my miskâsowin process

Miskasowin. Identity. Relationships. Action. History. Journey. Perspectives. Treaties. ReconciliACTION. Reflection. White settler. Critique. Allies. Treaty person. Disruption. Complicating. Explanation.

These words have stuck with me during the process of finding out who I am.

Miskasowin: Finding one’s sense of origin & belonging; Finding ‘one’s self’ or Finding ‘one’s center’.

This was the first Cree word I learned. I think about this word a lot because I have been trying to figure out who I am and what my purpose is. I think about how I have grown in my identity now compared to many years ago. I realize the importance of building and maintaining relationships. I realize that if I want to take action, I have to do more than having conversations with others. I realize that I might be uncomfortable talking about First Nations, Metis, Indigenous peoples because I will always be learning. This is complicating but I realize that as a future teacher, there are going to be lessons and topics that are uncomfortable but that is all part of the journey.

Tapwewin: speaking the truth with precision and accuracy.

This Cree word is one that I hope I always remember the meaning of. I am going to be a teacher which means I have to speak the truth in everything I teach. Since I am still uncomfortable with teaching about Canada’s hard past, I need to make sure I am speaking the truth because I want my students to fully understand the truth.

In the last few years, I would say that I have moved on from being uneducated, having only a Eurocentric worldview and being scared to take action to being educated, understanding our history, building relationships, reflecting about who I am, taking action and realizing that I am always learning. I am able to identify who I am; a white, able-bodied, cyst-woman, settler. I think these are big steps into the journey I am on as a future teacher.

Roads to ReconciliACTION

| Road to Telling the Truth |

This was the title at my group’s table during the ‘Roads to ReconciliACTION’ event that we held at the U of R. This event was very successful in my opinion.

At my table, we had resources about residential schools for all ages, survivor stories and we had common misconceptions that people think about residential schools posted on the wall for people to read as they were walking by. We had a lot of important conversations with people who stopped at our table and we had a lot of people thank us for setting up our table with the resources that we had available.

This event especially had a big impact on my own miskâsowin process. It made me think critically about any tough conversations that I might be approached with that day, any positive conversations I would have with people and how I would come up with words and phrases to make sure I am speaking the truth and getting my information correct. It also had me thinking about how far I have come in finding out who I am. Just a few years ago, I had barely any knowledge about Canada’s history, residential schools, intergenerational trauma from residential schools, the red dress project and even more. I wish that I would have grown up learning about all of these things because they are a part of Canada’s history and that means it is a part of my history.

I am making up for all of the lost years that I did not learn about this very important information. I can definitely say that I know more now than I ever have and that plays a huge role in who I am. I will always be learning and I will take it in my classroom with me when I am a teacher. I will never forget this event that my class put on in our last year of university. We are all so passionate and I definitely found who I am and who I am supposed to be through this process of the event and throughout my 4 years of university.

150 Acts of Reconciliation

A presentation in class this week got me thinking about a lot of things. We talked about Canada 150  and how some things that happened during Canada 150 weren’t heard of or talked about. To be honest, I did not hear much about events that happened during Canada 150 celebrations and I was shocked to hear about some things that happened.

One thing I learned about which I didn’t even know existed was the 150 Acts of Reconciliation for Canada’s 150. These 150 acts are everyday acts that Canadians can undertake and these encourage people to think about the relationship between Indigenous peoples and settlers. Some of these are small acts like number 4 that says to attend a cultural event such as a pow pow. One of the bigger acts is number 63 that says to write to Justin Trudeau and ask that the government implement the promises he made to Indigenous people during the 2015 election.

As a future educator, these 150 acts are great to implement into a classroom. Some of these smaller acts can be done within the classroom where the students can have a part in it as well. I am hoping to use this document within my classroom because these things we can do today. We don’t have to wait to do these acts. These kinds of things can help students to feel like they are in charge of something and that they can make a difference in some way, even if it’s a small difference.

I love learning about new things like this and to find more resources to use within my classroom. Treaty Education should be implemented into every subject and this document can be incorporated with Treaty Education. I will continue finding resources that I can use in my teaching career.

white supremacy

White Supremacy is a term that I have not thought about much or even used much. I also did not realize that it is a form of racism. Maybe I don’t use this term much because I don’t admit that I am a white person and I have been racist in my life before and I am not proud of it.

Two years ago, I had a professor who looked at everyone in the auditorium and told all of us that we are racist. We were a group of Education students and we were definitely taken aback when the professor said this. Now two years later, I realize that this was said for a reason. My professor said this because it was true at the time. Maybe we didn’t realize it at first, but we were all racist even if it wasn’t intentional.

I used to have the mindset of a white supremacist and white privilege and I can admit that now. I was oblivious to racism around me and that I was racist in my thinking. I believe that I was this way because I have not experienced discrimination or anything of that sort. I am glad that I know now how I was back then because my mindset has changed so much since then. As a future educator, I have such different thoughts and understandings now because I am more educated about hard topics. I will continue learning for the rest of my life as a teacher but I am glad because I want to pass down that knowledge to my classrooms and my students.

intergenerational trauma

My topic for my presentation this week was intergenerational trauma with a focus on residential schools. I decided to write about it here because this is a topic that is very hard for me to talk about so I want to put myself in that position, where even though I am vulnerable and uncomfortable, I am talking about it because it is so important.

Intergenerational trauma is a constant cycle that passes down to many generations. First Nations and Indigenous peoples were taken from their homes to residential schools, there for many years, then able to go back home. Some of these survivors suffered from many different factors (health issues, substance abuse, PTSD). They were in this cycle for a long time. These cycles were passed on to their children because they were all living through it every single day. Their children ended up suffering from the same factors as their parents.

Do you see how this repeats? It is heartbreaking to even think about it. Part of our history is something that I will never understand. Even though I will never understand why this happened, does not mean I won’t take the time to learn about it. I think partly the reason why I am uncomfortable talking about it is because I don’t know the survivor’s stories. I don’t know what they really experienced in residential schools. But I know that I can learn and eventually be able to teach about these hard parts of history.

I know that I will make every effort to keep learning about these hard topics and hopefully be comfortable enough to teach them in my own classroom. I definitely will not stop learning and continuing to grow with these topics.

how do i make a change?

I have a hard time finding the words to type about this topic. Something has taken over social media over the past 4 days – the Gerald Stanley case. There are a lot of opinions about this topic and that’s just it, they are opinions. Some of the opinions in the media are very disappointing to see, but among all of that, I just try to think about what on earth I can do to show my support. At this point, it’s not about what I will teach in my classroom when I have my own, even though that is important too, but at this moment it is about what I can do RIGHT NOW.

I can think of a few things off the top of my head – participating in rallies, participating in any ceremonies, having a voice in my community. We grow up taught to not question authority and people in power – but at this point, questioning the justice is all I am doing. I think about having tough conversations with people who are close to me who have a different mindset than I do. Thinking about that scares me but it’s time to do it.

I am a white settler. I do not experience what some Indigenous peoples have experienced from the outcome of this trial. It is not fair. Something needs to change but that doesn’t happen by just saying things. Action needs to happen and I want to be a part of that action.

miskâsowin | missing & murdered Indigenous women | cultural appropriation

I learned about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Cultural Appropriation last class. Both of these are extremely important topics.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is a topic that is hard to get into without feeling emotional and vulnerable. I cannot even begin to imagine how these families feel knowing their mothers, daughters, nieces and granddaughters won’t be coming home because they are either missing or murdered. There needs to be a step towards finding these women and bringing them back to their lives, or trying to find a way to stop this monstrosity from happening to these women and families.

Cultural Appropriation is a topic that is very important as well. We need to know what things to say/to not say, what things to wear/to not wear so that we are not offending a culture or group of people. It happens a lot with famous people and they do these things without even realizing it is actually wrong to do.

Both of these topics make me think about my identity and the process of finding out who I am as a person. Those women who are missing or murdered lost their whole identity, and for what? These kinds of things should not be happening and that is where I struggle because I just think, why does this happen? Cultural appropriation relates to your identity as well because it represents the identity of many different cultural groups. I like to think I know what my identity is but to have that taken away from me for any reason would be terrifying so I can’t even begin to imagine how these people feel when they have to go through it.

There needs to be a change and I want to try and be a part of that change.

kihci-asotamâtowin & miyo-wîcêhtowin

kihci-asotamâtowin- Sacred Promises to One Another, the Treaty Sovereign’s Sacred Undertakings

miyo-wîcêhtowin– Getting along well with others; good relations; expanding the circle

These two words perfectly represent my life as a future teacher. Being a teacher is all about those sacred relationships, working with others, getting along with others and opening up to more people. I know that I will remember these two words forever because I will take them with me when I am teaching.

A treaty is an agreement between a group of individuals. I want to continue to teach the spirit and intent of treaties as something that is normal and real. It is almost a pact between both parties where they are agreeing on certain terms and guidelines together as one. It is not meant to be broken or turned back on. This is like my relationship with my students and faculty. This is like my dedication to teach important content that some people maybe don’t teach. This is my effort to keep a promise to be someone who is always honest and hardworking and to build and get along with many people along the way.

It is interesting when I start thinking about these two words. I think about how I can take these two words with me and for them to never lose their importance. I can keep them alive in my teaching and I hope to do that.



kihci-asotamâtowin – Sacred Promises to One Another, the Treaty Sovereign’s Sacred Undertakings

I just learned what this word meant last week. I participated in a pipe ceremony and it had me thinking a lot. I have never been involved in a pipe ceremony before so I did not know what to expect or what I thought it was going to be. After the pipe ceremony, we started talking about this word kihci-asotamâtowin and I started to think about how during the pipe ceremony, it felt that we were all together in this circle and it felt like it was a sacred time. The atmosphere around us was calm and felt sacred the whole time. I thought it was neat that a ceremony like that made us feel so connected to one another. I am grateful to have been a part of that.

I considered myself as a whole during that experience. I was thinking about my identity, what I believe in, what I was feeling and what my body was experiencing. It was nothing that I have ever done before and it really had me thinking about all aspects of myself and who I am. I hope to be able to participate in another pipe ceremony one day, it was an eye opening experience and a very special time with everyone.

miskâsowin #2

My name is Kate Paidel. I identify as a white, able-bodied, heterosexual female. I could probably identify as more traits as well but I have not practiced saying that so I have not mastered it yet. I think this is important to practice. If I keep saying what I identify as, it will become comfortable and easy to me (and right now, it isn’t). In Chelsea Vowel’s book Indigenous Writes, she has a very blunt and real attitude, which I really like. She talks about how names are complex and every name means something to a certain group of people or individuals (Chapters 1 and 2). She is real about how sometimes you just might offend someone with what you say, but it’s important to quickly change your mindset and learn the appropriate language and names to use when referring to anyone.

miskâsowin means Finding one’s sense of origin & belonging; Finding ‘one’s self’ or Finding ‘one’s center’. When I participated in a blanket exercise last class, it really made me think hard about my miskâsowin process and who I truly am as a person. I felt a lot of different emotions while participating in the blanket exercise, but mostly I felt like I had no words that could come out. I felt that there was nothing I could say because it can’t change what happened in history and what is still happening today. The important thing that I try to remember is that I can start now and while finding myself, I can open up my mind to other cultures, religions, backgrounds and make the effort to learn and gain knowledge about them.

tâpwêwin means speaking the truth with precision and accuracy. By learning about the blanket exercise experiencing it, it gives me hope that one day I can confidently speak the truth to my own classroom and to make sure that everything I teach is correct. That is what I fear the most while teaching; I would never want to teach something that is not accurate. I know I can continue learning more about Indigenous peoples, blanket exercises, pipe ceremonies, smudging and all of history so that my classroom can gain that knowledge from me one day.

Knowledge is key. Learning is key. I want to keep learning and applying my knowledge wherever I can and I know this is what can lead to being a successful teacher one day.