How did I get to this point in my life of learning (and unlearning)?
I grew up with a personal narrative reflective of the epitome of white privilege – some might refer to this as living amongst my own story, neglecting narratives that were different than my own. I call it ignorance, or naivety, as I really did not know any better at the hand of the teachers in my life (not solely in school; rather, people who had a significant influence on my upbringing such as my family). I did not have to acknowledge diverse perspectives – my privilege afforded me this ignorance. As a result, I entered University having little understanding of the world around me (and how truly oppressive it is). My first reflective experience which caused me to look inward occurred in Indigenous Studies 100 (taken in my first semester at the U of R) – I had absolutely no clue what the professor was talking about half of the time. The other half of the time was spent sorting through emotions such as anger and discomfort – why had I not learned about any of this content until now (at the age of 19….)?
My perspectives continued to shift as I entered an Education Core Studies (ECS) course focusing upon anti-oppressive education; again, this content spoke volumes to me – I committed myself to a journey of trying to unlearn and disrupt dominant narratives (specifically within my own life). Over the course of the past two years, alongside a handful of influential mentors (whom have shaped my journey immensely), I have continued on with my journey of unpacking and critically thinking about social justice and anti-oppressive education. Alongside a group of colleagues (pre-service educators and our professors), I became part of something truly special this year in terms of social justice work – the formation of a student’s society on campus STARS (Student Teacher Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Society) Regina, which focuses on promoting anti-oppressive education at the University of Regina: “We work to understand, identify, and address individual and systematic forms of oppression based on race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, religion, age, disability, and other socially constructed categories.” Through research, collaborative conversations and professional development, I felt as though I was making progress BUT my efforts were not enough – I was simply playing it safe and not taking enough risks…
In the past I have avoided any learning surrounding Indigenization and Treaty Education – I was fully aware of the importance, but felt overtly uncomfortable going there (mainly because of my lack of background knowledge…and feeling so small within something vastly greater than myself). Lack of risk taking and challenging myself has resulted in my journey as Witness Not Tourist – a learning experience (process of becoming) I will be following for the rest of my life, I am sure. The knowledge I have acquired through this experience alongside the Witness Blanket thus far has and will continue to shape the educator I am becoming. Now at the age of 24, I am embarking on an even deeper (discomforting) journey – moving beyond the vast amounts of ‘tourists’ in life and become a witness, an ally and a friend; please join me as I unlearn, acknowledge and move forward.