Family Matters

I felt as though at this time my journey alongside the Witness Blanket was not finished, not fulfilled (although I am sure it will never actually end) – as if something was missing, this chapter of my story was incomplete. In previous weeks, I have been talking extensively about the Witness Blanket and my experiences alongside this learning. My family and I have not always seen eye to eye in terms of sharing similar perspectives; however, I did feel as though they would benefit from spending some time alongside the Witness Blanket. Before posing this idea to them, I thought long and hard about the potential implications or repercussions of this experience – we have gotten into heated arguments/debates based on our diverse perspectives. Ultimately, I was unsure as to whether or not this would be productive learning or destructive learning for all parties involved. After reflecting on my hesitancies, I had decided that it was worth the risk – I could not let the fear of diverging perspectives prevent me from sharing this experience with them (not everyone is going to agree with me in any context, therefore I cannot let this fear prevent me from sharing this vitally important knowledge).

I was nervous to ask my family to participate in this alongside me – I had absolutely no clue what their reactions would be. I began by nervously babbling on about why the Witness Blanket has been so significant for me, followed by quickly throwing it out there – ‘will you come and spend some time with the Witness Blanket and myself tonight?’ To my surprise, they (my mom, dad and sister) had willingly agreed to participate – I was unsure as to what extent they would be emotionally invested, but the fact that they even agreed to come was HUGE (**if you knew my family and their hesitancies surrounding accepting narratives different than their own, you would understand how big of a deal a mere agreement truly is!).

When we arrived at the University, I was in utter shock to see their immediate engagement – we all split up and explored the content individually, at our own pace. Everyone was guiding their own learning based on level of prior knowledge and comfort. My sister had checked out emotionally quite quickly; when asking her why, she had explained that she really had no background knowledge that enabled her to understand the purpose of the piece (she has not attended the U of R and taken Indigenous Studies 100 – so is this a failure on behalf of our education [k-12] system? An occurrence I can only imagine to be so prevalent among individuals her age – I am most definitely coming to see the importance of providing students with this knowledge and educator roles within this learning…). I knew coming into this that she had little prior knowledge and I tried to prepare her as best as I could in a short amount of time – twelve years worth of Treaty Education knowledge jam packed into a twenty minute car ride to the university? Highly unlikely that much, if anything, was absorbed…

It was absolutely inspiring (and overwhelming) to see their active engagement and inquisitiveness throughout. Their thoughtfulness extended beyond the parameters of the short hour-long period spent with the Witness Blanket – over a week had passed since the experience and my aunt had told me about a conversation she had with my dad about his learning (again, HUGE! the fact that my dad felt the need to call her and tell her about his experience is so moving – this gives me hope for a future of moving forward). My intent behind spending time with my family alongside the Witness Blanket was not to change their perspectives (or who they are and what they believe); however, I do feel as though I impacted them in some way (no matter how significant or insignificant). Taking the first steps with my family and providing an opportunity and space to have uncomfortable conversations allowed for an emotional connection to emerge – no matter to what extent, I truly believe I played a part in starting their journey towards acknowledgement and bearing witness…

“Witness: to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception.”

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