January 10th, 2017.
The word Miskâsowin means to find one’s sense of self/center and origin/belonging. This word also would not have meant much to me before learning the meaning but it really does have a lot of impact on my life. I have found myself trying to ‘find myself’ many times throughout my life. Entering high school, I struggled with this a lot and always thought I needed to fit in and do what everyone else was doing. Thinking back on this seems very strange now because I embrace being different and love the idea of having a story that is only mine to share. I grew up in a small town of about 300 people, so entering the city and attending the University of Regina, I definitely had a lot of finding myself to do. Nothing was familiar and everything seemed so daunting and scary, I was not one to leave my comfort zone so this was big soul searcher for me. I embraced this journey again when diving into my educational practices and finding myself as a teacher. I have always had big dreams about what I want my teaching to look like, but actually making this happen inside the classroom is another story. The thing that I love about all of these journeys I’ve had in my life of finding my center and balancing it, is that each time is a totally new experience and I learn different things about myself that I did not know before. I am currently on the journey of finding my center as a Treaty person and today I volunteered to present an Elder with tabaco and cloth at our smudging ceremony in a few days. This is something that I would never normally have the courage to do, but my mind was telling me to go for it and embrace the new experience and I am very glad that I listened.
It is important for me to start thinking about my identity and what this means in relation to my personal journey for a balanced center. “It’s okay. Names are linked to identity and notions of identity are fluid” (Vowel, 2016). This quote made me feel comfortable that I do not have a specific identity yet and that identities are not black and white, they are messy and confusing. Confused is definitely how I feel right now regarding identities. I certainly know what terms are not acceptable to use when discussing Treaty Ed. but exactly what terms to use that are culturally appropriate is a blurry line for me.
Aboriginal- I am now aware that the term Aboriginal refers to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and is similar to the term Indigenous, however it is generic and overused. When using the term Aboriginal, it is important to refer to people as Aboriginals rather than Aboriginal peoples.
Indigenous- I am now aware that this is an all encompassing term that includes First Nation, Inuit and Metis peoples. This is a good term to use when talking about Indigenous peoples all over the world instead of being country specific.
First Nations- I used to use this term loosely to identify many different peoples but have learnt that it does not include Inuit or Metis peoples because they are not included in the Indian Act. This is a good term for the diverse groups of people that have similar interests and issues both political and cultural.
Inuit- This term replaces ‘Eskimo’ which is a term that should not be used unless referring to the Yupik and Inupiat peoples of Alaska.
Metis- I have learnt that this is a ‘Canadian’ name and that Metis are an indigenous people
Native American- this term is commonly used in the United States and should not be used unless talking about the American Indian Movement.
This was a bit overwhelming to me because I realize that I have been using/have used terms that some people might take offence to and that is never my intention at all! Now to try and identify what my ‘label’ would be.. Do I identify with Canadian? settler? Non-Indigenous? Settler-colonial? I am still not sure on this ‘title’ of mine and this is something that I will be spending some time trying to unpack.
Vowel, Chelsea. 2016. Indigenous Writes. Highwater Press, Canada.