I hold these two identities in which are settler and Canadian. Which one do I identify with? This is the question that I am faced with today and have started to unpack.
Canadian is at the forefront of who I am, it is the basis for my identity and who I have shaped into as an individual. I am ever so proud to state that I am apart of Canada. I grew up here and Canada is in my blood. Canadians are nice, polite welcome people right? This is always what we hear and embrace. I love eating poutine and taking part in snow activities. I become overwhelmed with emotions when singing the national anthem is schools everyday. I am surrounded by Canadian culture and feel pride when seeing Canadian flags on cars, patios, motor homes etc. Canada day brings the most joy to my life when I look around and see everyone embracing our cultural traditions and celebrations.
At least this is how I used to feel..
Feelings of shame and guilt overcome me when looking back on these thoughts that used to consume me. I have came to the realisation that this is a very colonial way of thinking and that I do not want to be bringing these colonial ways of thinking into a classroom with me. When I step back and think about Canada, I see that things are not always equal and respect is not always upheld. Sure, we claim to be multicultural, but what about all those ‘buts’ that come with immigration into Canada. ‘You are allowed to embrace your cultural beliefs but you must …’ This reality does not embrace the polite, welcoming and nice attitude that I was convinced Canadians held. This attitude of mine came from the education – or lack there of – that I had throughout school. I received little education on Indigenous peoples and their culture. I especially lacked knowledge about colonisation from an Indigenous view, which widely affected my perspectives on what it means to be a Treaty person. The lack of education that I had received greatly affected my worldview and the principles that I had for myself.
I included the above black and white picture for a purposeful reason. This is what the term ‘settler’ symbols for me. When I look at this picture, I don’t feel connected to it an it remind me of something that happened a long time ago. The term settler almost makes me feel this way and brings feelings that disturb my ‘comfort’ zone. This makes me feel very uncomfortable because I am not a settler, I did not do those unspeakable things. My white privilege never made me think of a connection between settler and Canadian before but not that I am immersed into such rich classes and conversation, I am beginning to think can you really be a Canadian without being a settler? I am no longer as proud to be Canadian because without all of the ‘settling’ that happened, there would not be a Canada to be proud of. I think that it is crucial as part of my Treaty walk that I am uncomfortable with the term settler and I do not think that this makes me any less of an educator. If I become truly comfortable and confident in an area, then I have stopped my learning process and this is something that I always want to be continuing and embracing. I am a lifelong learner and wish to create many other lifelong learners along my journey.
The power of education is truly incredible. I am on an amazing journey of uneducating myself of the misinterpreted way that I received my knowledge and gaining a deeper meaning of what it is to be a Treaty person and how to embrace this in my classroom so that my students do not grow up with the colonial ideologies that I unfortunately did.