Another key learning from peer seminar groups was from seminar four which discussed symbols in treaty making. A powerful symbol that was discussed was the handshake. This symbol represented many things; however each one relates to a promise. I am aware that the handshakes or signs of promises made at treaty negotiations were not kept; however, I wonder what that says about the importance that settler people put on having a firm handshake. I remember when I was in my career guidance class in Grade 9 and our teacher asked us to practice handshakes so that one day when we went for job interviews that we would have a strong and firm handshake to show our confidence. After learning more about the symbolism behind handshakes, my idea of the importance of handshakes has diminished. I strongly believe that if handshakes were valued as much as we, settler people, pretend that they are then we would have done everything in our power not to break the promises that we made my shaking hands with out Indigenous neighbors during treaty negotiations.
Other symbols were brought up in seminar four such as the bible. This made me think about symbols that exist in my life and how people misconstrued them to be something else. For example, I have a tattoo on my left hip that includes a rosary. I have had many people ask if I have this symbol because of its association with religion and in turn they assume that I am a Christian. Well they are not entirely wrong, but this symbol is not for me; instead it is a replica of my grandmother’s rosary that I got when she passed away. I have the image tattooed on me in honour of her with little connection to the symbol as it pertains to religious beliefs.
During seminar four, I appreciated the opportunity to create a flag that represented me as a treaty person or my journey towards understanding myself as treaty person. As a flag is another form of symbol, let me take a moment to explain what my flag means in reference to its image below.
First, let’s talk about the background. In the background is a bunch of trees and blue sky. This represents my belief that in order to fully understand myself as a treaty person I must think about where I am from and where to go from there. My home town of Hudson Bay is located in the middle of the forest in Northeast Saskatchewan and trees are a natural symbol that reminds me of its geological location.
Secondly, let’s take a deeper look at the eyes and the book on this flag. The eyes represent my awareness and my openness towards learning about treaty issues both past and contemporary. The eyes also represent my curiosity that pushes me to want to learn more so that I can be a stronger educator. Also, the eyes represent the main part of my treaty walk, which is being open to opportunities and taking hold of those as frequently as I can.
Finally, the book represents the literature that I have taken up as a part of my treaty walk. This would be articles that I find online, books I have found in stores or even the literature shared with my by peers, life speakers, instructors or anyone else. I strongly believe that stories, whether written or verbally shared, are a key way to help myself understand who I am as a treaty person.
Symbolism is everywhere in our world. I have made a promise to myself as a part of my treaty walk, to inquire into symbols further so that I may be respectful of those symbols as well as able to teach an appreciation for symbols to my students one day.
Until next time,