Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pimātisihwin / Kiskinohamāsowin

It's not every day that you get to sit beside an elder and record her thoughts as she creates an English literacy program for adult learners as one of the requirements in her university class as she works on her Masters of Education. For me, in late August, I was honoured to be Kete-ayah Alma Poitras' secretary for four days. it was four days. Occasionally, she would begin storytelling. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of her worldview -- not my own -- and seeing, listening, smelling, tasting and touching with my own senses.

With Alma's permission, I will share her introduction.


"Introduction" to "The Interconnectedness of Pimātisihwin / Kiskinohamāsowin: Level One and Two Literacy for First Nations’ Adult Learners"

by Alma Poitras

"I am a First Nations Educator from Peepeekisis, one of the five File Hills First Nations. File Hills is also known as Kiskimanacihk in the Plains Cree language. My goal for the future is to create a program that will meet, both the First Nations Cree literacy skills and their English literacy skills. For this assignment I will only focus on the Low Literacy needs in English for the group I have chosen to create the program for which is First Nations Adults from File Hills and particularly young parents, both male and female, ages ranging from 19 to 35 years.

"Pimātisihwin / Kiskinohamāsowin means how an individual or person goes about gathering knowledge and learning throughout their lifetime, and putting these experiences, and using these experiences in teaching themselves. It is a contextualized learning with the learner in the centre, with all the other aspects that come to make that learning possible for the individual. It’s all those experiences, gathered throughout their lifetime, or as they grow from infant, youth, adulthood and kētēh-ayak (old ones) getting knowledge which makes it possible to make meaning. This helps the learner to be successful. There is a continuation of adding from prior knowledge which helps increase many possibilities of doing and improving different level of needs of that individual’s four aspects of their inner self: mind, physical, spirit, emotional. We learn from things around us, in our First Nations’ perspectives, we learn from nature, from the animals, from the flyers, from the swimmers, from the four legged, the medicines, the elements, the sky-life and the earth, and also the two-legged. You cannot live without going about and learning from your surroundings. You are learning to make a better life for yourself, your family, and your community. This is Pimātisihwin. Life is possible because of using all the resources that are there for us."

As I typed Alma's thoughts, they directly related to the new program I am developing at my high school. In the background of our "selfie" you can see the beginnings of my unit plans focusing on the Treaty Four Gathering in Fort Qu'Appelle, September 12-18, 2016.
I hope to utilize Pimātisihwin / Kiskinohamāsowin as my students and I go about gathering knowledge from all around us. I hope we are able to share what we are learning with all we meet. I also want to thank Kete-ayah Alma for her generosity and teachings. 

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