. All of this was running through my mind the entire time – was it fair for me to unload this heavy knowledge on the shoulders of eleven year olds without a strong background knowledge base and an authentic opportunity to unpack their emotions?

My entire view of teaching for social justice shifted in this moment – I had every intention of teaching about current controversial issues (i.e., missing and murdered Aboriginal women) and exposing the students to the experience of the MAG without even thinking twice about it. Thus far I have been approaching teaching for social justice in ways that are “impactful”, but may in fact be too “in your face”, opposed to approaching it in ways that are relational (with the students’ best interest at heart). Now, I am not saying that when planning to teach for social justice in the past that I have not had my students’ best interest at heart; I am however saying that I may have been so focused on the impactfulness of the issues opposed to the ways in which students may emotionally connect to the content. Essentially, this experience has “knocked me off of my social justice pedestal” – I no longer feel confident in teaching for social justice as I am now refiguring/navigating my approaches…

Another hesitancy lies in the lack of support I may receive as a pre-intern – what support do I have if there are families who are unhappy with my choice to bring their children to the MAG exhibit? Some of the content was quite explicit (i.e., “F*** Harper”) – it would be naïve for me to think that my students have not been exposed to such crudity, but I still felt hesitant. This is my largest fear when teaching for social justice playing out in real life, full force. I have always been questioning my ability to push past this ‘barrier’ (fear? discomfort?) and am now seeing how challenging this task may be. I truly think that this hesitancy among educators is, at times, what denies students from authentic, impactful learning experiences (such as the MAG exhibit). Through extensive dialogue with my co-operating teacher and administrator, I have decided against the community learning experience at the MAG during my three-week block – YAY! Fear has succumbed me! (I am questioning my role as a teacher working towards anti-oppressive practices…)

—–

The content and art pieces within the Moving Forward, Never Forgetting exhibit were emotionally moving for me. I strongly resonated/connected with multiple pieces and see value within the teaching experiences/conversations that can potentially arise from said pieces. All of the pieces are contemporary works; meaning, most inspiration has come from current issues. Now, when age appropriate, this can be a powerful gateway into classroom learning – when students are able to use their perspective and critical thinking skills to unpack current issues in response to an artwork, that is authentic learning! I took almost fifty photos during my time at the exhibit so I could continue to unpack/reflect on the experience once the tour was over. I was amazed at how beautifully the pieces expressed ideas of pain, hurt, forgiveness and reconciliation – all of which are emotions I believe are integral to “moving forward”.

At this time, I am unsure as to what I am feeling – I am still so overwhelmed by the experience that I have succumbed to a sense of numbness. I have been continuously learning about our country’s shared history and the importance of reconciliation; however, attending the exhibit at the MAG made all of this feel so real to me. Yeah, I have been able to think about what it might be like for people living without privilege past and present; however, empathy has been powerfully ignited within myself… What am I feeling? I am unsure. Where do I go from here? I do not have a clue. This is a significant turning point in my journey towards teaching for social justice – a turning point that I did not see coming, but am sure will aid in the continuous shaping of myself as an educator.

reconciliation 1


Moving Forward, Never Forgetting

This experience has been vastly overwhelming – a process of unpacking and personal (emotional) growth.

I have recently become passionate about integrating social justice issues in the classroom. Naturally then, I was looking for ways to provide the students in me pre-internship classroom with an impactful, socially just experience. After dialoguing with my co-operating teacher and a few education professors, I decided that taking my students to the Moving Forward, Never Forgetting exhibit at the MAG was exactly the kind of experience my three-week block planning was missing. I had heard great things about the exhibit and really looked forward to the experience – my enthusiasm was evident, that is for sure!

Upon entering the gallery, my breath was immediately taken away. I am unsure as to whether this was because of the evident beauty among the diversity of the art pieces or because of the impactful first-impressions I felt from some of the pieces. I do not know what I was expecting walking into the exhibit – something that provided students with meaningful learning but was not “in your face”? I am really unsure.

I felt overwhelmed; I had trouble swallowing and felt my eyes welling up with tears. It was an emotional experience to say the least and I felt vulnerable and discomforted the entire time. The first thing to run through my mind: is this content appropriate for my grade six students? I began feeling guilty; if I had not attended this exhibit ahead of time with my university class, I may have naively walked my grade sixes into an experience that is too overwhelming for them. I do not think that in the short three-week period I have with them, I will be able to provide them with the knowledge base they need in order for the exhibit to be meaningfully impactful opposed to emotionally damaging. Our trip to the MAG was planned for the last day of the teaching block, meaning there would be little time afterward for me to provide the students with an opportunity to unpack the experience. All of this was running through my mind the entire time – was it fair for me to unload this heavy knowledge on the shoulders of eleven year olds without a strong background knowledge base and an authentic opportunity to unpack their emotions?

My entire view of teaching for social justice shifted in this moment – I had every intention of teaching about current controversial issues (i.e., missing and murdered Aboriginal women) and exposing the students to the experience of the MAG without even thinking twice about it. Thus far I have been approaching teaching for social justice in ways that are “impactful”, but may in fact be too “in your face”, opposed to approaching it in ways that are relational (with the students’ best interest at heart). Now, I am not saying that when planning to teach for social justice in the past that I have not had my students’ best interest at heart; I am however saying that I may have been so focused on the impactfulness of the issues opposed to the ways in which students may emotionally connect to the content. Essentially, this experience has “knocked me off of my social justice pedestal” – I no longer feel confident in teaching for social justice as I am now refiguring/navigating my approaches…

Another hesitancy lies in the lack of support I may receive as a pre-intern – what support do I have if there are families who are unhappy with my choice to bring their children to the MAG exhibit? Some of the content was quite explicit (i.e., “F*** Harper”) – it would be naïve for me to think that my students have not been exposed to such crudity, but I still felt hesitant. This is my largest fear when teaching for social justice playing out in real life, full force. I have always been questioning my ability to push past this ‘barrier’ (fear? discomfort?) and am now seeing how challenging this task may be. I truly think that this hesitancy among educators is, at times, what denies students from authentic, impactful learning experiences (such as the MAG exhibit). Through extensive dialogue with my co-operating teacher and administrator, I have decided against the community learning experience at the MAG during my three-week block – YAY! Fear has succumbed me! (I am questioning my role as a teacher working towards anti-oppressive practices…)

—–

The content and art pieces within the Moving Forward, Never Forgetting exhibit were emotionally moving for me. I strongly resonated/connected with multiple pieces and see value within the teaching experiences/conversations that can potentially arise from said pieces. All of the pieces are contemporary works; meaning, most inspiration has come from current issues. Now, when age appropriate, this can be a powerful gateway into classroom learning – when students are able to use their perspective and critical thinking skills to unpack current issues in response to an artwork, that is authentic learning! I took almost fifty photos during my time at the exhibit so I could continue to unpack/reflect on the experience once the tour was over. I was amazed at how beautifully the pieces expressed ideas of pain, hurt, forgiveness and reconciliation – all of which are emotions I believe are integral to “moving forward”.

At this time, I am unsure as to what I am feeling – I am still so overwhelmed by the experience that I have succumbed to a sense of numbness. I have been continuously learning about our country’s shared history and the importance of reconciliation; however, attending the exhibit at the MAG made all of this feel so real to me. Yeah, I have been able to think about what it might be like for people living without privilege past and present; however, empathy has been powerfully ignited within myself… What am I feeling? I am unsure. Where do I go from here? I do not have a clue. This is a significant turning point in my journey towards teaching for social justice – a turning point that I did not see coming, but am sure will aid in the continuous shaping of myself as an educator.

reconciliation 1


Family Matters

I felt as though at this time my journey alongside the Witness Blanket was not finished, not fulfilled (although I am sure it will never actually end) – as if something was missing, this chapter of my story was incomplete. In previous weeks, I have been talking extensively about the Witness Blanket and my experiences alongside this learning. My family and I have not always seen eye to eye in terms of sharing similar perspectives; however, I did feel as though they would benefit from spending some time alongside the Witness Blanket. Before posing this idea to them, I thought long and hard about the potential implications or repercussions of this experience – we have gotten into heated arguments/debates based on our diverse perspectives. Ultimately, I was unsure as to whether or not this would be productive learning or destructive learning for all parties involved. After reflecting on my hesitancies, I had decided that it was worth the risk – I could not let the fear of diverging perspectives prevent me from sharing this experience with them (not everyone is going to agree with me in any context, therefore I cannot let this fear prevent me from sharing this vitally important knowledge).

I was nervous to ask my family to participate in this alongside me – I had absolutely no clue what their reactions would be. I began by nervously babbling on about why the Witness Blanket has been so significant for me, followed by quickly throwing it out there – ‘will you come and spend some time with the Witness Blanket and myself tonight?’ To my surprise, they (my mom, dad and sister) had willingly agreed to participate – I was unsure as to what extent they would be emotionally invested, but the fact that they even agreed to come was HUGE (**if you knew my family and their hesitancies surrounding accepting narratives different than their own, you would understand how big of a deal a mere agreement truly is!).

When we arrived at the University, I was in utter shock to see their immediate engagement – we all split up and explored the content individually, at our own pace. Everyone was guiding their own learning based on level of prior knowledge and comfort. My sister had checked out emotionally quite quickly; when asking her why, she had explained that she really had no background knowledge that enabled her to understand the purpose of the piece (she has not attended the U of R and taken Indigenous Studies 100 – so is this a failure on behalf of our education [k-12] system? An occurrence I can only imagine to be so prevalent among individuals her age – I am most definitely coming to see the importance of providing students with this knowledge and educator roles within this learning…). I knew coming into this that she had little prior knowledge and I tried to prepare her as best as I could in a short amount of time – twelve years worth of Treaty Education knowledge jam packed into a twenty minute car ride to the university? Highly unlikely that much, if anything, was absorbed…

It was absolutely inspiring (and overwhelming) to see their active engagement and inquisitiveness throughout. Their thoughtfulness extended beyond the parameters of the short hour-long period spent with the Witness Blanket – over a week had passed since the experience and my aunt had told me about a conversation she had with my dad about his learning (again, HUGE! the fact that my dad felt the need to call her and tell her about his experience is so moving – this gives me hope for a future of moving forward). My intent behind spending time with my family alongside the Witness Blanket was not to change their perspectives (or who they are and what they believe); however, I do feel as though I impacted them in some way (no matter how significant or insignificant). Taking the first steps with my family and providing an opportunity and space to have uncomfortable conversations allowed for an emotional connection to emerge – no matter to what extent, I truly believe I played a part in starting their journey towards acknowledgement and bearing witness…

“Witness: to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception.”


Family Matters

I felt as though at this time my journey alongside the Witness Blanket was not finished, not fulfilled (although I am sure it will never actually end) – as if something was missing, this chapter of my story was incomplete. In previous weeks, I have been talking extensively about the Witness Blanket and my experiences alongside this learning. My family and I have not always seen eye to eye in terms of sharing similar perspectives; however, I did feel as though they would benefit from spending some time alongside the Witness Blanket. Before posing this idea to them, I thought long and hard about the potential implications or repercussions of this experience – we have gotten into heated arguments/debates based on our diverse perspectives. Ultimately, I was unsure as to whether or not this would be productive learning or destructive learning for all parties involved. After reflecting on my hesitancies, I had decided that it was worth the risk – I could not let the fear of diverging perspectives prevent me from sharing this experience with them (not everyone is going to agree with me in any context, therefore I cannot let this fear prevent me from sharing this vitally important knowledge).

I was nervous to ask my family to participate in this alongside me – I had absolutely no clue what their reactions would be. I began by nervously babbling on about why the Witness Blanket has been so significant for me, followed by quickly throwing it out there – ‘will you come and spend some time with the Witness Blanket and myself tonight?’ To my surprise, they (my mom, dad and sister) had willingly agreed to participate – I was unsure as to what extent they would be emotionally invested, but the fact that they even agreed to come was HUGE (**if you knew my family and their hesitancies surrounding accepting narratives different than their own, you would understand how big of a deal a mere agreement truly is!).

When we arrived at the University, I was in utter shock to see their immediate engagement – we all split up and explored the content individually, at our own pace. Everyone was guiding their own learning based on level of prior knowledge and comfort. My sister had checked out emotionally quite quickly; when asking her why, she had explained that she really had no background knowledge that enabled her to understand the purpose of the piece (she has not attended the U of R and taken Indigenous Studies 100 – so is this a failure on behalf of our education [k-12] system? An occurrence I can only imagine to be so prevalent among individuals her age – I am most definitely coming to see the importance of providing students with this knowledge and educator roles within this learning…). I knew coming into this that she had little prior knowledge and I tried to prepare her as best as I could in a short amount of time – twelve years worth of Treaty Education knowledge jam packed into a twenty minute car ride to the university? Highly unlikely that much, if anything, was absorbed…

It was absolutely inspiring (and overwhelming) to see their active engagement and inquisitiveness throughout. Their thoughtfulness extended beyond the parameters of the short hour-long period spent with the Witness Blanket – over a week had passed since the experience and my aunt had told me about a conversation she had with my dad about his learning (again, HUGE! the fact that my dad felt the need to call her and tell her about his experience is so moving – this gives me hope for a future of moving forward). My intent behind spending time with my family alongside the Witness Blanket was not to change their perspectives (or who they are and what they believe); however, I do feel as though I impacted them in some way (no matter how significant or insignificant). Taking the first steps with my family and providing an opportunity and space to have uncomfortable conversations allowed for an emotional connection to emerge – no matter to what extent, I truly believe I played a part in starting their journey towards acknowledgement and bearing witness…

“Witness: to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception.”


P (people) – L (land) – A (acknowledge) – C (community, creator) – E (experiences).

The concept of place has strongly resonated with me throughout this experience thus far; I have come to realize the importance of our connection with place, recognizing the ways in which place shapes our lives. Community, in many aspects, shapes who we are and where we are headed in our journey. I truly believe that community, and within that spectrum family and relationships, have a significant impact on the current perspectives, values and beliefs that we hold – we are, at times, products of where we are from.

I am coming to understand the importance of place in our journey and the ways in which where we have been can affect where we are headed. Prior to the experiences I have had in the past few years, the concept of place has not been an overly relevant (conscious) understanding of mine – meaning, I had never really considered the ways in which my upbringing has influenced my identity development and exploration (The epitome of white privilege! I did not have to think about place, as I did not see it contextually relevant – I was completely oblivious to this understanding). However, I am beginning to see the ways in which my connections with the land in various locations hold such strong emotional value for myself. I have begun to wonder about all of the places that have impacted my being (either directly or indirectly). I have begun to ask questions about those ‘missing pieces’ amongst my ancestry that I have never really explored. I am wondering the ways in which my connection to the land would strengthen as a result of being cognizant of my relationships with place. I am thinking about the ways in which I can appreciate the land (and place) and all that it has offered me throughout my life thus far.

During the first week of this semester, Sean spoke about “stories that live on the land”; I began to reminisce about the times I have spent in the Qu’Appelle valley – spending time with loved ones, fishing on the lake, and appreciating the beauty the land has to offer. I am wondering the extent of the narratives this place has seen, as well as the stories it continues to hold onto. I am starting to understand who I am as a Treaty Person, born and raised on Treaty 4 land, and what this means for me as a future educator. I am thinking about a trip to Fort Qu’Appelle and Lebret Saskatchewan where we spent time at the Treaty 4 monuments and the grounds of the Lebret Residential School; we discussed and imagined narratives of the people whose life memories were completely based upon this land. We thought about the ways in which where we were standing in that very moment influenced the outcomes of lives who once stood there also. We reflected… The opportunities for learning and personal development (growth) alongside the land and place can be so impactful for students – I feel as though we spend so much time focusing on learning experiences that are unauthentic because they connect to the curriculum; meanwhile, we are neglecting the teachings all around us in our community. We need to be taking learning outside of the classroom walls – we walk to school, drive to work, etc. in the same way everyday. I am wondering how many of us have actually ever went and spent some time out on that land (considering the land on which we live and the stories it has to offer).


P (people) – L (land) – A (acknowledge) – C (community, creator) – E (experiences).

The concept of place has strongly resonated with me throughout this experience thus far; I have come to realize the importance of our connection with place, recognizing the ways in which place shapes our lives. Community, in many aspects, shapes who we are and where we are headed in our journey. I truly believe that community, and within that spectrum family and relationships, have a significant impact on the current perspectives, values and beliefs that we hold – we are, at times, products of where we are from.

I am coming to understand the importance of place in our journey and the ways in which where we have been can affect where we are headed. Prior to the experiences I have had in the past few years, the concept of place has not been an overly relevant (conscious) understanding of mine – meaning, I had never really considered the ways in which my upbringing has influenced my identity development and exploration (The epitome of white privilege! I did not have to think about place, as I did not see it contextually relevant – I was completely oblivious to this understanding). However, I am beginning to see the ways in which my connections with the land in various locations hold such strong emotional value for myself. I have begun to wonder about all of the places that have impacted my being (either directly or indirectly). I have begun to ask questions about those ‘missing pieces’ amongst my ancestry that I have never really explored. I am wondering the ways in which my connection to the land would strengthen as a result of being cognizant of my relationships with place. I am thinking about the ways in which I can appreciate the land (and place) and all that it has offered me throughout my life thus far.

During the first week of this semester, Sean spoke about “stories that live on the land”; I began to reminisce about the times I have spent in the Qu’Appelle valley – spending time with loved ones, fishing on the lake, and appreciating the beauty the land has to offer. I am wondering the extent of the narratives this place has seen, as well as the stories it continues to hold onto. I am starting to understand who I am as a Treaty Person, born and raised on Treaty 4 land, and what this means for me as a future educator. I am thinking about a trip to Fort Qu’Appelle and Lebret Saskatchewan where we spent time at the Treaty 4 monuments and the grounds of the Lebret Residential School; we discussed and imagined narratives of the people whose life memories were completely based upon this land. We thought about the ways in which where we were standing in that very moment influenced the outcomes of lives who once stood there also. We reflected… The opportunities for learning and personal development (growth) alongside the land and place can be so impactful for students – I feel as though we spend so much time focusing on learning experiences that are unauthentic because they connect to the curriculum; meanwhile, we are neglecting the teachings all around us in our community. We need to be taking learning outside of the classroom walls – we walk to school, drive to work, etc. in the same way everyday. I am wondering how many of us have actually ever went and spent some time out on that land (considering the land on which we live and the stories it has to offer).


Students & Teachers Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Society