Understanding Symbols: Seminar 4

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,

Jenna deBoth




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.