Hey Kate, if you have time…would you jot some of your thoughts and/or reflections from our blog launch, way back in January. I only have about twenty days left, and I’m needing to honour your contribution!!!
Love you, Sheena
To celebrate Day One Hundred of Treaty Walks we held a blog launch. The highlight for me was a panel discussion featuring Michelle Hugli Brass, Kate Hersburger, Sandy Pinay Schindler, and Lynn Anderson. Michael Koops, my husband, moderated the panel, crafting the questions, fielding questions and reflections from the audience. The trust and honesty present in the room left me in a puddle of tears at the back. I haven’t known how to write about it; however, here are Kate's thoughts below. (Michelle Hugli Brass's comments were posted March 20th and I hope to have Sandy Pinay Schindler and Lynn Anderson's sometime this month.)
Q: You hear the expression, "We are all Treaty people." What does that mean to you? This is the statement which takes the power struggle out of any imbalance in understanding Treaty. We all stand to benefit from the Treaties. We all could learn more before judging the content.
Q: In your opinion, "Why would a teacher need to 'mediate on treaties'?" This is history making work. Our history classes have been devoid of much of our true history. Teachers would do well to learn from this great example you are setting. Our youth deserve the truth.
Q: In her blog, Sheena confesses, "I've lived in Treaty 4 territory most of my life, AND as a Saskatchewan teacher, I am expected to bring 'Treaty teachings' into my classroom; However, I 'know' very little about treaties." How common is this statement? Unfortunately much too common. Many well meaning people think Treaty is just about giving things to aboriginal people but not to white people. This is a sad confirmation of our lack of teaching in history class.
Q: Do you feel any significant connection to the fact that we live in a place where Treaty Four was signed? Yes, this has given me such a sense of honor to be here, and to be learning here from my aboriginal neighbors.
Q: In your estimation, how would you characterize the relationship between First Nations and non-First Nations here in the Fort, in Saskatchewan? A cautious but hopeful "improving" with some people.
Q: What role does Treaty Four have in this relationship? I think more education about the details and interpreting the details is needed for people to be able to embrace the treaty as a peaceful, shared possibility of sharing this place in a good way.
Q: In her blog (Day 10), 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? Well, my first reaction was one of sadness. To see Disney come from such a place of historical art, but after thinking about it , I found that the frank reality of living in the present and accepting and blending became the overriding message.
Q: The other day, Sheena was interviewed on CBC’s Blue Sky, and at the end of the interview the radio host said something to the effect of, “Well, you have made a good impact or good start (on social justice) with this blog." How much of an impact do you think Treaty Walks will make? I hope it will be a place for teachers and others to begin, just like Sheena. Such a contemplative undertaking can only bring one closer to understanding self and how Treaty fits with life.
Q: You made me cry at the launch. Thank you for your passion. Any reflections or a take-away from the launch or anything else you’d like to share. Oh Sheena, You make me cry every day in a good way. Your blog is uplifting, honest, and worth every blessed step. Hold this close as you walk your walk and hold it up as you talk your talk. I see you taking this to teachers everywhere and sharing this as a workshop for lifelong learners.
I really can't rememeber much of what I said at the launch, but my heart holds what I felt that day. You have done a good thing. Your commitment to your students learning real history and using their strengths to empower them is a shining example to teachers.