How to Be Inspired

Leona Antoine

 
 In gratitude, the FNPN acknowledges Bernard Kerrigan and Brian Denhertog for their carving ‘Raven’ which lives in Musqueam Territory since 1987. With their permission, ‘Raven’ is present in the Network’s initial logo. 

How to be inspired

  1. Adopt and be adopted by beautiful, strong, resilient sisters and one brother
  2. Commit to meeting, discussing, celebrating, thinking, and growing
  3. Read with purpose and intention
  4. Inquire
  5. Inspire others
  6. Repeat

Moving mountains

Of course, there are a few more steps prior to and in between,  both forwards and backward! How does the saying go…. Noone said it would be easy… movement is progress? Watching videos, travel, home, life, documentation, interviews and being interviewed and places of employment to say the least.

“In the present world, indigenous people are still feeling the effects of the historical assaults on their traditional cultures; they are still experiencing ignorance and outright hostility to their existence, especially their claims to territories and rights as the original people who “owned,” i.e., had a relationship with the land.”

Celia Haig-Brown, A Pedagogy of the Land: Dreams of Respectful Relations, p. 466, Fall 2002

https://mje.mcgill.ca/article/download/8649/6592.pdf

Decolonization (pause for dramatic effect)

Take time to do some self reflection… learn about the space I occupy on people’s traditional territory. What do respectful relationships mean to people in the city? What are the stories of the land and whose story? I have met a few elders and knowledge keepers during my occupation of different spaces and what I have learned is, when you see it and hear it you will know when you have found someone to guide your learning.

Practice makes perfect?

What do people do during these strange and trying times where we are asked to socially distance and spend time outdoors? Harvest from the land, prepare the land? Some people who are rich in connection to traditional practices and cultural protocols will continue to carry out what our parents have ingrained in our way of knowing; many like me, who are suffering from the disconnect to home and traditional territories are left to research? “Just google it”, my dad would say. you have to start somewhere.  Sometimes doing this sparks many great conversations… investigate… revisit…. repeat. Share teachings with others; and/or learn, grow and inquire. Similarities and differences prevail after all, life would be boring if we were all the same. Time to celebrate!

Joe William’s family smokehouse was built by his grandfather and is over 100 years old. The traditional practice of smoking fish is still being done in this smokehouse and  Joe continues to share the teachings of his dad and grandfather with his children and grandchildren.

 

Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium), photos by Charmayne Nikal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamaenerion_angustifolium

Cicely Mary Barker’s book Flower Fairies of the Wayside included an illustration of “The Rose-Bay Willow Herb Fairy”, with the accompanying verse “On the breeze my fluff is blown; So my airy seeds are sown.  Where the earth is burnt and sad, I will come to make it glad.  All forlorn and ruined places, All neglected empty spaces, I can cover-only think!- With a mass of rosy pink.”

Even after tragedy, the elements bring forth a reminder of the beauty which is yet to come. The resilience of the land and the environment never ceases to amaze me. 

Through my place of employment, I knew there was something missing from the teachers’ resources and it was indigenous resources for the early years.  How was I going to assist with building pride in peoples’ heritage and share information about peoples’ culture in a good way?  I found a grant and was successful in receiving the funds to talk with others about culture and language! (yay us!)  At the end of this adventure I had learned many things from the people who participated and the preschool had the beginnings of a language library.  It has been some years since then, but  with the assistance and encouragement of the wonderful people in the First Nations Pedagogies Network, I was able to apply for and receive a grant from the First Peoples Cultural Council (https://fpcc.ca/ ). This funding will assist with Nla’kap’mux language retention and revitalization in an online format which will benefit generations to come.  There is already an extensive library of words, phrases and stories but nothing a new language learner such as myself, could share with children and those in the early years.  From an urban setting and not having the abundance of elders at my fingertips, this seemed like the next best step?  If nothing else,  adding to the library will only add to the richness of resources available. The pandemic has certainly impacted these plans too but as we move forward and keep our communities safe, there will be progress. Stay tuned.

Changing the world

I recently read an article by an esteemed colleague who I admire deeply, that made perfect sense to me but made me also reflect on the role(s) I play, with and for children, their families, and early childhood educators, staff and students.

“The difficulty of thinking is reduced, represented only in the different areas of the classroom, where thinking and exploration of meaning are framed within fragmented, rushed, consumeristic processes under a pseudo-psychological blessing and legitimation.”

 Cristina D. Vintimilla, Encounters with a Pedagogista https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1463949116684886

Through reading this article I have been made to reflect on my practices during my career as an early childhood educator and only to be reminded of my mistakes.  I have done this! I have started my days planning for ways to keep children engaged in activities.  Was this truly something children were interested in exploring or my attempt to provide a variety of learning activities to assist children with being ready for kindergarten?  What kind of person tries to assimilate childrens’ learning? 

Change is scary but inevitable. One of the good reminders I received in this journey of growth came in the form of ‘Storywork’, from Dr. Jo-ann Archibald (https://indigenousstorywork.com/). She shared a metaphor of looking at the world as Coyote.  In her book Indigenous Storywork Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit (2008) she helps the reader to envision two eyes which are not even or symmetrical, but misshapen and giving a distorted view.  What types of things change your perception of the world? What now?

“A lot of people doing small things makes big change.”

Bob Joseph

….. Grandbaby lets out the sweetest “sigh”…..

 

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