The Power (& Privilege) of Choice.

Witness Not Tourist.

Why hello…. haven’t been here in a while. I know what you are thinking; must be nice, right? To remove yourself at a whim from the discomfort which arises as a result of difficult learning (and unlearning). Must be relieving to effortlessly ditch the “weight on your chest inhibiting your ability to breathe” feeling that accompanies growth alongside emotional vulnerability….

I often find myself thinking about the choice and commitment to this work that my privilege affords me – I can choose to walk away when it gets hard; step back when I start to feel uncomfortable. I simply did just that; I shared this blog with the world, proud of the growth I had witnessed within myself and my students. Then, just like a tired novel, I shut the door on this experience and moved onward with my life without looking back (or even considering looking back, for that…

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Bearing Witness & Hope To Reconcile

Witness Not Tourist.

“We need to honor the survivors and remember the children who were lost. We need to speak openly about these stories to ensure this never happens again.” – Carey Newman

Reconciliation has become so important to me, as I continue to come to understand my role and responsibility within this process. For myself, the first step in becoming an ally for reconciliation was coming to understand the concept of bearing witness: “To bear witness is to show by your existence something is true.” – Carey Newman, Witness Blanket Artist. I feel as though I have gone through an extensive learning experience (even though there is FAR more to accomplish) alongside the Witness Blanket that has allowed me to truly bear witness – acknowledging the past, accepting the present and having hope for the future. I have realized the influence my white settler ancestors have had on the formation and betrayal…

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Moving Forward, Never Forgetting

Witness Not Tourist.

This experience has been vastly overwhelming – a process of unpacking and personal (emotional) growth.

I have recently become passionate about integrating social justice issues in the classroom. Naturally then, I was looking for ways to provide the students in me pre-internship classroom with an impactful, socially just experience. After dialoguing with my co-operating teacher and a few education professors, I decided that taking my students to the Moving Forward, Never Forgetting exhibit at the MAG was exactly the kind of experience my three-week block planning was missing. I had heard great things about the exhibit and really looked forward to the experience – my enthusiasm was evident, that is for sure!

Upon entering the gallery, my breath was immediately taken away. I am unsure as to whether this was because of the evident beauty among the diversity of the art pieces or because of the impactful first-impressions I felt…

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Family Matters

Witness Not Tourist.

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…

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P (people) – L (land) – A (acknowledge) – C (community, creator) – E (experiences).

Witness Not Tourist.

The concept of place has strongly resonated with me throughout this experience thus far; I have come to realize the importance of our connection with place, recognizing the ways in which place shapes our lives. Community, in many aspects, shapes who we are and where we are headed in our journey. I truly believe that community, and within that spectrum family and relationships, have a significant impact on the current perspectives, values and beliefs that we hold – we are, at times, products of where we are from.

I am coming to understand the importance of place in our journey and the ways in which where we have been can affect where we are headed. Prior to the experiences I have had in the past few years, the concept of place has not been an overly relevant (conscious) understanding of mine – meaning, I had never really considered the ways…

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Sitting (Learning) In Good Company

Witness Not Tourist.

Sitting with the Witness Blanket brings new insight each time; the details within the piece seem to be endless – I am continuously noticing new elements. I am continuously experiencing new emotions; I am continuously broadening my perspectives…I am (and I think I always will be) learning (and unlearning).

Here I am, spending time sitting on the floor blogging as I take in this experience; there are people walking past me, giving me strange looks – I can only imagine what they are thinking (‘the girl who befriended the blanket’, I am sure!). I often wonder why there are so many people who pass by the Witness Blanket every day, yet never take the time to stop and take in its beauty. Maybe they are not ready to go to that ‘place’ within themselves yet; when speaking with Joseph, he shared his observation: people are either overtly ready for reconciliation…

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AVOIDANCE.

Witness Not Tourist.

The next ‘step’ (phase?) in this process is for me to begin unpacking everything I have learned thus far…however, I have been extensively avoiding this task:

  • I am feeling discomforted (I am scared, overwhelmed – why?).
  • I am feeling guilty (why had I not learned about this [Colonization, Residential Schools, Reconciliation] until recently [upon entering University]?).
  • I am feeling outraged (I feel as though my ignorance (lack of knowing) in  some ways has contributed to the reproduction of oppression towards Aboriginal Peoples).
  • I am feeling heartbroken (putting things into perspective…wishing I could even come close to understanding)….

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Every person you meet touches you in some way, indefinitely – like signatures on your soul.