January 12th, 2017.
I am just going to start this by saying WOW! what an experience. My eyes were opened to so many doors tonight and I love all the new insights I gained from this incredible experience.
I had the opportunity to present Noel Starblanket with the offering of tabaco and cloth to ask that he smudge with us and share his knowledge.There are a few new pieces I gained on my Treaty walk about offering tabaco. The cloth is to be 100% cotton and the person who you are presenting it to might ask for a certain colour (Noel asked for sky blue to honour the spirits in the sky) and that the tabaco should be Virgina Shag. For this offering, we laid the loose tabaco on the cloth but the tabaco can also be enclosed in a cloth pouch. As I was presenting this offering there were many thoughts and questions that I had. I had made sure that I knew a rough outline of what I was going to say but there were many things that I did not think of beforehand because I was relying on my general knowledge of talking to other ‘settler’ people if you could say. As I was about to approach Noel, I was sort of panicking. Am I supposed to look him in the eye or not make eye contact? Do I shake his hand? Do I address him before making the offering? I did not think to ask these questions because of my ‘common’ knowledge about everyday interactions with my peers. I came to another realisation that I am not well educated in the formalities of Indigenous peoples or what they might take offence to or find disrespectful. After I made the offering I was also having a few thoughts such as did I talk to fast? Did I say the right things? Did he expect me to do anything more? I feel comfortable with the fact that I always do not have all of these answers because I am aware that I am coming to terms with my identity as a Treaty person and that I have a lot of learning to do. However, I do not feel comfortable with the assumptions I find myself subconsciously making and the feelings of doubt when faced with anything related to this topic. I am definitely excited to be on this journey and to be able to feel more confident in the classroom with Treaty Ed. and embracing my Treaty ‘identity’. I know that I will be able to make a difference in my students’ lives so that they can grow up being aware of these things that I did not have the experience with for the most part of my life.
Here are some pictures of the offering I made tonight.
I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments tonight and connections were continually being made in my mind. Here are some highlights for me from this smudging experience with Andrew and Noel:
- Noel has a very calming attitude and I felt so welcome and invited in his presence. Even though it was a totally new experience for me, he made me feel appreciated, he was not judgemental or discriminating of anybody or any culture and this is how I want my classroom to feel for all of the people entering it.
- He shared with us how much he values women and their importance in the culture. He was not ashamed to admit that he believes that women are greater than men and he also shared their roles in the community. Noel gets women to pick his plants so that a part of them touch his medicine and that women are in charge of life. He referred to them as the lodge because they are the fire of life and this was very beautiful
- he had to unlearn all of the ‘white’ culture so that he could relearn his own because it had been ripped away from him.
- “the more humble you are, the more powerful you are”
It was incredibly inspiring to hear Noel’s story and it really put my life into perspective for me. This experience is something that I will carry with me throughout my life and reflect on periodically. I realize that there are so many things I take for granted in my life and immersing myself into the ideas of what it was like for Noel and many more individuals being robbed of so much in their lives makes me ten times more grateful for the life that I am able to live.