Presentation at University of British Columbia
" Reflections and Responsibilities for Canadian Aboriginal Teacher Education"
Four Arrows
Presented at UBC on March 15, 2005

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Mitakuye pi. Mi chante ata wo wogala ke, na nape chiusu pelo. Wopila tanka. My relatives, I offer each of you a warm handshake and speak from my heart. I also offer appreciation. My appreciation is to the nations and bands of the First Peoples on whose territory we gather, for this opportunity to share some words with all of you, and for the invitation that has brought me here.
My opening words were Lakota, yet I am not Lakota. I am on my father’s side, Scots-Irish mostly with some ancestry from the area of Alsace and Lorraine, a place that changed nationality several times. On my mother’s side, I am Scots, Cherokee (of the Wolf Clan) and Creek. Like many mixed bloods growing up in U.S. in the 50s, my mother did her best to discourage me from any of my Cherokee connections, thinking she was protecting me by assimilation into the white culture. It was not until my time as a Marine Corps officer during the Viet Nam war that I began to question the validity of my mother disparaging of our “Indian” heritage. Eventually, in trying to rediscover my roots, I found myself living and working with the Lakota on the Pine Ridge reserve in South Dakota, where I became a Sun Dancer and was made a relative of an Oglala band. As is the case for many American Indians, including many from Nations whose own cultures have no Sun Dance tradition, I found that its strong medicine has helped me remember that which I had almost lost- an authentic understanding of how to walk the red road, i.e. how to live life as a true human. I believe that, in a way, that which I had almost lost is also that which NITEP has been attempting to regain for Canada’s Aboriginals.
Reflecting on our personal histories is one important way for us to reflect on the past. In terms of NITEP’s mission, I think it is vital for Aboriginal students to have many opportunities to reflect on the beauty and wisdom that was manifested in the diverse Canadian bands and nations before they were conquered. It is important especially for future teachers to remember the many Aboriginal contributions to agriculture, science, technology and the arts. It is important to remember how social structures based on reciprocity, respect and relationships created relatively harmonious and healthy social systems.
It is also important, in terms of NITEP’s work with public relations, curriculum and teaching strategies, to remember the historical oppression of the original inhabitants of this land. I am referring not just to the distant past, but also to last year, last month, yesterday. Education must reflect this true history in order to expose and counter dominant cultural hegemony that still permeates schools both in the provinces and on the reserves. This has always been an important goal of NITEP, one that during the past 30 years has met with much success. However, I believe that as more and more religious fundamentalism, corporatism, militarism, neo-liberalism and neo-conservativism creeps into Canada from its influential neighbor to the south, the need for counter hegemonic education will soon be greater than ever. Concerns are already growing with regards to Canada’s exceptional commitment to social justice and clean environments. I am referring to a year 2000 report by the Canadian Medical Journal in which the authors say that a compilation of nearly 400 studies conclude that “Canada is drifting away from being a just society.” (Sibald 2000) In spite of its official stand against the Iraq war and against U.S. military recruitment of Canadian Aboriginals, such recruitment continues. This and how Aboriginals are marginalized even within the Canadian military, school drop out rates, continuing alcoholism, ongoing prejudice, and many other problems of the distant and immediate past, are just a few examples of why controversial knowledge and dialogue about Western hegemony has a place in NITEP’s teacher education programs. The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice. When we consider the reality of each of these concepts, we are forced to give serious consideration another thing Gandhi said:Gandhi was once asked what he thought about western civilization. His response was: "I think it would be a good idea."
In 1998, the Canadian government formally apologized for its role in the historical oppression of its Aboriginals. This Canadian Statement of Reconciliation contained such words as “deeply sorry,” and “profound regret.” I think this is testimony to the greatness of the Canadian people, the general direction of its collective mind, and of the hard work of programs like NITEP. However, we must ask ourselves. If we were teachers in a classroom where one student stole something from another student, in addition to asking the child to apologize, would we not also ask the child to give back what was stolen? This brings me to the second half of this presentations title- responsibilities for the future. NITEP’s continued success depends upon a balance of criticism and deconstruction of the past with hope and reconstruction for the future. I want to briefly mention some priorities I believe are vital for future considerations.
Funding:
Language Revitalization
Counter-hegemony. Raise awareness about thought and language. Research skills. Reflection on how to overcome limits. Challenge commercial consciousness. Social justice. Expose myths of elite hierarcy. Responsibility is more important than rights reciporocity more important than punishment. Difficult with new legislation like academic bill of rights in us Teaching Controversy. Strengthen relationsip between NITEP and teacher education office.(Recommendation #4.) and #7, professional development for all teacher education faculty. Recommendation 16. Require all teacher education students to learn more about the colonized history.
Value-principles (see Gandhi) Kim Ghostkeeper of National Aboriginal Business Association, opposite paradigm to laws and regulations…finding values held in common around the world. We must learn to reenvsion a new culture
Cultural appreciation. Partnershipping. Research. Recommendation 23. Think-ins bi-annually. Re-envisioning and revitalizing the role and purpose of NETP.

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Worldview. Dr. Marie Battiste, professor at the Univeristy of Saskatchewan, in a presentation on may 29, 2004 in Manitoba, said, “What kind of cognitive shock would schools be forced to endure if Aboriginal consciousness were to be respected, affirmed and encouraged to flourish in the modern classroom like the Constitution of Canada asserts? Recommendation 15 regarding the standards for competence of educators in BC to see if they ae sufficient for working in the area of Aboriginal education. Recommendation 16, requiring all teacher education students to learn more about the colonized hisotyr., but expand this to worldview as well.Refer to my new book. Higher expectations, different qualifications. Liberal arts training for all faculty that can lead to re-dressing the imbalance of affluence worldwide
Appreciation inquire balanced with avoiding self deception. “Self deception is a subject of increasing urgency.” Daniel Goleman. Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psycholog of Self Deception. Partnershipping. Einstein cannot change the world with the same consciousness….




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What is the goal of post-secondary education? While politicians and business leaders echo the familiar cant of "marketable skills" appropriate to the "globalized economy," Livy Visano and Lisa Jakubowski offer a different response. In Teaching Controversy, a book that could have carried the subtitle: University Instructors of the World Unite!, Visano and Jakubowski call on educators to teach controversial issues that will motivate students to work towards social justice


References:

Sibald, Barbara. “Report says Canada losing ground against child poverty” in CMAJ TODAY, August 23, 2000. referring to Canadian Institute of Health Repport. Accessed on January 28, 2005 at heep://collection.nlc-bnc.ca.


In 1998, the Canadian government formally apologized for its role in the historical oppression of its Aboriginals. This Canadian Statement of Reconciliation contained such words as “deeply sorry,” and “profound regret.” I think this is testimony to the greatness of the Canadian people, the general direction of its collective mind, and of the hard work of programs like NITEP. However, we must ask ourselves. If we were teachers in a classroom where one student stole something from another student, in addition to asking the child to apologize, would we not also ask the child to give back what was stolen?
This brings me to the second half of this presentations title- responsibilities for the future. NITEP’s continued success depends upon a balance of criticism and deconstruction of the past with hope and reconstruction for the future. I want to briefly mention some priorities I believe are vital for future considerations.
Language Revitalization
Counter-hegemony. Raise awareness about thought and language. Research skills. Reflection on how to overcome limits. Challenge commercial consciousness. Social justice. Expose myths of elite hierarcy. Responsibility is more important than rights reciporocity more important than punishment. Difficult with new legislation like academic bill of rights in us
Value-principles (see Gandhi) Kim Ghostkeeper of National Aboriginal Business Association, opposite paradigm to laws and regulations…
Cultural appreciation.
Appreciation inquire balanced with avoiding self deception. “Self deception is a subject of increasing urgency.” Daniel Goleman. Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psycholog of Self Deception.

Worldview. Dr. Marie Battiste, professor at the Univeristy of Saskatchewan, in a presentation on may 29, 2004 in Manitoba, said, “What kind of cognitive shock would schools be forced to endure if Aboriginal consciousness were to be respected, affirmed and encouraged to flourish in the modern classroom like the Constitution of Canada asserts?



.



What is the goal of post-secondary education? While politicians and business leaders echo the familiar cant of "marketable skills" appropriate to the "globalized economy," Livy Visano and Lisa Jakubowski offer a different response. In Teaching Controversy, a book that could have carried the subtitle: University Instructors of the World Unite!, Visano and Jakubowski call on educators to teach controversial issues that will motivate students to work towards social justice


References:

Sibald, Barbara. “Report says Canada losing ground against child poverty” in CMAJ TODAY, August 23, 2000. referring to Canadian Institute of Health Repport. Accessed on January 28, 2005 at heep://collection.nlc-bnc.ca.