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Gazing in the mirror: reflections on educating preservice teachers for collaborative work with indigenous… Fulton, Carol Lynne 2006

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GAZING IN THE MIRROR: REFLECTIONS ON EDUCATING PRESERVICETEACHERS FOR COLLABORATIVE WORK WITH INDIGENOUS COMMUNITESbyCAROL LYNNE FULTONB.Ed., The University of Regina, 1986M.Ed., The University of Regina, 1993A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTSFOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Curriculum and Instruction)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 2006© Carol Lynne Fulton, 200611ABSTRACTThis dissertation portrays the life of one teacher educator who is concerned thatthe teacher education institution where she works is failing to prepare teachers who canwork collaboratively and respectfully in/with First Nations and Métis communities in herprovince. As part of the institution and the dominant group in society that has helped toperpetuate inequities and injustices, she recognizes she is therefore complicit in thisfailure. This realization has led to a self-study, an autoetimography, within the context ofher institution where she attempts to understand why the focus on teaching for socialjustice, which has been a vision of many of her colleagues for several years, has had littleinfluence on prospective teachers.She asks, “What are the possibilities for improving the preparation of preserviceteachers to work with indigenous communities in respectful, supportive, andcollaborative ways?” A series of simple stories illustrates the complexity of the questions.The stories also illustrate how her understanding of the questions and the tangled issuesthat emerge from the study shifts through iterations of returning to the questions. Ratherthan trying to disentangle the issues, the study attempts to view the issues through a lensthat can provide a holistic rendering of the data.Using the lens of complexity science, the study illustrates how the teachereducator, the people with whom she works, the institution, and the community schoolsshe visited are complex adaptive systems. Each has the potential to be transformedthrough enhancing patterns of interaction or to replicate the status quo through inhibitingpatterns. Examples of enhancing and inhibiting patterns of interaction are identified aswell as suggestions for opening up possibilities for change and transfonnation. The study111demonstrates that there are no simple solutions to solving some of the problems schoolsand communities face. The teacher educator comes to understand that if she expects herstudent teachers to become respectful, collaborative participants in the creation ofsocially just and equitable communities, she must model those patterns of behaviourherself. She therefore invites others to join her in the dance of co-creating a “shared andharmonious future”.ivTABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTS viiDEDICATION viiiCHAPTER I — Framing Stories 1Introducing Stories 1Beginning stories. 1Returning Stories 3Haunting Stories 11James. 11What can you expect? 13Beingthe other. 14The desk clerk. 16Who didlthinkl was? 17Alternate education. 19Teaching prospective teachers. 20CHAPTER II — Organizing Stories 22Wrestling Monsters 22Re-Searching Questions 23E/InProvoking Methodology 28Sequencing Stories 31Collecting Data 32Reviewing Literature 33Orienting Theories 33Ending pieces 35CHAPTER III — Connecting Stories 36Changing Commitments 36Forming Partnerships 40Aboriginal teachers’teachers. 41Inviting communities. 47Big Sky School 47Can Do High 50Anti-oppressive educators 59VCHAPTER IV — Educating Stories 67Filling Gaps 67Clarflcation ofterms. 68History ofAboriginal education. 72Approaches to Aboriginal education. 77Decolonizing Aboriginal education. 91CHAPTER V — Telling Stories 97Voicing Concerns 97Sensing Wisdom 100Surfacing Issues 104Understanding Perspectives 108Pulling threads. 109Drawing Comparisons 121Janet 125Mary 129CHAPTER VI— (Re)Presenting Stories 139Discovering Voices 139Defending A utoethnography 142CHAPTER VII— Troubling Stories 155Replicating Curricula 155Challenging Identities 165Contesting Traditions 172Teaching Passions 177CHAPTER VIII — Contesting Stories 180Negotiating Perspectives 180Silencing Voices 187Disrupting Culture(s) 197CHAPTER IX — Revitalizing Stories 204Changing Assumptions 204DancingLfe 211CHAPTER X — Summarizing Stories 216Seeing Patterns 216CHAPTER XI— Emerging Stories 234Comparing Complexities 234Linking Narratives 239Drawing Analogies 242Living Rules 260CHAPTER XII — Closing Stories 266Mirror Dancing 266Co-creating Dances 268REFERENCES 271APPENDICESAppendix A — Faculty Survey 291Appendix B — Sample Interview Questions 299Appendix C — Reflections on New Middle Years Program 302Appendix D — Ethics Approval Forms 309viviiACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI wish to thank several people who helped me realize the completion of thisthesis. Their stories have become my story and have helped to shape who I am becoming.My first thanks go to my committee members, Dr. Anthony Clarke, Dr. GaalenErickson, and Dr. Sherry Farrell Racette, whose encouragement, thoughtful insights andhelpful suggestions allowed me to create order out of chaos. Their timely responses,which they provided despite numerous pressing issues in their own lives, wereparticularly appreciated. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have been guidedby this team.I am deeply indebted to all the people who participated in and helped to co-createthis study. I wish I could have used all their astute comments and interesting stories. Ialso wish to thank the people who appeared as characters in the stories and for allowingme to include them in this study. Each person who participated contributed a thread to thestory which became woven into the fabric of the larger piece.Special thanks go also to the father of my children, Michael Fulton, for readingvarious drafts and for allowing me to use his space as a writing sanctuary; to my copyeditor, Colleen Olson for her careful reading of the document; to my son, Scott, whohelped with the numerous time-consuming edits in the final copy; and to my friend andcolleague, “Charlotte” whose gentle prodding kept me going and whose questions andsuggestions helped me consider other ways of thinking about my research. Everyone’shelp made the job much more enjoyable and less formidable. My most heartfelt thanksare extended to all who had a part in this undertaking.vii’DEDICATIONThis thesis is dedicated to the memory of our dear friend and colleague,Dr. Mary Cronin(1948 — 2006)Whose life enriched all whom she met and whose presence is keenly felt in the hearts andminds of those who knew and loved her.In the words of her husband, Dr. Douglas Stewart,Mary had the gift of open-mindednessThe ability to think things through with careAnd with attention to our realitiesTo detect and courageouslyChallenge humbugAnd to temper her beliefsWith experience and sound common sense.This is rare and wondrous indeed.1CHAPTER 1Framing StoriesFor a century, Indians have been studied under the microscope of white society..Perhaps it is time that microscopes and voluminous studies were replaced by amirror. A single giant mirror which rulers of Canadian society could hold up tothemselves. (Burke cited by Hodgson, 2002, pg. 15)Introducing StoriesBeginning stories.I want to tell you a story. It is not unlike many stories you have heard before, oreven your own story. Nevertheless, bear with me, for this story may bring new meaningsto the teller(s) and the readers.The story is about a middle-aged, middle-class Caucasian female-turned-teacher-educator who roots for and identifies with the underdog. Despite coming from acommunity of sameness—White, Anglo and primarily protestant—she had always felt asense of being not quite as good as others whose families had more money, or who didn’tdrink to excess or get into trouble with the law. Like many women from working-classbackgrounds, teaching gave her access to what she considered respectability—a middle-class way of life, an education and sense of contributing to society. Besides, she hadalways assumed the role of “teacher” whenever she and her friends and siblings “playedschool” while growing up, and she just couldn’t see herself in the roles of nurse, secretaryor hairdresser, which were the main occupational options for women at that time.This story takes place primarily in a teacher education institution located in asmall university in Western Canada. The faculty prides itself on its reputation as one ofthe best teacher education institutions in the country. Its graduates are regularly recruited2by other provinces. School division administrators from various parts of the provincefrequently say they like to hire graduates from this particular teacher education institutionbecause the graduates are grounded in the practical—”they know how to manageclassrooms.” Yet, many faculty members feel uneasy with this reputation and wonder if itmay not be a myth—that the institution, as one faculty member put it, “Might very wellbe a legend in its own mind.”Our teacher educator shares this uneasiness, not that she isn’t proud to beassociated with the accomplishments of her colleagues who have gone before, butbecause she knows that while the institution has served the White, middle-classpopulation very well, it has fallen short in preparing teachers for the kinds of schoolswhere students who don’t fit the “norm” can feel safe and thrive’. In a desire to continuethe work that she began in her Master’s thesis, she headed to graduate school to pursue adoctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction in hopes that she might make somecontributions to education in the area of social justice2.This is the story of her journeysince returning to her home institution. This is my story and the story of my colleagueswho participated in the creation of it.“THE TRUTH ABOUT STORIES is that’s all we are” (King, 2003, p.153).Thomas King, actor, author and scholar is well known in Canada for his part in the DeadDog Café Comedy Hour, a popular radio production of the Canadian BroadcastingThe words, normal, norm, normalizing are used frequently in anti-oppressive literature, for exampleKumashiro (2004), to mean the ways of being, thinking and doing that have become accepted by thedominant society as the normal, i.e., White, able-bodied, middle-class, and heterosexual.2 My Master’s thesis, Keeping Students in School: Stories, Issues and Perspectives (1993) focused on sixteachers in an inner city high school who were working to support students considered to be ‘at risk’ ofdropping out of school. Most of their students were of Aboriginal ancestry as were my students at that time.3Company. But he is also known for his humorous, yet critical writings about therelationship that North Americans have with its First Peoples. King tells us he believesthat stories are “wondrous things”, for they can transform the way we see ourselves andothers3.Through their simplicity, they are able to show the complexity of our lives(Moore, 2002). Indeed, stories have helped to blister and peel back layers of paint—thestories that we as descendents of European settlers have told ourselves over the last fewhundred years—in our attempts to whitewash this country.This document is a series of stories intended to scrap away some of those layers inthe little part of the world where I reside. The stories are about me, some people withwhom I work, the institution of which I am part, and a few teachers in two schools. It ismy attempt to be an ally in the work of uncovering injustices committed against theAboriginal peoples of this land (Bishop, 1994). Like King, I would like to start with astory to provide the reader with some background information about my reasons for myinterest in this topic.Returning Stories“Welcome back! How was Lotus land?” Meg stands to greet me with a hug as Iwalk into her office that I will soon be occupying while she is on sabbatical leave.To clarif’ some terms related to First Peoples, indigenous is an umbrella term meaning “of the land” andis used when an international context is implied. Canada’s indigenous peoples are referred to as theAboriginal Peoples of Canada and include the First Nations (Indian), Inuit and Métis peoples. “The morethan 50 First Nations have much in common, but they are different from one another—and very differentfrom Inuit, whose culture was shaped by the demanding northern environment. Different again are Métispeople, who blended traditions from Aboriginal and European forbearers in a unique new culture” (RCAP,1996, on-line). Much of the earlier literature used the umbrella term native to refer to First Peoples, butbecause the term can mean anyone who was born in a country, it is seldom used except in Americanliterature where First Peoples are referred to as Native Americans, Native Alaskans, or Native Hawaiians.4“It was wonderful!” I exclaim and proceed to fill her in on the details of the lasttwo years of my life: the exciting courses, the fascinating students and professors and theprivilege of living in an international graduate student residence where I made friendswith people from all over the world.“Have you decided on a dissertation topic yet? She asks.“Not exactly. I’m mulling over a few ideas—something to do with ‘transformingsociety through education rather than just reproducing it’.” I make quotations marks inthe air. “I’m still concerned that our educational institutions are not meeting the needs ofFirst Nations and Métis people in this province. You know, the same things I’ve beentalking about for the last 15 years. There seems to be a general consensus among teachereducators and critical theorists that we have to do things differently given the inequitiesin society, but how—I’m still not sure. In the 10 years since I have been here, many ourfaculty members have been concerned with teaching for social justice, but I’m not surewe are making much progress.”“I know what you mean,” agrees Meg. We have some excellent graduates of ourprograms who are doing a wonderful job in schools but there doesn’t seem to be muchchange in schools except perhaps in some of the community schools.”Meg shrugs and shakes her head.I continue on my soapbox. “You know, during my studies I became quiteenamored with the idea of complexity theory or science, as it is sometimes called, whichseems to share some of the same views as those of indigenous peoples throughout theworld as well as some of the Eastern Wisdom traditions. In fact, biology, economics,5mathematics, physics and even to some extent the social sciences, are rethinking the waywe see the world,” I add, perhaps to give my statements further credibility.“Yes,” Meg replies. I’m seeing the shift to some extent in mathematics too.Fractal geometry is a good example.”“Well it seems to me that we have to look at teacher education more holisticallyand recognize that we are connected to so many other systems that are influenced by andinfluence what we do as educators,” I say. “I have an image of education as this giantmachine that we’ve been tinkering with here and there, but we are really just keeping itwell oiled so that it keeps producing more of the same, yet all the while we are beingcritical of it.” The master ‘s tools will never dismantle the master’s house pops into myconsciousness. I silently wonder whether Audre Lorde’s (1984) metaphor in which shecritiques the academy for its marginalization of Black women fits in with my argumenthere. Maybe not. I go on.I become even more animated in an attempt to convince my friend. “We need tochange our metaphor from one that is less mechanistic to one that is more organic, moredynamic so that education and schools become responsive to the changing times and caninfluence what is happening elsewhere. We need to see education and ourselves as justone part of a giant web that is connected to everything else.” I wave my arms around andturn in a circle for emphasis. “Our faculty and province are just a microcosm of what ishappening globally—like a fractal!”Meg smiles. I continue.6“I have a hard time trying to figure out how to change large oppressive systems,but if I look at things from the view of complexity, it’s like the pebble in the pond.Maybe my actions will have a ripple effect.” My hands move like waves in front of me.“Think globally, act locally?” Meg suggests.“Exactly!” I’m almost jumping up and down now. “Complexity theory or scienceor whatever it’s called,” I continue, “seems to provide ways to consider the physical,psychological, social, emotional, political, economic, historical, cultural, ecological andspiritual aspects of existence. . .“ I pause to gasp for air, “without privileging one way ofseeing the world over another. It’s ‘ecological postmodernism’,” I announce trying outthe new word I learned from Davis, Sumara and Luce-Kapler (2000) that I was onlyvaguely beginning to comprehend. I wonder if Meg understands what I am trying to say.“Sounds like a Grand Theory to me—a theory that explains everything,” Megteases.I am taken aback. I’ve learned that the post-modernists/poststructuralists withwhom I want to identify, eschew Grand Theories, but complexity thinking seems to makeso much sense to me. I frantically search for a rebuttal that would deny such anaccusation. “Well no, it just makes room for a lot of different theories (Davis, Sumaraand Luce-Kapler, 2000),” I argue.“Actually, I agree with you, she says. “In fact, one of my doctoral students is alsousing complexity as a theoretical framework for his dissertation. For my dissertation Iused enactivism as the framework, which is similar to complexity but has to do more withcognition and how being, knowing and doing are one in the same. In fact, I just bought a7book by Brent Davis, Dennis Samara, and Rebecca Luce-Kapler you might be interestedin.” She pulls her copy of Engaging Minds (2000) from the shelf.“I have this!” I exclaim. “In fact, this is the book that piqued my interest in theidea of complexity.” I glance over to her bookshelf and notice other authors with whom Ihave become familiar over the last two years (but whom I have not totally understood)—Fritjof Capra, Gregory Bateson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jerome Bruner, George Lakoffand Mark Johnson, Huberto Maturana and Fransisco Varela, Richard Rorty, WendellBerry, Marvin Minsky, Lev Vygotsky, Mitchell Waldrop, and Ludwig Wittgensteinamong others.“You are welcome to borrow any of these. But do you have any specific ideasabout what you want to do?” I shrug my shoulders - no. “Well, what are you passionateabout?”“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” I laugh. “You know me—I’m a bandwagonperson. I’m always jumping off one and on to the next parade. Maybe it will be a casestudy of the Faculty and what we are trying to do around Aboriginal Education andSchool’4.Those are hot topics around here right now and maybe there will be somefunding for that.”“Oh, by-the-way,” says Meg. “Are you interested in taking ballroom dancing?Classes start this week. It’s lots of fun and great exercise, and you don’t need a partner.”SchoolI’S is a model of education proposed by in the Task Force and Public Dialogue on the Role oftheSchool: A Vision for Children and Youth (Tymchak, 2001). The report recognized that as a result ofprovincial government incentives and local initiatives, several highly successful community partnershipswere established that included inter-governmentaL agencies, communities and schools in inner cities wherethere are high Aboriginal populations, and in rural areas between the local school boards and nearby FirstNations. In 200 land 2003 the provincial government, through the Saskatchewan Learning (EducationMinistry) expanded the funding to establish a School”5initiative with the intention to eventually expandthis partnership model to all schools.8“I’ll think about,” I say. We say our goodbyes with promises to meet for dinnerthe following week.“What am I passionate about?” I wonder, as I make my way home wishing I hadtaken my car to work, but congratulating myself that I was doing something for theenvironment and my body. The weather had turned cold and windy. “Walk the talk, walkthe talk, walk the talk,” I repeat like a mantra to keep my mind off the cold.That night I have trouble sleeping. My stomach is still in knots after an incidentearlier in the day during my first class of the semester. I go over the events again in mymind.“... The Faculty ofEducation is committed to the ideals ofSchoolPS andAboriginal education; therefore, in this course we will be considering ways to teach forsocialjustice, given the inequities in an educational system that marginalizes somestudents in this province—particularly those ofAboriginal ancestry. As one oftheprovinces with thefastest growing populations ofyoung Aboriginal students and anaging and declining non-Aboriginal population, it is not only morally, but economicallyimperative that education become more equitable for Aboriginal students four provinceexpects to have a prosperous future. “I look out over the class ofpreinterns, some ofwhom are sitting with armsfolded, legs crossed and leaning back in their seats.Undaunted, I continue.“In order to address some ofthese inequities, the province has implementedSchool”’. That is, it has supplied considerablefunding to create community schoolsthroughout the province with the view that some day all schools will be community9schools. “I explain that SchoolP is based on the beliefthat ‘It takes a village toraise a child’ which means that all sectors ofsociety and human service providers have astake in helping to ensure that all students—notjust White, middle-class, able-bodied,heterosexual students—are able to reach their potential andparticipate fully and equallyin society. Igo on to say we will be looking at ways to incorporate First Nations andMétis content andperspectives into the curriculum, as well as critique some ofthe ‘isms’— racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexim they might encounter in theirfieldplacements.Following the course overview, the students introduce themselves. Although thisis a coursefor preservice teachers who will be working in Secondary Education, like theElementary Education sections ofthe faculty—and like most teacher educationinstitutionsfor that matter, the majority ofthe students are White, middle-class andfemale (Banks & Banks, 2001; Stephenson, 2002). A scattering ofmales occupy theseats. Many ofthe students tell me that loving kids, enjoying high school and wanting toprovide a good experiencefor other students are their reasonsfor wanting to become ateacher. Near the end ofthe introductions, a more mature woman—probably in her midthirties—stands up and introduces herselfas the wife ofan RCMP officer who hasjustbeen transferred to the city after having lived in northern Saskatchewan near a reserveforfive years. She is glad to have moved, because she and herfamily, she says, had beenvictims ofracism by the First Nations community where she lived.“In what way?” I ask. She explains that herfamily was never invited to socialgatherings, people ignored them, her kids got beaten up at school and her husband was10spit at and sworn at when he went to intervene in domestic disputes. “I wonder why, “ Ithink but don ‘t say aloud.“Frankly, “she continues, “I was never so glad to leave anywhere in my life.Those people are just a bunch ofalcoholics, drug addicts and child abusers, as far as I’mconcerned. Andfurthermore, I don ‘t agree with putting our tax dollars into things likeSchool’’ or community schools or whatever. Those kids getfree everything and asmiddle class parents, fwe want our kids to have new computers in the school or go onspecial trips, we have to get out andfund-raise. You don ‘t see those parents doing that!Jam dumbfounded. I could have cut the silence with a knife.Finally, a thirty-something male student who has completed a degree insociology, ventures to explain that racism is really about who has power in society. Hedoesn ‘t think herfamily was a victim ofracism because her husband is the one who hadpower in that community. Another studentjoins in and suggests that maybe the student’sfamily hadn’t done anything to makefriends in the community. Yet another youngwoman, takes the side ofthe RCMP wife and states, “Well I agree with you. Why shouldthey getfree tuition when I have to work my butt offall summer to payfor myeducation?” I step in to say that not all First Nations students who applyfor postsecondary education get to go. It depends on the amount ofmoney their Band hasforeducation. But neither ofthe women is buying it. Their arms are crossed and theirfacesare red. Soon the class is silent again. Anger, embarrassment and confusion show onmost ofthe faces, so Isuggest that we discuss these issues another day. Jam shaken andlmake a note to let the Program Chair know we have some students who don ‘tfit themandate ofour program.11I look at the clock—3:15 a.m. Maybe a glass of warm milk might help.At 7:30 I finally roll out of a tousled bed with the phrase “embodied knowing”running around in my head. It had been one of the phrases that had been common inbooks and articles I had read during my course work (Brooks & Clark, 2001; Fels, 1998;Matthews, 1998; Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1991). Hmm, maybe Ishouldpayattention to my body. Caffeine. Body needs caffeine. That ‘.s’ it! That’s exactly what Ishouldpay attention to—my body and how it reacts to education-related situations.Maybe that will help me uncover what my passion is. When am I moved to tears throughcompassion, joy, pride, anger or shame? When do I lie awake at night wrestling withtroubling thoughts? When do Iget knots in my stomach while teaching? When do Ibecome excited aboutpossibilitiesfor projects or research? What books, articles, movies,lectures andpublic events catch my interest enough to seek them out?Because it’s a day with no classes, I grab my pen and journal and sit down withmy coffee and try to re-member the incidents of my teaching career that brought me towhere I am today. I begin.Haunting StoriesJames.He was much quieter than most ofthe grade five students in my class, but hisbrown eyes sparkled and his shy grin melted my 20 year old heart that secondyear Iposed as a teacher. Jamesjoined our class in the inner-city neighborhood in Novemberwhen he moved with his mother to the cityfrom his home reserve in NorthernEmbodied or somatic knowing is holistic knowing that involves perception, the senses, andmind/body/spirit action and reaction (Matthews, 1998).12Saskatchewan. Although he was somewhat behind many others in terms ofhis readingand math skills, he caught on to concepts quickly and he worked diligently on hisassignments.One day I asked the class to write a story about someone in theirfamily and havea rough draft handed in thefollowing day. The next day when I looked over the children’swork, I noted that James had writtenfive pages compared with one or two pagessubmitted by the others. I was soon immersed in James world on the trap line with hisfather, delighted and surprised at the detail in his work, and moved to tears as he wroteabout how much he missed his father. After reading the piece, Isat in awe ofthis 11 yearold’s masterpiece-in-the-making. Reluctantly I knew I had to put on my teacher hathowever, and correct James grammar, spelling and sentence structure. Because Creewas hisfirst language, incorrect pronouns and prepositions were used, punctuation andmodifiers were misplaced, and sentences were oddly constructed. I took out my redpen.Thefollowing day I called James up to my desk and told him how much I enjoyedhis story and how I thought it was the best one I had ever read. His shy, proud smile soonfell and his eyes clouded over as Ipulled out the story with the red marks all over it.Although I tried to convince him that it wouldn’t take much to correct the mistakes, henever did hand in the piece again, or any other piece ofwritingfor that matter.My eyes well up as I recall James. After 30 some years, his face still haunts me. Iwish I had known about the writing process then. I wish I had known that StandardEnglish could also be considered a dialect and it has no place being privileged over otherlanguages. I wonder how many other students’ educational aspirations I unwittingly13ruined. Okay, Carol, time to pull yourself out of the quagmire of guilt you have enjoyedwallowing in for the last half hour and move on.What Can You Expect?Iplunked myselfdown on a chair in the staffroom, thankful that the last bus hadpulled out on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. The students had beensomewhat’hyper ‘& assumed, from the Halloween candy that they had ingested all week.It had been the rural kid’s dayfor my kindergarten—one ofthefive public kindergartensthat were being implemented as pilot projects in rural areas throughout the province.Our site had moved to an all-day/alternate-dayformat because the bus drivers, who werefarmers, didn’t want to come back to the school at noon each day to deliver andpickupstudents. Consequently, on alternate days the childrenfrom town would attendkindergarten all day, and on thefollowing day childrenfrom thefarms, the nearbyreserves andfrom the Métisfarm would attend. Each class had 30 students, and althoughI had an assistant, I needed a nap every day after school.I usuallyfound the class with the childrenfrom town a little more challengingthan the rural children ‘s class in terms ofkeeping the noise and general chaos to aminimum. (I hadn ‘t had much experience as an early childhood educator at that time).On this particular day with my rural children however, not only had our hamster gonemissing and was yet to befound, two children had no lunches, another child had wet herpants, one had cut another child’s hair, and one had told the class during sharing timethat her dad had chased her mother with an axe the night before. Generally, it had alsobeen difficult to keep a lid on the exuberance. I happened to mention to another teacher14who was in the staffroom that afternoon, that it had been quite a day with the ruralchildren.“What can you expect? “ She replied. “Look what you are dealing with.”I said nothing but Ifumed inside.This particular incident reminds me of the many times I would sit in staff roomsand hear teachers talk about students or their families in derogatory ways. The targets ofthe comments were usually children who were poor or smelly or who couldn’t sit stillduring long boring classes or endless pages of seat work designed to keep them quiet. Inthis particular school, the comments were usually about the Aboriginal students in theschool. I tried not to engage in these conversations, or I would occasionally defend achild to show another point of view, but rarely did I confront or challenge my colleagueson these comments. Here goes the foot into the guilt pooi again.Being the OtherIt was a dreamjob. I was able to work with enthusiastic young adults who weremotivated to learn. I was able to teach recreation and other courses in which I hadparticular interests and expertise. I was accepted by the First Nations community inwhich I worked and I was able to travel periodically with students to learn aboutindigenous communities in Canada and throughout the world. Ifelt privileged to teach inthe Recreation Technology (or Rec Tech ‘) program that was offeredjointly by the TribalCouncil, The Saskatchewan Indian Institute ofTechnologies (SlIT) and the SaskatchewanInstitute ofApplied Arts and Science (SIAST).One September afternoon I read the noticefor the upcoming Treaty Fourcelebrations andfeast that were to be held at the local park by the lake. Everyone was to15bring somethingfor thefeast. On the appointed day Iput together a small three-beansalad in a casserole dish and made my way to the park. People were beginning to gatherand were milling around talking but I didn’t see anywhere to put thefood. Finally I askedsomeone where the picnic tables were and where I was to put my salad. The person gaveme a strange look andpointed to the center ofa grassfield. I noticed there were someboxes and large kettles placed there, so Iput I my dish down and went and sat on thegrass with some colleagues as people started to gather in a large circle.It wasn’t long before a young man approached me and said politely, “Women siton the other side ofthe circle, “andpointed to where I should be. Sheepishly I made myway over to the other side and sat down. I watched in fascination as people beganbringing huge kettles and boxes andplacing them in the center on the grass and as theElders’ helpers prepared the sweet grassfor the smudging and took thefood up to theElders to be blessed. Myfascination soon turned to embarrassment as one of the helperspicked up my three bean salad, elbowed his partner as if to ask, “What is this?” Thepartner shrugged his shoulders and they both laughed, but they took it to the Elderanyway.After some prayers, some singing and drumming, and a smudging ceremonywhere sweet grass was passed around the circle so that everyone could cleansethemselves with the sacred smoke, thefeast began. And whatfeast it was. Chicken soup,bannock, pemmican, ground choke cherries, oranges, candies and cigarettes were dishedout as the Elders ‘ helpers servedpeople several times. After the second round offood Iwas beginning to feel quite stuffed and so said ‘no thankyou’ when offered a third16helping offood and some cigarettes. Again I got another strange look but the servermoved on.“You’re not supposed to refusefood, “a woman whispered to me. “It has beenblessed by the Elders. “So when the servers came around again, I smiled and said “thankyou” and took morefood and tried to smoke one ofthe cigarettes. After the sixth timearound, when I held up my bowl even though I was turning a slight shade ofgreen andcould hardly look at any morefood, the server smiled and said, “My, we are hungry overhere aren ‘t we? “It was then I noticed that the other women had brought ice cream pailsand other containers in which to put the blessedfoodfor another day. I never did see mybean salad or casserole dish though.The Desk ClerkThe desk clerk greeted me with a smile and Ifihled out the guest registrationform.Two other recreation technology instructors and I had accompanied our students whowould be acting as officials, judges, coaches andfacilitatorsfor the Indian SummerGames that were being held on a nearby reserve. Asfuture recreation specialists ourstudents would be gaining practicalfield experience through their involvement in thegames where over 500 First Nation young athletes would be competing.I completed a registrationform and stepped aside as 12 ofmy studentsfiled in thedoor with their luggage to register at the motel where we would be staying that week.Immediately the desk clerk’sface dropped. “What do you want? “She glared at the firststudent.I stepped in and said, “Excuse me, these are my students and they are here to runthe Indian Summer Games that will be held all next week”17She continued to glare and stated, “There isn ‘t going to be any parties in therooms are there? And fyou damage anything, you’llpayfor it.”Again I broke in, and saidpolitely, “These are very responsible people and therewill be no trouble.”My students silentlyfilled out theforms and with downcast eyes made their way totheir rooms. With tear-filled eyes and rage burning in the pit ofmy stomach, I silentlymade my way to my room. I wondered how my students werefeeling, but we never talkedabout that incident.Who DidI Thinkl Was?I sat in the circle in the classroom on the Alexander reserve waitingfor theseminar to start. “Oh wow!” Ithought. “I’m sitting beside Bufft’ St. Marie. “Ihad lovedherfolk singing in the 60s and my children had loved her on Sesame Street. “And isn ‘tthat Harold Cardinal? “ I had heard about his famous book, ‘The Unjust Society’ (1969)and then the ‘Red Paper ‘(Indian Association ofAlberta, 1970) that he wrote on behalfofthe Indian Association ofAlberta in response to Chrétien/Trudeau White Paper, whichproposed shifting thefederal government ‘s responsibilityfor Indian people over to theprovinces. First Nations people were having none ofthat. And across from him was JohnKim Bell, a Mohawkfrom the Kanawake reserve in Québec and a conductor oftheBoston Symphony. He was our keynote for the conference on indigenous education.“He ‘s awfully young, “I thought, “and very cute too. “I looked around at the rest ofthepeople assembled there and realized Iwas in prestigious company although Ididn ‘tyetknow who was who.18I turned to BufJ5’ St. Marie and told her how much I had enjoyed her concert inthe park in Edmonton the previous day. “li made me cry though, “I confessed. “Ifelt soguilty.”“Feeling guilty doesn’t help us any, “she said. “We just need you to understandand help to make sure that it doesn ‘t happen again.” With that she reached over and tookmy program book and wrote in it, ‘Carol, don ‘tyou cry no more. Buffy St.Marie. ‘Tearsfilled my eyes again.Soon the seminar started andpeople went around the circle and offered theiropinions about what could be done to improve the educationfor Indian children on andoffreserves. At one point Ijumped in and offered my two cents worth. People looked atme in silence, then someone thanked mefor my suggestions and continued to go aroundthe circle waitingfor people to offer their comments. Finally it came to my turn. I hadnothing to say.Each of these three stories remind me of the time when I was employed as arecreation technology instructor by a tribal council. It was the first time in my life that Ihad been immersed in a First Nations context and the first time that I had seen blatantracism—not against me—but against people whom I cared about. It was the first time Ihad really felt like an outsider and yet, accepted at the same time. It was the first time Ihad been in the company of people who loved to laugh all the time, despite hardships Icould only begin to imagine. It was also the first time that I began to understand therewere other ways of viewing the world, other ways of treating people, other ways ofcommunicating. I was never the same again.19After my ‘Rec Tech’ experience, I moved on to teach in an alternate educationprogram in a nearby town. That experience was also pivotal in my career.Alternate EducationI study the 12faces in class photograph. My own looks pale by comparison. Onlyone otherface is White. “Keep these kids in school. Idon’t care how you do it. “Iwinceat the memory of the principal’s words.What has become ofthem? In some cases I know. Monty used to call everyfewmonthsfor afew yearsfrom the provincial correctional center. I haven’t heardfrom himin a long while. Deanne and Polly are raising babies and living with their common-lawpartners. Trent is in and out ofdetox centers and Emma and Erma have returned to theirnorthern reserve. I met Conner on a street in the city and he told me he was lookingforwork He seemed to be a little high. Had I intentionally ‘pushed’ him out ofschoolbecause ofhis disruptive behavior and unwillingness to work? Some ofthe other studentswent into the regular program but dropped out before completing high school.Then there were Lana, Susan and Sarah. Sarah, who was moody, unmotivated,suicidal and verbally abusive, returned after graduation to say thanksfor being a caringteacher. Ofthe 24 students who started in the program only these three graduatedfromhigh school—with a certflcate in Alternate Education that was recognized in veryfew’post-secondary programs. Nevertheless, these students were my success stories. Or werethey? I heard they were all living at home collecting welfare. Iput the photograph way.Thefamiliarpain is returning and Idon’t want to think about that right now.This is the story I had used to open my Masters thesis (Fulton, 1993). As I rereadit, I think of the ‘characters’ from this story who were the reason that I decided to go to20graduate school. I recall feeling a sense of inadequacy and hopelessness in my teachingand thinking that graduate work might help me become a more effective teacher. Itdidn’t, but it certainly opened my eyes to the systemic barriers that marginalize thosewho don’t fit society’s norms. After completing my Masters degree I remained at theUniversity to teach.Teaching Prospective TeachersThefourth-yearpost-interns sat listening politely to me as I talked aboutincorporating Aboriginal content andperspectives into the mathematics curriculum. Ipointed out the indigenous games played in various parts ofthe world that had beenassembled by a colleaguefrom the program in which I was teaching, and an Aboriginalfaculty member working in one ofthe Aboriginal teacher education programs.A student who had been looking somewhat agitatedfinally said, “Aren ‘t weperpetuating stereotypes by having students play those games?”She had taken a coursethat had an antiracist component and was becoming aware ofways the dominant culture‘othered ‘people andproduced stereotypes.I was somewhat surprised by her comments because it had never occurred to me.I recovered sufficiently to suggest that these games helped to illustrate that mathematicswas part ofall cultures and traditions whether we recognized it as mathematics in theEuro- Western sense. I also suggested that we needed to honor other ways ofknowing.She seemed satisfied with my response, but I was left wondering about her comments.How many times had Iperpetuated stereotypes in my classes?This incident was typical of the many times I felt unclear about how toincorporate Aboriginal content and perspectives in meaningful ways or what to suggest to21preinterns and interns who struggled with the issue. Often they would come to me askingfor advice on how to incorporate Aboriginal content and perspectives into their unit plansor what topics they should choose if they were asked to teach a unit on Aboriginalpeoples. I never knew quite what to say. It seemed to me that often First Nations peoplewere portrayed as being frozen in time and the Métis were almost entirely forgotten whenthe topics were addressed in schools. Although I would often tell students to show thepresent as well as the past, in many instances their unit and lessons plans seemed full ofstereotypes of Aboriginal peoples both past and present. Yet, I was not—and am stillnot—sure what to do differently to address the stereotypes and the racism that I often see.I pull out other memories from my memory box and turn them over to feel whichemotions they evoke. There are so many, but I think I am beginning to see some patternsin my responses. I am beginning to see where my passion lies. It lies in my sense ofjustice and anger at injustices, but it also lies in my feelings of inadequacy to do anythingabout the injustices I feel. I am reminded of a phrase I read in Ghosh and Tarrow (1993.p. 81), “Change in teacher education will not be implemented without efforts focused onthose who teach the teacher” (1993, p.81).I go to the computer and type in combinations of teacher education and teacherresearch in Google and search through the various hits. Finally I come across thefollowing statement from the Centre for Research for Teacher Education andDevelopment, “Wider social, organizational, and political contexts influence, and, in turn,are influenced by, the personal experiences of teachers.”I need to look at myself.22CHAPTER IIOrganizing StoriesA rhizome is made of plateaus... We call a ‘plateau’ any multiplicity connected toother multiplicities by superficial underground stems in such a way as to form orextend a rhizome... Each plateau can be read starting anywhere and can be relatedto any other plateau. To attain the multiple, one must have a method thateffectively constructs it . . ..(Deleuze and Guattari, 1987 cited by Holtorf, 2004 ¶ 2)Wrestling MonstersI look at the clock. 5:20 a.m. It’s starting to be daylight already and I feelexhausted. Another night of wrestling this shape-shifting monster, this dissertation, thathas grown enormously over the past two years with numerous tendrils reaching muchfurther than I could have imagined. Where do I chop off these tendrils and make themonster more manageable? How do I wrestle my work into submission and dress it up tobe presentable in public so that it will be accepted, perhaps admired; so that it will do noharm to anyone, yet influence change? Will anyone listen to it? Will it have anything tosay that will change my or anyone else’s life for the better?After a short shower, I head to my computer with my coffee—organic fair tradecoffee. I haven ‘t cut out coffee yet, but at least I’m trying to do my small part. I take adeep breath. I can do this. I need to think ofit as part ofme, my voice, my partner, ratherthan an adversary.Anyone who has written a thesis/dissertation!articlelbook can probably relate tothe metaphor I use to open this chapter. Like most qualitative researchers with whom Ihave spoken, I find it difficult to show the multi-layeredness, the interrelatedness, and themetamorphic, rhizomatic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) nature of my research, which is also23fraught with ethical issues. The study has waltzed me through several rounds of meaning,always returning me close to where I began, but never exactly to the same place. Attimes, the paths it has taken have become expansive, showing me complex patterns andrelationships between my questions and larger issues. At times, the cycles have beennarrower and the focus has become self and my faltering steps as I struggle to learn newpatterns and new ways of responding to my partners, this study, and the people withwhom I work.This chapter outlines the story of my attempts to learn new patterns ofthinking/being/doing as a result of interacting with those who contribute to the story. Itprovides an overview of the various sections of the study and my reasons for conducting,presenting, and analyzing the study in the way I have. In other words, this chapterexplains the organizational framework for the study.Re-Searching QuestionsI began this study over 2 years ago in an attempt to answer the question,“What are the possibilities for improving the preparation of preservice teachers towork with indigenous communities in respectful, supportive, and collaborativeways?”As a teacher and teacher educator I felt a responsibility to help develop in the nextgeneration of teachers a sense of fairness and justice so that they in turn, could help allpeople enjoy a life of their own choosing within my province. The face of the province isquickly changing where the middle-class White population is decreasing and where thereis a young and burgeoning Aboriginal population that for the most part, has not done well24in the mainstream school system or society. Anyone living here can see the direconsequences for the province’s social and economic well-being if the issues facingAboriginal peoples of the province are not addressed.For example, a young reporter on the radio who was researching the growth ofAboriginal gangs in the province told the listening audience how children are beingrecruited into gangs because the law, for the most part, cannot touch them. As well, thereport of the Task Force and Public Dialogue on the Role ofthe School (Tymchak, 2001)highlighted several “tectonic plates” that seem to be shaking the foundations ofschooling6.Several of these tectonic plates relate to the educational, social, and economicconditions experienced primarily by Aboriginal people in the province.Similar concerns exist at the national level as identified by the Royal Commissionon Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1996, and from indications in the media, it seems thatnot much has changed in 10 years. Furthermore, conflicts over land claims frequentlyhave the country watching and wondering if the conflicts will turn out as badly as those atOka, Quebec and Ipperwash, Ontario7.Emotions run high further dividing Aboriginal andnon-Aboriginal Canadians when land and resources are involved.6 Some of the “tectonic plates” include: the growing number of children who need specialized care; thegrowth in school-aged children of Aboriginal ancestry; the information society and globalization; theincreasing numbers of children in poverty and the factors associated with it; the growing ratio of studentswho are ‘at-risk’ (likely to drop out before high school graduation); pupil mobility; the challenges faced bysingle parent families which have implications for the additional support that schools and other humanservices agencies are called upon to provide; the need to accommodate cultural diversity and combatracism; rural depopulation and the crises felt by rural families; the impacts of major curriculum reform; thegrowing concern about violence, bullying and taunting in schools; youth suicide rates, child abuse andneglect, and the mental health of students.Two major disputes over land claims in Canada at Oka, Quebec in 1990 and at Ipperwash ProvincialPark, Ontario in 1995 erupted in violence and deaths. More recently, a dispute over land in Caledonia,Ontario which began in February 2006, is being compared to Oka and Ipperwash, although as yet, therehave been no deaths.25Internationally, indigenous peoples worldwide are suffering the devastatingeffects of globalization, capitalism, and colonization (Battiste & Henderson, 2000;LaDuke, 2005; United Nations, 2000). The situation in our province is a microcosm ofwhat is happening nationally and internationally.A government Task Force on the Role of the School made severalrecommendations for addressing many of the issues related to education after havingtoured the province talking with various groups (Tymchak, 2001). One of therecommendations was for more cross-cultural and anti-racist education for teachers.Another was the implementation of SchoolPT which is based on a model of cooperationamong the school, community, family and human service agencies to better meet theneeds of children and their families.My motivation for conducting this study was primarily my sense of frustrationand uncertainty around preparing future teachers to work in schools and communitieswhere the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated, where people are able to determine theirown futures and what they want for their children with the support of caring teachers. Inoted in the proposal that there are some of the barriers to working toward this goal:• Preservice teachers have extremely limited awareness of and appreciation forthe histories and perspectives of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada;• Preservice teachers have little knowledge of the causes of inequities in thesocial, educational, and economic structures that affect Aboriginal peoples;• Attempts to incorporate Aboriginal content and perspectives as mandated bythe province’s curriculum guides into the teacher education programs havemet with varying degrees of success;26• Some faculty members, including myself, feel unsure about how to includeAboriginal content, or what it should be;• Anti-racist education has met with resistance by some students who areopenly hostile when introduced to anti-racist education because of the specialprivileges some students believe First Nations people have. Other studentscomplain that affirmative action policies constitute “reverse discrimination”,or that White people were being blamed for the Natives’ problems. Still othersdon’t see a problem or consider themselves “colour-blind” and therefore treatall people the same (Finney & Off, 1994; King, 2001; St. Denis & Schick,2003);• Where student teachers are sympathetic to Aboriginal peoples and willing toincorporate Aboriginal content into their lesson or unit plans, theyunintentionally perpetuate stereotypes by using a “contributions approach”(Banks, 1999) that focuses on food, celebrations, dances and artifacts, or theyrepresent First Nations peoples only as historical figures8.• Faculty members’ views on how to prepare preservice teachers to work in andwith Aboriginal communities vary widely, thus preservice teachers seem toreceive mixed messages and are unsure of what they should do.8 A example of this appeared on the front page of the Leader Post (Healy, February 5, 2003), which showeda picture of grade 4 students dressed as if they were “part of a North American Plains Indian tribe aroundthe 1850’s” sitting beside a teepee. The teacher was attempting to have the children celebrate First Nationscultures. The incident, however, caused considerable controversy, which resulted in calls to the SchoolBoard Office by members of the Aboriginal community and concerned educators.27When I wrote the proposal for the study, I realized that although most of us in thefaculty in which I work have good intentions, there is no concerted effort to includecross-cultural and anti-racist education in all our courses. This focus is usually found onlyin Foundations courses dedicated specifically to these topics. Not all students take thesecourses, however. Furthermore, like many other teacher education programs in Canada,approximately half of the students in our institution can complete their degree withouthaving taken a single course in cross-cultural or multicultural education (Masemann &Mock, 1986 cited by Wong, 1998). I realize the Masemann and Mock study wasconducted 20 years ago, and I suspect many institutions have changed this requirementsince then, but ours hasn’t. Although preservice teachers in the Elementary Educationprogram are required to take one cross-cultural/multicultural Foundations course, those inthe Secondary Education program are not.Some of the specific questions I try to explore throughout the study include:• Within our own university’s and community’s contexts, what are some of thevarious perspectives and experiences of people concerning Aboriginaleducation—the perspectives for example, of teacher educators, members ofthe Aboriginal community and teachers who are working in with highnumbers of Aboriginal students?• What do the terms “Aboriginal/indigenous education” and “anti-racisteducation” mean?• What are the challenges and opportunities with respect to collaborating withAboriginal communities to ensure positive educational experiences for allstudents?28• How might this study contribute to my own understanding and practices?• What implications does the study have for teacher education programs that areattempting to work for social justice?I realize that the study has several foci: Aboriginal education, our faculty, andmyself, each of which could easily have been a separate research topic. I see them asinterrelated and connected however. It is therefore difficult to separate the answers to myquestions; however, I attempt to untangle some of the issues and address them in the finalthree chapters of this document.E/In/Provoking MethodologyThe title of this section refers to my use of autoethnography as a research methodintended to evoke (call forth), invoke (call upon), and provoke (incite or stir) feelings,thoughts and actions. My original intention was to conduct a case study of the faculty asthe method within a qualitative research methodology until I came across severalquotations that pointed to a need for a self-study within an ethnographic setting. The firstis a quotation by James Burke, author of Paper Tomahawks.For a century, Indians have been studied under the microscope of white society..Perhaps it is time that microscopes and voluminous studies were replaced by amirror. A single giant mirror which rulers of Canadian society could hold up tothemselves. (Burke cited by Hodgson, 2000, pg. 15)I reasoned it is time, therefore, to hold the mirror up to ourselves. For as Ghosh(1996) states, “if teachers are the key players in the education game, then teachereducation programs are of crucial significance” (p.83). And, as I noted in the firstchapter, “change in teacher education will not be implemented without efforts focused onthose who teach the teacher” (Ghosh & Tarrow, 1993, p.81).29If that is the case, then as a teacher educator, I must also examine my own beliefsand practices concerning the education of Aboriginal students, as well as the structures ofand interactions within the institution where I work. I want to understand my confusion,to unlearn my own racism (Cochran-Smith, 2000; McIntosh, 2002) and like MarilynCochran-Smith (2000),to interrogate the racist assumptions that may be deeply embedded in our owncourses and curricula, to own our own complicity in maintaining existing systemsof privilege and oppression, and to grapple with our own failures to produce thekinds of changes we advocate. (p. 158)My research method of choice is autoethnography because it provides theopportunity to be self-reflexive, it helps to situate me within particular historical, cultural,and institutional contexts, and it provides a window into the milieu in which I amworking (Neumann & Peterson, 1997). It also allows me to show how various facets ofmy life are connected. A quotation by Neumann and Peterson (p. 7) supports another ofmy reasons for wanting to make the study autobiographical.autobiography helps us see and understand the hurtful aspects of institutionalexistence in academe through the eyes of those who may have suffered in silencethrough subtle and overt discrimination or neglect. It also helps us see, appreciate,and support the informal structures that help people heal from and resist thehurtful features of organizational existence.Throughout the study, which I consider to be a long narrative made up of severalsmaller ones, there are stories (narratives) of feeling on the margins, of resistance,frustration, uncertainty, accomplishment, and hope. As well as telling my own story, Iattempt to tell others’ stories with their permission; however, this poses some ethicaldilemmas (Ellis, 2004; Mitchell, 2004). For one thing, I know I can never tell a person’sstory accurately or completely because I can never fully understand another person’sintentions or perspective, or because to tell my interpretation of it may be hurtful. I try,30however, with permission, to be a voice in instances where it may be politically difficultfor some people to raise issues themselves.Another ethical dilemma relates to the difficulty of ensuring anonymity becauseof the detail in the narratives. Many people are easily recognizable; therefore, it wasnecessary to provide them with a copy of their story that I intended to use in the studyand ask them to make changes as they saw fit or give them the opportunity to refuse tohave the story included. Fortunately, I had to make only a few changes. In two instances,I use a person’s real name because I cite his or her work and there is no doubt who thisperson is. Again, I asked for permission to include a person’s story.Another issue concerns non-consenting others who appear as characters in thestories and whether or not they can be identified, or whether they will be hurt by what issaid (Ellis, 2004; Mitchell, 2004). I have tried therefore to ensure that any non-consentingothers are not identifiable or that if they are, they will not be hurt by my words.I use Carolyn Ellis’ (2004) work as a model for most of the study (albeit a poorimitation of it). The major portion of the study is in narrative format which sandwichesthis chapter between the first chapter and the chapters following this. Ellis’ workdemonstrates to me that authoethnography can facilitate a holistic rendering of the data,can show the complexities and interrelatedness of the issues, can include the emotionalaspects of the research, and can allow me to write in a manner that is personallysatisfying. Like Ellis, I try to weave the theoretical pieces of the study and the relevantliterature in with the stories rather than provide a separate chapter for the literature.31Sequencing StoriesFollowing the example of Davis et al., (2000) I use noun!verb phrases as headingsin the study to show the dynamic, fluid nature of the research and to evoke multiplemeanings for the reader. Admittedly, it is easier to see the double meanings in some ofthe phrases more readily than in others. I hope, however, the reader will take some timeto consider the connotations I try to portray in each of the headings.The study is presented as chapters of a book and the story appears to unfold inchronological order. Many of the stories did not happen in the order presented; however,I have arranged them in this particular way to lend a sense of coherence to the study.Chapter 1 provides background information to the study; Chapter II explains theorganizational framework for the study; Chapter III introduces the context in which thestudy takes place; Chapter IV presents of a review of the literature related to Aboriginaleducation; Chapter V summarizes the results of a small survey and interviews, andrelates the findings to the literature on teaching for social justice; Chapter VI makes acase for using autoethnography as my methodology; Chapter VII provides a glimpse intosome of the challenges I face as a teacher educator; Chapter VIII illustrates some of theissues and controversies that arise in teacher education; Chapter IX explores thecontroversy over race and culture; Chapter X summarizes the findings of the study;Chapter XI positions the study within the context of complexity science and makes linksbetween complexity and indigenous knowledge systems. It also provides fiverecommendations for teacher educators. Chapter XII closes the study with my asking mystudents to draw comparisons between the metaphor of the dance and teaching for socialjustice. The metaphor of the dance is a thread that runs throughout the study because32numerous authors (Bateson, 1994; Davis, et al., 2000; Doll, 1993; Wheatley, 1994) usethe metaphor when writing about the interactions within complex adaptive systems.Some of the stories and characters are fictitious but they provide vehicles forpresenting the theoretical components of the study. Other stories are based on myrecollection of the events as nearly as I can recall them. Still others are fictitious but arebased on actual incidents that happened or are representative of a number of similarincidents. Chapters 10 and 11, for example, are fictitious conversations with acompilation character that allow me to present my findings and explain how they fit withcomplexity science. They chapters were inspired, however, by some actual conversationsI did have with people who are represented by this character in some of the stories.Collecting Data.The data for the study are derived from four focus groups, numerous journalentries, an on-line survey of faculty members (to which only 8 people responded out of apossible 32, but which resulted in several people requesting to be interviewed instead),and 12 individual interviews. In trying to represent people fairly I asked people to readthe stories I created in which they were players, and to make any changes they thoughtwere necessary. Most of the data from the focus groups and interviews I conducted had tobe reduced to themes. Journal entries of incidents which evoked strong emotions orquestions in me served as the basis for many of the stories where I identify issues relatedto my study.33Reviewing LiteratureThe literature cited in the study generally falls into four main areas: Aboriginaleducation, anti-oppressive education, self-study research (and more specificallyauthoethnography), and complexity science9.As stated previously, I have cited therelevant literature within the study where it is appropriate.Orienting TheoriesBecause my study is intended to show the complexity of issues as well as thehistorical, cultural, and academic contexts in which I am located, I wanted a theoreticalorientation that would illustrate the interrelatedness of these contexts and the multipleperspectives and voices that inform the study. Therefore, the theoretical orientation I havechosen is complexity theory or science (Cilliers, 1998; Davis et al., 2000; Doll, Jr., 1993;2005; Gilstrap, 2005; O’Day, 2002). I prefer to use the term science rather than theorybecause complexity is not a theory, and complexity science embraces a number ofdifferent theories and is in keeping with the way I am coming to understand the world. Adefinition of complexity science and related terms can be found on the Complexity andEducation web site, which is hosted by the University of Alberta, if the reader requiresmore information.Complexity science is the study of complex, adaptive, self-organizing systems (CAS) orlearning systems, which resist explanation in terms of the reductive methods used in mosttraditional science (Complexity and Education! Glossary/Complexity Science web site).Researchers in a number of fields including biology, chemistry,I use the umbrella term, anti-oppressive education, synonymously with social justice education. Bothinterrogate assumptions based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, nationality, and soon and consider the intersection of these concepts in the shaping of identities.34computer science, economics, mathematics, physics, and the social sciences have begunto study the behaviour of phenomena in complex systems in an attempt to find patterns ofinteraction that can bring about affirmative changes in the system (Capra, 1996; Cilliers,1998; Davis et al., 2000; Dent, 1999; Doll, Jr., 1993; 2005). The Complexity andEducation web site defines complex systems as:Any self-organizing and adaptive form or network. A complex system arisesthrough the dynamic, non-linear interaction of its component parts yet embodiesemergent possibilities exceeding the sum of these parts. Among the complexsystems that are of interest to educators are the human individual, classroomcollectives, communities and cultural systems.Because there are numerous players that are adapting to each other and theirsurroundings, the emerging future is very hard to predict (Axelrod & Cohen, 1999, p. xi;O’Day, 2002). As well, each of the elements or agents within these complex systems haslimited patterns of response to other elements and its surroundings in the pursuit of itsgoals. I see myself, my institution, my community, and so on as complex adaptivesystems; therefore, complexity science helps me to understand why change in the way weintend is often difficult to control.The reader might be interested in a little side story. When I first proposed usingcomplexity as the theoretical orientation for the study, I tried to make the connectionsbetween it and an indigenous world view, which I saw as more holistic. I had drawn anumber of concentric circles to illustrate the embeddedness of my questions within aparticular research method, methodology, theoretical orientation, a philosophy, andfinally a world view. I must not have explained myself very well or was very naïve, for acomment from Sherry, one of my committee members was,I’m not sure about the model she proposes, circles can also be whirlpools, but sheis trying to incorporate some of the aspects of indigenous knowledge that she35values. However, I would caution that walking in circles in the bush just meansyou’re lost.Sherry’s insights still make me smile, for indeed, at times I have felt as though Iwere walking around in circles, or drowning in whirlpools. Nevertheless, I still believethat complexity science is the most useful theoretical orientation for this study because itallows me to study the data more holistically and see how I, the people with whom Iwork, my students, and my questions influence and are influenced by everything else. Itis also consistent with my understanding of narrative as a discursive process that givesmeaning to our lives. It is through narrative that “our personal stories emerge from thefluid relationship between self and the world and, thus, can actually mean different thingsat different times” (Gover, 1996, 4. A SOCIOCULTURAL CONCEPTION, Activitysection ¶2). Complexity science affirms the notion of fluidity and dynamism in how weunderstand and relate to the world through our narratives.Ending PiecesAppendices A and B provide samples of data collection instruments I used, andAppendix C provides a brief overview of my involvement during the past year in a newprogram oriented towards social justice. I have placed this overview in an appendixbecause my experiences in this new program were not directly part of the data but theyhave influenced my thinking about some of the issues I identified in the data. Ethicsforms are found in Appendix D. Now, I invite readers to join me in the dance as we makeour way around the space and weave in and out among the other dancers. Don’t be afraid.You might have fun.36CHAPTER IIIConnecting StoriesIn Complex Adaptive Systems there are often many participants, perhaps evenmany kinds of participants. They interact in intricate ways that continuallyreshape their collective future. New ways of doing things—even new kinds ofparticipants—may arise, and old ways—or old participants—may vanish. Suchsystems challenge understanding as well as prediction. (Axelrod & Cohen, 1999,p. xi.)Changing CommitmentsThe next several months fly by as I settle into the familiar routines of teachingand meetings. I am becoming reacquainted with the institution and its members and I joinan anti-racist discussion group that meets approximately every 3 weeks. There are a fewnew faces on faculty as well as many familiar ones. Some things have remained the samebut some things have changed since I was last here. For example, a vision for the facultyis outlined in a document entitled Taking Action which then becomes Shaping Who WeAre. These visioning documents outline five priority areas for the faculty.a) Nurturing a caring and collegial faculty environment;b) Revising programs: quality teaching and learning;c) Expanding the vision: Aboriginal Education and SchoolS;d) Promoting quality scholarship and research; ande) Strengthening partnerships.As beginning evidence of these goals I notice frequent gatherings to celebratebirths, marriages, retirements, publications, and other public recognitions are becomingthe norm. I decide to talk with two faculty administrators first to find out what otherinitiatives are taking place.37One administrator who has been instrumental in strengthening the faculty’scommitment to Aboriginal education tells me about some of the changes that are takingplace. For example, besides the attention to Aboriginal education and SchoollS, thefaculty is in the process of reorganizing its administrative structure to one that is lesshierarchical. It is also considering program revisions. The consideration given torevisions is due in part to budget cuts, but also to the recognition that there are gaps in theprograms. An example of those gaps is the fact that Secondary Education students are notrequired to take a course in cross-cultural education or special education.The administration is also the process of inviting applications from people ofAboriginal ancestry to teach in the faculty. As well, it has just been confirmed thatConnie, one of our faculty members, has been awarded a Tier II Canada Research Chairposition. She will preside over a new Centre for Social Justice and AboriginalEducation’°. A new Middle Years Program is under development, which will have astronger social justice focus and tighter links to the Aboriginal community, and newfaculty members are being hired with the expectation that they will work toward the goalof teaching for social justice now that this has been articulated in the visioningdocuments.Another maj or initiative on behalf of the faculty administrators involves hostingthe first provincial SchoolPl Congress to bring together educators, health, justice, andsocial workers as well as community members to share information, identif’ issues, andcelebrate partnerships that seem to be improving services to students and families. Theorganizers of the School Congress are particularly interested in presentations10 The name of the Centre for Social Justice and Aboriginal Education was later changed to the Centre forSocial Justice and Anti-oppressive Education.38highlighting partnerships between schools and First Nations Band Councils or Aboriginalorganizations within the urban community. I have been asked to co-chair the Congress.The faculty administrator who has been instrumental in strengthening thecommitment to Aboriginal education believes that it should be participatory whereAboriginal peoples identif’ what they see as their future and their role in terms of powerand participation. The two most important directions for improving education forAboriginal students, according to this person, include developing respectful relationshipsbetween Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and making structural changes inthe institution of schooling. If we can work towards these goals, perhaps we can build astrong province where people get along well together and Aboriginal people are nolonger marginalized. This administrator’s view is that the focus on curriculum shouldcome last, believing that schools have to be more inviting places and that preserviceteachers might learn best through case-based, inquiry-based, or project-basedassignments where they work with members of the Aboriginal community on real issues.Another senior administrator I speak with describes two initiatives that weredeveloped in collaboration with other departments and faculty members working in theAboriginal teacher education programs. The first is the development of aninterdisciplinary Certificate in Child and Family Studies. The certificate includes coursesin Education, Social Work, Human Justice, and Indigenous Studies. A trans-disciplinaryfund established at the university, as well as support from the Faculties of Education,Social Work, and Arts, provided the catalyst for the project. It was difficult however, toget financial support from government departments, although the idea was deemed39worthwhile. The project was finally approved at different levels of the university after 3years and tremendously hard work.The second project is a Certificate of Extended Studies in Aboriginal Educationthat was developed through the collaboration of representatives from across the variousteacher education programs as well as the Centre for Continuing Education. Thecommittee involved the Office of the Treaty Commissioner as well as Elders who,according to this faculty member, “kept people’s feet rooted in terms of what’s good forAboriginal people. They said we don’t want blame and we don’t want guilt.” Thisadministrator greatly appreciated the work of people behind the scenes who helped withan approach that was win-win for everyone, where everyone could “go through thisexperience and come out feeling that they have been respected and that they have givensome respect in turn.”I ask whether there was talk of interrogating White privilege and power in any ofthese meetings. The administrator replies that it wasn’t part of the language of the peoplearound the table, but certainly the intent of decolonization was there. “I suspect it wasbecause most Aboriginal people don’t use that language. It is a language that Whitepeople have developed”, the administrator says with a smile.This administrator has also been highly involved in promoting Aboriginaleducation within the faculty over the years through various community partnerships,through research projects, and through helping to bring an Elder in Residence into thefaculty for a few months to work with faculty members and students.40“Yes, it was wonderful having her here,” I say. “We kept her really busy and Iwas amazed at how quiet and respectful our students were when she came into ourclasses even though they are not used to sitting and listening for long periods of time.”“I think she was a gift to many faculty members, too,” the administrator remindsme. “Several people spent time with her. “As our discussion ends, we are reminded ofthe work done by many people within the faculty who have helped to create a culturewithin the institution that espouses a commitment to Aboriginal education and socialjustice.Forming PartnershipsAs part of the vision to strengthen partnerships among teacher educationprograms, the Mamawihtowin Aboriginal Education Council is established that includesthe various Aboriginal Teacher Education Programs (TEPs) in the province and a FirstNations-governed university to advise our faculty on the development of Aboriginaleducation. An Aboriginal Education Forum is also held with the intent to generate ideasaround ways to provide support to inservice and preservice teachers in the area ofAboriginal Education. On the guest list are prominent members of the academiccommunity of the universities in the province, the representatives of the TEP programs,and the educational partners including the Teacher’s Federation, the School BoardsAssociation, and the Department of Learning. I find it interesting however, that amongthe various mixed-organization discussion groups who are charged with definingAboriginal education, there is no one definition of Aboriginal education upon whicheveryone can agree.41On the research side, several faculty members have become involved in researchpartnerships and projects with Aboriginal faculty members from the First Nations andMétis teacher education programs and other faculties within the university. Many of thesepartnerships are the result of an Indigenous Peoples’ Research Fund offered to allfaculties within the university. Some of the alliances that I hear of include workshops onincorporating indigenous knowledge into science and mathematics, the use of technologyto enhance Aboriginal language programs, and a jointly planned and organized Womenin Leadership and Learning conference. I decide to talk with some of my colleagues inthe Aboriginal education programs.Aboriginal teachers’ teachers.I hold a focus group session with some colleagues in one of the Aboriginalteacher education programs and begin by asking them about their participation inresearch projects having to do with Aboriginal education. They tell me about the strain itis on them at times to be involved in such research projects.“We don’t have research leaves. If we want to do research, we do it on our owntime in addition to everything else we do,” explains one person.“We know there are research dollars available and that some projects require acertain number of Aboriginal names on them,” adds another person, “and there was one[research project] and my name was on there, but I did nothing, absolutely nothing. So Iwonder ifmy name is on projects as the token Aboriginal person. The question is alwaysin the back of my mind. The intention is to have meaningful participation by the42Aboriginal community and spread the resource dollars around, but the money usuallyends up going to the host university, so we basically end up volunteering.”I can feel myself cringe a little and blush as I think of the times when I have askedpeople to participate in joint projects because I knew there was funding available if somepeople on the research team were Aboriginal. Did I do it out ofa genuine desire tofurther research related to Aboriginal education, or did I do it to add a publication to myCV? IfI’m honest with myself I have to say both. It’s the system that’s atfault. Itpressures us into dividing our intentions. Somehow I don ‘tfeel absolved ofmy guiltthough.I then ask the group for their perceptions of how well students in the regularprogram are being prepared to work with Aboriginal communities.One person teasingly says, “Regular program? What does that make us?Irregular?”“Oh, sorry,” I apologize. “I mean mainstream program.”“Or whitestream, as Grande (2004) calls it,” chuckles someone else.I blush, suddenly reminded of how language reflects deeply ingrained prejudices(Whetherell & Potter, 1992). I search for another word to help me differentiate betweenthe two programs in a way that doesn’t place one program in a position of superiority. Ican’t think of one. We need a new language!“It’s okay,” someone says, sensing my discomfort. You can say ‘regular’. We’reused to it.” They all laugh.In answer to my question, the group members tell me that they see differentfaculty trying different things, but there is no overall holistic approach. Furthermore,43teachers in the field who are graduates of the larger program are saying they aresimply not prepared to work in inner-city communities”. “They know nothing of thehistory of colonization or of the different cultural groups that make up the province,” saysone person. “Often students in the regular program come to us for resources,” observesanother.These faculty members say they try to integrate history and cultural content intoeverything they do so that by the end of 4 years the students have more than surfaceknowledge. Resource materials reflect a variety of cultures besides Aboriginal cultures,and students are helped to see how they can develop their own materials. Resourcepeople from the community provide some expertise on topics, and the students learn theprotocols of inviting Elders to speak. National holidays such as Riel Day and AboriginalDay are celebrated to show people in contemporary and historical contexts.Throughout their program these faculty use the principles in the Circle of Courageliterature from Reclaiming Youth at Risk (Bendtro, Brokenleg, & Van Bockern, 1990) inthe professional development of the students. These principles are the Spirits ofGenerosity, Mastery, Independence, and Belonging. Students must demonstrate throughtheir portfolios how they have grown in each of these areas. These principles run throughthe four-year program and the instructors use a collective approach to actively make themodel come alive. As well, the instructors try to be good role models themselves anddemonstrate to the students that they don’t have to give up their culture to be successfulin society. “There are places to celebrate your culture and people to celebrate with you,”is what they tell the students.‘ This is consistent with the findings of a study commissioned by the First Nations/Métis UrbanPartnership (Currie & Tymchak, 2003).44In their program the instructors teach both anti-racist education and cross-culturaleducation. They note that some of their students have been victimized by racism whileothers who have been oppressors, identify strongly with mainstream society. It is verydifficult for some students to admit they stereotype and discriminate against others. Theprogram uses a developmental, spiraling process to help students come to terms with theiridentity, and faculty keep revisiting the idea of oppression throughout the program.Faculty members begin with having the students look at change on the personallevel, then how one might go about teaching for change. Students then learn how to moveon to other levels such as how to change the system, the community, and the curriculum.Not everyone is at the same level when they come in or when they leave, but theinstructors expect everyone to grow and develop.I ask the group what they think about having our students interacting for differentthings. They tell me they do participate from time to time in modules and so on and it isusually a positive experience. They do have to be watchful because their function is todeliver a teacher education program. It is difficult however, to work around schedulingissues and to find time in the busy programs to get together.Another reason for the hesitancy is they don’t mind sharing information, but theirprogram should not be the sole source of information for other programs. One personexplained it to me in this way: “The way knowledge is learned is hard work and it takes along time. There are cultural protocols we’ve had to go through to learn some types ofknowledge such as how to approach an Elder in the right way. That’s something welearned from experience, so to just freely give that information after you’ve worked hard45for it for a very long time, doesn’t seem right, you know? The same process has to belearned for your students or it’s not a full learning process.”Suddenly it is as if a brick hits me on the side of the head and I feel extremelyfoolish. I start to tear up and begin apologizing. “And we just take it away like we’vealways done,” I say with an apologetic laugh.Another person says, “Lots of times we are okay with sharing, but it’s just notnice to be asked to do the same things three or four times by different people. ShauneenPete makes a similar observation when she talks about her experiences as a consultant ina chapter she wrote for the Ward and Bouvier book, Resting Lightly on Mother Earth(2001).”I ask about doing instructor exchanges, and the group agrees as long as it’s amutual exchange and they are not being asked just to do something cultural. “I can dothat,” says one person, “but I can do other things, too. To be asked to come in and give alecture however, requires a lot of extra planning and preparation, which is fine as long asit’s reciprocal.” We all agree that timetabling such exchanges poses difficulties.Suggestions the group has for the larger teacher education program include:• have classroom/field experiences that strongly connect theory and practicebecause sometimes students see a disconnect between what is taught in theircourses and what is done in classrooms;• develop a sense of community and belonging among the students in theprogram so that they can learn from each other (their students in the upperyears act as mentors for the junior students and they form friendships that lasta lifetime);46• include cross-cultural and anti-racist content in the programs to help studentslearn about the histories of Aboriginal peoples of the land and the history ofcolonization;• have the students learn about the Treaties because everyone is part of Treaty.As a final comment, the group suggests that it would be nice to improvecommunication between our two programs. “There are students in your program thathave never heard of ours, and it seems some staff members haven’t either because ourmail keeps going to the other Aboriginal teacher education program. Also when decisionsare made in the faculty regarding the sequencing of courses or programmaticrequirements, our program is affected. It would be nice to be included in the decision-making process or be told that some change has been made. The communication isusually quite good and we sit on the various committees, but that hasn’t alwayshappened,” notes one person.I thank my friends for their time, their suggestions, and their hospitality and wishthem a good summer holiday. As I make my way home I think back to the numeroustimes these faculty members have been called upon to share their expertise yet havereceived little, if anything in return. I’m glad they had to courage to tell me these things. Iknow it wasn ‘t easy. Hopefully we will be more sensitive to ourpartners from now on.Speaking ofpartners, there seem to be some interesting partnerships developingaround the province between schools and Aboriginal communities. I think I shouldfindout what they are doing in the area ofAboriginal education.47Inviting communities.I decide to talk with teachers from two schools that appear to be models ofschool/community co-operation and collaboration. Both schools have high numbers ofFirst Nations and Métis students, so I reasoned that the teachers might have some helpfulsuggestions for teacher educators who are preparing prospective teachers to workcollaboratively with indigenous communities.Big Sky School is a K-12 school that serves a number of rural communities andfour nearby First Nations. Can Do High is an urban school that primarily serves studentstaking vocational programs. Teachers at both schools accept my invitation to beinterviewed and are very welcoming and inviting. Despite differences in their programsand demographics, teachers in both schools have similar things to say, which I see ascommon themes. They also have some unique differences.Big Sky SchoolAs I enter the door to the school where I had taught in an Alternate Educationprogram over 15 years ago, I am struck by a sense of familiarity, yet strangeness. Theschool somehow looks a little brighter and more inviting than I remember. A number ofrooms have changed. The school office is larger and more welcoming. I introduce myselfto the principal and we chat for a bit about my research as he shows me to the roomwhere I will be interviewing the teachers.Due to the efforts of a number of people including administrators, School Boardmembers, and representatives and Elders from the First Nations bands, the school appliedfor and received funding to become a community school in 2001. A vision statement wasdeveloped, a Community School Coordinator was hired, and a Community School48Council was created with representatives from each of the stakeholders includingstudents. Several programs have emerged from the visioning of the communitiesinvolved.When I taught in this school, there were considerable tensions among the variousgroups represented in the school population, but conversations with former colleagueshave led me to believe things are changing. Located in a small rural community, theschool draws from several communities as it did when I was a teacher there. Thedifference however, is that the school population has grown significantly in recent yearswith the majority of students coming from the four nearby First Nations, while thenumber of students from the towns and farms has decreased. Because of the decliningpopulation in rural communities, the towns realize co-operation is needed to ensure thatthe school survives. This means that all the students must feel as if they belong and aresuccessful there or the students from the Bands simply will not attend. Everyone has avested interest in the school.Five teachers have agreed to talk with me. After introductions and my explainingthe purpose of the study, I ask about some of the programs and changes that have takenplace since the school was designated as a community school.The group identifies the following changes: First, the staff is very aware of theunique nature of the seven different communities they serve and the fact that anydecisions require considerable negotiation. They have also noticed that communicationbetween the Bands and the school has increased greatly in the past several years,primarily because each Band employs an education coordinator. As well, people from thereserves are frequent visitors to the school now because they see it as a more welcoming49place. A number of interagency partnerships have been built with the RCMP, withHealth, Justice, the Bands, Counselling Services, the Tribal Council, and the Elders.The school has a number of programs to help ensure students stay in schoolincluding a retention program for those who have been unsuccessful because of irregularattendance; an alternate education program; a work placement program away from theschool building; a Farm Program for students with behavioural issues who have beenexpelled from system after system, but who may be able to come back to the regularprogram; and a Pathfinder program for adults who want to return to school and completeGrade 12. As well, a nursery, a pre-school, and daycare have been established to care forthe children of young mothers as they complete their education. A family literacyprogram has also been developed that connects people such as parents, Elders, people inthe community, and those who are caregivers.One of the vice-principals notes that a major part of her job now is to activelypursue funding so the school can provide these support services. The school also tries tohave events that bring people together to build relationships. “Transportation is a hugeproblem because of the distances between communities and between our schools andhomes, and most folks don’t necessarily have the means to attend whatever the school isarranging.” Furthermore, funding becomes an issue every year to support the establishedprograms. As this person says, “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be accountable; I’mjust saying that we shouldn’t have to redesign a program every year in order to get themoney.”The teachers discuss some of the other challenges they face as well as suggestions forprospective teachers and teacher educators, which I make note of for comparison to50the comments from teachers at Can Do High. At the end of my time with them I thankthem for their comments and leave a book for their school.Can Do HighTwo weeks later I visit Can Do High to find out what the teachers there have tosay. I chose this school because I attended an interesting presentation by some of the staffmembers at a conference on Aboriginal Education. At the presentation I learned that theschool had been cited in McLean’s Magazine as one of the top 10 best schools in Canada.The school offers an instructional program that integrates academic instruction, personaldevelopment, and vocational preparation and provides many student services. Some ofthese include a “Kids First” daycare and numerous programs to support students who arereturning to school or who have severe attendance and other issues. The emphasis in theschool is on vocational training so students spend considerable time in work experienceplacements as well as in courses. According to the presenters, students who attend theschool have a 70% success rate in finding employment.During my conversation with the teachers I learn that they think Can Do High isone of the city’s best kept secrets. The teachers love working there and love working withthe students. “I know I’ll eventually be transferred but they’re going to have to carry meout kicking and screaming,” says one teacher. His colleagues agree enthusiastically.Everyone has a unique story about how they came to be teaching at Can Do High, notalways willingly, but now they don’t want to leave.I ask about the McLean’s Magazine award and how that came about. Consuela,who identifies herself as Métis and feels she has “died and gone to heaven” since comingto the school, explains: “They were looking for the top schools across Canada so we51submitted an application. I submitted it on behalf of the students and the staff here at CanDo because I felt that we were one of the best kept secrets, but we didn’t recognize thatwe were. We were successful in what we were doing and we needed to celebrate thesuccesses rather than focus on the negatives. So winning the award has made a hugedifference in this school. I’ve seen a big paradigm shift in the kids. They no longerconsider it Cocaine High or Coconut High. The people in the community and thesurrounding area are very proud to send their kids here. Business people are veryinterested in Can Do High School and employ the students from here now. I feel that’s ahuge accomplishment and a huge paradigm shift in the community. I think that thechildren will reap the benefits of this in the long run.” Consuela sits back proudly in herchair. The other teachers’ faces are beaming with pride as well.The teachers also tell me that because of the award, students have becomepolitical activists and write letters to MPs and MLAs, with the help of their teachers.When the students wrote to the leaders of the federal political parties about the Gomerycommission, they were surprised and pleased when (most of) the leaders replied. Severalpoliticians have since dropped by the school.“I had a couple of kids I know who were affiliated with gangs and after theyrealized the Minister of Finance had called us several times, you could see the change ofexpressions in their faces. They didn’t say anything but you could just see it in the bodylanguage that they started to believe they could move mountains,” says Consuela.“Wow!” I say. “Excuse me a minute,” I say as I reach for a tissue in my purse. “Ilove hearing stories like that,” I say as I dab my eyes and nose. The group smiles at meand a few people relate similar stories.52I ask the group for some suggestions for prospective teachers and for our teachereducation program. They too have several suggestions which sound similar to thoseoffered by the teachers at Big Sky School. At the end of the interview I ask the teachersto please take some of the fruit, muffins, and juice I brought and I thank them with a bookfor their school as well.Back in my office after transcribing the tapes, I try to see if there are indeed, somecommon themes, issues, or suggestions offered by the two staff groups. Several jump outat me immediately:Pride in the school and in the students. Like the teachers at Can Do High, theteachers at Big Sky School have considerable pride in and affection for their students. AsSam says, “Whenever we go someplace, I will rank our kids against any school in theprovince. They are the most respectful kids I have ever seen. Yes, we have our blowups,but our kids know how to represent our school. I have always been terribly proud ofthem. I have seen some horrible racist treatment of our teams, especially in the sports,and our students have always risen above it. They have always taken the high road and Ialways have the greatest pride in them for that.”Respect is another key theme in both schools. Teachers recognize the importanceof working respectfully with community members and students. Working together helpsto reduce racism and the mystique of the other.As Sam from Big Sky says, “If you really want people to be equal and respectfulof each other, you have to find a way to get First Nations and non-First Nations peopletogether. I think some of these misconceptions, these silly beliefs that they have are just53because they don’t know any better. There has got to be more ofjust getting together sothat people get some of their stupid beliefs blown out of the water.”Similarly, a teacher at Can Do states, “You have to take the mystery out of it. Itcan’t be them and us. We’ve got to take that away. Preservice teachers should beexpected in all 4 years to be involved in community activities somehow where it’s anintegrated blend of theory and community involvement. It doesn’t necessarily have to bewith First Nations and Métis kids. It could be with the Chinese community, it could bethe African community, it could be the South American community from El Salvador;that sort of thing. I think you have to demystify this because there is this sort ofromanticism that goes with it.”This teacher’s counterpart at Big Sky states as well, “Just get the teachers intomore diverse classroom situations. They can see very different life styles depending onthe schools. Give them a variety from the very privileged, upper middle class Whiteschool to a very mixed school or one that is predominantly Aboriginal. Give them thatwhole span so that they can compare, and they may find that there are a lot of similaritiesamong the schools too.”Compassion and flexibility are seen as key characteristics people need if they areto be successful teachers. Stewie from Can Do, for example says, “Well first of all,teachers have to be compassionate people. It’s not something that you can necessarilyteach someone to be. You have to get the right people in to do the right job. They have tobe accepting of different cultures and they have to be flexible. That’s just my opinion.”At Big Sky, Bebe points to a poster on the wall that states, The world has enoughsmartpeople. We need more goodpeople and Sam says, “It doesn’t matter how bright a54star they are. It doesn’t matter what their marks were, when we interview people forteaching positions here, we look for those people skills. Those are the people who will besuccessful in our communities.”Similarly teachers from both schools talked about the importance of beingflexible. As one person stated, “A sensitive teacher who is flexible can learn a lot by justbeing patient and flexible.” The teachers felt that training in special education and theadaptive dimension helped prospective teachers learn to be flexible.Anti-racist and cross-cultural training is a huge priority in both schools. “I thinkthat all children should be taught First Nation and Métis cultures and history. To tell youthe truth, I think that the outer core, the suburbia area needs to have more exposure to thisthan our core kids because we are not going to change attitudes and make paradigm shiftsuntil that happens,” says Consuela.Consuela feels such training would reduce some of the racism that is seen as aroadblock. “There are a lot of roadblocks out there and people seem to think that there isan equity issue; that Aboriginal people are getting hired because there is a push on outthere to hire the First Nations or Métis people. That’s not true. We have to have thequalifications too. That needs to be clarified. As First nations and Métis people who areworking in a system, we didn’t get the jobs just because we are Indian. We got the jobbecause we are qualified.”Dialogue among all the educational partners is seen as necessary to build Trust. It isimportant to have a “legitimate dialogue where you listen to people’s needs and actuallydo something about them so that there is visible change. That way they see that55their input means something, which helps to develop trust and a higher degree of comfort.Giving lip service destroys trust,” says a teacher from Big Sky.Another Big Sky teacher also says, “When people see each other as people, theystop seeing differences in culture; they just see friends. Trust is built through the moreopportunities people have to come together and enjoy a meal together, enjoyentertainment together, talk, whatever the case may be. If you wanted to get to know yourneighbours and make friends with them, you would invite them into your house and havea cup of coffee. We just do lots of that.”Can Do teachers talk about the importance of dialogue among staff memberswhen initiating new ideas, because the staff sees many ways they could still improve theschool. “If you do it in the right place, in the right forum instead ofjust gossiping in thestaff room, and that’s an unhealthy way of asking questions. In my opinion, if you findthe people that are initiating this particular kind of program and you don’t understand itand you ask the questions outright, you’ll get a succinct and honest answer rather thanjust starting propaganda in the staff room.”Incorporating Aboriginal content andperspectives as well as those from othercultures in a meaningful way is seen as extremely important in both schools although oneof the teachers from Big Sky School says this is difficult to do when there are so manydifferent perspectives, even within the same community. “So rather than somebodyteaching about a community’s culture, it’s more of a ‘go out and discover’ kind ofapproach that you have to do in order to understand the cultural background of acommunity.” Bringing in resource people and parents from the community is the key tounderstanding. Both schools also emphasized the importance of teaching prospective56teachers as well as school children about the Treaties as a part of the history of thecountry.To make the content of the courses more relevant to students, the Big Skyteachers tell me they have rewritten the modified English Language Arts and made apoint of gathering numerous resources for other courses that reflect the lives of FirstNations and Métis students through novels, short stories and poetry. “The girls seem tolike these better than the boys who are more interested in adventure stories,” says oneteacher. To teach anti-oppressive education, they may start with books on the Holocaustand then move the discussion to how Aboriginal peoples in this country were treated.At Can Do High, one of the teachers emphasized the importance of having thecontent current, not just historical. “There’s no excuse not to bring it to present day. Youhave Indigenous Circle, you have the APTN network; there are all kinds of First Nationsnewspapers and Métis newspapers that come out of Alberta. There’s the Sweetgrassnewspaper, the Eagle Feather newspaper, I think it’s called; there are also the magazinesthat they have, and role model posters. There are all kinds of things. The Internet isabsolutely full of stuff and the thing is, it is connecting it to students’ relations.”The teacher relates a story of having the students working on a web site that wasAboriginal-based. One of the little girls found the story of an Elder on the web page. Sheasked the teacher to copy the write up of the Elder, then showed her mom. The Elderturned out to be her grandfather. This teacher also showed that web page on a dataprojector at a presentation they were making in a school district. “I picked this onecharacter who was called Grizzly Bear or something like that, and his hair was stickingup in every direction, and one of the participants quietly tapped me and said, ‘That’s my57grandfather. I was in that house when I was 10 years old or 7 years old.’ I replied,‘pardon me?’ She said, ‘That’s my grandpa’s kitchen. I was there when I was little.’ Sothen she told the story to all of the teachers in the area. This was a huge thing for herbecause she was the only First Nations person in that school district working with all ofthese teachers. We were able to make a connection for her. And it’s making thosecommunity connections—connecting the dots.”Other themes both schools have in common is having high expectations ofstudents, having a sense of humour, building caring relationships with students, beingflexible, and providing lots of support. Big Sky seems to try to involve as many people ina student’s life as possible to provide support. It is not clear whether Can Do teachersbring in various other people. However, both schools have excellent programs to providethe support they think students need.Regarding the teacher education programs in the province, the teachers in bothschools have some criticisms. Neither staff thinks the universities in the province aredoing a good job of anti-racist or cross cultural education or special education. They alsoboth think there should be more co-operation among the Aboriginal teacher educationprograms and the larger programs. One of the teachers who graduated from our sisteruniversity told the following story.“We had a Foundations class that was cross-cultural education, but a lot of thatwas theory—the history of racism and not a lot about, ‘Okay what do we do now andhow do we move on from that?’ I think a lot of it falls to the TEP programs. You know,they are Aboriginal students so they are the ones to be expected to go back to the reserveschools and schools like this but I don’t think that’s good either. That needs to change. A58lot of non-Aboriginals could benefit from having an Aboriginal teacher. I had a girlfriendthat I was quite close to and she was in a TEP program and we attended a focus grouplike this with the Dean. The Dean asked what the college could do to help improvecommunication among the various teacher education programs, and this girl said, ‘Stopviewing Aboriginal people as this little segment in your classes. We are more than justBatoche or the Treaties. The past happened but focus on the future and really integratingthe cultures.’ And speaking about that, I think not enough was done to make connectionsbetween the TEP programs and the other education programs. There were still barriers atthat level of education.”As I look over the teachers’ suggestions for preservice teachers, I see there areseveral similar recommendations, which include:• Be compassionate, flexible, and have a sense of humour;• Use a variety of teaching strategies to accommodate different learning styles;• Use contemporary, local materials and examples so that students seethemselves and perhaps their relatives in the materials;• Understand the effects and causes of poverty;• Have an understanding of First Nations and Métis history and cultures bytalking with Elders and resource people in the community and valuing theirknowledge;• Understand the effects of colonialism and racism on the Aboriginal peoples ofCanada;• Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and take risks. If the “deferred success” (aterm one person prefers instead of “failure”) happens, don’t quit there;59• Listen with an open heart and mind to what others have to say even though itmay hurt to hear some things;• Find a mentor on staff with whom you can talk.As I look over the teachers’ comments I feel a familiar—something. Yearning?Nostalgia? Admiration? I can’t quite name it but memories of teaching in an alternateeducation program come flooding back. Some are happy, some are not. Those teachersseem so caring, astute, knowledgeable, kind. Was I like that? Would I be a better teacherknowing what I know now or would I try to mould the students in my own image again? Islip into a reverie where I imagine myself working in a school like Can Do or Big Skyand feeling as if I’ve died and gone to heaven. Suddenly my day dream is shattered by theringing of the phone.“Hi Carol,” It’s Sandra. “Do you happen to know if our discussion group ismeeting today?”“Yes,” I say. “It’s at 3pm in ED 532. I think Lisa put a copy of the article we willbe discussing today in everyone’s mailbox. Did you get it?”“Yes,” says Sandra. “Thanks. I’ll see you there.”Anti-oppressive educators.I belong to an anti-racist education discussion group that meets regularly. Groupmembers bring articles to share, which we then discuss in following meetings. Thediscussions are lively and interesting, but I often have a hard time contributing to thediscussions, either because I feel a little intimidated by the knowledge of the people in the60group, or by the time I have a chance to make my point, the discussion has moved on andthe point is no longer relevant.At times I feel enlightened and at times I feel confused. Most of the articles weread critique the social construction of identities that mark difference, yet the groupmembers criticize those who say that they are colour-blind and don’t see difference. I amnever quite sure whether it is good to see difference or not. Some of the articles wediscuss include: “Toward a Theory of Anti-Oppressive Education” (Kumashiro, 2000);“Unsettling Differences: Origins, Methods, Frameworks” (Mackey, 1999); “On thetheoretical Status of the Concept of Race” (Omi & Winant, 1993); “Democratic Racism”(Henry, Tator, Mathis & Rees, 2000) and “The Educational Politics of Identity andCategory” (Willinsky, 1998) among others. Some of the articles frustrate and challengeme as I try to wade through long paragraphs to find the point an author is making, whileother articles flick on the light in my head.I particularly like the introduction to the Berlak and Moyenda (2001) book,Taking It Personally: Racism in the Classroomfrom Kindergarten to College because ofthe narrative and emotional nature of the chapter. One statement hits home. Moyenda(p. 11) asks, “Do you want to change? Do you really want to begin to doubt most ofwhatyou takefor granted to be just, right, and true?” I’m not sure I do, but I find that thediscussions in this group are causing me to doubt everything I believe.In one of our meetings I ask whether it is important to see multiple perspectivesbecause I thought that was at the heart of postmodern or poststructural discourses. Oneperson replies, “Well, there are just some points of view that are wrong.” Another personstates, “We don’t ask students their opinion on racism, just as we don’t ask them their61opinion on mathematics.” Another person says, “Perhaps we need to have a discussion onwhat we mean by postmodemism and poststructuralism.” I silently think that wouldn’t bea bad idea because I don’t seem to have the same understanding as my colleagues.After several months of meeting, I ask the group members if they would bewilling to participate in a focus group discussion around questions I am exploring for mydissertation. The group agrees and we set a date near the end of the semester.I ask the group the following questions: How do you incorporate Aboriginalcontent andperspectives into your courses? How do you address anti-racist/antioppressive education in your courses? What do you believe are the greatest challenges toteachingfor socialfustice in this faculty? The responses to these questions take twosessions, but we all come away feeling quite elated by the process. Rather than peoplespeaking randomly the way we do in our regular sessions, we go around the circle andpeople respond to each question one at a time. Some people comment that they like thatformat because they could hear what each person had to say about a topic.After transcribing the tapes, I write a summary of my colleagues’ responses.How do you incorporate Aboriginal content andperspectives in your courses?How do you address anti-racist/anti-oppressive education in your courses?I combine the responses to these two questions because the group members’answers to both are very similar. Except for one person who talks about the importance ofhelping our students become familiar with other epistemologies and ways of knowing,the other group members use an anti-racist/anti-oppressive framework in their courses.Most people try to help the students understand how certain discourses, identities,courses, and educational practices become normalized. One person says she “takes62students back to how they are positioned in the process of power relationships and thehegemonic practices in society that implicate them in the production of racism, sexism,heterosexism and so on.” Many people use a variety of resource materials to show otherperspectives such as poetry, photographs, or Elizabeth Moje’s (2000) alternative toWriter’s Workshop where she works with “gangsta adolescents”. The group membersalso talk about language and power and the dominance of the English language as thelanguage of power. Some people have students look at the work of Paulo Friere and howliteracy education can be a site of struggle for social justice. Most people try to normalizeAboriginal content and perspectives by including them along with other things they do inthe classroom. One person uses critical media studies to raise awareness of issues;another uses the arts to decentre the teacher as the source of power; and another personhas students engaged in community-based service learning projects then later in theirseminars, helps students to contextualize their learning and break down priorunderstandings they have of oppressed groups.One person brings another perspective to the table. Besides having an antioppressive education orientation, this person said that it is important that oppression notbe seen as only a political problem, but rather as a curricular or epistemological problemso that students can become aware of other knowledge in the world—of other ways ofexplaining the physical and spiritual world around us. This person believes that oncestudents take that first step toward their own education in the importance of being moreflexible epistemologically, it is important to help them learn how to work in communitiesand how to approach an Elder or work with the Muslim community. It is also importantfor students to understand the concept of spiritual— and that it does not mean religious.63“I’m not saying they should learn about the Medicine Wheel, because there are allsorts of problems inherent in that. Rather it is helping our students develop more flexibleunderstandings of curricular and epistemological issues; it’s about giving them somepractical help and resources so that they, too, can teach children to have an even broaderepistemology of the world.”What do you believe are the greatest challenges to teachingfor socialjustice inthe Faculty ofEducation?In response to this question, one person believes having colleagues who don’thave the same orientation to social justice is a challenge. “There are some who don’twant to challenge the status quo and believe ‘the world is just fine the way it is, thankyou very much.’ There are others who really want a better and more just world but theybelieve you do it one person at a time. They don’t see systems of privilege and theybelieve if you could just get people to be nice to each other, justice will come.”Another challenge someone identifies is the “lure of the practical” where webelieve that everything should be secondary to lesson plans and that the focus of teachereducation must be the practical. This person thinks we are in a constant battle to makeeverything practical or students feel that it’s not worth anything.A third challenge has to do with our white faces that makes it difficult for us tosee another’s position. “We are always struggling with our own positioning even whenwe intend to be otherwise. We are part of the national discourses of our country—of thesystemic denial of racism. The notion of the good country filters down to be the myth ofthe good citizen and we have the inability to recognize how the system implicates us inthe production of racism whether we are participating in it or not.”64The effect of culturalism is another challenge for us. “We believe that if we knowenough about First Nations people the problem of racism will disappear. Culturalism letsWhite folks off the hook if we feel we are participating as helpers. They say ‘We willhelp you once again to regain your culture.’ What this really produces are colonized/colonizer relations. It involves discomfort in trying to overcome this way of thinking, soour concern for our own comfort keeps us from taking on those more difficult issues.”This person goes on to say that historically, the colonizers are more than happy tohave the colonized participating in activities that mark difference. “We ought to look athow much we are encouraging that to go on and look at the resentment that is heldagainst minority people who are successful.”Another person echoes this point of view and points to our “liberal orientation andbelief that we already are non-racist, we already are non-sexist, and the proof of that isour colour-blindness, our tolerance, and our willingness to go out and celebrate all thoseother people’s differences. What more do you want? Right?”Someone else suggests that university doesn’t encourage people to learn how tolive, or how to be people. Instead it just encourages us to focus on content. This personalso believes that there is a constant tension between minimizing the perpetuation ofinjustices and imposing a social justice agenda on people, which is another form ofinjustice.Another participant says, “My political position is causing me trouble in terms ofthe effectiveness of my teaching. Students interpret what I am giving them as propagandaand they are concerned that they are not learning what they are expected to learn. I guessthis also points to the lure of the practical.”65Another challenge is faced once students become aware of oppression, “Where doyou go with that? They feel as if they are on islands in a turbulent sea, but where is thelifeboat?” As another person states, “I think one of the most important things we can dofor our students who themselves will be educators, is to develop the political will tochange some of these greater things. And I remain stumped. I don’t know how to do thatbecause they don’t seem to be getting it.”This person’s comment reminds me of Moore’s (2002) chapter in the WilliamDoll, Jr. and Noel Gough book Curriculum Visions, which “is designed to awakenreaders to a curriculum tradition that emphasizes control and goal attainment” (p. 219).Moore says educators often complain that students “don’t get it” but she says Doll, Jr. &Gough make the point that curriculum theorists must move beyond “either-or” thinkingand their desire for control (although a desire for control seems to be part of our humannature, but we need not necessarily yield to domination and hierarchy). Rather, readersare invited to “get it” that we need to change the structures and processes of curriculumfrom an emphasis on control and goal attainment to a vision that includes “complexityand simplicity”, “community and individuality”, “conversation and silence” and“culmination and new beginnings”. In other words, it is a holistic view of curriculum thatarises through our interactions with each other and our students, rather an educator’s viewof what is right that is imposed on students.A guest who joins us in the second session but who is silent until the end, thanksthe group for the opportunity to sit in on the discussion. This person is encouraged by thedialogue because it is similar to his point of view and what he is trying to do in his role asan administrator in a school system. This person sees SchoolPT as a point of re-contact66between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in a way that is more just, humane, andequitable. He also sees the dilemma of the White administrator trying to do well by thethousands of our Aboriginal students in a way that isn’t going to further promote racismand colonialism. “What you have to do I think, is to create opportunities for the powerstructure to shift to Aboriginals. That’s the challenge that I’m right in the middle of now.So I thought I would just leave that with you.”After I transcribe the tapes I leave them for several months before I start lookingfor themes. My initial assumption is that everyone in the group is of the same mind on allissues. When I go back to the transcripts, however, I see there are some divergent pointsof view. Three voices in particular stand out from the rest, in my mind, primarily becauseother people say nothing in support of their views and they seem to be speaking from adifferent theoretical position than the majority of the participants.The person who identifies the need for students to understand differentepistemologies seems to stands alone, as does the person who talks about using the arts todecentre the authority of the teacher. The third person is the faculty administrator whowants to create opportunities to shift the power structure to Aboriginals. Each of theseviews seems to be talking about sharing power (although one seems somewhatpatriarchal), whereas most of the other participants seem to be critiquing powerrelationships. I find myself drawn to three people whose views differ, possibly because Idon’t know how to move beyond a critique of power. Where does personal agency comein? Some months later I find an explanation for the difference between postmodernists’and complexity theorists’ views of the world. “Postmodernists want to deconstructscience; complexity theorists want to reconstruct it” (Price, 1997, p. 14).67CHAPTER IVEducating StoriesWe need to understand the dynamics of past and present dominance, face how wehave been shaped by myths of superiority, and begin to sort out our thoughts,emotions, and behaviors relative to Whiteness and other dimensions of humandiversity”. (Howard, 1999, p. 4)Filling Gaps“Good morning, everyone,” I say loudly enough to bring the SecondaryEducation students’ attention to the front of the room. It is early in the new semester so Istill feel a little nervous. After dispensing with the day’s announcements and addressingquestions about upcoming assignments, I ask the class how many people have taken acourse in Indigenous Studies or Cross-Cultural Education. Five or six hands go up out ofa possible 25.“I know this isn’t on your syllabus, but I have decided that a crash course mightbe in order so that you have some background of the history of Aboriginal education inCanada’2.Many of you will be student teaching in inner city schools where there are highnumbers of First Nations and Métis students, so it might help to contextualize some of theexperiences you may have. For those of you in other schools, it may help you to questionsome of the things we do as educators.” I proceed to pass out the handout thataccompanies the lecture. Students open their books and prepare to take notes. They seemalmost happy about this. They’re probably relieved that they don ‘t have to discuss12 present this “crash course” with a fictitious class to provide a theoretical context for the thesis and tosummarize of some of the literature related to Aboriginal education. Many of the conversations with andissues raised by these fictitious students are illustrative of actual conversations I have had with studentsover the last few years. The presentation of Aboriginal education as a crash course is intended to furtheremphasize the need for more in-depth treatment of the issues related to Aboriginal education.68anything or think too deeply at 8.30 in the morning. I start the PowerPoint presentationand click on the slide that provides an overview of the lecture:• Clarification of Terms• History of Aboriginal Education in Canada• Approaches to Aboriginal Education• The Role of Educators• Discussion! QuestionsClarfIcation ofterms.“To begin with there are a few terms with which you will need to be familiar suchas: Native, Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Indian, Treaty Indians,Status Indians and Non-status Indians. The first term, Native, is an umbrella termreferring to the Original Peoples of North America. You will find it in the older literature,but it is not used very often any more because it can refer to anyone who was born in aland. Much of the American literature still refers to Native Indians or Native Americans,Native Hawaiians or Native Alaskans.A preferred umbrella term is ‘indigenous’ meaning ‘from the land’ (Cardinal,2001) because the land is extremely important to many indigenous peoples. It should alsobe noted that there is no agreed-upon definition of indigenous peoples because ofpolitical and economic issues; however, Sanders (1999) discussed this workingdefinition:Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historicalcontinuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on theirterritories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies nowprevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-69dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmitto future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as thebasis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their owncultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems (p. 379)13Indigenous, then, is the term used when speaking of original peoples all over theworld. Can anyone tell me the inclusive term that is used to refer to Canada’s indigenouspeoples?” I ask.“Indian?” offers one person.“First Nations?” says another.“Aboriginal,” states a more mature woman whom I recognize as one of thestudents in Ellie’s Foundations course. “The term includes First Nations or Indians, theMétis, and the Inuit as defined by the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982,” she saysconfidently.“Yes,” I say. “Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission onAboriginal Peoples (RCAP) (1996) state that:The Aboriginal peoples of Canada include First Nations (Indian), Inuit and Métispeoples. The more than 50 First Nations have much in common, but they aredifferent from one another—and very different from Inuit, whose culture wasshaped by the demanding northern environment. Different again are Métis people,who blended traditions from Aboriginal and European forebears in a unique newculture. (on-line)The term, ‘Indian’, as you probably learned as a child, is the name Columbusgave to the people he met in the Americas when he thought he had found India.” I hear afew people chuckle to a comment at the back of the room. “It has come to be known inCanada as anyone defined under the Indian Act and its various amendments,” I say. “The13 Sanders (1999) cites this important working definition of indigenous peoples developed by SpecialRapporteur Jose R. Martinez Cobo. It was adopted by the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention ofDiscrimination and Protection of Minorities in 1983 in The Study on the Problem ofDiscrimination againstIndigenous Populations.70Indian Act was originally designed to protect the land base of the original peoples but itgradually came to be used as tool to ‘assimilate and civilize’ Aboriginal peoples andcontrol every aspect of their lives,” I say using imaginary quotation marks.“So the government could decide who was Indian or who wasn’t,” adds Jon whohas a B.A. political science. “For instance, if an Indian woman married a non-Indian, shewas no longer considered an Indian. But if a non-Indian man married an Indian woman,he became an Indian—until Bill C3 1 that is,” Jon says. “It got even weirder for thechildren of these unions,” he adds.“Or if a man decided to go to war to fight for Canada he became enfranchised andhad to give up his status as an Indian. If people wanted to vote, they had to give up theirstatus,” chimes in the woman from Ellie’s class. “And did you know that the definition ofa ‘person’ up until around 1951 was anyone who wasn’t an Indian? Aboriginal peoplecould become persons if they voluntary enfranchised,” says Cheryl (whose name I havenow looked up on my class list). I hear gasps of horror from around the room.“Right,” I say. “Farrell-Racette, Goulet, Pelletier and Schmon (1996) note thatwith regards to First Nations peoples, a variety of pieces of legislation such as the BritishNorth America Act, the Indian Act with its various revisions and Bill C3 1 have ‘resultedin a complex categorized system that is often hard to understand’ (p. 10). For example,there are Status/Registered; Non-Status, Treaty and Non-Treaty Indians. Marriagesamong the people of different groups resulted in people within the same family havingdifferent status. As well, terms change and evolve as ‘people seek to regain what was lostthrough the process of colonization,” (p.11)1 say.71“And if people wanted to leave the reserve they had to have a pass card that anIndian Agent could give out at his discretion,” someone else adds.I nod my head as I watch the students’ dismay and listen to their comments, and Iam somewhat surprised that this seems to be news to most of them. “If you want to learnmore about the Indian Act and its various revisions, do a Google search and you’ll findnumerous government and non-government web sites on it,” I tell them.I remind the students that in our province the Aboriginal peoples are: Nehiyawak(Cree), Dakota, Lakota, Nakota (Assiniboine), Dené, Anishinabe (Saulteaux/PlainsOjibway) and Métis . “The different nations have their own languages and traditions justas the European nations do, so when referring to specific groups, it is better to use thename that describes their national origin. And just remember,” I say, “All people have theright to name themselves, regardless of how others define or label them. Please rememberthat[a] peoples’ ability to name themselves and self-identify their membership is abasic foundation of continued survival as a distinct people. . . . The names themany nations have for themselves most often translate into ‘the People’. It ispreferred and appropriate when speaking about a specific Indian nation to refer tothe group according to their origin. People in the local community are often thebest judge of what terms apply and when.” (Farrell-Racette et al., 1996, p. 11)“This is really confusing,” says a young woman. I don’t know if I can rememberall this.”I smile sympathetically. “I know. Sherilyn Calliou talks about this in an articleshe calls ‘Us/them, Me/you: Who? (Re)thinking the Binary of First Nations and non-FirstNations’(1998). Her solution is to call everyone PFNA—Persons of First NationsAncestry if we have to put labels on indigenous peoples to highlight the oppression theyexperienced. She prefers however, as do I, that there be no labels.” I watch as students jot72down notes on the outline I have provided. When it seems that most people are ready tomove on, I switch to the next slide.History ofAboriginal education.“Prior to the 1960’s the education of Aboriginal peoples in North America wasbased on an assimilationist model that was designed to eradicate Aboriginal cultures.Duncan Campbell Scott, poet, essayist and Deputy Superintendent General of IndianAffairs, is credited with saying, ‘Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indianin Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic, and there is no Indianquestion, and no Indian department” (Henderson, 1996). Several students stop writingand look up in disbelief.“To accomplish this, boarding schools were established and children wereremoved from the influences of their families and communities. By now, most Canadiansare aware of the physical, emotional, and sexual abuses inflicted on many studentsattending these schools, and many people attribute the social problems experienced byAboriginal communities to these abuses and the effects of assimilation. Despite thehorrific legacy that residential schools left on generations of people and the attempt atwhat many consider to be cultural genocide (Bear-Nicholas, 2001; Haig-Brown, 1988;Miller, 1996; RCAP, 1996), Aboriginal peoples survived. Although the assimilationistpolicies of the Canadian government had detrimental effects on the different religiousbeliefs, traditions and languages among the various cultural groups, Aboriginal peoplesshared similar experiences and issues because of colonialism. As students in theresidential schools began to identif’ with peers from different nations or tribes, they73developed a strong ethnic identity, which facilitated the development of a pan-Indianidentity (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997),” I tell the class.“What is a pan-Indian identity?” asks a young woman.“It’s when the people started to identify with each other as a group,” I say. “NonAboriginal people started to see Aboriginal peoples as one group as well. You’ll oftenhear people talk about the ‘Native culture’ when in fact there are many different culturalgroups. I noticed when I attended an Indigenous Peoples’ Conference in Vancouver oneyear with indigenous peoples from all over the world, I had a sense they shared acommon bond and were able to identify with each other because of colonialism. I, on theother hand, was an outsider even though they were very welcoming and never didanything to make me feel that way. It was just a sense I had.” A few heads nod to indicatethey understand. “Let’s move on,” I say.“The government began to realize that residential schools were not the answer toassimilation so began closing them in the 1960’s and looked for other ways to integrateAboriginal peoples into the dominant society. One of these ways was to take childrenfrom their families and let non-Aboriginal people adopt them. This was known as the‘60s scoop’ because children were literally scooped from their homes on the premise thattheir parents were incapable of looking after them properly because most Aboriginalpeople lived in poverty, which was largely due to the limitations imposed on them by theIndian Act.” More gasps of horror.“Then the Hawthorne study (1966/67), Survey of Contemporary Indians ofCanada, raised Canadians’ awareness of the plight of Aboriginal peoples. Bear-Nicholashowever, believes the report was an attempt to further justify assimilation. In response to74the report’s conclusion that the high dropout rate of 97 percent for Native children wasdirectly attributable to cultural differences of Native People, she asserts that ‘Indigenousculture was to be targeted anew for intense modification, if not eradication. Now fullyvalidated, the federal government continued its integration project with renewed vigor”(2001, p. 15). A student raises her hand.“Yes, Amy?”“My older brother was adopted into our family when he was about 5, but healways had a lot of problems despite coming from a good home. He got into drugs andalcohol and started hanging out with other Native—I mean Aboriginal—kids. Lots oftimes my parents didn’t know where he was and he was always a worry for them. Finallyone day he just left and we haven’t seen him since. My grandmother kept saying it wasgenetic—bad blood—but my parents knew he felt different from the rest of us, like hedidn’t belong, no matter how much they tried to show him they loved him. I’ve heard of alot of people who have similar stories, so I don’t think the adoption idea was a good one.”“Neither do I. I, too, know some people whose stories are similar, but I also knowof others who were very happy in their adoptive families, although they say they did feelthey were different. Thanks for that Amy,” I say and continue with the lecture.“After the Hawthorn report, self-determination issues relating to educationbecame prominent in the late 60s and early 70s during the time the National IndianBrotherhood, which was the forerunner of the Assembly of First Nations, lobbied forIndian Control ofIndian Education (National Indian Brotherhood, 1972). At a time ofpolitical activism, this period through the 1 980s saw a move from an assimilationistagenda to one that involved federal, provincial and Aboriginal—mainly Indian—75organizations discussing ways to revitalize Indian-controlled education. The emphasiswas on parental responsibility and local control—’although there were certainly varyingideas about the meaning of local control’ according to Abele, Dittburner, and Graham(2000).”While the federal government was giving over control of education to Bands,some provincial governments were struggling with how to address the diversity amongthe Aboriginal groups for whom they had responsibility. Alberta, for example, recognizedthat Métis people were particularly vulnerable because they were not protected by legalrights and had no land. Their interests, therefore, ‘should be ofparticular concern to theGovernment ofAlberta’ (Alberta Task Force on Intercultural Education, 1972, 159, citedby Abele et al., 2000, p. 7) [emphasis in original]. Dorian and Yang (2000) note thatgenerally much less attention has been paid to the Métis educational context and that‘generalizations are often transferred from First Nations education to Métis educationwithout any critical analysis of parallels and divergences,’ (2000, p. 176).By the way, that’s an excellent point that Dorian and Yang make,” I say to drawthe students’ attention to it. “Sealey and Lussier, (1975) call the Métis Canada ‘sForgotten People because most people assume their history is the same as that of theFirst Nations and that their issues are the same. It’s true that the Méits have oppression inconmon with First Nations, but they have a unique history. We don’t have time to delveinto Métis history today, but I suggest that you do some reading in the area. I have listedsome resource materials on your handout. Take a look at Sealy (1977), Sealy andKirkness (1973) and Peterson and Brown (2001). The two major goals of Métis people intheir struggle for political and economic rights, of which education plays an integral part,76are maintaining a distinct Métis identity and culture and achieving self-identification andself-government”(Dorian & Yang, 2000). I click on the next slide.“Abele, Dittburner and Graham (2000, P. 4) identify three distinct phases that havemarked the changes in policy related to the education of Aboriginal peoples since theHawthorne Report up until 1992, when the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples(RCAP) was launched. Each phase has led to greater autonomy and recognition of therights of Aboriginal peoples. These phases include:• the period from 1966-1982, which saw debates move from assimilation toAboriginal control of education;• from 1982-1988 where Aboriginal issues where included in the CanadianCharter of Rights and Freedoms and there were frequent calls for equalopportunities for Aboriginal peoples; and• from 1988-1992 which witnessed increased attention to the ‘nitty-gritty ofwhen and how education reforms should be undertaken, along with aredefinition of the roles of Aboriginal and Canadian governments’ (p. 21).Then in 1996 the RCAP report ‘described how every aspect of Aboriginal life hadbeen trampled on’ (Battiste, 2000, p. iix). Although the report acknowledged manypositive changes and initiatives, it cited many problems that persisted such as ‘too manyyouth who do not complete high school, they do not have the skills for employment, theydo not have the language and cultural knowledge of their people”(RCAP, Vol. 3, p.434).“It doesn’t sound as if much has changed,” quietly observes a young male who issitting near the front. Two people at his table nod in agreement.77“The report also noted that many who continued in the education systemexperienced racism, not only on a personal level, but through the denial of Aboriginalvalues, cultures and perspectives in the curriculum and the life of the institution. Thereport made 440 recommendations for improving the lives of Aboriginal people, many ofwhich have to do with empowering Aboriginal communities to continue the healing andrebuilding their communities (Battiste, 2000).”I can see the students need a break, so I suggest we reconvene in ten minutes andcontinue with the next section when we return.I spend the break talking with students who have come to the front asking forsuggestions for resources or to tell me of some personal experiences. “Why weren’t wetold this in school?” one student asks. I tell her that’s a good question and one I’d like herto think about. When the class returns I talk about some of the different ways people haveapproached Aboriginal education since the Hawthorne report.Approaches to Aboriginal education.“Besides changes to government policies, approaches to Aboriginal Educationduring this time also underwent several phases (Bear-Nicholas; 2001; Deyhle & Swisher,1997; St. Denis, 2002) with remnants of each of the approaches still prevalent today. I amsure you will see which approach still dominates when you go into the schools,” I add.Thousands of articles have been written about finding better ways to educateAboriginal students, but I think of the different approaches as three main categories: theeducation ofAboriginal people by non-Aboriginals; educationfor Aboriginal people,again primarily by non-Aboriginals who designed special programs for students to better78meet their needs; and education by Aboriginal people which marks the beginning of theTEP programs. Finally, there is the hint of a new area of research by indigenous and non-indigenous scholars that focuses on education with Aboriginal people that sees peopleworking together to co-create what our government calls a ‘shared and harmoniousfuture’,” (Saskatchewan Learning, 2004; Smith, 1999; Ward & Bouvier, 2001)1 say.Sandra raises her hand. “Could you please talk a bit about the TEP programs? I’mnot quite sure what they are.”“Sure.” I say. “TEP stands for Teacher Education Program—specifically anAboriginal Teacher Education Program. Around the 1 980s, TEPs were established inseveral locations across Canada. The role of the TEPs was/is to educate Aboriginalteachers who could serve as role models, cultural brokers and cultural bridges betweentheir students, their communities and the non-Aboriginal communities (Lawrence, 1985;McAlpine, 2001; Nyce, 1990; St. Denis, 2002). Studies have reported that the AboriginalTeacher Education Programs have had highly positive effects on the preservice teachersenrolled in them, and that having Aboriginal teachers in schools has positively influencedtheir students”(Archibald, 1986; Friesen & On, 1995; Nyce, 1990).Some of the TEPS are controlled and governed by a university and others aregoverned by indigenous institutions who are educational partners. In the case of ourinstitution, the Aboriginal teacher education programs are our partners, and they areadministered by either the Métis or First Nations governing bodies. However, thegraduates of Aboriginal teacher education programs receive a degree from an accrediteduniversity with which their program is associated. You have probably heard of79ATEP, BUNTEP, ITEP, NITEP, NORTEP, SUNTEP, YNTEP, and so on. There areseveral others across Canada,” I tell the students.I decide to bait the students a bit. “Non-Aboriginals sometimes assume that theseprograms are somehow inferior to the so-called ‘regular’ programs, but it has been myexperience that in many respects, TEP graduates far surpass their counterparts from thedominant teacher education programs,” I say. Sure enough, I get a bite.“What makes you say that?” asks a voice from the back.“Well for one thing, TEP students have to work twice as hard as other students tobe considered as good. This was evident one time when we had preinterns from all theprograms participate in a unit planning fair. Besides some workshops that peopleattended, everyone brought examples of unit plans they had created. The TEP students’unit plans were far more developed, creative and professional-looking than those of mostof the students in the dominant program.Furthermore, Aboriginal students have to know a lot more about First Nations andMétis history and how to integrate Aboriginal content and perspectives into thecurriculum documents, as well as the content that other students have to know. Graduatesare often called upon to be the ‘Aboriginal expert’ in schools. And because they are asmall group, their instructors know them well and students can’t get away with much. Inour program, it’s much easier for you to become invisible—although not entirely.” I pointmy middle and index fingers towards my eyes and then towards Jon in a gesture to say, “Isee you.” The class laughs.James speaks up. “My girlffiend is in the TEP program here in the city and weoften wonder why our two programs can’t get together. I think it would be good. She says80she and her classmates sometimes feel a little isolated and would like to meetpeople in our program.”“I’ve often felt the same way, James,” I say, “and I have asked the instructorsabout it before. We have done a few things together in the past, but they have a numberof very good reasons for not wanting to get together more regularly, which I don’t wantto address right now, but scheduling problems is one of the biggest hurdles. Anyway,let’s move on.The most pervasive type of literature relating to Aboriginal education has beenthe deficit model approach, where educators attempt to remediate the deficiencies theyperceive in Aboriginal students by developing special programs or putting them intospecial education programs. For example, in one of the schools where I taught, all thestudents who were considered at risk were put into an alternate educationlworkexperience program and I was their teacher,” I tell the class. A few of the other teachersin that school called my class the ‘sweat hogs’ and that would just infuriate me, becausethey were good kids. But I digress.”“Is that why we have community schools and special programs for First Nationsand Métis students? Amy asks.I hesitate as I mentally try to assess whether the community school concept isbased on a deficit model approach. “Well ideally, community schools, such as proposedin the School” concept, are supposed to be based on a collaborative model ofeducation, but in practice, I’m not sure that always happens,” I hedge. “The assumption isthat students need supports from other service agencies such as Health, Justice, SocialWork and so on. Therefore, these services are often located within or connected with81schools, and because of life circumstances, some students are thought to benefit frommore flexible programs that are often offered in community schools. Sometimes there arealso programs for parents to help them find support or continue their education. So yes, Iguess you could say some community schools are based on a deficit model approach,” Ireluctantly admit.“But is that so bad?” Amy asks. “I mean, what’s the alternative?”“I don’t think there is an alternative just yet—other than letting kids end up on thestreets,” says J011. “We’re stuck with this mess caused by the attempts at culturalgenocide, so until Aboriginals start feeling healthy and strong enough to determine theirown futures, we have to provide those supports.”Something about what Jon says bothers me so I add, “It entirely depends of thepeople involved in the school and whether the structures and people associated with theseschools are flexible and able to accommodate change that allows shared power anddecision-making with the students and community. (Bouvier, 2001; Watt-Cloutier, 2000).However, if we take the approach that ‘we-know-what’s-best’ for Aboriginal peoples(Miller, 1996), just as our ancestors did, then yes, we are assuming the students aredeficient,” I argue.“And who gets to decide what deficient means? I mean, I would be extremelydeficient if I had to survive on the streets like some kids have to do,” adds Cheryl.“Bingo!” I say. “Demmert (2001) reviewed over 8000 ERIC documents dealingwith American Indian education, many of which, though not all, take a deficit modelapproach. He categorized the research around the following topics: early childhoodenvironment and experiences; Native language and cultural programs; teachers,82instruction, and curriculum; community and parental influences on academicperfonnance; student characteristics; economic and social factors; and factors leading tosuccess in college or college completion. I suspect the pattern would be the same inCanada.” I click the mouse.“Another prevalent area of the literature is cultural differences and culturaldiscontinuity research that attributes the failure of Aboriginal students in schools to thedifference between the students’ culture and that of the school. This research looks atdifferences such as speech and communication styles, child rearing practices, learningstyles, and the value that each culture places on competition versus co-operation. Theproblem with this type of research to explain academic success or failure is that itperpetuates stereotypes and ignores the power relationships between Anglo-controlledschools and Aboriginal societies (Bear-Nicholas; 2001; Deyhie & Swisher, 1997; St.Denis, 2002). It also ignores research that suggests that students for whom education is alarge part of their lives and who are immersed in their culture, do better in schools”(Deyhle, 1995).“I would agree with that,” Jon says, seemingly unfazed that I had argued againsthis point. “I work in an after school sports program with kids in the inner city and there isa group of boys who dance competitively in powwows. They sometimes talk about goingout to the ‘res’ to visit their mushums and kookums or their cousins and aunties anduncles. They’re great kids and they seem to be doing well in school too. I doubt they’ll belured into gangs or some of the other things that are going on in the neighbourhood.”“That’s good to hear. Thanks Jon,” I say and click the mouse for the next slide.83“Along this cultural differences line is resistance research that focuses oninstitutional inequities, the dominant group’s role in creating the inequities, and theresistance of students to the assimilation efforts of the school. Donna Deyhle (1995) forexample, found that teachers typically have low expectations of Aboriginal students andoften counsel them to take vocational programs rather than academic programs. Studentstypically rise to our level of expectations,” I remind the class from my vast wealth ofteacher folklore wisdom.“Closely related is literature on socio-structural conflict that highlights thestructured inequalities in society that leave Aboriginal youth disillusioned and exhibitinglack of optimism, effort, and perseverance (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997),” I say. I watch thestudents’ faces as they seem to be trying to make some links with examples from theirown experiences. No one offers a comment howeveiso I press on.“One area of research that has figured prominently in the last decade is culturalrevitalization research, which is intended to counteract the effects of colonization.Written primarily by indigenous authors, it discusses the importance of revitalizingAboriginal/indigenous cultures and languages for strengthening Aboriginal peoples’sense of identity and empowerment (Archibald, 1995; Little Bear, 2000; Kawagley, 2001;Kipp 2001; Lipka, 2002). Although this approach has done much to further the positiveself-esteem and identities of Aboriginal students, there are those who are critics of thisapproach however. (Mackey, 1999; Razack, 1999; Schick, 2000; St. Denis, 2002). St.Denis for example, believes it perpetuates racial othering that often happens when wereinforce cultural differences.”84Amy’s hand shoots up again. “What do you mean by othering?” she says lookingsomewhat annoyed.“It’s when we compare ourselves to other people and we distance ourselves whichmakes us seem normal and them different. Often this carries over to the creation ofstereotypes and is used as a mechanism to oppress people. Racial and ethnic groups allover the world have been victims of othering by dominant groups in society. Womenhave been othered by men. I’m sure each of you can think of people who have beenmarginalized in your classes because they are perceived to be different.”Amy nods to indicate she understands and begins to write again.“St. Denis further criticizes this approach because it perpetuates essentialism. Thisis the notion that people have an inherent essence that makes them who they are as agroup and it ignores individual difference. As well, the culture concept ignores theinfluence of society in the construction of identity. Furthermore, St. Denis argues thatcultural revitalization alienates many urban Aboriginal people who have no sense ofconnection to a particular Aboriginal culture or language. It also puts a lot of pressure onthe older generations who were told to stop speaking their language or practicing theirtraditions. Now they are being asked to bring these back. Nevertheless, culturalrevitalization literature figures prominently in teacher education programs, affirmativeaction programs and government documents intended to further the rebuilding ofAboriginal identities. You will notice in all of the curriculum documents, teachers areinstructed to include Aboriginal content and perspectives in their lessons and units,” Isay.85Several hands go up. “How do we do that? What exactly do you mean byAboriginal content and perspectives? asks one young woman. She obviously has voicedthe question of the group because the hands go down.“Great question,” I say. “I don’t know for sure. That’s what I am trying to find outin my doctoral thesis. People assume we are talking about the same thing, but I’m notsure everyone can agree on what it should be. People in the Department of Learning arewrestling with the same questions. When the curriculum guides were developed in thelate 80s and early 90s, Aboriginal content and perspectives were considered to be more ofan add-on and teachers found it hard to incorporate it into their lessons in meaningfulways—particularly when they felt they had little background knowledge or experiencesin this area (Longman, 2005). Now, Department people are considering how to move thecurriculum guides from using a contributions approach, which means we simply celebratethe contributions various minority groups have made to the larger society (Banks, 1999),to a more transformative approach—curriculum that will help to transform society so it ismore just and equitable.”I notice that many students are frowning. I don ‘t think they like my answer. MaybeI need to elaborate a bit.“Some people think the best way to do that is to critique the dominant group’srole in producing inequities while others think that it is important to make curriculummore culturally relevant to Aboriginal students while also acknowledging and integratingindigenous knowledge into the curriculum so that it is on an equal basis with the‘mainstream’ curriculum.” I make quotation marks in the air. “Some people aresomewhere in between. If you are wondering why I put the word ‘mainstream’ in86quotation marks, it is because the word gives the impression that the dominant curriculumis ‘normal’ and written from an value-free, objective perspective; however it was createdby teachers from the dominant group in society who hold particular values and beliefs.Sandy Grande, (2004) a Native American activist, calls it ‘whitestream’ rather thanmainstream.” A few people chuckle at this.“Jean Paul Restoule (2000a) in his article, “Walking on the Earth: The AkwesasneScience and Math Pilot Project”, describes the cultural relevance that science and mathhave in relation to the way of life of the Kanien’kehaka—’People of the Flint’—alsoknown in English as ‘Mohawk’. The project was an attempt to help students becomemore proficient in science and math by demonstrating how these curriculum areas can belearned through studying their own contexts. It was also a way to help students see thelinks between sociology and ecology and how people might help reduce inequity andunsustainability. Restoule asks, for example,What if our teachings, traditions and worldview were the base from which welearned? What if our ways of knowing were presented on an equal footing withEuropean knowings in the curriculum? Perhaps it would be possible to make areduction in the social inequity present in education. In the balance, we mighteven teach our children how to reduce ecological unsustainability. (2000, ¶5)“So I believe that as teachers we have to be aware that both social and ecologicalinjustices are based on the same type of thinking,” I say.“What type of thinking is that?” asks a more mature man whose name I don’tknow yet. It could be my imagination but his question seems to have an edge of defiance.Jon turns around and says to him, “It’s the type of thinking that justifies doingwhatever you want to other people or the earth if it serves your own self interest and ifyou have enough money and power.”87“So survival of the fittest,” says the mature student. “Isn’t that how nature worksanyway?” This raises a few hackles and some people begin talking at once. I break in andask for order.“According to more recent thinking in the complexity sciences, some scientistsbelieve that’s not exactly how things work,” I explain. “Some people have begun tochallenge Darwin’s theory (Bowers, 1995; Capra, 1996; Wheatley, 1994). I’d like tofollow that idea, but we’ll have to save that discussion for another day. Thanks for raisingthat issue though. It’s important to our understanding about why there are such immenseecological and social problems. Now where were we? Oh yes.”“Besides making the curriculum more relevant to Aboriginal students, Restoule(2000) and many other scholars believe that the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)of many indigenous societies can help us address some of the ecological concerns facingthe earth (Battiste & Henderson, 2000; Cajete, 1994; Knudtson & Suzuki, 1992; Shiva,2005). The United Nations, in recognizing the importance of indigenous ecologicalknowledge, addressed it in several major conventions on the protection of the globalenvironment (Battiste & Henderson, 2000). This knowledge is threatened as never before,however, because indigenous languages are disappearing, children are spending less timewith their kin learning about their environment, and indigenous communities are relyingmore on university-trained technicians to manage their resources,” I explain. I see peoplenodding their heads.“The UN as well as international organizations such as the World Bank, theInternational Labor Office (ILO), the United Nations Education, Science and CultureOrganization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are88explicitly acknowledging the contribution that local indigenous knowledge can make tosustainable development (Science and Development Network, 2002),” I add.“So why are the World Bank and the IMF screwing around so many of theindigenous peoples in Third World countries then?” The young man near the front whohad quietly asked a question earlier, suddenly blurts out this question, only much louderthis time.“To steal their resources,” says Jon. “It’s economic imperialism.”I want to steer the conversation back to the lecture, but I succumb to thetemptation to follow this line of thought that has piqued my interest since starting myexplorations into the writings of indigenous scholars.“Unfortunately, I think Jon is right. One downside to the recognition of theimportance of TEK, is the exploitation of indigenous peoples’ knowledge, art, andartifacts for commercial profit (Battiste & Henderson, 2000; Dubin, 1999; Science andDevelopment Network 2002; United Nations, 2000). For example, traditional and sacredsites are being exploited or destroyed by the tourist industry, indigenous art and sacredmaterials are used without the permission of the artist or community, and culturalartifacts and ancestral human remains are removed and put in museums all over the worldwithout permission. More recently, pharmaceutical companies are patenting and claimingownership to traditional plants for medicinal purposes even though the plants were usedby indigenous peoples for centuries. Often these companies do not recognize theintellectual property rights of indigenous peoples’ traditional ownership of suchknowledge and do not compensate them fairly so that they too can derive some of theeconomic benefits of this knowledge (United Nations, 2000). And what I see as89extremely immoral is the ‘hijacking of the global food supply’ (Shiva, 2000) bymonolithic corporations such as Monsanto, Cargil, and RiceTec, who throughinternational trade agreements have been able to claim patents on seeds and grains.Centuries of collective innovation by farmers and peasants are being hijacked ascorporations claim intellectual-property rights on these and other seeds and plants” (p. 9).The students sit in stunned silence as they try to comprehend what I am saying. “Do youwant to hear a story about that?” I ask. Heads nod.“When I was at UBC starting my doctoral work, there was a young woman fromMalawi who told us her people were starving, not solely as the result of the drought, butbecause of what corporations and the International Monetary Fund have done. At onetime, the people could anticipate cycles of drought, so they would save some grain eachyear and store it up for times of famine. As the country became deeper in debt however, itborrowed money from the IMF. In order to repay the debt, the government had to sell thepeoples’ stores of grain to the IMF. After that, they had to buy their seeds from the largecorporations. The only trouble is, the seeds are genetically modified and don’t reproduce.People can no longer save seeds from year to year as they have in the past and are at themercy of these large corporations.”“That’s terrible!” says one student. Others agree.“As a result of these injustices, indigenous peoples have expressed their concernover these issues and are attempting to protect what they know from appropriation andexploitation (United Nations, 2000).” I search through my file folder for a quotation I hadfound on the Internet and I read it aloud. “But as St. Clair & Busch (2002) state:At this moment, the world faces a variety of ecological crises. Deep ecology—aspiritual view of the world as an organic, integrated system—looks to the values90of indigenous peoples. Native peoples must overcome mistrust, share their valueswith the larger ecological community, and thereby preserve those values in a newnetwork of cooperation.”“I wouldn’t blame them if they don’t,” says the young man who started thisconversation. “They should let the rest of the world self-destruct,” he says to which anumber of people laugh nervously.“There seems to be a fine line here though, between recognizing some indigenouspeoples’ relationship to the earth and the spirituality associated with that, and theromanticized notion of ‘Indian-as-naturalist,’ which includes ‘Indian-as-spiritual-being’and ‘Indian-as-shaman’ (Dubin, 1999, p. 159), as this quotation seems to suggest. Isometimes find myself stereotyping people in this way too.” I put the quotation away.“These are important issues to think about, but for now, let’s get back to wherewe were,” I say. “I think we were talking about cultural revitalization.” I click the mouse.“Some literature points out how teachers can be misguided in their efforts topromote cultural revitalization. In an effort to support the cultural beliefs and traditions ofAboriginal peoples, some non-Aboriginal teachers have naively tried to incorporate someof the traditional practices that they think are part of ‘Native culture’ such as talkingcircles, sweat lodges, references to the Medicine Wheel and so on. Withoutunderstanding the significance of the practices or how certain ones are specific toparticular groups, teachers have unknowingly offended and stereotyped Aboriginalpeoples (Aldred, 2000; Marker, 1998)—and I count myself in that. In short, we havetrivialized aspects of indigenous cultures. That is another reason why critics of thecultural revitalization approach don’t want educators to focus on this. They want instead,for teachers to recognize how their/our own identities as Whites have contributed to the91oppression of others.” I notice that the mature male has put his pen down and is nowleaning back in his chair with his arms and legs crossed. He ‘s not going to like this nextsection, I’ll bet.Decolonizing Aboriginal education.“A growing body of literature identified as decolonization theoretization hasreceived considerable attention in the last few years. Calliou (2001) states that‘Decolonization theoretization is the researched deconstruction of the ideological, legal,legislative, operational, textual and other institutionalized structures sustaining unequaland discursive relations of power between non-First Nations and First Nationscitizenries” (p.2). I see some furrowed brows now as people start to take notes so I speaka little more slowly and wait longer before moving to the next slide. “In other words, itlooks at all the ways unequal power relationships between non-First Nations and FirstNations peoples are maintained in our various institutions,” I add.“Decolonization also involves the researching, reclaiming and restoration ofuniquely indigenous protocols, philosophies ceremonies and ways of life ‘utilizing aknowledgeable application of traditional, lay and academic models of social change’ withthe understanding that the models may become outdated as new discoveries transformcontexts (Calliou, 2001, p 2.). The decolonization theme is present to varying degrees inmany of the articles mentioned under previous themes,” I say. I still see some questioninglooks on people’s faces so I say, “Questions? Do you understand this?” I wait and waitbefore someone is brave enough to put up a hand. “Amy?”92Amy hesitates for a moment and then says, “So is that the same as postcolonialtheory? And what’s the difference between decolonization and postcolonialism?”I feel the panic start to rise in my stomach. I hope Jean get this right and explainit in a way the students will understand. I barely understand some ofit.“As far as I can tell they are the same,” I venture. “Decolonization is the processthat started primarily after World War II by which indigenous peoples who werecolonized by other countries, are attempting to free themselves from the oppression oftheir colonizers. They are doing it through their literature, the arts and in the academies.Postcolonial theory/literature is the work that was produced after countries gained theirindependence or the large empires dissolved. Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffens (1989) statethat postcolonialism encompasses ‘all the culture affected by the imperial process fromthe moment of colonization to the present day. This is because there is a continuity ofpreoccupations throughout the historical process initiated by European imperialaggression’ (p.2). In other words, it has been a constant struggle by people to be free ofthe values, beliefs, customs, religions, and ways of being that Europeans imposed onothers in the conviction that the European ways were right and normal.”“Was colonization or imperialism only practiced by European countries? asksAmy.“Oh no. Colonization, which means establishing a colony of a particular countryin another land, and imperialism, which means that one country tries to control the land,the politics, and the economy of another country, happens all over the world. It’s just thatmost of the postcolonial work that finds its way into our academies is primarily fromcountries that were once European colonies,” I say.93“Why is that?” asks a voice from the back.“I’m assuming it has something to do with language barriers and the ways booksare set up in different languages. Or maybe it’s just that the academy privileges work thatis produced in Euro-Western countries,” I say. “Anyway, it is postcolonial theory thatintroduced the notion of the ‘other’. Ashcroft et al., (1989), state thatthe ‘other’ is anyone who is separate from one’s self. The existence of others iscrucial in defining what is ‘normal’ and in locating one’s own place in the world.The colonized subject is characterized as ‘other’ through discourses such asprimitivism and cannibalism, as a means of establishing the binary separation ofthe colonizer and colonized and asserting the naturalness and primacy of thecolonizing culture and world view. (p. 169)“Would anyone like to paraphrase that?” I ask hopefully.Jon raises his hand. “It means that the colonizers made the indigenous peopleseem like monkeys or cannibals, or less than human. They weren’t considered to be realpeople or civilized people like the colonizers so this gave the colonizers an excuse to takeover.”“That pretty much says it,” I smile. “But postcolonial theorists are contestingthose deeply held beliefs by the dominant groups and defining who they are themselvesas well as reclaiming their own beliefs, values, political and economic systems, religions,social organizations, and so on.” I check my watch and see it is almost the end of theclass period so I start talking faster and with more emphasis.“There are a number of different models of postcolonial theoritizing,” I say, andnot all postcolonial theorists are in agreement with each other. But I believe thatpostcolonial theory is the one approach to Aboriginal education that has the potential tostart to reduce some of the inequities in education experienced by indigenous peoples andbring about educational, social, political, economic, and ecological change—” I stop to94take a breath, “—provided teachers can become familiar with and open to whatindigenous scholars are saying. Now a lot of this literature is very difficult to read, or itmay make you angry because it may start to challenge your most cherished beliefs andassumptions about what is normal and right, so you may resist hearing some things(Carson & Johnston, 2000; Finney & Off, 1995; St. Denis & Schick, 2003). But whenyou are ready, it could start to resonate with you. In the meantime, there are indigenousscholars right here in our communities and on the reserves who speak in a language youcan understand, and whose insights may be as profound as those in any texts you willread. People revere their Elders for a reason, so I hope you will take the opportunity toseek out the Elders in your communities and let your students hear their wisdom. Anddon’t forget there are wise Elders among us here too,” I say nodding my head andpointing to myself. Most of the students laugh. Mature man is still sitting with arms andlegs crossed. His ball cap is covering his eyes now. I wonder ifhe ‘s gone to sleep.“Finally an area of research that I believe needs greater attention in teachereducation is what Deyhle and Swisher term Community-based and Self-determinationresearch. This approach advocates research by indigenous peoples that emphasizes localknowledge, local control, effective practices, and equal co-existence of languages andcultures, as well as political action with regards to land entitlements and self governmentas effective means of rebuilding communities (Assembly of First Nations, 1992; Battiste;2000; Bear-Nicholas, 2001; Deyhle and Swisher, 1997; Kawagley, 2000; Smith,1999).Education is part of this self-determination and self-defining process. And Eber Hampton(1995) reminds us that:The recognition of the uniqueness of Indian education and the contribution it hasto make to society does not imply a kind of segregation Indian parents and95educators want Indian children to learn everything that education has to offer aswell as their own cultures (Bradley, 1980). Indian education as distinctiveindicates a legitimate desire of Indian people to be self-defining, to have theirways of life respected, and to teach their children in a manner that enhancesconsciousness of being Indian and a fully participating citizen of Canada or theUnited States. (p. 10)The authors of this type of research acknowledge the role of colonialism butbelieve that Aboriginal people do have the power to determine their own futures. AsBattiste (2000) states, “The responsibility ultimately rests with Aboriginal peoplethemselves in a continuing journey of collaboration and negotiation, healing andrebuilding, creating and experimenting, and visioning and celebrating” (p. ix). However,Kipp (2000) makes this plea.” I click on the slide.Many things that were brought to Indian people were not brought to destroy them.They were brought in the name of love. What people thought their love would dofor us, in fact, killed us. So I would say that one of the things in my model is webuild strong walls and we try to keep certain things out. . . .We ask, “Could youleave us alone for just a little while? Just give us a break. Just back off and leaveus alone until we can get our health back, until we can get our strength back, untilwe can get our own vision back. (p. 65)The students sit quietly as they reread Darrell Kipp’s plea. “I see our time isalmost up, so please bring any questions you have for next time. Next day we will bediscussing ways teachers might try to address the needs of First Nations and Métisstudents in schools. But before you leave, I would like you to complete an exit slip inresponse to two questions.” I hand some pieces of paper to a student to pass out and Iwrite the following two questions on the board:• Why do you think high school dropout rate among Aboriginal students is sohigh compared to the majority population?96• What can the Faculty ofEducation do to help you prepare to work withstudents whose backgrounds and experiences may be very dfferentfrom yourown?After the students fill out the exit slips and hand them in, a few students hangaround to talk about the need for more cross-cultural education in their program. On myway back to my office I wonder whether this crash course has made any difference in thestudents’ understanding. Perhaps I’m expecting too muchfrom students at this point. Ithas taken me decades ofexperience, and a lot ofeducation to help me understand what Ido thus far, and still Ifeel my understanding is so limited. It will be interesting to seewhat the students will say in response to the exit questions though.97CHAPTER VTelling StoriesThe story depends on everyone of us to come into being. It needs us all, needs ourremembering, understanding, and creating what we have heard together to keepon coming into being. (Trinh, 1989, p. 119)Voicing ConcernsPeople begin to assemble for the faculty meeting and I sit and chat with severalcolleagues. I am still a bit upset by some of the comments on the students’ exit slips fromthe previous day.“I think we need to do more about addressing racism among our students and weneed to be more diligent about incorporating Aboriginal content and perspectives into ourcurriculum courses,” I propose. “I decided to give the Secondary Education students a bitof background on Aboriginal education because we really have no place for familiarizingstudents with it in the program. At the end of the class I asked them to complete an exitslip in response to two questions: Why they think the high school drop out rate is higheramong Aboriginal students and what they think our teacher education program could doto prepare them to work with students whose backgrounds and experiences are differentfrom their own. You wouldn’t believe some of the comments’4!”I exclaim.“I would!” says one person.“Really?” asks another. “Like what?”“Well in response to the first question regarding dropout rates, a little over halfthe class identified things such as poverty, racism, low self-esteem, irrelevant curriculum14 The comments identified here represent the results of a survey I conducted with Secondary Educationstudents in February, 2003 to obtain a general sense of their attitudes toward educating for diversity. Only41 of 96 students returned the questionnaire.98that doesn’t reflect the students’ experiences, feelings of isolation, and teachers whodon’t care. But the rest of the class identified things such as a poor home life, lack ofparenting skills, no good role models, drugs and alcohol addictions, lack of motivation,not seeing education as import and,—get this—’they don’t need to get jobs because weare paying for all of their expenses through our high taxes’. Five students said somethingsimilar to that.”People around me nod as if to indicate they are familiar with these types ofcomments.“Then in response to the second question about teacher education,” I continue,several students suggested having some personal experiences with Aboriginalcommunities would be helpful because they had had no opportunities to do so; somesuggested a course or courses in Indigenous Studies or Educational Foundations dealingwith cross-cultural education because it’s not required in the Secondary Program. Thosewho had taken one as an elective said they really found it helpful. Some suggested havingguest speakers come in. Most students generally felt they didn’t have enough backgroundknowledge about the histories and cultures of Aboriginal peoples. In fact, several studentssaid that they seldom hear anything about Aboriginal education in any of their courses,but they thought they should be learning about all cultures as well. Many also thoughtstudent teachers should be taught to be more open-minded, to not be discriminatory orracist and to learn to value all people as human beings.But there were a few other comments such as, ‘Why are we so worried aboutcultural diversity when we should be worried about teaching the curriculum andpreparing students for the future?’ Or, ‘I wonder if you have heard of the term it’s only a99problem if you make it a problem?’ So I think we have some work to do,” I announceemphatically to my colleagues.My colleagues’ comments and reactions are varied and as the meeting begins, Ifeel even more agitated.When I return to my office I jot down some of the comments I can recall from myvarious conversations I have had with people about racism and incorporating Aboriginalcontent and perspectives in the curriculum.When you talk about racism against Aboriginalpeople, it doesn ‘t even registerwith me. In my home province racism is directed more toward Asian communities.I reallyfeel uncomfortable talking about Aboriginal content andperspectives inmy classes because I don ‘t know enough about this whole area.I don ‘t think we should be trying to incorporate Aboriginal content in ourcourses. There are so many different Aboriginal groups. Besides, that smacks ofessentialism. I think we need to have anti-racist education in all our courses to help ourstudents see how dominance andprivilege are constructed.Do we have the right to tellpeople they can ‘t be racist? Wouldn ‘t we be imposingour views on them?I think the more we dwell on difference, the more we put up a barrier betweenourselves and the Aboriginal community.Shouldn ‘t we befocusing on multicultural education instead? Our students maynot be teachingjust in Saskatchewan. I think we should help them appreciate andcelebrate all cultures.100Ifwe ‘re going to improve educationfor Aboriginal students, I think we need towork more closely with parents when their children are very young. That’s where it allstarts.Ijust think we need to pay more attention to how we treat each other andpeoplein general.I sit back in my chair and sigh. “How is the faculty ever going to reach the goalsoutlined in our visioning document if we all have a different view on how we should beaddressing Aboriginal education and racism?” I mutter to myself. I pull out the facultysurvey questions I had developed in the hopes of garnering suggestions from facultymembers for improving the way we teach Aboriginal education and anti-racist education.The questions now seem inappropriate. What can I ask that might give me someindication ofthe views my colleagues hold concerning Aboriginal education Maybe it ‘sjust all in my head that we ‘re so far apart on these topics, but besides gathering somesuggestions, I want this survey to either confirm my suspicions that we ‘re all over themap or show me that we ‘re heading in the same direction. Maybe the results will give mea better sense ofwhere to gofrom there. I chew my nails a bit, pace my office a fewtimes, consider whether to file papers or go for coffee, then finally settle in front of thecomputer to revise my survey questions.Sensing Wisdom“Hi Ellie. What are you doing here? I thought you were on sabbatical andheading to Africa.” I greet my long-term friend and mentor with a hug as she comesdown the hall. Ellie is highly regarded in Cameroon where she has been given a special101honour because of her tireless efforts in bringing educational and medical supplies tosome of the communities“I leave next week,” says Ellie. “I’m just waiting for some of the paper work to gothrough. How are things with you?”“Oh busy,” I say, “like everyone else around here. I tell her about my survey andwanting some people who are on leave to read it and give me some suggestions. Ellietells me she would be happy to look at it, so we stop by my office to pick it up and headfor coffee.During coffee I tell her about my concerns over racism among students and notknowing how to handle it. “I just find myself getting angry and wanting to lash back atstudents but I know that just drives the racism underground. Either that or I try to avoidthe discussion altogether because it makes people feel so uncomfortable. I know you’vetaught cross-cultural education classes and you must have run into this same thing. Whatdo you do?”“Well, I don’t try to avoid the issues,” she says in her slow relaxed style, “but I tryto create a safe space where people can express their views or questions. I give them lotsof readings and we talk about the issues that come out of those.”I can imagine Ellie’s class and the way she asks gentle, probing questions withoutmaking people feel defensive. She has a real talent for that and students love her becauseshe makes them think. She also makes her colleagues think but she is not as gentle withus sometimes.I comment on the aesthetic quality of the posters that line the hallways of theEducation building, which are the products of her class. The posters show various types102of oppression in society, which relate to gender, class, race, sexual orientation, and so on.We talk a bit more about helping students to develop a critical perspective in nonconfrontational ways. One of the things she finds effective is having the students bringexamples of stereotypes they find in books, team emblems and mascots, children’s toys,videos, and so on, and put them in a big box they have named the ‘poison cupboard’. Thebox is nearly full as students are becoming astute at picking out stereotypes. I make noteof some of her ideas that might inform my dissertation and my own teaching.After parting hugs, I watch as my friend walks down the hail. Now there goessomeone who walks the talk. Not only does she take care ofeveryone in our owncommunity, she travels halfway around the world to look afterpeople in Africa too.Over the next year, I have opportunities to listen to two Elders as well, one who isa presenter for a Treaties in the Classroom workshop and another who works at a FirstNations Healing Centre where I take some groups of students. After presenting tobacco tothe Elders, the students and I listen respectfully as they talk about their hopes for FirstNations students. One Elder tells us that teachers should encourage students who arehaving difficulty to seek out Elders and people in their communities in order to heal andfind their sense of purpose in life.The other Elder tells us that it is important for teachers to understand the historyof assimilation and what happened to Indian and Métis people. He also tells us howimportant it is that we build relationships with students to show that we care and that wehave high expectations of them. He says that incorporating First Nations content is not soimportant. “Math is math”, and students have to know how to live in today’s society.103The Elder then invites questions from the class. One young man puts up his handand says, “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but what is it that First Nations peoplewant?”The Elder replies, “Self-determination. I’m not talking about self-government.I’m talking about being able to make our own decisions about how our lives should be.”He explains to the students how the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs plays amajor role in the lives ofpeople and that much of the money allocated to First Nationspeople goes to running the bureaucracy rather than benefiting the Bands as most peopleassume. He also spends some time talking about how the Pass system worked when hewas young and how the Indian agent could control everything that people did, from notbeing allowed to leave the reserve to visit family without permission, to not beingallowed to sell lumber, grain or anything else without pennission. He tells the studentsthe government systematically took away any sense of independence that people had.“The other thing we want,” he adds, “are allies who will work with us as equals ratherthan others telling us how to run our lives. Can you do that as teachers?” he asks.The students nod, and several quietly respond, “Yes.” By the end of these sessionsI can tell the students are visibly moved. Some have tears in their eyes; others seem to befuming with anger at the injustices. Many want to stay behind and talk more.Good. I hope they carry that with them. 1 can see the students had no idea aboutany ofthis. We definitely need to provide more opportunities to learn about the racisthistory ofthis country through hearingpeople ‘s stories rather than reading historicalaccounts ofwhat happenedfrom the Whiteman ‘s perspective.104Surfacing IssuesI return home one evening after an emotional screening of Jane Elliott’s (2005)new documentary film, Indecently Exposed, where she worked with a group ofAboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the community. The film is based on anexercise similar to her Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes documentary she made in the 60s to showthat racism is learned. One audience member in the discussion afterward said that unlikethe Brown Eyes in Elliot’s earlier film, the First Nations people did not assume the roleof the oppressor. A Cree woman who participated in the film suggested, “That’s becausewe didn’t want anyone to feel the pain we went through.” Another person in the audiencenoted that although the White people felt badly for a while because of the exercise andcould start to empathize with Aboriginal people, they could still go back to their regularlives and carry on as before.There weren ‘t too many dry eyes in the audience. At least I wasn ‘t the only onecrying. I search for a cucumber in the refrigerator to put on my eyelids so they won’t betoo puffy for my early morning class the next day. I think about the conversation I hadwith the colleague who had given me the invitation to the screening.“I really enjoyed your presentation to thefaculty but I’m still confused about thiswhole race/culture thing. What I thought I heard you saying was, we shouldn ‘t befocusing on making students aware ofthe beliefs and traditions ofAboriginal cultures,but we should be having the students look at their own racism andprivileges as Whitesinstead. “My colleague nods. “But. . ., “I hesitate, not quite sure how to frame myquestion, “how do we support Aboriginal communities who are interested in revitalizingtheir cultures and languages?”105“Well, we have our own work to do which is looking at our role in perpetuating systemsofoppression. Culture is simply a red herring. Ifwe focus on that, it detractsfrom thereal work we have to do, “she tells me.“But, “Ipause again quite sure that she doesn’t understand what I’m trying tosay. “Ofcourse we have to look at our role in perpetuating systems ofoppression, but isthat all? What lam saying is, “Isearchfranticallyfor the right words to explain myself“I think what’s interesting is your reaction, “ offers my colleague.What does she mean, my “reaction”? Ido a quick bodily check. Yes, a knot isforming in my stomach and my voice is getting higher and louder. Okay, calm down.Take a deep breath.“You ‘re right, “I concede. “I guess I do need to think about how and why I’mreacting to this. I’d love to talk with you more about this whole area because it’s onewhere I don ‘tfeel confident. Could we have coffee and talk about this more sometime?”“Ofcourse, “says my colleague. “I’d be honored to talk with you about this.”During the next several months as I hold conversations with various people tofind out what they are doing to help the faculty vision become realized, I can see there aresome unresolved issues around Aboriginal education. Because of my own uncertaintyaround teaching for social justice by incorporating Aboriginal content and perspectives, Idecide to survey faculty members to find out if and how they are involved in initiativesrelated to this topic, and what, if any, suggestions they have. Part of my survey is alsointended to find out if there are very diverse opinions related to Aboriginal education andanti-racist education. I ask some faculty members who are on leaves of various kinds, to106look through the questions. After making some revisions based on their suggestions, Ipost the survey on the faculty web site with the help of an instructional designer. Becauseit is near the end of semester, only 8 people out of approximately 30 respond on-line;however, five people email me and ask to be interviewed instead.The responses to the survey do not surprise me much, partly because I know thequestions are somewhat vague—and deliberately so—for I wanted to see how peopleunderstood the terms, “Aboriginal education” and “anti-racist education”. As Ianticipated, there are diverse opinions concerning these concepts. I realize the survey isnot statistically valid; however, what I find most intriguing are some of the comments,which are beginning to show a polarization of views on faculty. Some of the commentsalso seem to have an emotional quality, and I begin to wonder whether there is anundercurrent of dissatisfaction among faculty members. For example, people say inresponse to a few of the statements:I have a clear understanding of what is meant by racism.#3As an Aboriginal teacher working in a non-Aboriginal setting under a non-Aboriginalmodel, I feel racism on a daily basis.#5:I have some understanding of at least some definitions, this range does not includeall definitions and may well not meet with the agreement of all. I do not accept that Ishould feel guilty that I am white, but I am not unaware of the advantages I havehad in the society. However I am open to ideas being discussed and concerns beingidentified to me. I do not always see the issues as clearly as some others here do.I believe we should promote anti-racist education in our courses.#3:Courses are a superficial way of transferring knowledge Immersion with the peopleand in a cultural setting is the true way to teach anti-racism It needs to be taughtby a person who understands culture and racism it is so disappointing to see nonAboriginal people teaching about racism It should be a lived experience First-handknowledge is truly necessary.#5:This idea seems a bit like motherhood - you have to be in favour. On the other handthe promotion may be in ways other than content and overt support. It may mean107using examples or guest present some issues to students.#8:It should be anti-oppressive education.What would you like to add that is important to consider in any discussionsconcerning Aboriginal Education or SChOOlS?#1:So much of this work, like so many of these questions, risks falling into anessentialist trap that reinscribes current power relations and hegemonic practicesNot unlike my parUcipation in completing thissurvey. Not unlike this answer.Still, I believe it is important to. try-- then agajn,.Yoda::said there IS no try, ‘onIy do,or not do”. What will this research do? What will any.of us do? I did thi:s.#3:Who will be in charge of ensuring this document [SchoolPLUS] is properlyimplemented? This needs to be taken into consideration or this be another documentthat Will merely be optional for teachers. Some, will do it and ‘.somewili choose not to.#5:The province has a very large and growing population of Aboriginal students in arange of schools. SchooIPLUS seems to be a good wàrking model for.•the future ofeducation’. At.the same time I. think the direction for any initiatives. nëéds to primarilycome from the Aboriginal community. I am not sure that our solutions have enoughmerit to argue they will work. The Aboriginal people àf the province neEd to createtheir own solutions to the issues that are present in education.In the. big pictuié they need some source, of economy. Without a means of providingincome for their people I really don’t think solutions are likely. Nothing is going tosave our rural communities for this reason (no source of income for largerpopulations) - without a source of economy I am not sure what can be done.#6:Involvement of Aboriginal people in all casesPersonal. and social values and skills emphasisSome of the comments in the survey unsettle me slightly and give me pause. Iwant to find out more about the opposition to Schooli’JS, but the comments also raisesome alarms about my study. Is the study going to fall into an ‘essentialist trap andre-inscribe hegemonic practices?’ How will I even know fthat happens? What about theperson who is Aboriginal andfeels racism on a daily basis in this institution? We must beblind not to see that. Or the person who believes that cross-cultural education and anti-racist education should be taught by an Aboriginalperson?108I realize this isn ‘t going to be a simple matter ofgathering suggestions forincorporating cross-cultural and anti-racist education in our courses or suggestionsforpreparing students to work in cross-cultural settings. I wonder what Jam getting intowith this study and whether it will create animosity among thefaculty members fI showthe disparate points ofview. I follow up the survey with interviews to try to understandsome of the various points of view.Understanding PerspectivesThe people whom I interview are very willing to discuss their views onAboriginal Education, anti-racist/anti-oppressive education and what they are doing intheir courses in these areas. Their views and practices vary greatly, yet there seems to bea common theme of teaching for social justice, in my opinion. Perhaps those with a morecritical perspective would disagree because not everyone seems to be as aware as othersof the insidious, systemic power relationships that influence us all. Nevertheless,everyone I with whom I speak recognizes the inequities in society and believes that oneof the goals for teacher education should be to help preservice teachers recognize thoseinequities and help to level the playing field for marginalized groups.I am keenly aware, however, that the people with whom I speak have a particularinterest in Aboriginal education and/or anti-oppressive education, but I have only heardfrom approximately one third of the faculty. I have a general sense that the rest of thefaculty members focus on other aspects of teacher education that they see as moreimportant. It is the people with whom I speak who seem to be most actively involved109either in the community, in research projects or on faculty/university committees orientedto Aboriginal education and/or social justice.After several months of recording interviews and transcribing tapes, I begin tofeel overwhelmed with the amount of data I have collected. In my opinion, everyone hasinteresting, insightful comments that sometimes support my beliefs and sometimeschallenge them, and it is difficult to pare down the 300 or more pages of transcripts. Eachof the interviews generates interesting and lively discussions but I soon realize that it isnot possible to include all of the stories in the thesis. Because there is considerableoverlap in what many people say, I can see some similar threads that make up the warpand weft of the faculty tapestry. I decide to keep two of the stories intact however,because they represent some motifs in the (en)unfolding landscape.Pulling threads.The common threads that I see in each of the interviews include: a) Developingrespectful relationships, b) Working with Aboriginal communities, c) Having highexpectations for students, e) Dc-emphasizing curriculum and emphasizing practical ideas,f) Participating in project-based courses, e) Taking anti-racist and cross-cultural courses,f) Critiquing power and privilege. Not everyone has the same perspective in relation tothese threads.Developing respectful relationships surfaces most frequently in the interviews.Some people focus on the need to show respect to a community. One person for example,believes that is necessary to form strong relationships and partnerships with parents and110caregivers. Her subject area focuses on family and community involvement and because“you cannot teach in a vacuum”.To earn the respect and trust of an Aboriginal community, others had this to say:“Learn the language of a community and use it. That’s the greatest honour you can bringto a community.” Similarly another person says, “I share this story with them of havinggone to an elementary school in a northern community where the principal who was non-native spoke in Dené — very lousy Dené I would say, because the kids were chucklingabout it and he had somebody sitting with him to correct him. So he would apologize andthen say what he needed to say. But that was a powerful choice he made. And on thewalls and bulletin boards were pictures of people’s lives. It honoured the community.”One participant asks, “What would happen if we really saw Aboriginal parents aspeople who have a right to be in school? What if we had a different attitude toward parentinvolvement? Let’s take students to the positive and then be practical. I think we have anobligation.”Developing caring relationships with students is seen as important by anAboriginal participant. “For First Nations kids in particular, if you don’t establish arelationship, you will have no success. They will not trust you, they will not listen to you,they will not engage, because their fear of rejection is so huge that they will simplydisengage. Trust and relationship is really the foundation for good learning with allchildren, I believe. And for some kids it’s a little harder because the adults in their liveshave never done that with them.”For another person, developing respectful relationships with colleagues isimportant. “I listen to people and I may not agree with everything they say but I don’t111challenge them on the spot. I think, ‘this is what this person believes’. Sometimes peoplesay that in the ceremonies the spirits talk to them and I think, ‘if that’s what they believe,fine.’ I can leave that out there for deliberation. I may not believe it but I don’t have tochallenge them and make them feel like they know nothing. And that’s how I feelsometimes when people talk to me about anti-racist education. I know something. It maynot be what they know or believe, but I have some knowledge to bring to the table here.”The importance of relationships, for another person, is summed up by thisstatement: “Have compassion — kisewatisowin that’s what the Elders tell us in all theirtalks. We all have our weaknesses and failings.”Working with Aboriginal communities is another important thread nrnningthrough the interviews. Most people believe that is important for students/teachers tohave opportunities to work with Aboriginal people in their communities to break downbarriers and stereotypes. As one person says simply, “Work with your community andparticipate in their practices.” To help prospective teachers learn about teaching inAboriginal communities another person suggests, “There are many ways to do thisincluding bringing in people who have taught in First Nations communities, bringing inElders, spending some time in a First Nations community. The process should bedevelopmental and the students should have some concrete learning in communityorganizations before going into schools.”If we want to see some improvement in Aboriginal students’ school completionrates, one person has this advice: “Make schools more inviting places that are morestrongly connected to the communities. That’s going to have to happen with teachersworking more collaboratively in communities, not just working alone in classrooms.112Another person believes that more faculty members should be out in the communityinvolved in projects with their students and modelling what we espouse.Having high expectationsfor students is also seen as important as is ensuringAboriginal students receive as good an education as other students. One Aboriginalparticipant reminds us that, “All children want to feel successful academically. It makesno sense for Aboriginal students to be failing in schools—they are every bit as bright asnon-Aboriginal students. We need to find ways to build on their successes. It is alsoimportant that they have a sense ofbelonging, which will lessen the likelihood of beingenticed into a gang in order feel accepted somewhere.” Another person states, “There arepeople who say you don’t teach anything about Aboriginal children’s culture, becauseyou’ll get it wrong, but teach my child to read. Do a really good job of that. I don’tmean to be simplistic, but if we can do that well, if we could see an Aboriginal child as achild full of potential, as a child who deserves respect and attention, that would be, Ithink, an Aboriginal perspective in teaching.”Regarding incorporating Aboriginal content and perspectives in the curricula, oneperson doesn’t feel it is that important. “Aboriginal kids don’t think about mathdifferently, they don’t count differently from non-Aboriginal kids. They don’t perceivethe world differently mathematically. I’m sure there are cultural differences and those areimportant, but I don’t think non-Aboriginal teachers can do anything about that. I thinkthat they’re there to teach math, and for goodness sakes, make sure that these kids are notdisadvantaged by having inferior math. Make sure that they in fact, do come out of theschools with every opportunity that the non-Aboriginal kid has in terms of progressing to113high school, in terms of progressing to post-secondary, and so on. I think that that’s got tobe the vision.”De-emphasizing curriculum is another theme mentioned frequently. “I would liketo see the curriculum areas disbanded and the program become more inter-disciplinary,”states one person. Another says, “It’s not just about curriculum content. In fact, I’dalmost put curriculum content last because I think it’s about structural changes. It’s aboutcreating relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. It’s aboutwhere are Aboriginal people going to have influence in the move to a different kind ofeducation that’s going to have to put Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal together in terms ofthe future of this particular province. And it might entail changes in curriculum, certainlychanges in program. And even more importantly, changes in relationships and cultures inschools. It seems to me that there is something bigger that has to take place before westart tinkering with curriculum.”Another person also thinks there are more important aspects to teaching. “It’s alsoimportant to give respect to students and help them feel as if they have been heard. It’snot so much whether you’ve taught some aspect of the curriculum.”An educator outside the faculty had this advice to beginning teachers: “Mysuggestion for first year teachers is to get to know the students in the first two weeks ofschool and not worry about the curriculum because it will help create conditions in theenvironment for learning. Kids will trust you and feel like you care. And sometimes weput the caring behind in favour of the curriculum and the timetable, but in the long run,it’s the kids who matter, not the curriculum.”114A faculty member who has a longer history in the institution has this to say aboutthe curriculum: “One of the beliefs we have to counter in teacher education is the ideathat the curriculum is everything. In 1990 we went the other way. In 91 when we revisedthe Elementary Program, we decided to make the program more ‘generalist’ and that wasthe cover for making the curriculum everything, which is what we love to do because weare all subject area specialists. And we get so excited about math and language arts andvisual art, and we just have to tell our students everything there is to know aboutcurriculum. And that’s the job of teacher education. We did that in the early 90s but weare still living with that program and that emphasis. We are drowning our students incurricular content and making it difficult for them to learn anything because they are sosmothered by work.” This person feels that the emphasis on curriculum has interferedwith prospective teachers’ ability to focus on other more important things such as socialjustice and building relationships.Participating in project-based courses is one way some people thought thatstudents’ learning would be more authentic. It would also help to break down stereotypesand promote activism among the students. One person, for example says she engages herstudents in “a variety of community-based research projects where they identif’ issuesand talk with community people about these issues. Action is always a critical element ofthe assignments. Students then have to do something with the information.” For example,some students wrote letters to some clothing chains and created a web site to raise issuesof sizism. They wondered why clothes were made only for petite models. “They came tothe conclusion that the manufacturers believed that only certain images ‘sell’.”115Another person has this wish, “My hope is if we could create, let’s say almost acase-based, or project-based or inquiry-based approach to learning through meaningfuldialogue with all our resource people.” One person says that her subject area has studentsinvolved in community projects and notes that it is easier to involve community people inthe less affluent areas of the city than in areas “where the kids have everything.”Taking Anti-racist and cross-cultural courses is seen as a must for students bymost people as illustrated by this comment, “It is important for students to understand thehistory of colonialism and racism in this country and the importance of the Treaties.”Another person feels even more strongly. “Its something that we need to breathe ineveryday just like oxygen and all the other molecules. It’s pedagogical philosophy thatunderpins your thought, the way you move through your day, the way you think, the wayyou breathe. It can’t be seen as just content or process.”Another person is more practical. “It’s wonderful to raise students’ awareness, butwe have to understand that they’re going into the classroom for the first time, and whatare they going to do? I feel like we have to prepare them to go out there and actuallyteach something. So that’s the bridge and I also want to be a bit more positive.Sometimes I think students see anti-oppressive education as something negative.”The glaring gaps in this area are brought out by another person. “We need toensure that they [our students] have the content. I’m still convinced that some of ourstudents don’t have the content, especially at the Secondary level.” Another facultymember believes it would help if Secondary students had an Indigenous Studies course.“I think they do need an Indigenous Studies class. They do need some content andbackground so that they understand the Treaties, they understand the history of different116Aboriginal groups, that they understand some of the sociological issues, you know interms of present day Aboriginal existence and that sort of thing.”For one person, cross-cultural and anti-racist education has to be more than onecourse. It has to be as important as learning to teach anything else. This person states,“Preservice teachers need to learn how to teach about the history and contributions ofAboriginal peoples to society and that it is as important as learning to how to teachmathematics or English. Anti-racist education should be foundational to the program aswell, starting in the first year. There are many ways to do this including bringing inpeople who have taught in First Nations communities, bringing in Elders, spending sometime in a First Nations community. The process should be developmental and the studentsshould have some concrete learning in community organizations before going intoschools.”Critiquing culture versus race is a prominent theme and the most controversial. Itis entangled with teaching for social justice and anti-racist education which falls underthe umbrella of anti-oppressive education. One of the guiding principles for many anti-racist educators, however, is the necessity for students to interrogate their privileges asWhites. Having students learn about other cultures, anti-racist educators believe, furtherentrenches stereotypes and racism (Schick, 2000; St. Denis, 2002).Anti-racist educators on faculty firmly believe that it is fine if Aboriginal peoplewant to learn more about and participate in their cultures, but White, middle-classCanadians have their own work to do. “There are different things that White studentsneed to learn, because they come with such a sense of entitlement that they feel that whatthe world needs, is who they are. Hegemonic discourses in society continually confirm117who they are.” Kevin Kumashiro’s (2000; 2004) work is used by several people to helpstudents see how we are implicated in the marginalization of others whom we see asdifferent. By having preconceived notions of what is normal in terms of race, class,gender or sexual orientation, we other those who do not fit with these notions. “Antioppressive education (which includes anti-racist education) “asks us to consider whoseviews are considered normal, how the idea of normalcy develops, and in whose interestsit is to ensure these norms remain intact. Who has the power with respect to the creationof various norms?” states one faculty member.Not all participants agree with this perspective, however. “You can shame me intofeeling badly about that, but what you do is silence me then. I don’t think guilt does verymuch good. Guilt is a way that society holds people in line and tries to tell them what theright things are. But my sense about it is that most people then hide what they think.”This person believes that people have to be invited to change, we can’t make peoplechange. Another person has a similar point of view. “If you talk too much about powerand authority and control, you make people feel like the poor victim or the bad oppressorall the time, and that just perpetuates things. We have to get beyond that.”One participant has this to say: “There is some arrogance in that discussion. I ammissing out where things are working, and I’m making the other person into some kind ofvictim or tragedy and I don’t want to. I want to honour that they come to the relationshipwith lots of richness. And I guess politically, some people get more air time than otherpeople. And that’s not right. We need to change that. But it is my job to understand andvalue that person, not to see them as less because they’re different than I am. I see theirdifference as an asset and I also see that we share much in common.”118To counter this argument, one person who uses an anti-oppressive educationperspective states, “I don’t have any sympathy for people who say that we shouldn’t betalking about Aboriginal oppression because really, many groups are oppressed. That justdiffuses it. In this province we have a problem.”I ask some anti-oppressive educators what to do about the feelings of discomfortthat come when students’ ideas about normalcy are disrupted. “How do we move thestudents beyond the discomfort to doing something about it?”One person expresses this opinion: “I think that there is an urge and a rush toaction and decisionism, which contradicts the notion that they really haven’t come toterms with who they are yet.” This person says that students won’t know what to do withthe technical process until they have learned about who they are. “The thing that I reallyobject to is that our own sense will bring us around. It brought us colonization, and it ispartly because we can’t see our own self-interests. And that’s why I’m saying, if thiswere a math topic or an English topic, we wouldn’t say, “How do youfeel about that?”What do youfeel about English? That’s why I’m saying that there is a body ofknowledge that needs to be taught that largely has to do with history, and knowing whatsocial and economic analyses are.”Another anti-oppressive educator takes this approach. “I structure the class as ahealing process, and I don’t think it can be treated simply as content. I have done a lot ofin-services for people and they want content, but content has never been sufficient tocreate change.” She often has students respond to an article by asking them how theyfeelabout it rather than what they think about it. This often surfaces some emotions but lateron in the semester she tells them, “We have to remember how appalled we were at the119extent of discrimination and oppression and privilege, at our disgust and our grief andguilt. If you carry that around and are at least aware of it, you can never go back andoppress again. That’s where true learning comes.”Aboriginal people have the strongest words for an anti-racist/anti-oppressiveeducation approach. “Sometimes I feel like saying, ‘You don’t have to tell me how muchracism hurts. We live through this on a daily basis.’ Sometimes I think when people talkabout anti-racism, they feel like it’s not about them, but I notice racism in the dailyinteractions of my work.” Another person talks about the rhetoric of inclusion and socialjustice espoused at the university and then provides examples of feeling marginalized onseveral occasions. “I don’t think people are deliberately racist, but it seems as if we’reinvisible.”Two people interpret the anti-racist stance, which objects to teaching aboutculture, as attacks on their beliefs and traditions, rather than seeing it as a messageintended for non-Aboriginals. “I don’t appreciate being positioned as the other, as thevictim. These things that people say essentialize me and objectify me, I refuse to givethem up. This is who I am; this is where I live; this is my community. Even though Ispend a lot of time working here, ultimately my place is back home on my reserve and Iremember my place. I see it sometimes as another way of oppression. One of myquestions is, who created this discourse?”Another person says something similar. “When I first started my graduateprogram we were asked to give a presentation in one of our courses, so I brought in aMedicine Wheel to explain some of my community’s traditions and beliefs. My professortold me, ‘That’s essentialism. Forget culture, move on.’ As if we’re too stupid to figure120out what works for us! But I didn’t say anything because I was in the first year of mygraduate program. I might say something now that I have a Ph.D. though!”This controversy is recognized by another faculty member. “I guess my concern isthat we really think about how we do this, because I have seen in the past where we justget a reaction from students and it doesn’t’ really accomplish anything other than helpingpeople who are committed ideologically that way feel good because they are living outtheir ideology, but in the meantime students don’t change and they do things the waythey’ve always done them. So I think we have to be very thoughtful and tactful in theway we actually go about dealing with this. Because these are really deep, emotionalissues for a lot of students. They do react and if we don’t understand the process of themchanging and engaging in this, in the end we do more damage by addressing it than justleaving it alone. I’m not at all suggesting we leave it alone, but I think it’s a big culturalthing, and as the culture of the faculty changes and people are committed to this, as morepeople do it individually in their classes, as more people take part in the discourse,eventually we will see new projects, new ways of working together, new initiatives.Despite the controversy, another faculty member believes academics have animportant role to play in promoting social justice. It is important work for the facultyhowever, as one person observes. “It’s not just our hearts that have to be engaged insocial justice, it’s also our heads. As academics we have special gifts that allow us to leadthe way on that. One of our jobs is critique of society, critique of the educationalinstitutions we serve. We are equipped to do that; we have time to read, to think, to write,and to teach and those are the ways in which we apply what others have written and ourown thinking to teacher education. We make the connections. That is our job.”121Drawing ComparisonsThe interviews with the various participants confirms my belief that ourinstitution is not unlike other teacher education institutions that have used a variety ofapproaches to prepare teachers for working with students whose cultural, social, oreconomic circumstances are markedly different from their own. Some have turned tomulticultural education and anti-racist education for answers. “They have studiedprospective teachers’ beliefs about themselves and persons unlike themselves and haveattempted to modify courses, field experiences, and entire programs of teacherpreparation to interrupt, challenge, and change the ways teachers think about themselvesand ‘Others” (Zeichner, 1996, p. 118). A Masemann and Mock (1986) study ofCanadian universities, however, revealed that “very little multicultural teacher educationreally exists in Canada” (p. 9 cited by Young, 1995, p. 58). These researchers found thatmost of the courses having to do with multicultural education were electives and it waspossible for teachers in Canada to graduate without having taken a single course inmulticultural education. Based on a brief look at on-line education calendars at Canadianuniversities, not much seems to have changed since then.In the 1 980s multicultural education was seen as the answer to helping prospectiveteachers appreciate and value other cultures; however since the then there has been anongoing debate about the nexus between multicultural education and anti-racist education(Rezai-Rashti, 1995). Advocates for anti-racist education severely criticize what they seeas a “heroes and holidays” approach that further privileges/normalizes some andmarginalizes others (Young, 1995).122Although these stances are often viewed as dichotomous, they might also beviewed along a continuum. Multicultural education and anti-racist education addressdifference to varying degrees. Grant and Sleeter (2001) for example, have categorized thevarious approaches to teaching about ethnocultural diversity. They note that schools ofeducation typically take one or a combination of these approaches:a)Teaching the exceptionally and culturally different approach to help students adaptto the norms of the dominant culture by making curriculum relevant to the students’backgrounds and learning styles, and adapting instruction to meet their needs -“building bridges” to help them catch up to the standards of the dominant group;b) Human relations approach to promote unity, tolerance and acceptance amongvarious groups by celebrating differences;c) Single group studies approach to raise the equality of opportunity, recognize thegroup’s contributions to society, and show how it has been oppressed by the dominantgroup. Teacher education programs that have graduates that might be employed byparticular communities often use this approach;d) Multicultural education approach to synthesize many ideas from the previousthree and work toward equal opportunity and social justice for all groups;e) Education that is multicultural and social reconstructionist approach to extend theprevious approaches by teaching prospective teachers to help their students criticallyanalyze inequality in their own circumstances through anti-oppressive education andto develop skills for social action.Similarly, Kumashiro (2000) describes four different approaches to anti-oppressiveeducation (and anti-racist education) that consider the nature of oppression and the123curricula, policies and pedagogies needed to bring about change. He identifies limitationsin each and argues for an amalgam of these approaches. These approaches are:a)Educationfor the other where educators focus on improving the experiences ofstudents who are othered by providing safe, affirming, therapeutic, supportive andempowering spaces and by recognizing the differences in all students;b) Education about the other where educators attempt to bring visibility to andenrich their students’ understanding of different ways of being;c) Education that is critical ofprivileging and othering that entails helping studentsrecognize “both the privilege of certain identities, including their own, and theprocesses of normalizing and Othering, in which they are complicit” (p. 37);d) Education that changes students and society that uses poststructuralism to unpackhow oppression originates in particular harmful discourses that “frame how peoplethink, feel, act and interact” (p. 40). The intent is to help students deconstruct theSelf/Other binary and their notions of normalcy to work against oppression.The extent to which the different approaches to educating for diversity areincorporated into the teacher education curriculum also varies. Some teacher educationprograms have an extra course in multicultural education added to the existing curriculumor may include a topic on multicultural education within some of their courses. There isgrowing evidence that this approach causes little, if any, significant changes inprospective teachers’ attitudes or practices when working with diverse populations (May,1999; Villegas & Lucas, 2002; Zeichner, 1996). “When special courses are designed toaddress racism, classism, and other issues associated with diversity, faculty membersteaching other courses may assume they are not responsible for addressing124these”(Villegas & Lucas, 2002, P. xiii). Furthermore, these courses are usually optional,so students can graduate without any preparation in issues of diversity (Villegas &Lucas).Several writers insist that teacher preparation programs that use only a culturaldifference (deficit) or human relations approach (heroes and holidays) are not doingenough to reduce inequities and may, in fact, be perpetuating them (Banks, 1999;Cochran-Smith, 2000; Grant & Sleeter, 2001; May, 1999; McIntosh, 2002, Nieto, 1999;Zeichner, 1996). They stress that teacher education programs must include a criticalcomponent that considers how identities and inequities are produced and maintained(Apple, 1989; Giroux & McLaren, 1987; May, 1999). Further, they insist that part ofevery teacher’s education—regardless of culture—must include a critical race analysis ofhow categories of difference are constructed (Ladson-Billings, 1999; Mackey, 1999; Ng,2003; Schick, 2000; St.Denis, 2002; Weil, 1998; Willinsky, 1998). Ng states, “Theperpetuation of ignorance surrounding the dynamics of racism are unacceptable,especially for preservice teachers who will inherit the power to affect children’s lives”(2003, p. 11).As an alternative to the add-on approach, those who advocate for criticalmulticultural education argue for an infusion or integration approach. In this approachentire programs including arts and science as well as education courses and fieldexperiences are dedicated to critical multicultural education. It is still not clear how bestto accomplish this or what this would entail (Villegas & Lucas, 2002; Zeichner, 1996), astransforming teacher education for social justice poses a variety of challenges.125As I consider the research related to teaching for social justice, I decide to providethe stories of two people on faculty who enact their vision of what this means. Theirstories are by no means representative of other people’s stories, because each personwhom I interviewed had a slightly different approach to teacher education. These storieshowever, are illustrative of the commitment to teaching most people on faculty have.”Janet“Hi Janet.” I say as I knock on her door. “Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.As I told you on the phone, I am on the Secondary Program OCRE planning committeeand there is talk about having a focus on Aboriginal content and perspectives for OCREagain this year’5.” Janet was on the committee the previous year and I don’t want to facethe same criticism that committee encountered.“No problem,” Janet says as she invites me sit down. I begin by asking her whythe committee decided to focus on Aboriginal education for OCRE last year. She tells meit was because there is no required cross-cultural course in the Secondary Educationprogram. The committee thought this might be one way to provide some information forthe students. They also wanted a theme that would tie each of the subject areas together,and because they were going to be in the valley where there are a number of FirstNations, it would be an opportunity to access some good resource people.“But, as you may have heard, we met with controversy right away,” Janet admits.15 OCRE stands for Off Campus Residential Experience, a component of the various programs that wasimplemented over 30 years ago. It was intended to help students take teaching and learning beyond theclassroom into the outdoors and surrounding community, develop their sense of interdependence with otherliving things and realize that curriculum is everywhere.126I nod. “What happened?” I had heard some rumours but I wanted to hear Janet’sside of the story.“Well as soon as we used the words First Nations or indigenous, it was lookedupon as tokenism. People felt that we were not going to be able to do justice to the topicand that a little information might be more damaging than just getting started. Here wewere trying to do something good and yet we were met with controversy.”“That must’ve been a little unsettling,” I say sympathetically.She tells me that the Secondary Program people decided to go ahead anyway,because they thought students needed some understanding of Aboriginal histories andperspectives. To gather some information about protocols and possible sessions thatmight be appropriate, the committee contacted people in the Department of Learning whowere “just ecstatic about finally being able to connect with the university”. They met withresource people and Elders from the Aboriginal teacher education programs, and withteachers who had taken students to a cultural camp.Janet tells me that the experience out at OCRE was wonderful for studentsbecause “When we were there, a lot of people found that by being immersed in thatsetting, we just learned to appreciate their culture better instead of always having toanalyze how we look at things.” I ask what she means by that and she tells me howdifficult it is to be always talking about White privilege and racism.“When I worked with the Department people,” Janet says, “any time we startedusing the words Aboriginal and racism—bang—right away the conversation shutdownand no one moved forward. Whereas, if we talked about appreciation and empowermentand what we could do to get Aboriginal students feeling good about themselves, then we127could move forward. But if you keep talking about racism all the time and all the thingsthat went on years ago, the conversation seems to go nowhere.”Janet thinks we could do a better job of teaching Aboriginal content andperspectives, but she doesn’t feel competent in the area even though she has taken theseveral modules offered to university employees. She also doesn’t know whether onecourse would be of benefit to students. She believes an immersion experience wherestudents become involved in a community and get to know First Nations or Métis peopleon a personal level is the only way they will gain some understanding of issues andperspectives.She also believes that students need to learn about the protocols of inviting Eldersto speak to a group and how to listen respectfully to people who have importantinformation to share. She noted that students don’t want to wait for answers, but as oneElder told the group, it may take weeks or months before someone realizes their answerafter speaking with someone.Janet says she was surprised at the amount of the honoraria that the faculty wasexpected to pay the Elders, “But as one of the Elders’ helpers explained, it’s importantthat we show we value their knowledge just as much as we would someone with a Ph.D.”“True,” I say. “I think we’ve been conditioned to value one type of knowledgeover another and it’s time to rethink some of our assumptions. I change the topic a bit andask whether she noticed any incidents of racism among the students during OCRE.Janet tells me of one incident where a student told a racist joke and was severelyreprimanded and warned that he could get kicked out of the program. “He came to theinstructors with an hour and half apology, but I think students tell racist jokes all the time128and they don’t even recognize they are doing it.” She thinks that continuing to engage inactivities at OCRE where students are involved with Aboriginal people will help toeliminate some of the stereotypes and racism.“We had half a dozen well-educated, respected, knowledgeable, kind individualswho talked with our students and it helped to break down some of the stereotypes theyhold. This wasn’t a class where they were learning about Aboriginal people. They wereimmersed in conversations with them at the lunch table and after supper over tea andcoffee. They took part in their ceremonies and began to understand the significance ofthose ceremonies and how important they are to them. It gave the students newappreciations about their culture,” Janet says.I wince a little at the use of “them” and the singular “culture” but I ask whetherthe committee had a sense that the students thought the experience was worthwhile. Janetsays that informal evaluations conducted by the different course instructors, seem toindicate the students thought it was valuable. I silently wonder how much will translateinto differences in how the student teachers will perceive the Aboriginal students in thehigh schools.She says she has learned a few things in the last couple of years: storytelling isdone in the winter time; symbols painted on teepees are the gift of a vision and thereforesacred; if you bring in an Elder to the class, it should be for more than just storytellingbecause Elders have so much more wisdom to share. She also talks about the need toraise the students’ awareness of issues related to poverty because often they link that toAboriginal people rather than seeing that it can include anyone.129“I couldn’t agree more,” I say. I thank Janet for the information and contactnumbers and she wishes me good luck with planning.“Thanks,” I say on the way out, wondering what kind of hornet’s nest I might bewalking into by being on this committee.Mary“Mary, how are you? You look wonderful!” Mary and I embrace as people gatherfor the Kevin Kumashiro lecture. Despite numerous rounds of chemotherapy, Maryremains a candidate for being one of the best dressed women in the city. I eye thebeautiful turquoise silk scarf that is draped elegantly around her shoulders, and her funkynew “do”. “You have a new hairdo.”“It’s a wig,” Mary confesses.“Wow! It’s really cute! I’ll have to let my sister know that it’s possible to getfantastic wigs. She has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and is really depressedabout having to lose her hair.”Mary and I chat a bit more about what has been happening in each other’s livessince we last talked. I tell her I would love to interview her for my doctoral dissertation.Mary is another of the people who moved the faculty toward a social justice agenda byraising our awareness of issues related to poverty and literacy in Aboriginal communities.She has worked tirelessly in the community with Aboriginal children, parents andeducators in the area of literacy education and has received numerous awards inrecognition of her efforts. More recently her work has helped to raise awareness of theissues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered youth. She has recently co130chaired a conference and co-edited a book on these topics. (See McNinch & Cronin,2004). Mary tells me she would be honored to be interviewed and we agree on a date andtime just as the lecture begins.Connie and Monica take turns going to the podium to introduce, welcome andthen thank Dr. Kevin Kumashiro on the occasion of the inauguration of our new Centrefor Social Justice and Anti-oppressive Education.“I feel somewhat like a groupie hanging around a rock star,” says one of thewomen, which brings a laugh from the full house gathered in the auditorium. I note thatpeople from all faculties in the university are there. I am somewhat surprised. I had readsome of Kumashiro’s work in the area of anti-oppressive education but I had no idea thathis visit was so noteworthy to people outside the Faculty of Education.After the lecture as people are milling around during the reception, I notice thatMary is standing off to the side watching as people talk with Dr. Kumashiro. At one timeMary would have been one ofthe organizers ofthis event. I wonder fshe is feeling likean outsider right now. I think I see how people become marginalized. It’s notjust aboutd(fferences in race, class, gender, sexual orientation or ability. As Kevin Kumashiro says,it’s about how we regard normalcy. Perhaps Mary is no longer considered normal andwe distance ourselves. Why? Fear? Ignorance? Insensitivity? Discomfort? I think of myown fear of being in her shoes, of my sister’s illness, of my own discomfort at notknowing what to say to make things better. Perhaps we ‘rejust too caught up with ourown lives to notice others who aren ‘t on our immediate radar screens. I silentlyadmonish myself for my insensitivity in not making an effort to visit with her more131regularly. I go over to Mary to say goodbye and we make arrangements to conduct theinterview the following week.A week later, Mary visits my home and we chat for a bit as I make tea. She tellsme how at peace and happy she is despite living with cancer. “My doctor says I have‘friendly’ tumours because I am still alive after five years. I like to think of myself as acancer ‘surpriser’ rather than a cancer ‘survivor’,” Mary laughs. I laugh too and say that’sa wonderful way of looking at it. Could I be so courageous and good humoured? FinallyI turn on the tape recorder and we settle in for our conversation.I begin by asking Mary how she came to have an interest in Aboriginal Education.She tells me it began when she was doing her doctoral work in Edmonton andwhen she went down to 97th street, which was considered “skid row”, she noticed most ofthe people there were Aboriginal. “And this was very, very different from images that Ihad about the noble North American Indians that we talk so romantically about inEurope. So I began to ask some questions about that and I began to do some reading.” Atthat time her husband was also doing a doctorate in anthropology in Northern Alberta soshe went with him and did some research into Aboriginal storytelling.She then returned to her home in Ireland and became very involved in educationfor underprivileged people in the inner city in Dublin. She came back to Canada 18 yearsago and took a position in the faculty where she was able continue community work.Mary talks about wanting to make equity an issue in the Elementary Programwhen she was Chair. “I was able to make use of some money that was around, such as the132Cordis Fund16.We also had a Dean who was quite sympathetic to those issues and hegave me quite a bit of money to do the things that I wanted to do.”“Yes!’ I jump in. “I remember when we used the Cordis Fund for our Equityretreat. We did some goal setting around our vision for social justice education. Thesound of the faculty members singing about peace to the tune of “Lord of the Dance” inthe lobby of the hotel at the end of the retreat still brings shivers to me. The acousticswith that high ceiling were wonderful!” I exclaim almost tearing up thinking of theemotional impact that had on me.Mary shakes her head in agreement. She continues. “What I set out to do at firstwas to educate some of the faculty because I really was horrified that some faculty hadbeen there since the 70s; they were in a province with a very high Aboriginal population,they were Canadian born, and yet, they knew nothing about Aboriginal people! So thatwas my first thing—to bring Aboriginal people into the faculty and to hold seminars andtalks and discussions around issues. Then in my own work, I began to work increasinglymore with the community and community organizations.”“Did you do it out of a sense of social justice?” I ask.“Yes, very much so. And I see a huge distinction between social justice andcharity. There is that tension always there. In charity work it’s to help the other—theunderprivileged—rather than seeing it as ‘we’, the human family. We’re all in thistogether.”I nod in agreement and wince a little. That reminds me ofwhat EduardoGaleoano (2000) says,16 The Cordis Fund is a sum of money that was donated to the faculty from the estate of the late Dr. Leora Cordis, anearly childhood educator and strong advocate of social justice. Dr. Cordis’ instructions to the faculty were to use themoney for professional development in the area of social justice.133Unlike solidarity, which is horizontal and takes place between equals, charity istop down, humiliating those who receive it and never challenging the implicitpower relations. In the best ofcases, there will bejustice someday, high inHeaven. Here on earth, charity doesn ‘t worry injustice, itjust tries to hide it. (pp.312-313)How many times have my students and I collected money, food, clothing, and toysfor thefood bank and various charities and thenfelt self-satisfied that we were helpingthe poor rather than recognizing the causes ofsystemic inequities and working towardways to help change those conditions. But then, when do we have to time to address thebigger issues? Mary’s voice pulls me back from the edge of the abyss.“It doesn’t bother me much if someone accuses me of it coming from myChristian background. I can’t help my background and I don’t think it matters where itcomes from, as long as its there.”“Monica compares it to jumping into a river to save a drowning person, but thenanother drowning person comes along, and another. Finally, you have to get your ffiendto save the drowning people and you have to go upstream to find out what’s going on.She says you are a person who does both.”Mary smiles.I ask her what sorts of things, if any, she did in her courses to raise awareness ofsocial justice issues.“Okay.” She pauses a bit and takes a sip of tea. “I often had a hard time bringingthe community work that I do into my university courses because the courses that I taughtwere very specialized courses in reading. But I had a joke with my students saying thatyou could do social justice work through teaching students to read.”“Paulo Friere,” I interject.134“Yes, and I would often start off by asking students to predict for me whichstudents are going to have difficulty in reading—those in a community school in the innercity or those in schools in more affluent areas.” She then goes on to say that studentsalways recognized that the children in the poor neighbourhoods will have the mostdifficulty. This led to discussions about literacy issues related to poverty, the thingsteachers can change and those that they have to accept, such as children changing schoolsfrequently.“I challenged them to think of some things they can do to help children in aseemingly impossible situation. So I did not do anything really dramatic because I firmlybelieve that we must get the balance right between helping our students develop the skillsto teach, and understanding social issues.”We talk about racism and Mary believes that sometimes it’s due to ignorance.“Yes, so I think sometimes people just don’t have the knowledge,” she says.“They don’t know anything about the Treaties or what ‘Treaty’ means. They wonder whyimmigrants who come here do well after a few years, yet many Aboriginal people remainin poverty. Well that’s very different! Aboriginal people have Treaties with us and wehave not kept the bargain with them. So then we are placing people in an unequalposition because we don’t uphold our side of the bargain! And I find that lots ofCanadians don’t know that.”That reminds me of John Ogbu ‘s (1992) theory about voluntary and involuntaryminorities; that involuntary minorities—people who were brought as slaves or who werecolonized—don ‘t do as well as those who choose to come to North America.135“No kidding! I say. “My third-year students just had a Treaties in the Classroomworkshop and there were so many things they didn’t know at all. They had so manymisconceptions about Aboriginal people and the special so-called privileges they believeFirst Nations people have. The workshop presenters did a great job of letting know themknow White people have the privilege of living in this land in peace and with access tothe abundance of resources.”Our conversation leads to Mary’s work and she admits she is drawn more to thepragmatics of a situation and what needs to be done rather than to theoretical aspects ofthe work—and fairness. She always tries to check up on herself to consider whether sheis looking at the situation as an outsider (emic) or trying to see it as an insider (etic).“You have to try and see the situation from the other person’s point of view,” Maryreminds me.Finally I broach a subject that has been bothering me for some time. “There aresome people on faculty right now who are causing some of us, like me, to question whatwe have been doing around Aboriginal Education. From my reading I see there is a wholespectrum of beliefs and opinions among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people aboutwhether we should be teaching about cultures or whether we should be teaching aboutracism. On the one end there are those who advocate returning to traditional values andthe revitalization of cultures and languages. On the end are people who are looking atanti-oppressive education and who call cultural revitalization ‘essentialism’. This wholedebate really has me confused. Where do you stand on this?”Mary ponders the question for a minute. “I think I stand halfway. Maybe I’vebecome too Canadian,” she laughs. “I stand half away for a few reasons. Number one, I136think I stand halfway because most of the Aboriginal people that I work with are happystanding halfway. They are comfortable with the fact that they are learning and revaluingsome of their traditions and knowledge. They are seeing that as valid and maybe they arereinterpreting some of it. And maybe I am paternalistic, but I think that it is better to getinto some of this discussion step-by-step because I feel that people are not comfortablesometimes when you talk too much about things that are deep or deal with conflict.”Mary pauses for a bit then continues. “But I’m not really clear about how I worked withstudents with respect to power and essentialism,” she confesses. “I know how I workedwith grad students because I could talk more clearly to them and I could give them bothpositions. But with undergraduate students, I’m not sure that I did a very good job.”Mary talks about the importance of building self-esteem through skilldevelopment. “But I think the most important thing we can do is to help students learnhow to build relationships. In order for our students to work well with communities, theyneed to know how to build trusting relationships, and they need to be able to help thestudents they teach learn that.”I nod in agreement.Mary tells me that when she was on the provincial committee for Aboriginal HeadStart pilot preschools, she gave some workshops to teachers in the Northern part of theprovince. An Aboriginal woman on one of those committees said, “I really think that weare into a new phase of racism. In the past we had teachers who did not like our students,who were mean to our students. Now we are dealing with teachers who are too nice toour students and let them get away with murder and who don’t teach them anything.”137I stop writing and look up. Am I guilty ofthat? When I had the alternateeducation program, did I have low expectationsfor my students because I thought theyweren ‘t capable or I wanted them to like school?“So that was my dilemma in teaching reading classes,” Mary says. “The classesthat I have are very short so how much do you diverge to teach Treaties and things likethat?”“I guess you have to trust that other classes are going to teach that, so it meansworking with other faculty members,” I suggest.“Yes, and I’m glad we have the structure to do that,” says Mary. My dilemma isalways getting that balance right, whether you talk about power or whether you do thingsthat will empower people,” she admits.I ask her if she has any advice for faculty members who are trying to cover all thethings they feel they have to teach without making it superficial or add-on, as well astaking part in community service.“Yes,” says Mary. “I would say start small and get together with other people insituations where they don’t feel threatened and where they can put the little that they aredoing on the table, because there are some stars. But I think it’s more of an attitudinalchange and when that comes, other things will fall into place.”“An attitudinal change? Like.. . ?““Really thinking carefully about what we trying to do here. Are we trying to makechanges just because changes are required, or because it’s the politically correct thing todo? What is going to really make a difference to the students that I’m teaching, and willthat translate into change for the students in their classrooms and parents in their138communities? Maybe start simply by getting to know people to open things up a bit. Ithink we try too hard to make too many big changes in the beginning.”I nod in agreement thinking how overwhelming it all feels at times. “Thank youfor this, Mary. I would love to continue our discussion another time.” I turn off the taperecorder.As we say our farewells, I ask Mary if she can still touch her toes to her nose. Welaugh about how she would amaze everyone, particularly students, with her ability tostand on one foot and bring her toes to her nose, a feat she would perform during theentertainment sessions during our Off Campus Residential Experiences (OCRE). Wereminisce briefly about the good times and talk about getting together again soon.As I look over the data, I have difficulty trying to represent people’s views andmy own responses to their perspectives. I have identified some themes, but struggle withhow I might represent the data in a way that doesn’t exclude me from the picture. Unlikeethnographers of the past who attempted to take an objective stance in interpreting andreporting their findings, reflexive ethnographers attempt to anchor their experimental(and traditional) writing in an ongoing moral dialogue with the members of a localcommunity (Denzin & Lincoln, 2002, p. 1).It is the notion of”an ongoing moral dialogue with the members of a localcommunity” that I want to develop but I am stymied as to how I might do that. Then oneweekend I am given a huge gift by the faculty administrators in the form of a writingretreat.139CHAPTER VI(Re)Presenting StoriesAutoethnographers ‘ask their readers to feel the truth of their stories and tobecome coparticipants, engaging the storyline morally, emotionally, aesthetically,and intellectually (Ellis & Bochner, 2000, p. 745).Discovering VoicesI nestle into the stylish chair with my cup of tea in a quiet area of the grand, oldhotel where a number of my colleagues and I have come for a writing retreat. In an effortto help new faculty members prepare for our academic careers that will involve extensiveresearch and publishing, the faculty administrators have arranged for the untenuredpeople to attend a weekend writing workshop in another city, all expenses paid.“I think I am having a ‘crisis of representation’7,”I tell our workshop facilitator,who is a highly regarded educator, editor of a prestigious academic journal, and myformer high school English teacher.“Tell me more,” Rob says as he takes another chair near me to help me throughmy writing angst.“Well, I want to do what some call a ‘reflexive ethnography’ (Davies, 1999;Denzin & Lincoln, 2002). That is, my research is an ethnography situated in our facultythat describes our efforts to prepare teachers to teach in ways that are more socially just.But I am also trying to show my own history of how I became interested in the topic, my17 The term “crisis of representation” is used frequently in post-modem literature in relation to the arts andmedia, to semiotics, and to philosophy although it is understood differently in those disciplines. I use theterm in reference to Denzin and Lincoln’s (1994, 2000)fourth moment of qualitative research that started inthe mid-80s where researchers began to represent the social world in ways that were unfamiliar toquantitative researchers. Additionally, qualitative researchers began questioning terms such as objectivity,reliability and validity and their appropriateness in qualitative studies. My own ‘crisis of representation’arose from the assumption that my research had to more closely resemble the early forms of qualitativeresearch that were more in keeping with quantitative studies.140But I am also trying to show my own history of how I became interested in the topic, myfrustrations, my emerging understandings, and how I am changing as a result of theresearch process.”Rob nods and I continue. “I have interviewed several people; I have conductedfocus groups with faculty members and teachers in schools; and I have gathered somefaculty documents. I have even conducted a small survey and made occasional journalentries, but now I am finding it very difficult to show the complexity and theinterconnectedness of the research and my place in it. There are so many layers to what Iam finding and I don’t know how to represent it all. Somehow, discussing themes in away that distances me from the data just doesn’t seem to fit.”“Have you read any of Carolyn Ellis’ work?” Rob asks.I feel my face turning pink. “I’m not as familiar with it as I’d like to be,” I admit.“You might find this helpful then.” He hands me a copy of the Handbook ofQualitative Research (2000) edited by Denzin and Lincoln. “Read the chapter by Ellisand Bochner on authoethnography.” I look at the book and recognize the article I hadskimmed and cited briefly in my comprehensive exams, but at the time, the article didn’tresonate with me.Rob questions me a bit more about my research and I select two other books thatlook interesting from the pile before me. Satisfied that I have been heard and have adirection to explore, I say goodnight and head to my room.Soon I am stretched across the bed immersed in Carolyn Ellis’ world and that ofher partner, Art Bochner. As I read, it’s as if a veil suddenly lifts from my eyes. I marvelat how seamlessly Ellis and Bochner weave the arguments for and the practicalities of141representing autobiographical research into an engaging, evocative story filled with thevivid details of their daily lives. They make a case for using the “researcher’s ownexperience a topic of investigation in its own right” (p. 733). They argue thatautoetbnography displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to thecultural (p. 739). Readers are asked to feel the truth of the stories through the emotionsthat are evoked, and to become coparticipants, “engaging the storyline morally,emotionally, aesthetically, and intellectually” (p. 745).After reading their chapter, I literally dance around the well-appointed room. I canhardly contain my stories that have been struggling to be free from the shackles createdby my notion of what constitutes scholarly writing. I head to my computer and watch asthe words fly from my fingers onto the screen well into the early hours of the morning.“Rob, this is exactly what I needed!” I exclaim when I see him the followingmorning. “I feel as if I have found my voice.” I proceed to tell Rob I have finally found away to represent my research data that is in keeping with the holistic philosophicalorientation that I had wanted to embrace. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to write in that fashionwell enough to satisfy my committee, but it certainly has given me a sense of directionagain.”Rob is pleased to hear of my breakthrough and suggests that I also read Ellis’(2004) The Ethnographic I for a more detailed description of autoethnography. I thankhim and head to my room for another day of writing.On the way home, a colleague and I share our experiences of the workshop and ofbeing doctoral students and faculty members at the same time. She tells me of her ownresearch which is an autobiography about coming to understand white settler identity and142how it has become constructed as the norm in the prairies. She allows me to read to herwhat I have written thus far, and she laughs and comments enthusiastically in all the rightplaces. Her remarks are encouraging and I can hardly wait to resume my writing.The following day I e-mail a copy of what I have written to my supervisor withmy reasons for choosing autoethnography as a methodology. Within a day or two, heresponds positively and suggests that I become very familiar with autoethnography sothat I might defend it strongly. I read over his other suggestions and make notes forfollow-up. I then head to the library for more books and articles on autoethnography andfind to my delight that Ellis’ Ethnographic I is on the shelf.Defending A utoethnography“Hi Sweetie, how is that the dissertation coming?” Charlotte asks as we meet inthe hail on the way to our offices.“I’ve had a breakthrough!” I exclaim. I tell Charlotte about the writing retreat andbeing pointed in the direction of autoethnography through Ellis and Bochner. I unlock thedoor of my office and motion for her to come in.“Great. Tell me what you’re up to.” I know she loves to play devil’s advocate andwill have lots of questions for me. “So, tell me why you have chosen to do anautoetbnography,” Charlotte says as we sit down.“Well, you know that I had originally intended to do a case study of the facultyand what it was doing in the area of Aboriginal education and SchoolmJ? Charlottenods. “I chose this topic because of the faculty’s mandate in these areas and myconfusion around different faculty members’ views about trying to teach for social justice143as it relates to the Aboriginal peoples of the province. But it isn’t really about the faculty;it’s about me and how I am trying to improve my teaching.“What is it about your teaching that you don’t like?” asks Charlotte.“Well, I guess I feel really frustrated most days because I really don’t know whatI should be doing as a teacher educator in terms of teaching for social justice. I have asense that that’s my ultimate raison d’être or it should be, but I’ve been feeling somewhatlost, so there are several tensions or questions that I have been trying to explore in hopesof finding a sense of direction.”“Such as?” Charlotte asks.I sigh and lean back in my chair. “First,” I hold up my fingers to start counting onthem, “I don’t feel I know what I should be doing in terms of incorporating Aboriginalcontent and perspectives in my classes; I’m confused by the different viewpoints on thisissue among faculty members, so I’m trying to figure out what I think and believe; I’mtrying to find ways to deal with student resistance when it comes to teaching for socialjustice — especially when we’re dealing with racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia;and I’m trying to figure out how to help preservice teachers use socially just content andmethods in the classroom while maintaining a sense of order, respect, and co-operationwithout all hell breaking loose.”“Maybe you’re expecting too much of yourself,” Charlotte offers. “I don’t thinkanyone has the answers to those questions. We just do the best we can each day.”“I suppose,” I concede, “but I still sense I could do better and I’m learningsomething from everyone I talk with. I want to show how I am changing as the result of144working in this faculty and trying to work through these issues. So I’ve been looking atthe area of self-study research in its various forms— one of which is autoethnography.”“Tell me more about self-study research,” says Charlotte. “I have a grad studentwho is interested in that area and I’m not very familiar with it.”“Well,” I begin, “self-study research or teacher research has grown significantlysince 1990 and is becoming accepted as a legitimate form of research — by educatorsanyway (Bullogh & Pinnegar, 2001; Lougbran, Hamilton, LaBoskey & Russell, 2004;Zeichner, 1999). It’s primarily qualitative research that is reflexive in nature, but it cantake various forms including action research, autobiography and autoethnography, and soon. It’s one of the largest Special Interest Groups (SIG) in the American EducationalResearch Association. Apparently it started with the organizers’ belief that if researchersin colleges of education were to study the development of teachers, they should look attheir own role in that development (Bullogh & Pinnegar, 2001, p. 14). Feldman (2003)suggests that self-study research has an ‘existentialist orientation that requires anunderstanding of—I pull out one of my comprehensive exams and skim for the quotationI want—’the way we are teacher educators and to change our ways of being teachereducators’ (p. 2). He also says that other types of scientific research may offer more ofwhat positivistic researchers consider valid, but they miss subtleties in ways of being witheach other that can be explored through autobiography, narratives, and other forms ofliterary research.”“Well, I certainly agree that we need to pay more attention to the ways we arewith each other and our students,” Charlotte interjects. I suddenly realize this is one of145the main things Charlotte keeps bringing up with faculty members, but I sense she feelsthat this message is not taken seriously by many of our colleagues. I nod in agreement.“If you want to give your student a place to start reading,” I suggest, “there is anexcellent two-volume edited book called the International Handbook ofSelf-Study ofTeaching and Teacher Education Practices by Loughran, Hamilton, Kubler LaBoskey,and Russell, published in 2004. You will have to put in a request at the library though.It’s really hard to get a hold of. Every time I check it out, someone recalls it right away.”“Great. Thanks. Do you have a piece of paper so I can write that down?” I handCharlotte some paper and a pen and repeat the information for her.“Anyway, after reading about autoethnography, I realized it was one way to showthe complexities, the multiple realities, the multiple voices, and competing discourses thatinfluence me and other teacher educators. It is also a way to show how I am changing asa result of this research process. Not only that, I am able to identif’ issues that are ofconcern to me as a teacher educator, consider my future actions in light of my findings,and make the dissertation accessible and personally satisf’ing to write.”“How is that different from doing a reflexive ethnography that I thought I heardyou mention last month?” Charlotte asks. Her question reminds me how many times Ihave changed my mind about my methodology.“Hmm.” I hesitate. “Well, I don’t think there is much difference, really. Wait, letme take a look at some of the notes that I’ve just made.” I search through my book bagfor my note pad. “Here it is. Denzin (2003) tends to use the terms interchangeablybecause he says that for a decade or more ‘interpretive ethnographers have been stagingreflexive ethnographic performances using their field notes and autoethnographic146observations to shape performance narratives . . . ‘(p.ix). Both terms situate the observer inthe ethnography as a participant whose actions and interpretations of the events form partof the research. In an edited book by Denzin and Lincoln (2002), they say that in areflexive ethnography the researcher is a morally and politically self-aware participant inthe event, setting or location under investigation. It seems to me that in autobiographicalresearch the researcher is the subject of the investigation. Maybe it has something to dowith where one puts the emphasis— on the self or the situation or event — even thoughthey are linked. Even autoethnographers vary in their emphasis — it could be on the autoor self, the ethnos or culture, or the graphy or research process (Reed-Danahay, 1997 ascited by Holt, 2003). Whatever the emphasis or whatever you call it, it’s a way of lookingreflexively at self-other interactions. Oh, here is a good quote from Carolyn Ellis’Ethnographic I.” I read the quotation aloud.“The interpretive, narrative, autoethnographic project has the followingdistinguishing features: the author usually writes in the first person, makingherself or himself the object of research. The narrative text focuses ongeneralization within a single case extended over time. The text is presented as astory replete with a narrator, characterization, and plot line, akin to forms ofwriting associated with the novel or biography. The story often discloses hiddendetails of private life and highlights emotional experience. The ebb and flow ofrelationship experience is depicted in an episodic form that dramatizes the motionof connected lives across the curve of time. A reflexive connection exists betweenthe lives of participants and researchers that must be explored. And therelationships between writers and readers of the texts is one of involvement andparticipation” (p. 30).I put the notebook away and say to Charlotte, “So from what I can gather,autoethnography is more performative. That is, it’s written in a style more like a novel orautobiography that embeds the researcher in her various contexts, and through the story,the researcher is able to show multiple realities and emotions. I realized when I read thatdescription of autoethnography, that this is exactly what I want to do.”147Charlotte looks somewhat quizzical, so I try to clarify what I’m trying to say. “Ithink if I were doing a reflexive ethnography, I would be looking for themes and trying togive a critical interpretation or analysis of the events and my own response to them,” Isuggest. Charlotte nods.Encouraged I go on. “But I really don’t want to critique or criticize anyone, otherthan myself, perhaps. I really just want to show the world as I see it. Maybe others arehaving similar struggles, but ultimately, the readers will have to interpret the text basedon their own values, beliefs, and experiences. I was a bit concerned at first though, thatautoethnography was based simply on the ‘interpretive turn’ rather than offering a criticalanalysis of the text or events that is a characteristic of reflexive ethnographies (Cole &Knowles, 2000). For instance, here is a quote by Polkinghorne. “I reach for my notebookagain.“When we are in the role of hearers or readers of the narrative experiences - thecreations of others, we understand the stories through the linguistic processes weare constructing in our own narratives. We call this kind of understanding - ofhearing the meaning of a story- henneneutic understanding” (1988, p. 160).Not everyone agrees we should just rely on a hermeneutic understanding inresearch though. For example, Janet Miller (1998) says that teachers are seldom asked togive a critical perspective on their stories— they are simply asked to simply tell their storyrather than theorizing about the social, historical, or cultural contexts and influencesincluding language and discourse, [or] on constructions of the selves who have thoseexperiences (p.150). She goes on to argue that without problematizing the construction ofmultiple and overlapping identities that may be in conflict, teachers’ stories often simplyserve to ‘reinforce static, predetermined, and resolved versions of our selves and148work. . . [and] such autobiographical renderings close down rather than open uppossibilities’ (p. 151).”Charlotte nods, but I see her eyes are starting to glaze over. I raise my voice alittle and become more animated to draw her back.“But according to Denzin and many others who are interested in performance as away to expose injustices, it can be critical as well. For example, Denzin says,Performance ethnography simultaneously creates and enacts moral texts thatmove from the personal to the political, from the local to the historical and thecultural. As Conquergood (1985) observes, these dialogic works create spaces forgive-and-take, doing more than turning the other into the object of a voyeuristic,fetishistic, custodial, or paternalistic gaze” (2003, p. x).“Okay,” Charlotte says slowly. “If someone on your committee were to ask youabout some of the criticisms levelled at autobiographical research, what would you say?”She ‘s testing me to see fI have done any reading. “Well,” I hesitate. “I guess Iwould have to assume that I wouldn’t have to make an argument for conductingqualitative research anymore. It’s been well established for over 20 years and mosteducational researchers recognize the value of qualitative research methods as legitimateways of representing the social world. But I know various forms of autobiographicalresearch have been considered on the margins of respectability because they don’tnecessarily fit well with the criteria used to judge other forms of qualitative research(Ellis, 2004; Holt, 2003). Let’s see.” I rifle through my notes again.“First, I think one of the primary criticisms against autoetbnography is that somesee it as too individualistic and somewhat self indulgent and narcissistic (Coffey, 1999;Sparkes, 2002 as cited by Holt, 2003). What Carolyn Ellis (1997, p. 4) would say to that,which echoes what Denzin has said, is that showing the concrete details of a life can149convey a general way of life; that good autoethnography speaks beyond itself; that thepersonal is political; and that perhaps ‘orthodox social scientists are self-absorbed in theworst kind of voyeuristic way—of gazing at others while protecting their selves fromscrutiny and writing only for themselves and their small tribes.”Charlotte laughs. “I like that,” she says. “What else?”“Well, there are those who are always arguing about the rigor of the research, —you know, about validity and reliability, saying that regardless of the research method,we should attend to the rigor and quality of the research throughout the research process(Hammersley, 1992; Leininger, 1994; Morse, Barrett, Mayan, Olson, & Spiers, 2002).For example, Morse et a1(2OO2) argue we need to ensure rigor throughout the researchprocess rather than evaluating the quality of the research at the end as Lincoln and Guba(1985) suggested in the 80s. To do that, they suggest we use verification strategies thatensure both reliability and validity of data [through] activities such as ensuringmethodological coherence; sampling sufficiency; developing a dynamic relationshipbetween sampling, data collection and analysis; thinking theoretically, and theorydevelopment. I don’t take issue with many of these, except perhaps with the need forsampling sufficiency, but they also argue that we should be able to use criteria andterminology that is used in mainstream science— as if mainstream science were thestandard to which we should still aspire!”“So they seem to be privileging mainstream science?” asks Charlotte.“Exactly!” I exclaim. “But Thomas Kuhn (1962)—back in the 60s, for heavenssake—helped to expose some of the problems with mainstream science. I know thatmany mainstream scientists have criticized him, but at least he gave social scientists a150reason to believe their ways of doing science were as legitimate as doing ‘normal’science.” I make imaginary quotation marks in the air. “Postmodern thinkers have furthercontributed to the move away from privileging one form of knowledge over others. Sincethe 80s, many qualitative researchers have argued we need to use different criteria withwhich to judge self-study research and autobiographical research” (Ellis, 1997, 2004;Lather, 1993; Lincoln &Guba, 1985; Mitchell, 2004; Richardson, 2000).“Okay,” says Charlotte. “So what criteria should be used then?”“Well, there doesn’t seem to be a common set of criteria and it’s always changing.There are those who say criteria such as credibility, dependability, and trustworthiness ofdata should be the cornerstones for evaluating research (Holt, 2003). Ellis (2004) citesLincoln and Guba (2000) who ask whether all participants’ views are represented,whether participants’ awareness has been raised and whether people are moved to action.She also cites Patti Lather (1993) who attempts to rupture validity as a ‘regime of truth’.Lather proposes ‘counter practices of authority’ such as ‘ironic validity, which concernsthe problems of representation; paralogical validity, which honors differences anduncertainties; rhizomatic validity, which seeks out multiplicity; and voluptuous validity,which seeks out ethics through practices of engagement and self-reflexivity’ (pp. 124,125). Ellis herself, thinks the work should have verisimilitude. It should feel believable,lifelike, and possible. But she also agrees with Bochner (2001) and Plummer (2001) whosuggest that an autoethnography or story should be judged by its usefulness and theconsequences that come from it, as well as its aesthetic value. She adds though, that itshould have therapeutic value.”151“But I thought that writing for therapeutic value wasn’t considered legitimateresearch,” says Charlotte.1 guess it depends on one’s idea of legitimate research. Leah Fuller (2001), forexample, suggests that interpreting or analyzing autobiographical research is like peelingthe layers of an onion and that psychotherapeutic ethics is one of the layers. But Ijustread an interesting article by Holt (2003) who was struggling with the same issues whentrying to have an autoethnography published. I really like the five criteria he found forevaluating the validity and reliability of autoethnography that were suggested by LaurelRichardson (2000). Richardson, he says, suggests that the criteria include:(a) Substantive contribution. Does the piece contribute to our understanding of -social life? (b) Aesthetic merit. Does this piece succeed aesthetically? Is the textartistically shaped, satisfyingly complex, and not boring? (c) Reflexivity. How didthe author come to write this text? How has the author’s subjectivity been both aproducer and a product of this text? (d) Impactfullness. Does this affect meemotionally and/or intellectually? Does it generate new questions or move me toaction? (e) Expresses a reality. Does this text embody a fleshed out sense of livedexperience? Autoethnographic manuscripts might include dramatic recall, unusualphrasing, and strong metaphors to invite the reader to ‘relive’ events with theauthor. These guidelines may provide a framework for directing investigators andreviewers alike.” (cited by Holt, 2003, p. 12)“That sounds like a lot to live up to,” observes Charlotte. “How are you going towrite it?”“I’m trying to write it in the first person as a story that takes place in the facultyover a period of time. I hold conversations with various characters or players that bringout several of the issues that emerged. from the interviews and focus groups I’ve done.”“Well as long as it doesn’t end up to be 500 pages,” Charlotte teases.“I know. That could be a problem,” I admit. “I interviewed a lot of people and I have a lotof data, so it’s hard to know what to leave in or take out. I think that I might152just collapse some events and create a few characters that are composites of people I haveinterviewed.”There is a long pause. “Hmm,” she says. “I wonder if by doing that, you might bemissing some of the important or unsaid things.” She pauses and looks at me carefully.“Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”I don’t really understand and I feel myself getting defensive. “Well it’s a commontechnique in narrative work” (Ellis, 2004).“Perhaps it is,” concedes Charlotte, “but I’m just saying that my sense of it is, youmight be losing some authenticity. The reader might not be able to hear a voice thatsounds authentic. Maybe you could create episodes from each interview.”“I suppose you’re right. Losing that sense of authenticity certainly could be aproblem. On the other hand, I’m afraid that people will be easily identified if I don’tcreate characters. I’m really worried about the ethics of the situation and I don’t wantanyone to be hurt inadvertently. Ian Mitchell (2004, p.1440) for example, raises somequestions that really have me thinking about how I might report my data—questions suchas: How potentially damaging are the data in their interpretation and who can bedamaged? To what extent will the data reporting allow individuals to be identified? Arenon-consenting others appearing as players? Ifso how likely are they to be hurt andidentfIed? Are consenting others positioned to be described in ways they neitherexpected nor consented to? Ifso, how likely are they to be hurt and identified? How wellwill the person know that something is coming and how likely are they to read it?”[Italicsin original text.]153Charlotte nods in agreement. “I know what you’re saying. A colleague and I justhad an article accepted to an international journal that was a dialogue between the two ofus. But now it’s out there for all the world to see.”“That’s wonderful !“ I exclaim.“Yes, but I can’t tell you how much I feel violated and exposed by it,” confessesCharlotte. I nod in sympathy.“But my sense of it is,” she continues, “is that there are no easy answers, but thefact that you are thinking about them and naming them, and caring about other peoplehelps to open up a space for dialogue among researchers who are struggling with thesame issues. You’re not making people into objects and we can’t objectify ourselves.”“I know,” I sigh. “According to Vicki Kubler Laboskey (2004), there is stillmuch to work out in terms of our theories and methodologies in self-study research. Iguess it’s an evolving process and the more we explore different ways of doing thingsand talking with others who are involved in the same work, the more insights we mayhave into how we can transform ourselves, our classrooms, and in turn, society to workfor the betterment of all living things. I like what Carolyn Ellis says though: ‘The goal isto practice an artful, poetic, and empathetic social science in which the readers can keepin their minds and feel in their bodies the complexities of concrete moments of livedexperience” (2004. p. 30).Charlotte smiles and rises to leave. “Well good luck with that. Let me know if youwant me to read anything. I’ve got to run.”“Thanks for listening and being a ‘critical friend’. I can always count on you tohelp me consider other ways of looking at things.”154After Charlotte leaves, I feel somewhat disturbed by her questions concerningauthenticity and voice if I create composite characters. Certain that Ellis had suggestedthis as an approach to writing the data, I pull out my copy of the Ethnographic I andsearch through the index. Here it is on page 125.Say you want to protect the privacy ofa research participant you ‘ye made into acharacter in your story. You might use composites or change some ident4nginformation. Or you might collapse events to write a more engaging story, whichmight be more truthful in a narrative sense though not in an historical one.[Italics added]Ah ha. I knew it! I read further and become less self congratulatory as I read hercaveats. Ellis goes on to describe how some traditional ethnographers omit details thatdon’t fit their analysis or downplay their importance, and reach beyond description for allkinds of interpretation. For example,[t}hey create that typical person or day, the common event. They use ambiguousdescriptors like ‘most’, ‘some’, ‘frequent’, and a ‘few’. They also reify conceptssuch as social structure and organizational climate. I did this too, in mydissertation, the study of two fishing villages. And, let me tell you, whencommunity members read what I wrote, what I saw as typical was certainly notwhat they saw as typical. What I wrote told you more about how I organize myworld, rather than how they organized theirs. (p. 125)The way to overcome this problem, Ellis tells her students in the text, is toconstruct the story as close to the experience as you can remember it, especially in theinitial version. This helps to work through the purpose of this story. She reminds peoplethat Art Bochner (2001) believes it’s not so important that the narratives represent livesaccurately, but that the “narrators believe they are doing so” (p. 126).So I guess Charlotte was right. I do have to be careful that I don’t miss subtledetails or what was left unsaid. I put the book down and open the binder of data again.155CHAPTER VIITroubling StoriesEven teachers need to be open to raising questions about the limits of theirknowledge and their assumptions about what is normal. In fact, sometimes whenteachers raise questions about their own cultural assumptions, they can model thekind of self-critique and vulnerability that they invite their students to experience.(Kumashiro, 2004, pp. 87-88)Replicating Curricula“Carol, I have a question.” One of my B.E.A.D.‘8Elementary Education preinterns raises her hand to get my attention as the students work in groups brainstormingideas for their unit plans. I go over to see what she wants.“Is it true that we have to incorporate the Native culture into our unit plans?”“You’re not supposed to say Native. It’s Aboriginal,” whispers one of her tablemates.“One of our other instructors said we’re not supposed to use the term Aboriginaleither. She said we can only use First Nations,” says another student to me.“It sounds as if there is a bit of confusion here and I suspect others have questionstoo,” I say to the table group. “If you don’t mind, I’ll address the whole class on thistopic.” I call for everyone’s attention and ask for a show of hands to indicate who wouldlike some clarification on incorporating Aboriginal content and perspectives into the unitplans and on the correct terminology to use. Nearly everyone’s hand goes up. As it’s nearthe end of the class, I promise that I will address their questions the next day.18 B.E.A.D. stands for Bachelor of Education After Degree. These are students who have one or moredegrees and who have been accepted into the Faculty of Education in the preinternship year withundergraduate students who are in their third year of their B.Ed. program.156During the next few classes I bring in the computer cart that holds all the iBooks as wellas a cart full of curriculum guides and resources and several copies of a resourcedocument entitled, Aboriginal Cultures and Perspectives: Making a Difference in theClassroom (Farrell Racette et a!., 1996). 1 ask the students to work in groups with theresources to find information on appropriate use of various terms that name originalpeoples and the rationale for incorporating Aboriginal content and perspectives in thecurriculum, with suggestions for how they might do that. They go on-line to theDepartment of Learning website and open the curriculum guides and resource booklet. Awhile later the small groups are ready to report back to the class.The class discusses the importance of names and how names determine the waywe perceive ourselves and are perceived by others. They seem to understand that namescan either support or detract from the way people wish to be perceived. Students reportthat names evolve over time and it is important to use the appropriate, contemporaryterminology relative to the community in which they are working. The students find outthe names of the various Aboriginal cultural groups in the province and their approximatelocations. They also find out that there are many Métis people in the northern part of theprovince who speak Michif, a combination of Cree and French.The students seem to have some knowledge of the history of the colonization of FirstNations people and the systematic attempts at assimilation through the residential schoolsystem. They seem to know very little about the Métis however, and just assume theirhistory is the same as First Nations’ histories. I tell them that Louis Riel Day is comingup on November 16. I ask them to research a bit about the history of the Métis in WesternCanada and suggest some resources such as The New Peoples: Being and157Becoming Métis in North America (Peterson & Brown, 2001); The Métis: Canada’sForgotten People (Sealey & Lussier, 1975); Indians Without Tipis (Sealey & Kirkness,1973), and The Education ofthe Manitoba Métis (Sealey, 1977). A few students do aGoogle search and suggest some web sites as well, including The Métis: A History oftheMétis by the Turtle Island Production company; a web site established by the GabrielDumont Institute, the Virtual Museum ofMétis History and Culture; and numerous sitesdescribing the life of Louis Rid such as the ones at the Louis Riel Institute and theUniversity ofSaskatchewan Library.A week later, the students are starting to have a better sense of the history of theMétis: of contributing to the flourishing fur trade; of becoming successful farmers andlaying the groundwork for the establishment of the province of Manitoba; of receiving1.4 million acres of land under the Manitoba Act of 1870 and then having itsystematically taken away through unjust laws; of enlisting the help of Louis Riel and theensuing battle at Batoche where a few poorly armed men valiantly fought legions ofgovernment soldiers who captured Riel; ofbeing forced to live on road allowances andchased from their land by racist settlers; of the children not being allowed in provincialschools because the Métis were forced to be squatters so didn’t pay taxes; of not beingallowed into church or band schools unless there was room, or unless a church orcharitable organization paid their tuition; of finally being recognized as a distinct groupof Aboriginal peoples in the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.One day in class I read a story from The Road Allowance People (Campbell,1994). At first there are looks of confusion on students’ faces until they becomeaccustomed to the way it is written—as if an older Métis person with a Cree/French158accent is speaking. Soon however, they are caught up in the story. I point out the art workin the book and tell the students that the people depicted in the illustrations look likemany of the people in the artist’s (Farrell Racette) life. From the ensuing discussion I cantell the students’ research has raised their awareness of the injustices suffered by theMétis, and Maria Campbell’s translation of the stories has had an emotional impact.Several students decide to create lesson plans about Louis Riel and the Métis.Another day I bring in a class set of the document outlining a Common CurricularFrameworkfor Aboriginal Languages Programs (Saskatchewan Learning, 2004) to helpthe students with their planning when the discussion turns to languages and why they areso important to a culture. The residential school system comes us up as one student says,“It’s terrible that they weren’t allowed to speak their languages or practise their beliefs atall.”“And if they didn’t go to the residential schools, their parents probably wantedthem to fit in with regular society and not be ridiculed, so the children were told to saythey were Scottish or whatever and not to speak their language,” says another student.Candace, the only Cree student in the class—and in the whole ElementaryProgram for that matter—speaks up and says, “That’s what happened to my mush—tomy grandpa.”I wonder fthat’s what happened to my maternal grandmother as well. Hermother and siblings certainly didn ‘t look Caucasian but Grandma insisted they wereNorwegian. IfMom had been my grandparents’ birth daughter instead oftheir adopteddaughter, I might have had brown skin too.159The students wonder what an Aboriginal world view is so I ask them to turn toFigure 1 on page 17 that shows a circle surrounded by four goals: to live in balance withthe land, to live in balance with the Creator, to live in balance with one’s self, and to livein balance with others. The following page discusses the Framework that embraces threeLaws of Relationships: the Laws of Sacred Life, Laws of Nature, and Laws of Mutualsupport. These laws are based on the following principles:• All parts of creation are interconnected and manifest in the spirit of theCreator.• Humankind must live in respectful relationship with all that has been created.• Spiritual forces are gifts intended to aid survival rather than threaten it.I turn to Candace and say, “Candace, I hate to put you on the spot, but would youagree with this depiction of a world view?” I am suddenly aware of my discomforttalking about Aboriginal content and perspectives with Candace in the class.I don ‘t want to be always putting her on the spot and making her the Aboriginalexpert to whom we defer all the time. This happens all too often in schools where there isone First Nations or Métis teacher. Somehow they are supposed to be experts eventhough most Aboriginalpeople have been taught by non-Aboriginal teachers.Candace looks a little embarrassed but says, “Yeah, I guess so. But in my familywe don’t really talk about anything like that. My grandparents are quite traditional and Iguess those beliefs show up in the way they live, but they don’t talk about it.”Suddenly I’m the one who is embarrassed. I thank her and then say, “Okay, let’smove on.” We go on to protocols for inviting an Elder into a classroom and suggestions160for teaching Aboriginal children, which are basically the principles of good teaching forall children.The following week as I am sitting in my office, I turn to the knock on my door tosee one of my Elementary Education students standing there. “Hi Janet. Can I help you?”“I hope so. Do you have a minute?” She asks hesitantly.“Sure come on in.” I motion for her to take a seat.“Sorry I didn’t make it to the workshop on using Aboriginal resources. I had towork,” apologizes Janet.“The presenter had a lot of interesting resources,” I say, but there weren’t verymany people from our class there. Anyway, how can I help you?”Janet tells me that she and her teaching partner, Amy, have to teach lessons aboutAboriginal people. Amy is supposed to do something with an emphasis on legends orcrafts such as dream catchers. Janet is supposed to teach a unit on plants and how theywere used by First people as medicine. “Amy was able to find some directions formaking a dream catcher and a bunch books on legends, but I have no idea where to getthe information I need,” Janet says apologetically.I lean back in my chair sensing a knot forming in my stomach, and I try to thinkof a way to reply professionally. Why do they do that? Probably because most teachersare uncomfortable teaching Aboriginal content andperspectives themselves (Longman,2005) and they think that university students are being well-grounded in that area, sothey ask our students to do it.161“Well,” I say aloud, “that’s pretty specialized knowledge that some Elders havetaken their whole lives to learn. I don’t think it’s something you can do, except in a verygeneral way, unless you want to invite an Elder into your classroom. But I don’t think it’ssomething they would want to do. Could you go back to your co-operating teacher andsay that you are not comfortable with doing this? Or would you rather that I call her?”“No,” says Janet. “That was just a suggestion. She said I could do anything I wantbut it has to be about First Nations people and the topic Heritage.”“Well let’s take a look at the curriculum guide for Grade 4 and see what it says,” Isuggest. We spend the next hour looking at possible units from the social studiescurriculum under the theme of Heritage that includes Saskatchewan’s First Peoples,Explorers, Fur Traders, The Métis Peoples, Early Immigrants, Treaties, Immigrants andSettlers.Janet has trouble choosing a topic. I empathize with her. There are manysuggestions including bringing in oral historians or Elders; teaching about identityformation through language using the story of Dr. Diane Anderson, a Métis woman wholearned Cree in her adult life; and suggestions for teaching about governance. There isalso a topic on the Treaties. Without a careful reading of the suggestions however, I cansee how many of the topics could lend themselves to the stereotypical depiction of Firstpeoples that has become embedded in our collective identity as Whites. “We’re having aworkshop on Treaties in the Classroom after you come back from the field experience,” Itell her. She decides to wait until the workshop before addressing that topic.Finally, Janet chooses to have the students engaged in a simulation where theywill review the reasons why people move and settle in different areas. She will have162groups of students look at maps and other visuals showing landforms, natural vegetation,and animal life, and have them act out: Why did First Nations communities live inparticular areas? What resources were available for food, shelter and clothing?We’re both relieved and satisfied that she has a plan and sure that her cooperating teacher will be receptive to it. “I think I’ll have a resource person from theDepartment of Learning come in to talk with our class about incorporating Aboriginalcontent and perspectives though,” I tell her. “I still have a lot of questions about that,” Iadmit.“That would be great,” Janet says. “Thanks for all your help.” After she leaves,I’m drained. I’m gladldon ‘t have to do that anymore. I recall my first year teachingwhen I prepared a unit on pioneer days and had the students come dressed as pioneers.They made grey-looking buns, churned butter (or rather shook some cream in ajar until itturned to butter), crafted a small quilt, and did some square dancing. Mostly they just ranaround laughing and yelling. At that time I didn’t even think to include Aboriginalpeoples in the history of the province because to me, First Nations and Métis peopleswere invisible. I shudder slightly at the memory of my incompetence and turn off mycomputer trying to sunmion up the energy to go home. Dance class tonight. Yay.A couple of weeks later, Nancy Smith, a consultant from the AboriginalEducation Branch of the Department of Learning gives a guest lecture at my request tohelp clear up any remaining confusion about trying to incorporate Aboriginal content andperspectives. She tells the students a bit of her own history as an educator. She considers163herselfbicultural and is comfortable in both worlds. She often asks the advice of Eldersto help guide her in her role as a consultant.The message she gives to the students is to get to know the community, teach onlywhat you know, use a variety of resources and teaching methods, and have highexpectations of the students. She also talks a bit about curriculum renewal and differentapproaches to curriculum as described by Banks (1999) and tells them that most of theguides show only a contributions approach. People at the Department are trying to rewritethe curriculums to make them transformative. Her final message is to have an open mindand try to see from another’s perspective. To emphasize the point and bring a littlehumour to the discussion, Nancy passes out the script for a role play developed by acouple of her colleagues whose names I recognize. The role play is about an Aboriginalteacher who is teaching her Aboriginal students about a nutritious breakfast based on atraditional food, such as bannock with lard, which is eaten in some homes. The few non-Aboriginal students in the fictitious class are ridiculed for their breakfasts. The role playhits its mark as my students see how the non-Aboriginal students are stereotyped in thereverse roles. I can see some looks of disgust on a few people’s faces at the thought ofeating bannock with lard. I guess some people will never get it. Too bad they ‘re going tobe teachers.At the end of Nancy’s presentation a student thanks her and hands her the cardthey have all signed. Back in my office, I journal a bit about the presentation and readover the notes I had made about a workshop that I attended the previous week.I attended a workshop at a conference on incorporating Aboriginal content andperspectives into the curriculum. It was conducted by a middle-class, young woman164(Métis, as she identfles herself) who did a PPTpresentation with excerpts taken out ofthe curriculum and some statisticsfrom Stats Canada about the growing Aboriginalpopulation in the province. Herpresentation style reminded me ofmine on occasion. Idon ‘t know why I thought it would be dfferent. She did have a number ofbeautiful booksthat depicted historical and contemporary First Nations, Métis, and some NativeAmericans as well as some beautifulposters on values that I would like to purchase. Ithought there were numerous stereotypes in some ofthe resources, but I wonder fI amstarting to see stereotypes in everything now as my awareness increases.Anyway, I really wanted to hear her story, so I asked her how her experienceswere reflected in the resources. I don ‘t think she or anyone else knew what I was trying toget at. Maybe I didn ‘t either. People who attended the workshop thought it was excellent,and I have to admit, the young woman was engaging and had a lot ofinformation. Jamstill uneasy about what I saw as stereotypes though.This young woman is a product ofone ofthe TEP programs, so many ofthegraduates ofthese programs have been taught by non-Aboriginals in some cases. As aresult, what is putforth as Aboriginal education sounds authentic to some people becausethe message is comingfrom Aboriginalpeople, but it is the same thing that has beentaught by non-Aboriginals. The infamous “they” was used quitefrequently as ifshedidn ‘t identi with the children in the books at all—which she probably didn ‘t.I sit back and laugh at myself upon realizing that I am one of those people whomTom King (2003) makes fun of in his stories about Whites who have expectations abouthow Indians should look or act. Maybe I expected her teaching to be different, not thetypical lecture like most of us give. I guess her teaching wasn’t “Indian enough”.165Challenging IdentitiesA new semester has begun and I ask the students to bring for the following daysome artifacts that represent aspects of their identities. Students come with musicalinstruments, sports equipment, heirlooms, photographs, and various other items to showtheir classmates who they are. I bring in my gold ballroom dance shoes and pictures ofmy grandson and family. I begin by telling the class a story to illustrate the notion ofmultiple identities.“I volunteer at one of the community schools once a week in a grade 1 classroomwhere most of the children are immigrants who don’t speak English very well. The otherday when the teacher introduced me, a little girl from Sudan looked at me quizzically andasked, ‘Are you a teacher?’ I told her yes, I was. And she said, ‘But you look like agrandma!The class laughs sympathetically and I show them a picture of my grandson aswell as my other artifacts. I realize the story is somewhat self-serving because I want tolet my class know that I’m not a relic and as out of touch with the field as I suspect theythink I am. Someone asks me (jokingly, I suspect) if I can salsa or tango and I say I can.That probably impresses them a little more than the fact that I volunteer in a grade 1classroom, and hopefully it challenges their images of what a grandma does. “And I don’tbake cookies,” I add.I wish I had thought to have them place their artifacts on the table and have eachperson take one and talk about the person they presume is represented by the artifact.That exercise would be similar to the one Sumara (Davis, et aL, 2000) describes wherehe had his class write stories about each other’s shoes. The point ofthe exercise was that166each person thought ofthemselves differently after they heard someone else ‘sconstruction oftheir identities.I then give the students a “Flower Power” handout that has the picture of a flowerwith various petals representing different social roles. I ask them to discuss whether ornot they have power with respect to each of these roles. The roles include gender, socialclass, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, occupation, age, and so on. I also ask them todiscuss who has the power in each of these areas if they don’t perceive they have it. Thestudents can identify who typically has the power and why and attribute the reasons tohistorical, social constructions that are still prevalent today. One young woman whoseparents immigrated here from Jamaica tells how racism affects her. Even though she wentto a private school and her family is quite wealthy, she is often watched by clerks instores. She tells us that she was particularly angry when one of the young people forwhom she is a voice coach in a musical theatre company said to her, “Well it’s not hardfor you Black people to sing. You have a natural ability.”Just before the class ends, one male student notes that the norms are changing andit is a disadvantage to be a White, middle-class male because of equity issues in hiring.He suggests that employers are feeling the pressure to give jobs to females andAboriginals. For a moment the class sits there in stunned silence, presumably notknowing whether or how to respond. Then several females start talking at once, offeringcounter arguments to his. “White males have always had the best opportunities; it’s timethat other people did too!” “Employers look at the best person for the job, not whatgender they are or skin colour. If it happens to be a female of colour, she gets it and it’s167about time!” Unfortunately the conversation has to end there because another class iswaiting outside the door.Because I don’t see that group again for another week, I forget about theemotional debate that had started and I don’t pursue it again in the next class. I miss animportant opportunity for some in-depth discussion about why the male student and manypeople like him think this way.That night the issue of identity causes me to lose some sleep. I think about what Ihave been teaching my students about identity and decide to journal for a bit.Iremember hearing in a workshop that the way people identify themselves fallsalong a continuum depending on how closely they relate to their ethnicity. I then passedthat same information along to my students. Thefacilitator (Cree/Métis) had drawn achart on the board, which I also drewfor my students, with the categories rangingfrom:Traditionalists Neo-traditionalists Bi-cultural Assimilated Lost.“The people who are lost—who have no sense ofidentity—are unfortunately theones who are having the most dfJIcult time in society and are the ones whofulfill everynegative stereotype that mainstream society holds with regards to Aboriginalpeople, “iswhat the facilitator said, so Ipassed that along to my students as well.I blush a little, recalling the comments from Sherry, one of my committeemembers, when I introduced a similar model proposed by Schultz and Kroeger (1991, p.16) in one of my comprehensive exams. Sherry wrote:In particular, Carol needs to be cautious about using the modelfrom Schultz andKroeger. The genealogies ofthese models often reveal that they do not emergefrom indigenous people, but are constructions ofnon-Aboriginal scholars, thatmay be later applied or misapplied. The term “Assimilated” is a really loaded168andjudgmental term. I have known many outwardly conservative people whowere more knowledgeable oftradition than those who espouse to be“Traditional”. To apply this highly problematic model seriously underminesCarol’s discussion.Maybe Ishouldn ‘t even befocusing on this topicfor my dissertation. Am Iperpetuating stereotypes by doing this? Am I continuing to make First Peoples the otherby asking these questions? But what do I do about the ignorance that is perpetuated byschools? What did Sherry call it? Systemically-induced ignorance? lam a product ofthatsystem so lembody that ignorance too. What about well-educatedAboriginal educators?Are they contributing to the ignorance as well? St. Denis (2000) thinks so because theywere educated by the dominant system. What questions should I be asking? I don ‘t know,I don ‘t know, I don ‘t know.I get up to fetch an article I had found by Jean Paul Restoule (2000) in which hediscusses issues of identity and identifying. He writes about a discussion he had with awoman in whose community there was no choice about identity—they were Aboriginals.But she felt there were more pressing issues to deal with than worrying about identity—drug abuse, AIDS, diabetes, unemployment, spousal abuse, and others. Restoule writes:Her words had quite an impact on me. How can some of us talk about the strugglefor identity when on a daily basis so many of us struggle just to survive? Iswriting about these matters really helping to change anything? I keep comingback to this idea that some of the people in her community would hide theirAboriginality if they could. Understanding what influences our pride or shame inidentifying as Aboriginal people is important. How we feel about ourselvescontributes to and arises from the issues my colleague felt were more urgent todiscuss than identity. They are entangled. Hence we must address all the issuessimultaneously. I have seen examples where pride in Aboriginal identity is thebasis for fighting addiction and where shame in identity is a factor in developing ahabit of substance abuse (Restoule, 1999). It is important to explore whatidentifying as Aboriginal means and what is gained and lost in attempting to erasethat identity, as well as what it means to change the referents of what is meant byAboriginal identity.169I lie back on the pillow and think about how people are identified by others. Whatabout my identity? Like many educators in this country, I amfemale and have beentaught to be nurturing, to give pastoral care. lam a product ofa heritage thatfelt themissionary zeal to save Aboriginalpeoplefrom hell, from ignorance, and nowfromoppression. Jam cloaked in a White settler identity (Razack, 2002) that has given me asense ofentitlement to this land. After all, didn ‘t my ancestors have to work hard to“tame” this land? I think sardonically. I pick up the copy of The Little WhiteSchoolhouse, (Charyk, 1968) and turn to pages I have marked.“The Little White Schoolhouse was the bulwark of civilization in a new andprimitive land [italics added]. . . . If we as Canadians are to acknowledgeourselves as a nation we cannot ignore the part that the one-room school had inshaping this destiny. (pp. 2-3)My grandmother taught in one ofthose schoolhouses. I still have the brass bellshe usedfor calling the children. I remember her fear and dislike ofIndians, too. Iwonder how many children were influenced by teachers like her.I turn to another page that describes the visitors one teacher had after she hadgiven some women from the nearby reserve some tobacco. “[Flor the most part, thesquaws were always underfoot and from that time her teacherage was theirs.... Theteacher finally accepted the Indians as a cross she had to bear” (pp. 220-221).I can certainly see where some ofthe attitudes we have today have come from.Even the title ofthe book is telling.Granted, my White settler identity, from which the occasional racist thoughtsprings at times, is part ofwho I am, but I have several identities that shape and areshaped by other people ‘s identities depending on the context. Is this not the sameforeveryone? Or does the weight ofone particular identity imposed on groups ofpeople by170members ofthe dominant group crush the other intersecting, multiple identities? Whatabout the people ofmixed blood whoface discrimination by both the First Nations andWhite communities (Lawrence, 2004)? Do we see people as sons, daughters, brothers,sisters, parents, artists, dancers, doctors, poets, musicians, and so on, or do we see onlythe identities that are not like us?The newspaper (Blevins, 2005), for example, devoted a whole section to 17 youngMétis and First Nations people and called them the “Chosen Ones “—chosen by thepaper to illustrate that some ofthe province’s best and brightest young people haveAboriginal “bloodflowing through their veins “(D2). Some ofthe people showcasedincluded one ofthe province ‘s youngest doctors, a young Chief(who was one ofmyformer Rec Tech students), artists, athletes, dancers, educators, musicians, scholars, andothers. Would they have been showcased fthey were not Aboriginal?Undoubtedly the paper was trying to combat racismfor it stated, “In today’sworld, it should not matter what colour their skin is, how their last names arepronounced, from what socio-economic depths they have risen—and maybe someday itwill not “(D2). Ifthe paper’s intentions are so noble, I wonder why itfrequently hasstories that do not show Aboriginalpeople in such a positive light, where the language iseither somewhat patronizing orfilled with derogatory stereotypes as in the case ofthearticles related to the disappearance of5-year-old Tamra Keepness?What about Darryl Knight and other Aboriginal men who were said to have beendropped offoutside ofSaskatoon on cold winter nights by the police? The police only sawdrunki who weren ‘t White.171What fyou ‘re an Aboriginal lesbian woman, or an Aboriginal woman prostitutelike Pamela George who was brutally beaten and murdered by two White men, or anAboriginal girl of12 who was raped by three White men? What about all the Aboriginalwomen who have gone missing in the lastfew years (Amnesty International, 2004)?There doesn ‘t seem to be a lot ofpublic concern over these matters. It seems that havingthose iden4flers means you ‘re disposable, ofno consequence, fyour attackers are Whiteand male. Some identifiers carry more significance than others I guess.When I brought up these cases in class one day, one ofthe students said she wentto school with one ofthe men who killed Pamela George and seemed to be almostexcusing him, perhaps because she knew him. McNinch (2006) discusses howKummerfield and Ternowetsky who murdered George in 1995 and Edmundson, Brownand Kindrat who were accused ofraping a 12-year-old girl near Tisdale, seemed to beexcused by both the defense layers and the media. The men were portrayed in the mediaand courts as normal “boys” who were caught in embarrassing situations or driven tocommit these acts ofviolence because ofalcohol. Thefemales however, were portrayedas Indian sluts. What is even worse, thejudge in the trial ofthree Tisdale men was thelawyer who defended the men who killed Pamela George! Racism is rampant in thejudicial system, too.As McNinch points out, because we live in a province with a smallpopulation thatgrewfrom White, European settlers, metaphorically, these men are the “brothers ofmystudents with whom they share the same discourses and narratives” (J1 1). How then do Ihelp my students come to terms with their privilege that allows such acts to be excused?How do I help my students identz with the other? My students are going to be the172parents and teachers ofthefuture lawyers, judges, police officers, social workers, healthcare providers, bankers, politicians, business people, and educators. IfI look at it thatway, my responsibility is enormous.I head to the fridge to pour a glass of milk. Good thing I only have milk in thehouse. These issues could drive me to drink.Contesting TraditionsDuring the following weeks and months the faculty becomes embroiled in acontroversy around OCRE. Newer faculty members see no need for it and question itsrelevance, arguing that spending 2 to 3 days off campus with the whole group ofSecondary preintems is a waste of time and resources. Long-term faculty membersstoically defend a practice that they see as necessary for helping students learn how totake education beyond the four walls of a classroom. Besides, they see OCRE as part ofour identity as a faculty. Some people argue that doing OCRE the way it was done theprevious year trivialized Aboriginal education and that the faculty should beconcentrating on anti-racist education instead. Others feel that it is important for studentsto develop an appreciation for the Aboriginal cultures of the province, and because thereis no mechanism in the Secondary Program for the students to develop thoseappreciations, OCRE is one way to do it. Besides these issues, the subcommittee is facedwith finding a venue for OCRE because the facility we have used for years has shutdown.As a compromise, the OCRE subcommittee proposes that each subject area planits own OCRE with the theme of cross-cultural education and/or anti-racist education173incorporated into their plans. At pre-and post-OCRE sessions, the subcommittee decidesto have all the preinterns listen to a number of guest speakers who will give talks on theneed for cross-cultural education, anti-racist education, and the importance of SchoolUS.At a subcommittee meeting, I say to the group, “I was talking with one of ourfaculty administrators who isn’t sure we should invite guest speakers to talk about cross-cultural and anti-racist education. I wasn’t able to ask why s/he felt this way because wewere interrupted by the secretary.”A couple of people on the committee are outraged that the administrator didn’tsee the importance of this and one person states, “Well this important, so I say bring iton!”Oh no. I wish I could have determined the reasonsfor the administrator ‘sfeelingsregarding this. Maybe I am only serving to further divide thefaculty.After OCRE is over, the subcommittee reconvenes to look over the studentevaluations and make recommendations for the following year. Student responses aregenerally positive except for one group of students who feel “ripped off’ because theythink too much time was spent indoors listening to guest speakers from the Aboriginalcommunity. They would have preferred to go on a cultural camp and sleep outdoors in atipi like some of the other students did. Some enjoyed the museum tours where they wereable to clearly identify who is depicted and who is missing from the artifacts (very fewAboriginal people are shown in museums showing the province’s history, other than inthe museumlcultural centre dedicated specifically to First Peoples), and they appreciatedgoing on a tour that showed the racism toward the Chinese community who settled in the174area after they were no longer needed to build the railroad. Others liked their visits toschools where the number of Aboriginal students was high. Regarding the pre-and postOCRE sessions, the students’ evaluations are generally very positive.“I think the students really enjoyed hearing Susan’s story of how she became ateacher and eventually moved on to the Aboriginal Education Unit in the Department,” Isay to the group and they laugh in agreement remembering her easygoing manner andsense of humour as she related incidents that she and her family had encountered. “Shegot quite a laugh when she told the story of when her son’s class had to dress in ethniccostumes to show the diversity of immigrants who came to this country, and he didn’tknow what to do because his ancestors didn’t come from anywhere. I love it that she toldhim to dress in the outfit he wears for powwow dance competitions and greet hisclassmates at the door and say, ‘Welcome to my land,” I chuckle.“Yes, and I think the students were quite surprised that she and her husband weretold they were at the wrong school when they went to register their children at a school inthe most affluent area of the city. It’s typical that the secretary assumed they didn’t live inthat neighbourhood because they were Aboriginal,” Bob adds.“I think Connie and Ellie did a great job too,” pipes in Judy. “Connie’s talk aboutrecognizing our privileges as Whites followed by Ellie’s down-to-earth talk about waysto interact with people respectfully provided a nice balance of the theoretical andpractical ways to address racism.” Then Michael’s talk about School” was wellreceived, too.” Everyone at the table agrees that having the guest speakers was helpful inraising students’ awareness of issues related to racism, culture and working respectfullywith communities.175“I’m surprised that Erica didn’t tell the students what it was like to be anAboriginal student going to a predominantly White school,” I say. “I know she has somehorror stories, but she kept it really low key and talked only about positive experiences. Itmade the students feel good, but it didn’t show the reality faced by most Aboriginalstudents.”“I think I understand why now,” says Veronica, “and I think we made a hugemistake in asking her to do that. After all, she is only a preintern like they are and it couldcause a backlash if she were to tell them things about themselves they don’t want to hear.I just read an article by Sherene Razack called, ‘The Gaze From the Other Side:Storytelling for Social Change’ from her book, Looking White People in the Eye (1999)where she talks about the difficulty people of colour have in sharing their stories in mixedracial groups.”“Could I get a copy of that?” I ask.“Sure, come to my office after the meeting and you can pick it up,” answersVeronica.The meeting finally concludes with a recommendation to keep OCRE under thecontrol of the various subject areas and keep a focus of Aboriginal and anti-racisteducation. We have a feeling the controversy isn’t over yet though.I head to Veronica’s office to pick up the Razack (1999) book and make a copy ofthe article for myself. Back in my own office I read it as I sip on some coffee. Lines fromtwo paragraphs in particular jump out and punch me in the gut:I recall of trying clumsily to explain to a colleague that we (people of color) arealways being asked to tell our stories for your (White people’s) edification, whichyou cannot hear because of the benefit you derive from hearing them. (p. 48)176Denied any other role but the role of the exotic Other, the woman of colour iscondemned to representing herself as she is seen by the dominant group. (p. 52)“We are so sorry, Erica,” I say aloud to the image of a brave young womanstanding nervously on the stage in front of 120 of her classmates, and being expected totell them they’re a bunch of racists. “We are so clueless sometimes.”“I have a present for you.” I turn around as Greg tosses me the ball of hardenedtangled vines that he picked up from the craft store. I turn it over in my hands andimmediately recognize its significance. “It’s everything!” Greg exclaims.Greg is a senior faculty member who has the gift of making people laugh. But inrecent years it seems to me his humour is laced with cynicism at times, frustrated perhapsby the feeling of not being taken seriously. On numerous occasions in faculty andprogram meetings, Greg has tried to bring home the importance of developing a holistic,integrated curriculum for teacher education that includes environmental educationbecause, as he emphasizes, “Everything is interconnected. If we don’t start doingsomething about sustainability and soon, we’ll all be up the creek with no paddle.”We talk briefly about our disappointment in the Secondary Program not takingour suggestion to change the name of the off-campus experience, OCRE, to PLACE—Professional Learning as Community Experiences. We think that the name change mightdetract from the negative feelings that some faculty members have towards OCRE.Besides, we recognize the significance of place to many indigenous communities (Cajete,1994; Deloria, 1999) and thought it would help our students develop an understanding ofhow the notion of place is greatly tied to our identities (Hurren, 2003).177“Oh well, at least each of the subject areas are still going to take the students off-campusfor learning in the community,” says Greg. “By the way, how’s the research coming?”I holdup the tangled ball of vines. “Kind of like this,” I frown, thinking ofNespor’ s (1997) challenge of trying to describe the tangled-upness of networks of largersocial systems with individual subjectivities (cited by Pole & Morrison, 2003, p. 119).Greg laughs. “Well good luck. Gotta run.”“Thanks for this,” I call after him as he scurries down the hail. I look at the ball.Hmm. Maybe Jean use this in my class tomorrow somehow.Teaching Passions“Good morning, gentlemen. How did your classes go?” I ask of the other threeinstructors who are teaching Education Professional Studies (EPS) in the preinternshipyear of the Secondary Education program. I pour them the coffee I have made as wegather around the table in the staff lounge for our weekly meeting.“You don’t have to wait on us,” says Jack.“Isn’t that my role as a woman?” I laugh.The conversation soon turns to the Teaching with Passion modules we have justfinished and the students’ evaluations of them’9.“It looks like most of the students’ comments are very positive,” says Les. Heproceeds to share some of these. “But I have one student who says he didn’t learnThe Teaching with Passion Modules refers to the seminars the instructors conducted with each section ofpreinterns. Topics focused on our particular passions related to issues in social justice: Students withSpecial Needs; Gay, Lesbian Bisexual, and Trans-gendered Youth; Global and Environmental Issues, andSchools as Oppressive Sites.178anything and thinks all the presentations were too biased.” We all laugh, knowing themodules were absolutely biased.“I don’t think they understand yet that everyone is biased. Many still think theteacher has to be objective,” Doug observes.“I think some of the students were definitely out of their comfort zones,” saysJack.“That’s for sure,” I interject. “We had quite a discussion in my section aboutsupporting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans-gendered students when the teachers’religious beliefs don’t agree with their so-called lifestyle, whatever that is supposed to be.Many students talked about Jack’s session being extremely valuable in that they hadnever realized the discrimination that some students face because of their sexualorientation. But a couple of my students felt we should be teaching just the curriculumand not concerning ourselves with these other things—except for the needs of studentswith disabilities. They really liked your presentation, Les, and want to learn more aboutways to adapt the curriculum and instruction for students with special needs. I think thistopic was safer in that they saw it as more practical and not so political—not that youdidn’t do a fabulous job too, of course!” I reach over and poke Les. He laughs and firesback a comment to me.I continue. “For my sessions I could tell a number of students were reallyinterested in global and environmental issues, but the body language of some people toldme they did not like what they were hearing. Some people seemed particularly agitatedwhen I suggested that maybe we shouldn’t be driving SUVs or supporting companies thathave sweat shops in other parts of the world, or that maybe we should move more to179organic farming and eat less meat. That last part really got a rise out of students whosefamilies are farmers and ranchers. I suppose I went on a bit of a rant too,” I admit.“I felt the same in my sessions,” pipes in Doug. “I was trying to help them seethat schools are really violent places—not so much in the physical sense—but in thesense that they don’t allow people to be safe if they are different in any way. I think somestudents got it, but most had good school experiences and couldn’t relate to what I wassaying.”“Well isn’t that the reason that the majority of our students are here? They wantothers to have the same success stories they had in high school. Our whole selectionprocess ensures that only the students who were successful in the system make it into ourprograms.” We voice our agreement to Jack’s observation and go on with the meeting.“Oh, remember that we are combining two sections for Bill’s presentation onAboriginal epistemology on Monday and again on Wednesday. I’ll get the handoutscopied that he wants the students to read,” I remind the others as we start to wrap up themeeting.“I think we should probably do a follow-up with the students after his session,”suggests Jack. “I have heard that he focuses on culture and traditional knowledge and Iknow our colleagues who believe we should be focusing on anti-racist education andWhite privilege think his views border on essentialism. We’ll have to help the studentsnegotiate those two perspectives,” Jack says. We agree and gather up our materials to endthe meeting.180CHAPTER VIIIContesting StoriesWhen educators refuse to foretell who students are supposed to be and become,students are invited to explore many possible ways of learning and being.Students are not forced to merely repeat the teachers’ expectations for them,which is a process that denies students their agency and limits the possibilities ofchange to what is imaginable within the partial knowledge of the teacher. Rather,students are invited to take responsibility for their own learning and to do thelabor necessary to find and create identities and relationships with a teacher whoexpects only multiple, shifting ways of learning and being. (Kumashiro, 2002Teaching against Repetition section, ¶ 11)Negotiating PerspectivesHe stands at the front of the room waiting for the two classes of SecondaryEducation students to find seats and settle down. A PowerPoint presentation is set up anda guitar case sits upon the table.I introduce Bill as someone who has developed a number of modules related toAboriginal education and say that he will be talking to them about Aboriginalepistemology and its relevance for teaching. After the polite applause, Bill apologizes formisleading the students somewhat. “I know I had you read an article on Aboriginalepistemology (Ermine, 1995), but what I really want to talk about today is identity andunderstanding other perspectives. You see my guitar case? Right away you have madesome assumptions about me—possibly that I am a singer-because this signifies aparticular identity.” He talks a bit more about identity and the role of language in theproduction of identities then picks up the guitar. Soon Bill’s audience is captivated by abeautiful song sung in Spanish, which he somehow manages to link to his topic.181Bill then relates a bit of his life: of coming to Canada and meeting his wife, Joan, who isa Cree woman from Northern Ontario, and of being adopted as a Cree man by an uncle inhis wife’s family. He then talks about injustices in the world and draws similaritiesbetween the Holocaust in Germany and the holocaust of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.As I listen to Bill, I wonder how many people know about Bill’s and Joan’s workwith the Sierra Club and the government as they tried to stop DeBeers from expanding anopen-pit diamond mine on her home reserve. I think of the conversation I had with themone evening as they told me about the environmental assessment auditors who were hiredby the mining company to say there would be little environmental impact; of the littlecompensation her Band received for the land that will be destroyed for generations tocome, thus effectively starving her people; of trying to get the company or somegovernment department to do something about the sludge the company dumped into thecommunity’s sewage system causing sewage to back up into and out from under people’shomes, yet the health inspector said it was “grey water”. I’ll bet those stories would shakeup some ofthese studentsfor sure.I look around the room to observe the students’ faces. Most of the students lookinterested, some look quizzical as if they want to ask a question, some people show noexpression, and three young women have slight smirks on their faces and are making eyecontact with each other. I watch one young man whose ball cap is covering his eyes butwho is leaning forward staring at the floor as his knee pops up and down giving theimpression that he’s greatly agitated. Another young man is sleeping. I notice my own183This must be in response to some of the criticism he said he has been gettingforbeing essentialist. I think his views are balanced. Maybe I don ‘t understand the meaningofessentialism. I thought it meant ascribing afixed essence or identity to a group, yetindigenous groups talk about their cultures being dynamic and changing.Bill also tells the students that in Canada there are many different Aboriginalcultures with their own beliefs, languages and traditions, but that there are some commonthreads that run through the beliefs of traditional indigenous cultures throughout theworld thus tying them together (Cajete, 2000). These include beliefs such as theimportance of the land and place, the interconnectedness and sacredness of all livingthings and the reverence for the Earth; the importance of language, and the necessity forbalance in life—spiritual, physical, social/emotional, and mental. The main message Ihear is that students shouldn’t be assuming they can incorporate Aboriginal content intotheir lesson plans, because they will get it wrong. He advises students to become involvedin the community and to use resource people whenever they can. The overall messageseems to be to have an open mind, to try to see from another’s perspective, to only teachwhat you know, and to stand up against injustices. I notice that his message is the same asthe message from Aboriginal people at the Department of Learning and Elders who havespoken to the students.During the question period, I ask Bill whether he thinks it’s a good idea to bringin an Elder if teachers are working in an urban school where students and their familieshave no real ties to their traditional heritage or where there are mixed cultures.Furthermore, many of the students don’t see any relationship between their heritage and184their lives, and they are under intense pressure to conform to the group (Cleary &Peacock, 2000; Currie & Tchak, 2003; Reid, 2001).Bill replies that he thinks it is a good idea because students will identify withsomething, and it is better to identify with an Elder than with a gang. “Maybe somethingwill click,” he says. Makes sense to me. I wonder why some people criticize his views?After the lecture is over and we’re leaving the room, I approach the student whohad been looking agitated the whole time.“So what did you think of that?” I ask.“Well, I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I don’t see why we have to listen to aWhite guy talking about Aboriginal epistemology. Shouldn’t we be having an Aboriginalperson doing that?”“I think he has some pretty good insights into it, considering he has been adoptedinto a Cree community, but he didn’t talk about epistemology very much. Did you hearsome of the other things he said?” I ask.“Not really. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention because I didn’t think a Whiteguy should be doing that,” he says. “Sorry.” I watch him walk away as he plugs the earbuds for his mp3 player into his ears.I wish this course weren ‘t graded as pass/fail. I wonder fI couldfail himfor thatattitude.Just then another student, Stacey, who is the daughter of an administrator at oneof community schools where I conducted a focus group, stops me.185“That was really interesting, she says, “but I still have so many questions. I mean,on whose terms are we educating Aboriginal students? Even with all the great programsin SchoolPWS schools, whose agenda is it?” Stacey is really wound up.“Well hopefully it’s a shared agenda. It sounds as if the staff at your dad’s schoolfor example, are working collaboratively with the people from the reserves to ensure theirchildren receive a good education.”“Yes, but aren’t we still trying to get Aboriginal students to succeed so they canbe like us, so they can be productive members of society?” she says emphasizing“productive”.“That’s a difficult question,” I say, “but here comes someone who might be ableto help you,” I say as I see Sonia coming toward us. Bill is tied up in a conversation withanother student so I wave Sonia over.“Sonia, this is Stacey. She’s really interested in Aboriginal education and anti-racist education and has a lot of questions. Could you talk with her? I have to run to mynext class.”“Sure, I’d be happy to. Come on to my office,” Sonia says to Stacey and smilesback at me as I mouth a thank you to her.As I make my way to the next class, I think about Stacey’s questions. She ‘sstruggling with the same issues I did when I left that school 15 years ago—and I stilldon ‘t have the answers. I wonder what Sonia will have to say?186Because Sonia is a storyteller, I invite her to come into one of my classes and tellher own story. She agrees. From the moment Sonia enters and begins to speak until shewalks out the door an hour later, she has the students spellbound.The students’ eyes follow her around the classroom and they hang on her everyword. She has them laughing and crying as she relates some of the ridiculous things thathappened to her as she was growing up. For example, when she was in Grade 1, a teacherasked Sonia ifher mother would come to the class and teach them to do beadwork. Soniareplied, “My mom doesn’t do beadwork, but she does social work. Would that be OK?”She tells another story about not being able to play sports with her male friends asa teenager any longer, because one of the boy’s parents assumed Sonia would get her soninto trouble by getting pregnant. She has other stories of spending time in the universitylibrary as her dad worked on a law degree and her mom worked on her social workdegree; and of gatherings around her kitchen table as her parents and their friends laid thegroundwork for establishing organizations such as the National Indian Brotherhood.She warns the students that often when they learn about the injustices done toAboriginal peoples, they are filled with GAS—guilt, anger, and shame, but then theyhave to move on but use the memory of those emotions to work against injustices. One ofmy students leans over and whispers to me, “I thought she was going to saygeneralizations, assumptions, and stereotypes.”“That too,” I whisper back.Sonia also tells the students that rather than feeling overwhelmed and helplesswhen challenging systemic oppression, they do have certain “zones of control” that helpto create a climate of respectful, collaborative relationships in communities. For example,187they have choices regarding the instructional strategies and resource materials they use,how they evaluate students, how they treat their students, what they put on the walls oftheir classrooms and school hallways and how they communicate with parents. Soniatells the students the story of a principal who learned the language of the community andby doing so showed tremendous respect.I can tell by the students’ reactions that Sonia’ s stories evoke numerous emotionsthat have etched her implied messages into their ways of being. I know her stories willremain with them as teachers and hopefully they will never make the same mistakes herteachers did.Silencing VoicesI lie in bed still wrestling with guilt from an incident that happened earlier in theday. I get up and try to exorcise the demon by writing it away. I write a story filled withthe vivid detail and raw emotions of the incident and try to show both my student’s andmy points of view. It’s a good story, I tell myself. But wait a minute. Goodfor whom?Who will benefitfrom it? Me? Is this simply a self-confessional tale (Van Manen, 1990)that will provide some needed therapy? Is it self-serving in that it might make thedissertation more interesting? Will others who read it benefit by learningfrom mymistakes? Will my student benefit fshe reads it? Will she be hurt by it? Would it beethical?Reluctantly, I delete the story. Without giving away any details that could identifythe student, I will just tell you that the story had to do with my pushing my political188agenda on the class butting up against a student’s religious beliefs. She had the courage tocall me on it.As I sit at my computer, I recall a similar story I had written the previous year. Iopen the file to read it and decide to use it because the student is not so identifiable, andshe represents any number of students in the faculty. Besides, the wounds from this storyare not so raw.April 15- On Religious and Other Points of ViewAt the end ofeach semester, EPS instructors hold conversations with studentsabout theirprofessional growth over the year and what they want to work on improvingduring internship. I had a conversation with one student today, J, who, at the beginningofthe academic year had a veiy positive attitude toward teaching, but who, by the end ofthe second term, seemed sullen, withdrawn, and angly. The crossed arms and legs, thenon-engagement in class discussions, the downcast eyes seemed to indicate she wasn ‘tbuying what I was selling. I asked her about the change I had observed over the course ofthe two semesters.She admitted that at one point she had wanted to quit—partly because she wasgetting married in the summer and schooljust wasn ‘t a priority, but also because she wastired ofhaving otherpeoples’ viewsforced on her. I invited her to elaborate on that, butshe said she didn ‘t care to do so.I can only assume it has to do with her political and religious beliefs which aredecidedly more conservative than the views expressed by mostfaculty members andprobably most students. Jand afew ofher classmatesfrequently sent inspirationalChristian messages via e-mail to their classmates and instructors and often complained189about the lack ofprayer and religion in public schools. Most ofmy colleagues andmyself asfar as I can tell, arefor human rights, including gay, lesbian, bisexual andtrans-gendered members ofsociety; and (ironically) we areforfreedom ofreligion andfreedomfrom discrimination based on race, religion, class, gender, or sexual orientation.Many ofus are also against American foreign policy in the Middle East and other partsofthe world.I remember one particular incident that seemed to mark the beginning ofJ’s (andother students’) change in attitude—toward me at least. We were discussing the war inIraq and whether or not it wasjustfled. (Perhaps this was a little out ofthe scope ofmycourse syllabus but I told myselfthat we are all affected by and can affect various eventsin the world, but that our role as teachers is to critique these events and ty to act in waysthat workfor the common good—and evenfor their own good. I often gave theminformation about upcoming peace marches andpublic lectures related to the war.) Theclass seemed to be splitfairly equally—among the vocal students at least—in theiropinions ofthe American President who ordered the war. A pretty heated debate ensuedbut I tried to stay out ofit andjustfacilitate the discussion.Anyway, Jsaid—and several agreed with her—that at least the President stoodforfamily values. I could hardly stand it anymore. Ijumped in and said, “How couldsomeone who standsforfamily values andfamilies order the bombing ofcities andconsider the deaths ofinnocent children and their parents to be collateral damage? Andwhat about the young men and women who have to leave theirfamilies and risk theirlives to fight in a war they don ‘t even support? “Byjumping into the discussion, I190effectively silenced the class. I could tell that somefelt that their side had won whileothers sat in stony silence.I wish I were more skilled atfacilitating such value-laden discussions that oftenfeel like minefields. I don ‘t want to silence students and build up resentments and anger.Thatjust undermines everything we are trying to do in our programs to promote socialjustice. How do we go beyond the idea that our views are the correct ones and it’s ourjob to make the students see and agree with those views? Where is the dialogue, thedialectical theory that is supposed to arisefrom disparate points ofview? How does oneassist others in being able to hear anything but their own shouting? How do I do thatformyself? Our programs have numerous students who comefrom conservative Christianbackgrounds whereas manyfaculty members, including myself have been stronglyinfluenced by the writings ofcritical theorists andfeminist scholars who represent the leftend ofthe political spectrum. I had a student complain one year that he thoughtfacultymembers here couldn ‘t see any otherpoints ofview and that we were trying to brainwashfuture teachers.Perhaps he is right. Despite our rhetoric about basing our programs on theassumptions ofpoststructuralism and decolonization theory which are supposed to allowfor multiple perspectives, multiple voices, and help students identfj’ issues ofpower andprivilege, some students andfaculty members havefelt effectively silenced by those whoare perceived as having stronger, more acceptable voices when the views differ. How is itwe can talk about power andprivilege to our students yet render them powerless?I lean back in my chair and think of the numerous conversations some of us havehad over the years concerning the religious views of students, believing that these views191interfere with the anti-oppressive education agenda that we are trying to offer. Thatreminds me ofan article Monica gave me on the topic. I dig it out of my files and read itagain, this time with more attention. The article, “Liberation Theology and LiberatoryPedagogies: Renewing the Dialogue” by Sherry J. Stenberg (2006), speaks to many of theconcerns voiced by students and faculty members. As Stenberg states:in academic culture, religious ideologies are often considered hindrances to—notvehicles for—critical thought. This feeling may be especially true in regard toChristianity, which is often conflated with conservative politics andfundamentalism both in and outside the academy. But those of us who espousecritical pedagogy and embrace Paulo Friere’s visions of praxis andconscientization, work out of a tradition, often unknowingly, with deep ties toreligious faith. (p.271)She argues that students are complex subjects and that their “spiritual identity isthe most defining component of their social locations” (p.272). It therefore “makes senseto discover ways to value and build upon students’ faith-based knowledge, rather thanasking them to overcome these backgrounds” (p.2’72). Stenberg suggests that findingcommonalities among religious and critical projects might be the better way to servereligious students.The author goes on to discuss the similarities between Christianity and theliberation theology of Friere, as both have histories of working against oppression andtoward freedom and justice for all. The “prophetical tradition”, which seems to besynonymous with “liberation theology”, combines faith and justice and sees the “teacheras-prophet” who “serves as a social guide to reconfigure and transform culture” and isboth “gut-wrenchingly critical of social surroundings” and one “who passes on a messageof transformative hope” (Kanpol, 1996, p.112, cited by Stenberg, p. 274). Liberationtheology also includes praxis: action and reflection. “That is, within liberation theology,192there can be no distinction between theory and practice. Truth is something to be done”(Stenberg, p.274). She points to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi asexamples of people who combined critique, hope, and action.Stenberg goes on to argue several points suggesting that critical thought is a formof rationality and there are historical reasons why it has become being privileged in theacademy; that religious students often feel alone and marginalizeci, so they either rejectthe discourse or hide their religious identities; and that criticism is a vehicle for socialtransformation, but it would be better to begin from a place of compassion and solidaritywith students while at the same time “engaging in ongoing self-reflection of oneself andone’s pedagogy that may hinder liberatory goals” (pp. 283, 284).I think of the many articles I have read by critical theorists and I have to agreewith Stenberg’s assertion that critical theorists provide no framework to guide thechanges they advocate, while giving lip service to transforming society and spendingmore time in critique rather than participating in the transformation. Similarly, likeStenberg and some of the faculty members I interviewed, I believe that it is important toacknowledge the emotive responses that often accompany investigations of issues relatedto social justice. Stenberg insists that “compassion and love are essential ingredients forcritical work” (p.286).In summary, Stenberg reminds us that discussions of love, compassion, and faithare likely to feel risky and messy, but we need not to only critique, but to validate; notonly to deconstruct, but also to reconstruct. She suggests the goals of liberatory educationshould include: “valuing student knowledge, enacting a reciprocal teacher-student193relationship, enriching critique with both compassion and action, and participating inongoing reflection and revision” (p.289).Stenberg’ s hard-hitting article is all too familiar. I recognize the students whohave felt marginalized because of their religious beliefs, and others for what most of uswould consider their racist beliefs. I recognize that I am complicit in that marginalization.But I also think of faculty members who feel silenced by criticism for the ways they havetried to create bridges of understanding between our students and some First Nationscommunities by taking students to reserves or having Elders talk with them. Then thereare those with whom I have talked who felt criticized for wanting to talk about theircultures. As one of my colleagues says, “We have become so invested in our theories.People who talk from experience are being silenced by the people who are supposed to bedefenders of the voiceless.”The thought of presenting at an upcoming conference entitled the Race/CultureDivide weighs heavily on me. The title itself and the call for papers give the impressionthat one had better be on the “correct” side of that argument. But why does there have tobe a divide; a correct way of thinking about this? Is this not one of those binaries that weare so fond of critiquing? Why can’t we have both-and thinking instead of either-or(Moore, 2002)? Do I dare be a dissenting voice and try to show both sides?I would suggest that same argument could be applied to learning about differentfaith traditions. As anti-oppressive educators are quick to point out, we all have multiple,intersecting identities with identifiers that can detract from or enhance our socialpositioning, depending on the context. These include, but are not exclusive to race,culture, social and economic status, religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, age, and194ability. Why then are we so quick to judge, deny, or ignore some of these identifiers andnot others? Even when I think a person’s point of view is absolutely wrong andoppressive, even though I know that Christianity is closely linked to colonialism andimperialism, by trying to impose what I think is right on others, am I not also guilty ofimperialism?Charlotte’s words come to mind. “I think the issue is that the other is always thesame as us and always different. I am like you and I am not like you. As long as I focusonly on the difference, or as long as I focus only on the sameness, I miss a lot.”A comment by a student last semester really reinforces Stenberg’s argument thatwe rarely practise what we preach when it comes to social justice. “We hear lots aboutsocial justice and engaging in transformative citizenship, but we don’t see it modelled byour professors. Why aren’t we writing letters as a class to our MPs? Why aren’t wevolunteering in some of the organizations that help the poor?” I didn’t have an answer forher. Perhaps we are paralyzed by critique as Stenberg points out; paralyzed by the self-righteous drug that is produced when we feel we are doing something by simply raisingawareness—the “paralysis of analysis”.In my quest to promote social justice, I tried to help students feel empathy forthose victimized by oppression. I recall feeling angry therefore, when Monica firstsuggested I read an article entitled, “The Risks of Empathy. InterrogatingMulticulturalism’s Gaze” (Boler, 1999) because it challenged my assumption thatempathy (not sympathy) was a good thing. I believed that empathy helps us see throughothers’ eyes, allow us to “walk a mile in their moccasins”, feel what they feel, experience195what they experience. But then, I have to ask myself whether we can we ever really dothat.It turns out that the article talks about our collective guilt when we hear stories ofthe Holocaust—and I extend that to the holocaust of Aboriginal peoples that happened inour own country. But Boler’s argument is that emotion and guilt just allow us to distanceourselves from the horrors others suffer, all the while giving us the sense that because wecan feel this pain, we are doing something. She says we “keep secrets from ourselvesthrough the numb consumption of another’s suffering, grateful for distances that seem toconfirm our safety” (p.172). Boler suggests that our emotions, our “inscribed habits ofinattention”, are not enough. Neither is historical knowledge. Instead we are asked toexplore the origins of cruelty and “meet the text with [our] own testimony, rather thanusing the other as a catalyst or a substitute for oneself’ (p.172).Boler’s arguments remind me that we do indeed, need to look at ourselves ratherthan “gaze”at the other. In my mind, however, she is confusing empathy with voyeurism,or perhaps sympathy. Implicit in my understanding of empathy is a call for action, for aresponse. As Sonia told my class, “Once you have heard another person’s story, you cannever be the same.” And while I agree that we need to interrogate ourselves, our historiesand how we are implicated in such unimaginable acts of horror, without the catalyst ofemotions, without the empathy, without the recognition that our lives are intertwined withothers, I seriously doubt whether a rational analysis of these atrocities would motivatemost people to do anything that isn’t self serving. Perhaps empathy combined withcourage in action is what is called for. In other words, it calls for great love.196I am also reminded of what Mary said of her volunteer work in the community.“It doesn’t bother me much if someone accuses me of it coming from my Christianbackground. I can’t help my background and I don’t think it matters where it comes from,as long as it’s there.” Mary is one who walked the talk and wasn’t paralyzed by critique.And then there is Ellie who received a prestigious honour from the Lieutenant Governorfor her community work. She is fond of saying, “Those who do, do. Those who don’t,just talk about it.” Perhaps it’s her way of trying to mobilize more of us into action.As I once again consider how we approach different views that seem to beworking against justice and equality, the phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but youcan’t make it drink” comes to mind. Similarly as Charlotte says, I have to leave studentsroom to find the need to change; I have to make opportunities and invite, but I also haveto understand that many won’t and that they are supported in that “I won’t”, just as I amsupported in my wish to do. But I can’t make them. As soon as I am prescriptive aboutthis instead of descriptive, I get resistance.” Similarly, Dan Butin (2005) reminds us that:The classroom should not be viewed as a neutral site conducive to knowledgetransfer but as a space of constant negotiation embedded within complex andoverlapping layers of assumptions, practices, and structures. This suggests that wetake the act of student resistance seriously. It is something that faculty mustanalyze rather than avoid, ignore, or attempt to simply push through4 8As I write my journal entry about my experiences over the past year, (SeeAppendix C), I think of the motto of the new Middle Years program that is intended tohelp students develop the skills and attitudes to teach for social justice: Critique, Hope,Action. Am I prescriptive rather than descriptive? Do I describe what social justice lookslike through my actions and through my relationships? Am I modeling the motto rather197than just mouthing it? Perhaps not yet. I am a work in progress though, and I’m learningfrom all who touch my life—even if I don’t agree with them.Disrupting Culture(s)The semester has ended, the papers and projects have been graded, and the firstdraft of my dissertation is nearly complete. Now, however, I must now change my focusand prepare for a presentation I have agreed to give at an upcoming national conferencehosted by our university. I feel somewhat resentful as I head to my office preferring tofocus my attention on finishing the dissertation.The conference is entitled the Race/Culture Divide where a number of scholarsfrom across Canada in several disciplines including, education, human rights, law,medicine and social work are presenting arguments against educating for culturaldifferences as a way to promote equity and social justice. I recall my thoughts when Isaw the call for papers. I wonder why the title is set up as a binary? Why does there haveto be a divide? The slash is interesting. Perhaps I need to ride down the slash andexplore that space between the words, the ‘intertextual’ space of ‘ambiguity,’‘ambivalence’ and ‘uncertainty’ (Aoki, 2003; Hurren, 2003). It is in the exploration ofthis space that new understandings may arise.I meet two colleagues coming down the hallway and ask whether they are goingto the conference. One person replies, “No, I live with race and culture every day. It’sinteresting to be the object of social justice.”“That’s interesting,” I say. “Someone else said they didn’t appreciate beingpositioned as the ‘Other’ by anti-racist discourse. I want to show the different points of198view in the presentation I’m supposed to give on teaching for social justice in our newMiddle Years Program.” My colleagues wish me bon chance and disappear into theelevator.Back in my office I stare at my computer trying to articulate my thoughts. I thinkanti-racist education is extremely important and necessary, but as Butin (2005, ¶5)suggests, “Put simply, the teachingfor socialjustice often prevents the learning ofsocialjustice. “Maybe we ‘ye taught our students too well and they are turning the critique onus. But Isometimes wonder whether the message isn’t lost in the medium. Or perhaps themedium is becoming the message and some people are seeing anti-oppressive educationas anotherform ofoppression. I certainlyfelt that messagefrom somefaculty membersand students—and notjust the students on the Christian right.I look through various books and articles I have gathered such as Butin’s (2005)article, “I Don’t Buy It. Student Resistance, Social Justice and Identity Construction”;Ellworth’s (1989) article, “Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working Through theRepressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy”; Garoian’s (1999) Performing Pedagogy.Toward an Art ofPolitics; Grande’s (2004) book, Red Pedagogy: Native American SocialAnd Political Thought and Calderón’s (2006) review of it; Howard’s (1999) book, YouCan’t Teach What You Don ‘t Know (1999); Kumashiro’s (2004) book, Against CommonSense and his article, “Against repetition: Addressing resistance to anti-oppressivechange in the practices of learning, teaching, supervising, and researching” (2002); andStenberg’s (2006) “Liberation Theology and Liberatory Pedagogies: Renewing theDialogue.”I search for quotations to support my arguments which are:199• That critical pedagogy, which is based on Western rationality, reinforces powerdynamics in classrooms and can actually work against what we are trying to do(Bowers, 1995; Butin, 2005; Ellsworth, 1989; Kumashiro, 2002; & Stenberg, 2006).Ellsworth for example, argues “that the key assumptions, goals, and pedagogicalpractices fundamental to the literature on critical pedagogy—namely ‘empowerment,’‘student voice,’ ‘dialogue,’ and even the term ‘critical’—are repressive myths thatperpetuate relations of domination” (1989, p. 298). Ellsworth’s arguments aresupported by a number of other scholars such as Bowers (1995), Butin, (2005); Ellis(2004), Kumashiro (2002), and Stenberg, (2006) who believe it is problematic wheneducators continue to privilege rationality without questioning ways that it canperpetuate oppressive social relations. Students have often argued that instructorsespouse the deconstruction of power relationships, yet fail to recognize ways in whichthey attempt to control students.• That by privileging critical pedagogy and ignoring or challenging theconcerns/beliefs/values of students, I am creating barriers between myself and thestudents. This barrier makes it difficult for them to be willing or able to hear what Iam trying to get across. As Stenberg (2006) states, “Because of this potential threat totheir identities, students whose values and knowledge are dismissed by criticalapproaches may do one of two things: reject them entirely and resist the pedagogy or,if they want to be accepted within a new discourse community, keep that identitycloseted” (p. 279). I saw examples of these two responses among several Christianstudents who believed that our program has a “left wing” agenda.200• That the rhetoric of “blame and shame” Whites, locks people into “resistance andself-protection rather than responsible reflection” (Howard, 1999, p. 110).Furthermore, “the analytical approach of ‘Whiteness-equals-oppression’ will merelyserve to alienate White educators (and preservice teachers) rather than inspire them tobecome co-responsible for positive change” [parentheses added] (p. 111). This wasevident in student responses to different articles on White privilege, and in theresponses by some faculty members when criticized for trying to promote cross-cultural understanding.• That critical theory seems to provide plenty of critique, but few suggestions for howwe might develop alternative ways of doing/knowing/being. As a result, people oftenfeel overwhelmed and paralyzed. (Howard, 1999; Stenberg, 2006). For example,Stenberg (p. 286) notes, “Too often students are asked to engage in deconstructionand critique for the sake of critique without being asked to imagine new possibilitiesfor change. The result is often paralysis leaving them asking ‘What now?’ and‘How?” My students (and I) have often asked these same questions.• That those of us who engage in critique must also engage in actions that model whatwe espouse. As Stenberg notes, because “critical theorists do not want to be labeledas technocratic strategists, essentialists, or pragmatic, [emphasis in original] theyoffer no clear plan or normative framework to guide the changes they advocate. Inmany senses, despite the validity of their critique, critical theorists have becomestymied by an intolerance of praxis” (p. 286)). This was evident to some students whowondered why professors didn’t model the actions they were telling students toundertake. That there are numerous ways to engage people in the struggle against201oppression and one of the most powerful is through the performing arts. As Gorian(1999, p. 10) suggests, “performance art pedagogy resists cultural conformity anddomination by creating discourses and practices that are multicentric, participatory,indeterminate, interdisciplinary, reflexive and intercultural. In doing so, performanceart pedagogy is the praxis of postmodern theory20.”It also seems to me that the artsspeak a language that the whole body understands.I’m pretty sure that these views aren ‘t going to be too popular at this conference. Iwonder how I can present this paper in a way that I won ‘t get into a lot of trouble. “I amCanadian. I don ‘t like conflict and I’m proud of it!” I momentarily imagine myselfstanding on a bar brandishing a beer glass and shouting my philosophy to anyone whowill listen. I turn to the knock on the door to see Melanie, one of my former students.“Hi, Carol,” she says. “Do you know anything about the Race/Culture Divideconference that is coming up? I’m thinking of attending it.” I tell her I do and give her theregistration information. We chat for a bit about how the semester went, about her youngchildren, and her plans for the summer. Suddenly I have an idea.“How would you like to present with me at the conference?” I ask. I tell her themain points that I want to emphasize, and that I’d like to do it in a creative way (probablybecause I think that if I use humour, people might be more open to what I have to say). I20witnessed a powerful example of this as one of my preintems, engaged a group of Grade 7 and 8students in Forum Theatre to address issues of bullying in their classroom and school. According to theirteacher this class had always been regarded as the “misfits” by the rest of the school. By the end of thepreintem’s field placement however, the young students performed moving dramatizations, poetry andnarratives that had emerged from their experiences and their engagement with Forum Theatre. They alsoacted as facilitators in conducting a Forum Theatre workshop with the preintern’s classmates. As one of theGrade 8’s said proudly afterward, “This is the first time we’ve ever worked together on anything.”202also tell her I’ll pay her registration fees. Melanie enthusiastically agrees. We decide torole-play a conversation between us where she tries to bring out some of the concernsexpressed by her classmates. Because one of her previous degrees was in Drama, shefeels excited about the prospect. We set a time to meet and discuss what we will do.To set up the conversation between us, I write a short play to satirize the variousapproaches teachers have used for teaching about the ‘Others’. One of the characters isracist, another is patronizing and uses a ‘food, dance and celebrations’ approach, andanother assumes that raising children’s self esteem and teaching them skills to fit in withthe dominant group is the as answer. These approaches have been critiqued in our coursesin our attempts to help students understand how inequities persist. The guiding metaphorfor the play is Spence’s (1973) comparison of culture to a steamship. Spence states:The culture of a people may be compared with a great steamship moving acrossthe surface of the ocean. We see only the superstructure and a little of the hull.We see only those activities of the ship’s company which they choose to display.That which determines their course, and the motive power that drives the ship ishidden from sight below decks. (Spence, 1973, p. 56)The play takes place on a large ocean liner 200 years into the future after the polarice caps have melted. I want to show how the Others in the play have been ridiculed,patronized and excluded and that not much has changed in over two hundred years. Weare still arguing about the best way to teach the Others, but we have also neglected whatwe are doing to the planet.Scene Two of the play is intended to show how and why my attempts at antioppressive education have met with resistance by some students. Through a conversationbetween Melanie and me in the play, we plan to bring out Melanie’s main points, which203she contributes to the scene. Her points are based around 3 organizing themes: critique,hope and action: Melanie’s arguments include:Critique• I have a better understanding of how to choose materials that provide the studentswith more perspectives, the voices of those often unheard.• My actions have a political and moral impact. I am shaping students’ experiencesand therefore influencing their views.• I and other White people have unearned privileges.Hope• I feel like I have lost hope. My religious/political perspective is not valued.• If I share it I feel I might be viewed and marked negatively.• This perspective assumes that with more education, more readings, more listeningthat I will adopt a left wing agenda.• Who’s to say I am White? I’m not. Does my father want to be saved? Why do youdevalue his “being” the way he is if he doesn’t want to be saved?• If White is privileged, what am I and other non-White learners?• There is an age gap, you have more experience, but you expect us to know whatyou have taken years to learn.• We are growing up in a different generation that is more accepting of difference• Scare me off now I won’t do this!Action• What do you want me to do with this? [anti-racist information]• You give us this theory that you expect will trickle down to our classrooms.• What does this look like in a classroom?• Do I tell my White students that they are responsible for oppression? Are my nonWhite students exempt from responsibility?• I will make this my OWN and this is what it looks like to me. An ethic of caringand respect. An attempt at presenting and listening to multiple perspectives. Yes,some personal reflection of power, but a focus on how that power can be used tohelp emancipate ourselves and others from oppression.Melanie is enthusiastic about the play and is pleased I am willing to incorporate anumber of different students’ perspectives and concerns including her own in mypresentation. Feeling buoyed and enthusiastic about our play, we decide to enlist the helpof another of Melanie’s classmates. I feel somewhat confident about what I have to saynow.204CHAPTER IXRevitalizing StoriesWhile the mass of the people maintain intact traditions which are completelydifferent from those of the colonial situation, and the artisan style solidifies into aformalism which is more and more stereotyped, the intellectual throws himself infrenzied fashion into the frantic acquisition of the culture of the occupying powerand takes every opportunity of unfavourably criticizing his own national culture,or else takes refuge in setting out and substantiating the claims of that culture in away that is passionate but rapidly becomes unproductive. (Fanon, 1994, p. 45-46)Changing AssumptionsThe day of the conference, people from across Canada great each other in therotunda. Many are well known in the area of anti-racist education. The first evening startswith a presentation by Dr. Verna St. Denis entitled, “How I Learned to Stop TalkingAbout Culture”. She argues that the notion of cultural revitalization came fromanthropologists in the early part of the 20th century who recognized the injusticessuffered by indigenous peoples. Their solution was to promote the revitalization ofindigenous cultures and languages in order to create a strong sense of identity withinindigenous peoples. Proponents of cultural revitalization believed that if people had astronger sense of identity, they might be better able to resist the effects of racism.This idea was picked up and supported by the Hawthorne Report and the NationalIndian Brotherhood who argued for Indian Control over Indian education in the early 70s.Since then numerous indigenous scholars have made a case for the revitalization oflanguages and cultures believing that it helps to create a strong sense of identity.St. Denis’ argument however, is that this approach has not helped reduceinequities and that it further entrenches racism. Neither does it consider the experiencesof Aboriginal people who live on the borderlands—in between communities—and who205identify with more than one community or no particular community. Furthermore, peopleattribute problems experienced by Aboriginal peoples to cultural deficiency or culturaldiscontinuity rather than to poverty and racism.After Dr. St. Denis’ presentation, a colleague leans over to me and says that shehad read an article showing how the four coloured Medicine Wheel which was adoptedby some indigenous peoples, was originally the construction of an anthropologist whobelieved in the four races of man. “Highly problematic,” she whispers.I have heard Verna St. Denis speak before, and I have read and quoted her work(St. Denis, 2002). Her message somehow seems much clearer to me now though. Maybeit ‘S finally sinking in. I feel my body relaxing and the resistance dissolving. I suddenlyunderstand the importance of what she is saying and how the notion of culture hasbecome synonymous with difference and this difference is interpreted by the dominantgroup as ‘not as good as’.Discussants in all the sessions I attend, whether the sessions have to do withmedicine, the law, human rights, social work, or education, offer the same message:Cross cultural educationltraining masks the dominant assumption of superiority whileattempting to make the various professions culturally relevant. Although the stated goalin many of the professions is to build better understanding and relationships betweenthemselves and racialized minorities, the implicit message is that the dominant group hasthe answers to solving minority peoples’ problems provided they adopt the dominantgroup’s agenda. Several speakers note that the only time White people refer to culture isin reference to minority groups. The culture of the dominant group remains invisible. Asone presenter said, “The last thing the fish notices is the water.”206For my session, I present the play my student and I created. Unfortunately, orperhaps fortunately, very few people attend the session because it is running concurrentlywith sessions by well-known scholars. My subtle attempts at humour are completely loston the small audience, and I wonder whether they realize the first part is a satire. Mygreatest fear is that some people think I am trivializing such an important issue as racism.I also wonder whether they understand the concerns raised by the students. My belief isthat our students are our messengers (delivering the ‘trickle-down academics’ as one ofthe students calls it) and if we ignore their concerns, or if our message is inconsistentwith our practices, students will dismiss it and the message will never reach the schools.In retrospect, trying to deliver my message performatively may not have been thewisest decision. One must consider the audience. Perhaps this might have been moreappropriate for a group of teachers. When people come to an academic conference, theyare used to familiar patterns of interacting and disseminating information. They expect tohear papers presented and discussed in academic language. Who am Ito think I can stepout of this path and be noticed among this group of highly regarded scholars, especiallywhen my understanding is still so partial compared to theirs? Or perhaps I am noticednow, but regarded as a non-academic and therefore without anything of significance tosay. I definitely have that sense when one of my colleagues asks me without smiling, “So,how do you feel about your presentation?” I wonder whether there will be politicalramifications from my attempts to change the medium and the message. I try to put myuneasiness aside and focus on how my understanding is changing; how my incompletepicture is being filled in through discussions with other conference attendees over mealsand at the social gatherings.207By the end of the conference I am beginning to understand why some people havebeen so adamant about not reinforcing the idea of cultural differences because differencein the dominant culture has come to mean inferior. I begin to feel as though I have had anepiphany. I fmally understand how the culture concept has been implicated in theothering process. By talking with the women and men at this conference and hearing theirstories, I sense some of the frustration and anger they feel at the ignorance and arroganceof White-dominated society. The barriers to my understanding of this argument arecoming down and allowing me to momentarily wallow again in the familiar pool of guilt,anger, and shame. I catch myself however, and resist going any deeper as soon as Irealize what I am feeling. This is a luxury I can no longer afford.If I am to be an ally in the struggle against racism and oppression, I need to payattention to what decolonizing theorists are saying about the concept of culture. As muchas I dislike having my familiar patterns of thinicing disrupted, it helps me see anotherpoint of view. Yet, I am still troubled by what seems to be my different understanding ofthe terms “culture” and “essentialism”.In postmodem discourse, for example, essentialism has a derogatory connotationand critics reject the notion that objects or concepts have a fixed essence or meaning thatis not socially constructed. I agree that certain groups have been described as having aparticular essence with no regard for the various differences among individuals withinthese groups. That’s where the postmodern critique has been particularly useful inhelping us to understand how stereotypes arise.There is, however, another meaning to essentialism that comes from Marxism thatsees essentialism as the dialectical unfolding of the thing through successively deeper208meanings. “Essentialism then is concerned not with somefinal essence which can neverbe revealed, but rather is concerned with the process of revealing ever deeper meanings”(Basgen & Blunden, 1999-2004). This definition seems to be more consistent with thewritings of many indigeous scholars who talk about the fluidity and dyamism of culturesand how they are constantly changing. Many believe, however, there is tribal knowledgeabout the relationships that humans have with Earth and non-humans that has beenpassed on for generations (Battiste & Henderson, 2000; Cajete, 1994, 2000; Calderón,2006; Cardinal, 2001; Deloria, Jr., 1999; Grande, 2004; Henderson, 2000; LaDuke, 2005,Little Bear, 2000).I think back to some of the people with whom I spoke who said, “So what? It’swhat works for us. Who are White people to tell me what I can believe?” On the otherhand, another professor who also agrees that we should not be teaching about culturaldifferences said, “People can have their own beliefs and practices, but it’s not for Whitepeople to tell them what to believe.” There seem to be some inconsistencies in themessages indigenous people are receiving, or perhaps some people are taking themessage that is intended for White folks and interpreting that as a directive forthemselves.I decide to ask two indigenous scholars who have been invited to present at theconference and with whom I have lunch, for their interpretation of the terms, “culture”and “essentialism”. Unlike many of the other presenters, they tell me they still believethat some indigenous peoples have a different way of seeing the world and thatreclaiming their cultures is a way to reproduce their identities on their own terms. Theysuggest I take a look at some articles by postcolonial theorists.209After the conference I follow the women’s advice and begin to wade intopostcolonial literature only to find myself somewhat over my head as I try to fathom thedepths of thinkers such as Homi Bhabha (1994), Mikhail Bakhtin (1981), Franz Fanon(1967), Edward Said (1978), and Trinh T. Minh Ha (1989). I begin by checking out theirbooks from the library and then resorting to summaries of their works on the Internet.Criticisms and contradictions abound, even with the term “postcolonial” and I begin towonder where the rabbit trails are leading as I search for understanding why there aresuch disparate points of view among postcolonial scholars. A citation by Graves (1998)of Homi Bhaba’s introduction to The Location ofCulture (1994, ¶ 2) provides a clue:It is in the emergence of the interstices—the overlap and displacement of domainsof difference—that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness,community interest, or cultural value are negotiated. How are subjects formed ‘inbetween’, or in excess of, the sum of the ‘parts’ of difference (usually intoned asrace/class/gender,etc.)? How do strategies of representation or empowermentcome to be formulated in the competing claims of communities where, despiteshared histories of deprivation and discrimination, the exchange of values,meanings and priorities may not always be collaborative and dialogical, but maybe profoundly antagonistic, conflictual and even incommensurable?Graves explains how the liminal space that Bhabha talks about is a “hybrid” sitewhere cultural meaning is negotiated and produced. Yet, Graves wonders whetherBhabha’s liminal space itself becomes a privileged, textual, discursive space accessibleonly to academic intellectuals rather than to the exiled working class who experiencediaspora.Finally a friend loans me a book that is a collection of articles by postcolonialtheorists (Williams & Chrisman, 1994), which helps to provide a basic understanding ofthe field. In the reader I come across what I was hoping to find: different definitions ofthe term “cultural identity”, which are provided by Hall (1994).210The first definition describes cultural identity as that which reflects a people’scultural codes and common historical experiences and provides them with “stable,unchanging and continuous frames of reference and meaning” regardless of what ishappening in the actual history (p. 353). It is this definition that seems to be what peoplemean when they warn that focusing on cultural identity essentializes people.Hall also cites Franz Fanon who argues that in trying to regain their culturalidentities, colonized peoples are not simply just uncovering traditions that were buried bycolonialism; rather they are producing their identities by retelling the past.The second definition of cultural identity is then defined by Hall (1994) in whichhe states:[C]ultural identity in this second sense is a matter of “becoming” as well as“being”. It belongs to the future as well as the past. It is not something that existsbut it transcends place, time, history and culture. Cultural identities come fromsomewhere, have histories. But, like everything which is historical, they undergoconstant transfonnation. Far from being externally fixed in some essentializedpast, they are subject to the continuous play of history, culture and power. (p. 394)This definition strikes a familiar chord and is similar to my understanding of theway in which cultural identities are constantly changing. It is also similar to the notionsexpressed by the indigenous participants in my study.Finally, two occurrences help me begin to understand why there has been aneffort to revitalize languages and cultures. The first is a quotation I discover by Fanon(1994) in which he argues that it is a way to renew contact with pre-colonial times andresist the oppression of colonialism. He states:Perhaps this passionate research and this anger are kept up or at least directed bythe secret hope of discovering beyond the misery of today, beyond self-contempt,resignation and abjuration, some very beautiful and splendid era whose existencerehabilitates us both in regard to ourselves and in regard to others. (p. 37)211The second incident particularly drives the point home one evening at a practicedance class as I sit with my friends and my new ballroom dance partner, Ted.Dancing LifeSusan, Ted, Trevor and I sit at the table waiting for the music to begin at thepractice dance one Friday evening. The other dancers haven’t shown up yet. “Thanks foragreeing to be my dance partner,” I say to Ted. “You’re sure you don’t mind that I’m oldenough to be your mother? That would bother some young men.”“Not at all,” Ted assures me. “I’ve been intending to get back into ballroomdancing but I didn’t have a partner.”During our conversation I find out that Ted is Mohawk; he holds a Ph.D. inmathematics and teaches in the Math department. He also has been partnering with someEducation faculty members to give workshops around the province for teachers onindigenous knowledge in mathematics and science. I tell him about my dissertation andhe seems genuinely interested in hearing more about it some time.Because I am still somewhat perplexed about the race/culture debate, I ask Tedwhere he stands on the issue of revitalizing languages and cultures.“Well,” Ted says carefully, “I have heard that some of my First Nationscolleagues don’t necessarily agree with de-emphasizing the importance of culture andlanguage. Although I understand that celebrating cultural differences doesn’t addresssystemic inequities and social problems brought about by colonization, in some ways Iagree with my colleagues. I grew up in a city, but in my early 20’s I went back to live onthe reserve and renewed contact with my dad’s family. I also spent a lot of time talking212with the Elders. I’ve come to appreciate the different ways of seeing and thinking aboutthe world, which I think are important concepts for all students to understand. And I alsothink it is important that students have some anti-racist training and start to question theways they have been taught to see the world.From my own experience, I can’t tell you how affirming and rejuvenating it is togo back to my community and listen to the Elders, to participate in our ceremonies, andin the songs and dances. When I hear the sound of the drums and the clear, sweet voicesof some of the singers, it’s as if something goes through me and melts away all tensionsand worries and gives me new strength. It’s really hard to explain,” says Ted.“So you don’t feel you are othering yourself by doing this?” I ask. Ted looks atme quizzically to indicate he doesn’t know what I am trying to say so I try to explain.“Some of the people I interviewed said they had been told that by participating in culturaltraditions such as singing and dancing or by using a Medicine Wheel to explain theircommunity’s beliefs, they were othering themselves, or reinforcing the notion ofdifference, which in the dominant society is often interpreted as ‘not as good as’.”Ted laughs. “I’m not sure how we can ‘other ourselves’, especially when wepractice these traditions away from White society. We do it strictly for ourselves becauseit brings us joy. My dad and grandparents didn’t always have the privilege of being ableto practise our cultural traditions. At one time practising the traditions was outlawed sopeople had to do it in secret. It wasn’t until the late 60s or 70s that Indians won back theright to practise our traditions after many people fought long and hard for that right, so Ifeel a sense of responsibility and also an honour in being able to participate in ourceremonies.213“I think I understand,” I say. “A few people I interviewed said the same thing.One friend told me that she and some of her friends and their children went to a powwow,or maybe it was a conference, and many of the adults were crying because it was such anemotional experience. Her daughter asked, ‘Why are you crying, Mom? It’s nice andeverything, but I don’t get why you’re all crying.’ My friend said the younger generationdoesn’t understand how important the cultural traditions are to her generation who livedthrough the time when it was against the law to sing and dance.”“That’s right,” agrees Ted. “Practising one’s culture has much greater significanceto some people than to others who have never had to fight for that right,” he says.Suddenly I feel the familiar sting in my eyes and I pretend to look for somethingin my purse. Ted pretends not to notice. Then Susan’s voice interrupts our conversation.“Oh, I just went to an excellent workshop today in the leadership course I amtaking! Susan exclaims. It was called ACT—Anti-racist Cross-Cultural Training. It useddrama to look at issues of racism and poverty, and it was very powerful. Have you heardof it?”“Yes,” I say. “In fact we just had a workshop with our Secondary Educationstudents. It’s something in which we are trying to involve all our students. It’s based on akind of informal theatre developed by a Brazilian engineer by the name of Agusta Boal.He worked with poor people in his country using drama to help them develop their voiceand overcome some of the inequities and injustices they face. It’s also called ForumTheatre or Theatre of the Oppressed. I’m going to Power Plays next week where they usea type of Forum Theatre called Legislative Theatre to identify community issues andmake recommendations for legislative changes. David Diamond, who is an214internationally renowned drama educator will be here working with a group of peoplefrom the inner city where they will present some issues pertinent to their community21.”“Yes, I want to go to that too,” says Susan. “Should we go together?” I agree andwe make plans to meet somewhere.“But one thing we talked about in the workshop today,” continues Susan, “wasWhite privilege. And I just don’t see it.”“No. Those of us who are White don’t see it. We just take our privileges forgranted. They’re invisible to us, but anyone who is not White, sees and feels thoseprivileges that we enjoy but which they might not,” I say.“That’s right,” pipes in Trevor who has been sitting silently for a while. Trevor isand an exceptionally good dancer with whom all the women love to dance despite hisoutrageous flirtatiousness. He told me once that he is the son of an Ojibwa woman and aMétis father who taught him to dance at the age of 5.“Like what?” asks Susan defensively.Trevor leans forward to give some examples, but I jump in right away.“Like people assuming you were hired because of your ability, rather thanassuming you were hired to fill an equity quota; like not having people make assumptionsabout you based on your race; like not being faced with racist attitudes at work; likebeing able to walk into a store and use your credit card and not being asked if it’s yours;like not being told you’re a credit to your race; like. . .“ and I go on and on withnumerous privileges Whites enjoy. My speech has become louder and faster, my heart isracing and I feel my face getting hot.21 See a discussion of Forum Theatre on the Vancouver based, Headlines Theatre at“You go, Girl!” Trevor laughs as he turns to look at me.“But don’t you think some of the attitudes we have are little bit justified?” Susanasks. “I mean, who is doing all the stealing of cars and break-and-enters in this city?”Suddenly Susan stops herself and looks at Trevor and Ted. “Not you guys. I don’tconsider you in the same category.”Trevor and Ted both start to say something, but I jump in again and I say, “Peoplein poverty are doing the stealing. Poverty causes a lot of these social issues.Trevor turns and looks at me again. “Oh. I was going to say people who don’twant to pay for stuff. My family was poor but we didn’t do that.”That pulls me up by the reins rather quickly. Embarrassment fills me as I realizewhat I have just said. Another stereotype. Shame on you. Let people speakfor themselves!Trevor and Ted take over, calmly explaining some examples of racism from theirperspectives. Susan is becoming less agitated as she listens to them. I can’t hear them forthe waves of self-deprecating admonishments thundering over me.“Well I would really like some more information,” says Susan. “I need tounderstand this.”“I have a really good article that we give our students,” I say recovering slightly.It’s called “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh (2002). I’ll bring youa copy next week.” Susan thanks me and changes the subject as the music starts and sheand Ted get up to dance.Trevor turns to me. “I didn’t know you like Indians,” He offers me his hand.“Would you care to dance, Madame?”216CHAPTER XSummarizing StoriesWithin this fourth space of being, the dream is that indigenous and non-indigenous peoples will work in solidarity to envision a way of life free ofexploitation and replete with spirit. The invitation is for scholars, educators, andstudents to exercise critical consciousness at the same time they recognize that theworld of knowledge far exceeds our ability to know. (Grande, 2004, p. 176)Seeing Patterns“So how is the thesis coming?” asks Ted, my ballroom dance partner, one eveningat a coffee shop after our dance lesson.“I’m just about done,” I tell him. I’m in the process of writing the last chapter andtrying to make sense of it now. It looks somewhat like a dog’s breakfast and I’m still notquite sure what to make of it all, but I keep reminding myself that out of chaos comesorder (Wheatley, 1994). I think I am starting to see some patterns or themes emergingthat are relevant to my topic, as well as many other themes, which if I pursued them,could lead me off in all sorts of directions. But my committee keeps reminding me to beselective and pick the dissertation I want to write. I can always save the other topics forlater.”“So what do you want to focus on?” asks Ted.“Do you want the elevator version or the version that will act as an excellentsedative?” I say.“The sedative version is okay,” replies Ted. “I’ll need it to counteract the caffeinein this pop if I want to sleep tonight.”Ted seems genuinely interested so I proceed to tell him.217“Well, as you know, I was trying to find out how to prepare prospective teachersto work more collaboratively and respectfully in and with indigenous communitiesbecause I was really concerned about the racism in our province. I thought that I might beable to play some part in reducing racism and some of the systemic inequities if I couldsee how to influence prospective teachers. They are the ones who will influence futuregenerations.”Ted nods.“So I started from the premise that I needed to look at myself first because Ibelieve that until we become aware of and examine our own beliefs and assumptions, it isnot possible to change our actions. And if we don’t change our own actions, we aseducators will keep reproducing the status quo. I have a particular positioning in societyin terms of my history, race, class, gender and so on, so I felt I needed to consider howthese intersecting positionings influence what I do and believe.” I pause to scrutinizeTed’s face. He ‘s still with me. A lot ofmy otherfriends start to tune out at this point. Icontinue.“I realized too, that my beliefs, assumptions, values and actions are influenced bymy context and the people with whom I work. With that in mind I decided to interview anumber of people: faculty members, teachers who are working with Aboriginalcommunities and educational partners who are Aboriginal, to see what their perspectivesare and how these fit with mine. I thought I might learn something about myselfbycomparing their views to my own. I also kept a journal whenever I felt particularly upsetor intrigued by something. Then I tried analyzing why I was feeling that way. By payingattention to my body and how I reacted to situations, I began to realize that my body was218sending signals when something was disrupting my familiar patterns of behaving orthinking.”“Hmm. Interesting,” says Ted. “Did that happen often?”“Pretty much every day!” I exclaim. “But I only kept track of a few of the majorincidents that spoke the loudest to me, which I am starting to identify as themes.However, depending on their particular experiences or frameworks, I’m sure other peoplemight see different themes arising from the data that will speak to them.”“And what are the themes you are seeing?” asks Ted.“Well, I see five major ones that emerged from the interviews I conducted andthen there are a few others, which I see as subtexts arising from my interactions with theinterviewees and other colleagues, with my students and with some of the literature I’vebeen reading. Are you sure you want to hear them?” Ted nods affirmatively.“Okay. The first major theme I see is the importance ofbuilding respectfulrelationships. Depending on their particular perspective, most people talked about howimportant it is to develop respectful relationships with communities, with students or witheach other as colleagues. This, I think is the most important thread that runs through allthe others.” I start counting on my fingers.“Second is the importance of ‘real’ experiences with ‘real ‘people. Many peoplethought that having our White students interacting with Aboriginal people might help to‘demystify’ the notion of the exotic or stereotypical ‘other’ and help students to recognizepeople’s common humanity. You saw, for example, that our friend Susan thinks of youand Trevor very differently from the stereotypical notion she has of Aboriginal people,and I think that’s because she sees some common interests and has come to know you as219individuals. Socio-economic class may have something to do with her view of you too,though,” I admit. Ted nods in agreement and I continue.“I noticed also that in the schools where teachers worked with high numbers ofAboriginal students, they saw the students as individuals each with their uniquepersonalities, gifts and challenges. But whether we can help our teacher educationstudents make connections with Aboriginal communities in meaningful and authenticways rather than in ‘touristy’ or voyeuristic ways remains to be seen. But I think it isimportant to try. We’re trying to do that in the new Middle Years program.” I hold up athird finger and continue.“The importance ofrecognizing how identities are constructed and normalizedand how these constructions influence power relationships is third,” I say. This involveshaving students learn about the history of colonization, and how the notions of ‘White isright’ or ‘might is right’,” I make quotation marks in the air, “became unconsciouslegacies of colonization in the collective identities of the descendents of White, Europeansettlers in the Americas and other parts of the world. Race, class, gender, religion andsexual orientation, and so on are intertwined in these concepts,” I add. “So I see thisreally as a need to help prospective teachers—and teacher educators for that matter—learn to think more critically about our assumptions and beliefs and from where theseoriginate.” This theme, by the way, was underscored by an interesting subtext that I’ll tellyou about in a moment. I uncurl and touch the fourth finger.“Next is the importance ofrethinking our view ofcurriculum. Many people sawthe need to move beyond the notion of curriculum as the value-free content that teachersimpart to students, and toward curriculum as enacted—the learning that emerges from the220interaction of people working together on projects or on a vision for their communities. Iwas always struggling with how to incorporate Aboriginal content and perspectives intothe curriculum in meaningful ways, but when I found out that Aboriginal people’s beliefsand traditions are as diverse as those in the ‘whitestream’ population as Sandy Grande(2004) calls it, the notion of Aboriginal content and perspectives took on a new meaning.Now I see it as the opportunity for all voices within a community to contribute to theshared vision of education. I also think it is important to use contemporary resources thatinclude Aboriginal faces, voices and works along with those of other racialized groups,including Whites, in the resources teachers use,” I add, “so that everyone’s contributionto knowledge is normalized; so that the curriculum of the dominant group is no longerprivileged and the standard by which all others are judged. Yet, there is a tension here,which is that prospective teachers are still expected to be familiar with and be able toteach the written curriculum if they want to be certified. I suspect many Aboriginalpeople would like to see their children become familiar with dominant curriculum aswell.” I move to my next point.“The needfor collaboration and sharedpower and responsibility amongcommunity members, educators, service providers and students in the creation ofhealthycommunities. This is the vision of SchoolS to which our faculty is committed—at leastin our visioning documents. I’m not sure everyone on faculty is committed to this. Areyou familiar with School’?” I ask Ted and he nods to indicate he is.“But if we are not careful,” I caution, “the concept of SchoolS, or whatever wecall it in the future, will become a renewed attempt to assimilate people; to ensure theybecome productive members of society so they can contribute to the economic well-being221of the province, rather than letting communities decide for themselves what they see ascontributing to their own well-being. Some of our faculty members criticized SchoolPSas being similar to pastoral care giving, but I think it can become a metaphor for truecollaboration in creating this shared and harmonious future that the governmentespouses—that is if educators and other service providers can learn to back off and letcommunities decide what they need in terms of services, if any, from the dominantsector.”The waiter comes to the table with a pitcher for refills and I shake my head toindicate ‘no thanks’. “So those are the five main themes I saw,” I tell Ted.Ted accepts a refill of his pop and says, “You said you saw some other subtexts aswell?“Oh, yes! One of big issues for me is the shortage ofideas regarding how wemight teach for socialjustice as it relates to Aboriginal education. We keep giving ourstudents readings—sometimes the same ones in different courses apparently—over andover and we discuss many issues, but as one of my colleagues said, students are oftenfilled with GAS—guilt, anger and shame when we start the anti-racist education. Andthen they become almost paralyzed with the fear of stereotyping or essentializing peopleif they try to help non-Aboriginal students understand aspects of First Nations or Métiscultures. I see the same thing happening to some faculty members. I think what happensthen, is people back off and resort to ‘just teaching the curriculum’ because they don’tknow what else to do. At least that has been my own experience.”Ted nods and says, “And I think sometimes with the focus on anti-racism weIndians come to be seen as the helpless victim too, but I certainly don’t feel that way. So222you are saying you think that there is too much emphasis on critique and not enough onpractical ideas?”“Partly. I think the critique is absolutely necessary because those of us in thedominant group do have to look at our histories and how some of our tacit attitudes andbeliefs are formed, which in turn affect our conscious and unconscious actions inperpetuating dominance. And we need some strategies for putting the critique into action.We are teaching students to be great critics of social and political systems—and even ofus—but more often than not we are leaving them feeling overwhelmed and helpless.Some people believe it is necessary for students to feel discomfort in order to helpthem see how their positioning in society is implicated in the oppression of others, andthat there is ‘no rush to decisionism’ as to what to do about it because it’s a process theyhave to go through. But I think discomfort is very different from feeling overwhelmedand helpless. As many people emphasized, students still have to go out and teachsomething to the students in their classrooms. Because I am an EPS instructor—generalcurriculum and instructional methods/professional development—rather than anEducational Foundations instructor, I am expected to help prospective teachers developsome practical skills and ideas they can use in classrooms. But I don’t want it to be justmore of the same things we have always done.One colleague said, ‘it’s the lure of the practical’ to which we as teachereducators succumb because our students think that only practical ideas have any value.But as I talked with different people, I started to see there are some things we might do tointerrupt students’ familiar ways of being to make them uncomfortable—and I don’t223mean just angry at us—yet also provide them with some tools or ideas to use inclassrooms so that they are not left feeling so helpless.”“Oh yeah? Like what?“Well, besides the use of a variety of instructional strategies, resources andassessment methods, narrative seems to be one promising tool. Some of my colleaguesuse literature and poetry to help students see into the lives of those who are oppressed.These works serve as wonderful devices for exposing systemic inequities. Also, Iwatched my students’ faces and saw some genuine emotions as well as some lights go onwhen they were listening to peoples’ stories ofbeing othered or even persecuted. As onefaculty member told the students, ‘Now that you have heard this story, you will never bethe same.’ I think at some level each of us recognizes the me in you and the you in me. Itis not simply a case of feeling sympathy or even empathy for someone. Your storybecomes part of my story and if I bear witness—not in a religious sense—to yourexperiences, we become connected (Wheately, 2002). When I feel your pain, yourfrustration, your anger, I don’t want to do anything to hurt you further, because by doingso, I am also hurting myself,” I explain.“Unless you’re a masochist,” Ted adds and I laugh. “I agree,” he says. “Of coursein indigenous communities storytelling is the primary way to teach children personal andsocial values. We were never told directly this was wrong or that was wrong, but whenwe heard what happened to some of the animals in the stories because of what they did, itscared us into not doing the same things. Could your students read stories about some ofthe people in this area of the country such as Poundmaker, Big Bear, Louis Reil, Gabriel224Dumont, and so on who fought against the oppression of indigenous peoples? Thosestories would be appropriate for their students as well.”“Yes,” I have started to do more of that myself too, I say. I read the studentsCampbell’s Road Allowance People and it really interested them in learning more aboutthe Riel resistance. I also gave one group Tom King’s “What Is It About Us You Don’tLike” from his book, The Truth About Stories (2003) which I thought was a good way tointroduce the history of colonization. So that’s one way to help students understand.”“King’s work reminds me that humour works well too,” adds Ted. Have you seenRedskins, Tricksters and Puppy Stew, which Drew Hayden Taylor directed?“Yes! I ordered it from the NFB and showed it to the students. I like how itaddresses issues of racism and Aboriginal identity in a way that is hilarious and serious atthe same time. Parts of the film had the students in tears of laughter and it also generatedsome excellent class discussion. I think that any kind of emotion can have an effect onthe way we understand the world. It doesn’t always just have to be GAS,” I say.“As in a lot of hot air?” Ted raises an eyebrow.“Good one,” I laugh. “Oh, and I happened to see in the film a beautiful womanwho was our Elder in Residence for a while. Her presence really enriched our faculty. Iused to spend a lot of time talking with her so it was good to see her again, even if onlyon the TV screen. She was part of the film audience when Jackie Bear and Sharon Shortyperformed their hilarious imitation of two elderly women. I think our friend might berelated to one of the women. You know, it just never ceases to amaze how people areconnected.”Ted smiles. “Six degrees of separation they say.”225I nod and we sit in silence for a while as I try to recall some of the other wayspeople were helping our students understand complex issues related to inequality. I startto tell him about all the great materials from the Rethinking Schools web site, which Ihave found quite useful. Then Ted asks a question that reminds me of another tool forteaching.“How was the Forum Theatre that you and Susan said you were going to attend?”he asks.“Oh, excellent. The night we went, there were two politicians in attendancebecause the purpose of the theatre was for the actors and the audience to identify andgenerate solutions to community issues that might require some changes in legislation.There was some good discussion around splitting up families when one sibling has to betaken care of by social services and the other is old enough to be on his or her own. Theaudience made some recommendations, but I don’t know if anything will actually happenas a result. But I happened to see a couple of my students there, so that’s a good sign,” Isay.“But your question reminds me of a point that I wanted to make about other waysto help students understand complex issues,” I continue. “I think Forum Theatre isextremely useful in this regard. We’ve had students participate in mini ACT—Anti-racistcross-cultural training workshops, which never do the process justice—but students atleast become aware that this type of training is available. Most of the students thought theworkshops were excellent and they wanted longer ones and more of them, but we didhave a few students who thought it was too ‘touchy-feely’ and skipped out. Somehowthere must be a way to reach students who are less affected by their emotions. I think the226arts in general, however, have considerable potential to change attitudes and beliefs. Theyspeak to people at a visceral level and can help derail us from our familiar patterns ofthinking and behaving.”“So, having more practical ideas to doing anti-oppressive education is onesubtext. Are you still interested in hearing more?” I ask.“Sure. I’m in no hurry,” says Ted.“Well another one that is closely related to this, is our (in)ability to walk the talk.There are a few people on faculty who are very much involved in the community, butthere are others, including myself who seldom practice what we preach—at least not inways that are visible to students. Students sometimes comment on it. Granted, therearen’t enough of us to do all the jobs on the various committees that keep theorganization running smoothly and still participate in community projects. Then withdemanding teaching, supervision and research agendas, we have little time or energy leftat the end of a day. If we choose to become involved in the community, other areassuffer. It’s a constant tension. Some of us still want lives beyond the institution too—likedancing,” I add.Ted smiles and motions to the waiter. “Anything else?”“Yes, and this next one is a huge issue for me,” I say. I’m not sure if I even feelcomfortable bringing this up in my dissertation because I know it will probably makepeople angry with me, but it is something that I have learned about myself as a result ofthis research. It’s not meant to criticize anyone else, but other people may identify with itand see it as a criticism of them.” I pause, perhaps waiting for some encouragement tocontinue.227“Well isn’t that the point—to help people recognize their own experiences thatmay have been invisible to them before?” Ted asks. “You don’t have to tell me if youdon’t want to, though. Or you can tell me and not name names. It’s up to you.”It’s the encouragement I need so I proceed cautiously. “Well at first I was quitedisturbed by what I saw as two opposing views on the faculty, and yet, I could identifywith each one. Now I see them as two variations on the theme, I Still Think Jam Superiorand You Are Inferior, regardless of one’s particular ideological orientation, and I countmyself in as one of the players of that tune. One variation of the theme portrays educatorsas the all-benevolent caregivers who will empower Aboriginal youth through educationand our willingness to support them with services. In our benevolence we will pass onour skills and knowledge so that they too can participate fully in society. We will also tryto help them regain their cultures that our ancestors took away.The other variation is educator, or rather academic, as all-knowing and all-powerful. ‘I know what’s best for you, Aboriginal people—and it’s not practicing yourcultural traditions. You are othering yourselves and keeping yourselves separate from andinferior to the dominant group by reifying your cultural differences’,” I say in my bestpatronizing teacher voice. Ted smiles.“And, ‘I know what’s best for you, students—and it’s what I tell you to think anddo. You don’t have the education or experience yet to know what you really think orneed.’ Similarly, ‘I know what’s best for you, colleagues—because my way of seeing theworld is the only good, the beautiful, and the true’.”I shake my head. “Those of us who have adopted this attitude of knowing what’sbest for someone else and speaking so authoritatively about it, might aptly be called228‘sanctioned scribes’ (Dubin (1999). Who sanctioned us, I’m not sure. Maybe we’re self-sanctioned ‘by virtue of being white’ (Schick, 2000). I read an article by Dubin, (1999, p.152) who cites Brody (1971) as stating, ‘[e]ven the most sensible, humanistic andscientifically objective of the Whites seemed unable to avoid [or even recognize]attitudes that can only be described as paternalistic and racist.”Ted chuckles a little. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”“I started to recognize this patronizing attitude when some Aboriginal peopleindicated they felt hurt and even angry at what they perceived as attacks on their beliefsand traditions and on their Elders. And then there were non-Aboriginal people who sawsome people’s views as attacks on their good intentions to create awareness andappreciation of Aboriginal cultures among our students. I know I even became a littledefensive when someone suggested to me that I shouldn’t be focusing my energy onhelping students understand or support communities in their efforts to revitalize theirlanguages and cultures.”Ted nods in sympathy but remains silent.“Of course the response to my reaction might be that I am resisting hearinganything that does not support my identity as a liberal, kind, socially just teacher.Someone might say that I have a hard time coming to terms with my racism, and I guessin part that might be true. I finally had to acknowledge that the anti-racist stance reallyopened my eyes and started to help me think more deeply about how identities areformed and thus influence all we think and do.Nevertheless, I just couldn’t see why there was so much concern by someacademics about whether peoples’ views were considered essentialist or not when such229debates are rarely on the minds of educators and communities who are dealing with verydifficult social issues in their schools. Granted, teachers have to understand how racismaffects students and us all, and many teachers do, but I think we have to give peoplecredit for trying to do the best they know how at the time. It’s a process we work throughtogether. There’s no blueprint for how to change inequitable situations.”“I certainly didn’t hear any of those debates when we were doing workshopsaround the province,” agrees Ted. “But it did sound to me as if teachers just wanted somepractical suggestions—a blueprint. But then it’s not helpful to have the practice withoutany theoretical foundation or vice versa,” he says.“Exactly,” I say. “The other thing I noticed is that some of my colleagues and Iwere going on about social justice, yet other people felt they were being silenced if theydidn’t hold those particular views of social justice, which seem to be so prevalent in ourfaculty right now. I was also guilty of silencing students who didn’t hold my particularviews. How is that social justice? “I ask. Ted doesn’t say anything, but he still appearsinterested in what I am saying so I continue.“On the other side, people who argued we should be having the students engagedonly in anti-oppressive education and who were critics of School’, felt they wereunheard, lone voices amid those who were affirming SchoolS and the revitalization ofcultures. So I saw this as a real rift in the faculty, yet I see both points of view as a type ofimperialism.”“Right. Who decides, who decides?” adds Ted. “I think there is probably a middleground somewhere between those views.