Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day Ninety-Seven: Sui Generis

It's raining. Not splashy rain, just t t t t t t t on my Gortex hood. I slide my boot, testing the cement walkway along the house. Feels pebbled like a curling rink. The lane is being pebbled too, but there is enough sand that my grip is firm. It's earlier than usual. No hint of sun on that horizon. A banana moon lays on it's back. I've taken no pictures and I'm past the hospital, thinking I might go the long way this morning. It's warm and I'd like to see the inside of the new Robin's donuts.

I'm swinging my arms, making good time. I reach for my camera to catch the reflection of the streetlamps on the pebbled blacktop. I hear something at my back. Sounds like panting. I turn around and see two lights bobbing toward me in unison. Joggers. Reminds me of walking at night on the farm, and Muck Tuck, our dog, running up behind me. Panting. He'd slip his wet nose under my hand before I could see his midnight fur.

I lift my camera and try to get a picture. The green search light beams on the camera.

"What are you doing," yells one of the joggers.

"Taking pictures," I call back.

I snap a few, but miss the actual outlines of the runners against the fuzz of light, the camera stalling and making excuses, then snapping late. They pass without further conversation. I'm surprised how slow they're going. I'm not far behind them as I walk.

I cross the highway, then cross the ditch to the new donut shop and 2-4-1 Pizza. I leave Robin's pinning an invitation onto their new cork board, balancing a coffee in the other hand.

After the morning's exam, we have a Green Team meeting for positive interventions targeted to help at least eighty percent of our students. I mark a few exams, but want to finish my power point for Sunday's launch. I don't leave school until after 6:30pm, walking home in the dark. The ski hill all lit up lures the camera out of my pocket, especially when the lights reflect on ice along the side of the road.

I'm home now. Checking emails. I received a few emails from Sandy today.

Michael had sent questions to the panel participants. Sandy wanted some context for this question: In her blog, Sheena recounts a friend of ours, Helen Blacklake, making moccasins with a beaded Mini-Mouse design.  What comparison would you make between these Mini-Mouse moccasins and Treaties? 

I emailed to look at Day Ten Pictures and the blog entry called, "Living Words."

"In the research I did for my thesis, I read a lot about how Cree culture responded and adapted to new ideas in relation to old customs and ideas," says Sandy. "The Arts Board did a project with Indigenous clothing and items a few years back and published a book.  An artist made a pair of “moccasin running shoes” as an answer to how our culture changes and adapts to the times."

She tells me of a term she heard a chief use to describe the living nature of treaties as Sui Generis. "Sui generis is also used in Aboriginal education to describe the work of Aboriginal people to define and create contemporary Aboriginal education as a "thing of its own kind". (Hampton, E. (p. 10-11) in Battiste & Barman (Eds.)." (Wikipedia)

"The idea that Treaties are timeless and they should be read in context. They were meant to be living, breathing documents that adapted to modern needs and situations," says Sandy.

Sui generis. Of it's own kind. Unique characteristics. "A reality which cannot be included in a wider concept." (wikipedia)

What an opportunity we have, as treaty people, to bring our living, breathing, walking, jogging, panting selves to sui generis treaty. As some of us take baby steps, and others run the marathon, sui generis treaty can be our challenge and our joy.

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