Today is National Indigenous People’s Day in Canada and the DLC is proud to celebrate our nation’s heritage through our Native Studies 30 course, an exploration of Canada’s Indigenous history. Carol Mackey, one of the DLC’s Native Studies 30 teachers, shares the experience of one of her students, and how it changed her perspective:
I have never learned so much practical, applicable and meaningful information in a high school course before. I am so thankful I made the decision to take Native Studies 30. I was definitely lacking knowledge about First Nations culture before I started this course, but I wasn’t necessarily interested in learning more because I did not expect the course material to be so relevant. I was pleased to find out that the course was more than just the history between European settlers and Native tribes. I had limited exposure to the truths about residential schools, the government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, and the injustices they still face because of those two factors. My opinions have changed and my understanding and consideration for all people has grown as a result of this self-challenging course material.
I was personally impacted by the end of unit one where I learned about stereotypes and why they are harmful to the First Nations people because I realized how insensitive I was and how much I did not know. I was made aware that I had no place to judge, joke or speak out about First Nations because I was next to clueless. I still have questions on how to get more involved because I have a heart for people and I do not want to just leave my learning with the conclusion of this course. I believe that through my future career in healthcare I can find a way to make a difference and serve the First Nations population much better.
I am taking away an optimistic, fresh perception and attitude from this course. I am also taking away information and facts that back up my opinions so that I can stand up for the Native culture in my school, workplace, family, friends and life. I love being educated about practical things and I look forward to furthering my knowledge eventually.
The resiliency of the First Nations culture inspires me, motivates me and challenges me. I think that this statement is more than just a statement about the course, but also a realization on flash judgments because before I took this course I would never be able to say that. It is absolutely true that you can’t judge a person until you walk a mile in their shoes or take a course on their history for that matter.
I am encouraged by the direction the relationship between First Nations people and the Canadian government is going due to being resilient and “not getting over it until it’s fixed” (6.10).” I would give Canada a little over a D grade because that is a little less than half way. I believe we have overcome E and F together, but we still have B and C to go; the funding, the relationship, the trust, the attitude changes to develop. I don’t know what A will look like or if Canada can ever get to 100% forgiveness because many First Nations expressed throughout his course that they will move on once it is fixed, but they won’t forget. It’s like the saying, “once a paper is crumpled it can’t be completely flattened again.” I definitely believe that Canada deserves that D grade because the barriers we have overcome so far have been crucial to further movement and we should all be proud of that progress. Indigenous people in Canada are still facing injustices, but just as reconciliation and forgiveness will take time so will having funding in place, building schools, improving infrastructure, educating the public and removing the stereotypes so we can move forward together and be proud to all be treaty people.