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