Engaging in Peer Led Seminars: Traditional Healing

I have a great appreciation for learning from my peers as they have a wealth of knowledge and can easily relate to the struggles that I am faced with as a pre-service teacher. In seminar two, the topic of traditional healing was discussed. I found this experience enlightening because I was able to physically map out where my holistic health was at currently and brainstorm things that I could do to help make my circle ‘round’ again. In the picture below, is my drawing of my holistic balance of life as of February 2nd, 2017.20170202_195154

As you can see, I had a few areas that needed support; however, all of my parts of self could use some work. On a personal level, I enjoyed this activity brought to light by the Seminar two group as it helped me think about my self-care, which as an educator or student;sometimes I put on the back burner. As an educator, this could be a great activity to do with my students as it shows them that their actions have an impact on how they feel and think about themselves. I strongly connected to this activity when the metaphor of considering your holistic health as a ball and you would not want to have a lopsided ball it would not roll right. The same goes for your holistic health, we must make sure that all four quadrants of ourselves are in balance to make sure that we feel good. After completing this exercise, I started to think about my daily routines and activities. This helped me realize that I may not be physically ill; however, I needed to take some more time for myself to relax, rejuvenate and to get more sleep. With students this would also be a good activity as you could ask for the reasoning behind why the student picked each level for each quadrant and then ask them what they think they could do to improve it.

Thank you for seminar group two for bringing forward this idea to us as a class.

 

 

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Signs of Your Identity: Two Powerful Presentations by Daniella Zalcman

During the month of January, I took hold of an opportunity to listen to a new voice discussing the impacts of Residential Schools. This new voice was that of Daniella Zalcman, a documentary photographer from New York, NY: USA. For myself as a Canadian Settler, I feel that her voice is powerful because she is someone from another country, looking into Canada and reminding us that we need to admit that we have a past that many refuse to recognize still to this day, furthermore that we need to listen to the stories of those who have survived and initiate their Calls to Action. Daniella came to the U of R on two separate occasions, the first was to discuss her research and the making of her book, Signs of your Identity, and the second was to engage with several Residential School survivors in hopes to share some knowledge of what faculty members, teachers and pre-service teachers can do as a part of Reconcili-Action.

The first presentation took place on January 26th. During this time Daniella introduced herself as well as the book that she had just released entitled Signs of Your Identity. I appreciated that Daniella reminded us that she did not intentionally come looking for stories of residential school survivors, but was actually doing a research piece on the high HIV rates among Indigenous populations in Regina. After working with a family for multiple weeks, Daniella returned back to the US and did not publish her work as she realized that it was missing pieces and if this work was published the way it was, it would portray a negative view of these Indigenous peoples what she grew close with. Daniella returned at a later date and learned about Residential Schools and the experiences that occurred with in their or because of inter-generational trauma. This created the basis of her book which involved creating images that had an overlay of two images, one of a survivor, that was accompanied from an excerpt of the conversation that they had with Daniella. The next picture was that same portrait of the survivor with an overlay of a picture that represented something in their story. I found that these images were very powerful as it speaks to how trauma has an affect on who you are and the way that you live your life. I believe that every educator should look at these images to get a different perspective of how Residential Schools impacted and changed the lives of those who attended as well as the families of those who attended.

If you would like to see some of Daniella’s work from this book or would like to purchase this books, please take a look at her website linked here. This website also includes access to lesson plans and other educational resources for educators or anyone to access and use.


The second presentation by Daniella Zalcman took place on January 30th. Faculty, students and teachers gathered together at the U of R to listen to and ask question to a panel of Residential School survivors. I greatly appreciated that this panel was not focused on explicitly discussing what happened in Residential Schools, although that inherently came up, but instead it was focused on what can educators do to as a part of reconcili-action, referring to reconciliation, but actually doing something. This was a powerful experience for myself on my treaty walk as it allowed an opportunity to listen to authentic stories regarding residential schools and think about what actions I can take as an educator.

This panel was filled with 5 women who had endured so much throughout their lives. Their stories told about the inter-generational trauma that they had ensured or that they watched their families endure as well. A powerful quote that one of the women stated was, “People did not choose to live the way they do on the streets.” It stuck with me as it reminded me of the racism that many settlers speak of in Canada about how ‘indigenous peoples choose to live the way they do’. I know that this is not true and in fact that if white settlers had gone through the trauma of residential schools and the mistreatments since contact, that they too would be fighting a battle that is bigger than themselves. As an educator, I want to make sure that my students are educated on the real history of Canada from an early age, in hopes that they can develop an understanding for why many Indigenous peoples in Canada are faced with living on the streets or the poor conditions of reservations. I am also aware that my past statement leaves out those Indigenous peoples whom live in other conditions. I hope that our future generation will come to understand and respect all Indigenous people and those of other cultures as well.

Now to bring myself back to the discussion from the panel on January 30th. I was humbled by the fact that these five women who had experienced great trauma in their lives, were able to show such resiliency and positivity towards their future. On woman in particular was discussing the current issues for Indigenous peoples and she brought up that many children are still being taken away from their families and instead of being put into residential schools as they use to be, now they are being put into foster care. I had no realized that this was a large of an issue as it is until now. I can understand that the Government may think that they are protecting these children by taking them away from their families, but I wish they would take a moment and realize that this is another tool being used to assimilate and continue to perpetuate the impacts of inter-generational trauma onto another generation. By taking children away, we are causing them to lose their culture and their family connections. I don’t know how, but I strongly believe that the government needs to create a new structure where families can live together as a whole and receive the support they need to break this inter-generational trauma that we continue by taking children away.

For Learning: I plan to research more information about children who are taken away from their families today and the impact that this is having on them as the next generation.

Treaty Walk Realization: This will always be an ongoing part of my life. I can never start learning, because treaty relations will always exists as long as the sun shines, water flows and grasses grow.

Until Next Time,

Jenna deBoth

A New Appreciation: Cleansing the Soul and Finding Balance

As a part of my treaty walk, I have been focusing on keeping my eyes open for opportunities that arise to further my education. I hope to take part in as many ceremonies and celebrations as I can this semester and further more as I continue on my never ending Treaty Walk. On January 12, our ECCU class had the honour of taking part in a smudging ceremony with Life Speaker Noel Starblanket. Before this point, I had the opportunity to take part in another smudge at a pipe ceremony in my second year of my degree. Even thought I was aware of what was about to occur during this experience, I still felt weary and anxious. Not because I was out of my element, one might say, but because I did not want to do anything that would be offensive. The format of this smudging for our class was a way to stand up, form a line and approach one by one to smudge ourselves.  This was very different from the smudging I took part in my second year as well as the next smudging experiences that I had, 2 weeks later at the beginning of a panel-discussion.

These two experiences were different in format as the smudging pot was brought around to each one of us in the room and was wafted onto us with a large feather. This was followed by individual cleansing by wafting smoke with our hands over our heads, heart and the rest of our body.

Having the three opportunities now to be involved in a smudging, I can honestly say that I feel very honoured to have been a part of these ceremonies. I strongly believe that as the smoke washed over my body that I took a moment to relax and focus on deep breathing and giving thanks. This is something that I as a settler, often forget to stop and do. I felt relaxed after the ceremony each time and I also felt focused. I am aware that my active listening skills were more engaged after each experiences; therefore I feel that I got more out of the discussions and conversations that occurred after the ceremony.

Disclosure: Even though I have taken part in three smudging ceremonies, I do not claim to be an expert or even in fact completely understand the symbolism of a smudge, however, these experiences have helped me gain a stronger appreciation and respect for this type of ceremony as well as I want to continue to learn about the importance of this type of ceremony as my Treaty Walk continues.

Until next time,

Miss Jenna deBoth

My Settler Story

In order to think about my settler story, I must think about to where I am from as well as where my family is from. If you were to ask me to ‘categorize’ my heritage, I would tell you that the cultural roots of my family are connected to Holland, Germany, England and Canada. Below, I have created two simple family trees of my connection to my family members who made the choice to immigrate from other parts of the world to come to Canada, along with a bit of backstory to go with them.

The Rederburg Back Story

Grandpa (Howard Rederburg)

On my mother’s side, I have ties to Sweden and England.  My mother’s maiden name is Rederburg; however, when I research my family members before the 1850’s I have to look under the name Jacobson as this was our family name before this time. My great- great- great- great grandfather (not sure of his name) was in the military in Germany at one point. He met a man who’s last name was Rederburg. During this time, there was an abundance of Jacobson’s in Sweden, so he decided to change their last name to Rederburg.

My great-great grandfather Swan Rederburg made the choice to leave Sweden with his family and ‘settled’ in Wheaton, Minesota. At this time, the Canadian Government has parcels of land up for purchase throughout the prairies. Swan moved with his family by Wagon to Canada and purchased a piece of land by Midale, Saskatchewan. They wanted to be farmers and ‘own’ some land. One of Swan’s children, Oscar, or my great-grandfather, met a young lady by the name of Doris Sykes and soon they got married. Doris’s family was from Carievale, SK, which is where her family created their home when they came from England to Canada.

Oscar worked as a banker for a few years in Griffin, SK, before purchasing some land just outside of Benson, SK. Doris and Oscar had five children: Alfred, Clifford, Aida, Marion and Howard, who is my grandfather. Howard  attended the school in Benson until he was in grade 8 and then he started to work for a farmer. Soon, he wanted his own land. Starting when he was 16, every winter he would go to Regina and work for Sears as a transport truck driver.  As he spent the whole winter in Regina, he started to attend a youth group at one of the United Churches in the city. This is where he met Florence Hertzog, or my grandmother.   Starting going to a young people’s youth group at the united church in Regina. He met Florence Hertzog. Howard had some land that he and his brothers farmed and then after  they got married they bought more. They had three daughters; Theresa, Michelle, Debbie.

Grandma (Florence Hertzog)

My Grandma grew up without a father as he passed away when she was 2. His name was Russell and he came to Canada from Germany. Margaret Gerdes, was my grandmother’s mom. She came from England with her family. Margaret and Russell met each other on the boat coming to Canada. They eventually decided to live and raise a family in Regina, SK. Wayne, Roy, Harold and Florence are the four children of Margaret and Russell.

 

 

rederburg-side

The deBoth Back Story

Grandpa (Frank deBoth)

On my dad’s side of the family, I have ties to Holland and England. My great grandparents on the deBoth side, immigrated to Canada from Holland. Their names, Frank and Elizabeth deBoth settled in Saskatchewan and raised four children: Frank, Theresa, Fred and Elizabeth. My last name is often spelt “de Both” or “Deboth”, however, I have always spelt it “deBoth” as in “de-both-of-us”. This has caused me to have a more difficult time figuring out a backstory for this side of the family. My grandpa does not talk much about his parents, so I am still working to figure out more information about the deBoth side of my family.

Grandma (Mary Siddons)

My grandma’s parents, Elsie and James Siddons, moved from England to Canada. They chose Saskatchewan as their landing pad and raised 5 children: Penny, Mary, Gene, Gordon and Noreen. Since my Grandma and her siblings have passed away, I am still working to figure out more information about the Siddon’s side of my family as well.

deboth-side

Considering Myself As Settler

I was faced with considering myself as a settler when my group decided to pick the topic of the term settler for our group facilitation. I was intrigued by this topic because I still have difficulty calling myself a settler. During the preparation for this seminar, I read various materials regarding the term settler. One passage stood out to me and I used it as a part of or seminar as it helped me understand a bit more about what the term settler means to me.

Settler. The word voices relationships to structures and processes in Canada today, to the histories of our peoples on this land, to Indigenous peoples, and to our own day-to-day choices and actions. Settler. This word turns us towards uncomfortable realisations, difficult subjects and potential complicity in systems of dispossession and violence. Settler. The word represents a tool, a way of understanding and choosing to act differently. A tool we can use to confront the fundamental problems and injustices in Canada today. Settler. It is analytical, personal. and uncomfortable. It can be an identity that we claim or deny, but that we inevitably live and embody. It is who we are, as a people, on these lands. ”

” We are Settler Canadians.”

Lowman, E. & Barker, A. (2015); Settler Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada.; Fernwood Publishing, Black Point, Nova Scotia. Print. Pg. 2.

Reading this passage solidified for me that I am a settler. As a part of my treaty walk, I have been looking for opportunities to learn more and expand my learning or perhaps unlearn some of my colonial ways. In the opportunity of reading about the term settler, I was awoken to the idea that the reason that I have had great difficulty with calling myself a settler is because it disrupts my identity that was rooted in being a Canadian citizen. I have realized that I am a settler as my ancestors came from Holland and started a new life for themselves in Canad. After this reading, I tried to tell myself that the term settler is not a bad one for me to associated with; however, it is a part of my truth and my life story and in order for me to truly understand who I am, I must accept and adapt that term.

In saying this, I naturally bring up the topic of naming oneself. From the beginning of my ECCU journey until now, I have realized that I am a settler, but I am not satisfied with that term. The passion and connection that I have felt towards learning about and engaging with Indigenous Peoples worldview and knowledge has shown me that I am a Settler who wants to know more. One of my peers, April, named herself as a “Seeking Settler” and this far in my journey, I would say that this is the term that I would name myself as. However, I know that the more I learn, and the more I explore what it means to be a treaty person, that I acquire my own name for myself. That is all for now.

Until next time,

Miss Jenna deBoth

The Notion of Unlearning

The other day, in a conversation with my classmate Jason, the term unlearning came up. I was intrigued by this term as I have always thought about learning since I am pursuing a career as an educator. The idea of unlearning sparked my interest because I started to think about having a wrong view or maybe a misinformed view about a topic. Later on in the day, as I attended a small smudging ceremony for class, this term was brought up again. Unlearning was directly related to the idea of learning ‘Canadian’ history in school and how many people have missed learning about treaties, treaty promises and the impact of treaties.

An introduction to this term provoked a thought in my mind that I need to reconsider my previous teaching about history in this country. Furthermore, I require a reflective lens about history when I am discussing it as this will ensure that I include all aspects of the history of this land.

The main reason I am divulging into the term unlearning is due to the fact that, through personal reflections, I have come to understand that our euro-western worldview has taught us history and ‘facts’ that are based on one side of the story. This settler story, holds great prejudice against indigenous peoples and lacks the complexity of these past issues. These “Canadian” historical stories show the depiction of Indigenous peoples as those who were in need of saving and “civilizing”.  Through my University journey, I realize that this is not the case and that in fact Indigenous people way of life before colonization and contact was complex, complete and meaningful.

I am fortunate to be a part of the Anti-Bias and Anti-Oppressive education program at the University of Regina which focuses on ensuring that all students and staff feel safe, respect and represented in their daily lives. This education degree has helped to open my eyes to the injustices that have occurred in the past and to do my part to “unlearning” the past and learn it from multiple perspectives so that I can better education my students some day. With this reflective view, my future students will hopefully not have to take this same “unsettling” journey as I because it will be a part of their lives growing up. This semester, I am challenging myself to have a reflective lens when I am analyzing the world around me.

For now, I leave you with this: My hope for this semester, is that I will have many moments when I have the opportunity to “unlearn” the colonial past and customs and take time to educate myself with multiple perspectives instead of having tunnel vision.

Until next time,

Jenna

Rethinking My Own Identity: A Purposeful Planning Post

This semester, I was introduced to the concept of a treaty walk. I am aware that this can be taken in different ways. In my mind, a treaty walk is your purposeful planning to put yourself in experiences or expose yourself to new ideas that help you better understand what it means to be a treaty person and what your role in reconciliation is. With this in mind, I have collected some thoughts about what actions I plan to take this semester to help myself understand what it means to be a treaty person.

The first purposeful step was to research different events and activities that are happening in the local area, that I can attend. My classmate Shayla, was kind enough to share two events happening at the University regarding residential school experiences and understanding identity. These events are put on by Daniella Zalcman. I plan to attend each of these (January 26 & 30) as well as make connection to this topic in regards to my identity and how it relates to myself in the role of a teacher.

The second purposeful step is to listen for opportunities that arise in my daily life that can help me understand my role as a treaty person. By listening to the world around me, I open my eyes to learning experiences I would have missed otherwise. This concept arose from an instructor in my ELIB class. She spoke about looking for opportunities and being open to ones that are outside of your comfort zone because this is how you grow and experience the world fully.

For now, I leave you with this. I plan to continue to blog about my different experiences as they arise and their connection to my emerging identity as a treaty person.

Until next time,

Jenna

Rethinking My Own Identity: An Introduction

For those who have made it this far on my blog and are still not sure, welcome to my blog. I’m Jenna deBoth and I have decided to change up my mindset. Throughout University, I have started to realize that I was very sheltered growing up. By this, I am referring to lack of experiences I had to self-determine my identity. Being a child in a small town meant that I followed in the beliefs and values of my parents. Not until I came to Regina was I submerged with various different and unique ideologies and perspectives.

My parents have always followed a fairly conservative christian belief system. When I was young, we regularly went to church and took part in various fellowship activities. As I started to get involved in extracurricular activities, I started to choose friends and dance class over attending church on Sunday Afternoons. My parents were very accepting of this as they wanted me to figure out where I fit into the world. Due to this, I started to pull away from our local Lutheran Church. I always felt that something would take its place, but throughout high school, nothing ever did. To make matters more interesting, during this time, I started to go through coming of age and trying to figure out what my place in the world is. In the chaotic blur of adolescence, I did not worry about have a religious belief so for a long time I often forgot about thinking about my were.

In the beginning of University, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people at the University in comparison to my small town high school, this caused me to revert to staying in my room and away from others. By second semester, I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and start to connect with people around me. I pursued a group on campus that got me involved in volunteer experiences. This opened my eyes to the number of different perspectives that existed in the world. Around the end of my 2nd year of University, I realized that I needed to figure out where I fit into our world. In theory, this realization was the true beginning of my search for my spot in the world.

Now, I want to clarify a few things. First, I have always been someone who has wanted to be a teacher and share my love of learning with the world. I realize that the explanation above could be interpreted as I had no motivation in life, but this is not the case. Basically, if you thought about my life as a puzzle, at the end of second year university, I was a 3/4 completed puzzle, but the rest of the puzzle pieces were missing from the box. The second point I wanted to clarify is that I know many people who know me would not believe it, but yes, at one point in my life (for about 6 months, but who’s counting…) I was an introvert and avoided people and interactions.

So, if you have stuck with me this far in this post, you might be wondering what values and beliefs of the past have to do with changing my mindset. Please, let me take a moment to explain.

Since the end of my second year of University, I have explicitly been exposed to information about Indigenous peoples in Canada. I had the opportunity to be a part of a Treaty Education workshop, along with my fellow classmates. On top of that, I took on a responsibility to not only learn about residential school experiences, but also I trained and eventually facilitated Witness Blanket experiences with various groups of school ages youth. Learning about Indigenous perspectives and worldview has become of great interest for me.

In the recent weeks, I have realized that I have a strong interest in these topics because I strongly relate to this worldview. I strongly believe that the world is interconnected and when something happens it causes a reaction. Growing up with a mother who works as a counselor, I have a strong respect for the four parts of health and I can always tell when one part of my self is lacking and how that affects me as a whole. I want to learn more about this perspective in hopes that it will be able to fill a part of that void in my understanding where my beliefs and values fit into the world.

For now, I leave you with this. I have realized that in order to make a change in your life or truly understand who you are, you must make a deliberate decision to try new things, expose yourself to new experiences to help yourself learn and grow. I look forward to learning more about my classmates, treaty education, indigenous perspectives and myself during this semester.

Until next time,

Jenna