You Killed The Aboriginal in the Child, Why Not Raise Them There? – Socials Op-Ed

The definition of apology, found on Dictionary.com, includes the sole synonym “excuse”. If this is the case, then why do we ‘apologize’ for things we have done wrong if we know they were unjust? What did Stephen Harper’s “apology” to Aboriginal victims of residential schools truly mean? “I’m sorry”? Or was it just a political line-riding act of excusing himself and the government from further detriment; is an apology just an excuse? Or has the language we speak evolved enough over time to make it less so?

We are taught in elementary school, the value of an apology means to say that “I’m sorry,” and “this won’t happen again.” By this standard, the government has failed Aboriginals, and more importantly, their youth.  Where is the job description, of the current Prime Minister, in one of the most peaceful countries in the world, stating the duty to carry out elimination of certain cultures, “apologized” for nearly 7 years ago? If you did “kill the Indian in the child”, why don’t you at least try to raise them again there?

In April, 200 million dollars over five years federally, was allotted, in the national budget, to improve the education of Aboriginals, while $210 million is being spent over only four years on the celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary alone. Additionally, the government announced that they would be spending $11.8 billion over 10 years starting in 2017-18 on the improvement of our armed forces. That’s $5.9 over five years; Over 25 times more than the improvement of Aboriginal education. Do they really want to improve our safety from external forces more than protect those who already struggle internally?

Only six days ago, a 19 year-old woman, named Paige, died in the east side of Vancouver due to a drug overdose. She was identified as legally blind and had been exposed to violence throughout her life. She was moved from house to house and never received the care she needed in her childhood. Society moved forward while she tried to hold on for dear-life. She was an aboriginal.

Aboriginal youth are the “least likely to graduate”, reported Universities Canada. This very lack of support within their schooling causes fallout over the course of their lives, giving them less opportunity for employment, careers, and a healthy lifestyle. This unsafe environment as youth and children can lead to drugs, homelessness, joblessness, and alcoholism, amongst other negative paths in their early adulthood. What I don’t understand is how the government would apparently just like to sit back and watch it all go down within their own borders.

Two negatives do not make a positive. A negative and a neutral zero do not make a positive. Only a negative plus more positives can create a positive, a right. The unmeasurable negative of residential schools that physically ended only 19 years ago, has not yet been righted, not enough positive has been added to correct the undeniable fault of the government. If the government would truly like to ‘apologize’ for what they did, they better make sure they’re actually willing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

A grade 10 Chippewas student, said to the Toronto Star at a recent Truth and Reconciliation Conference, that they don’t learn enough about their own culture in society: “We learn about everyone else’s history, but we should learn more about ours.” Is this not seemingly a carry out of the impacts of residential schools only in a smaller, less-noticeable way? The diminishment of Aboriginal culture in the child seemingly still exists today, but we must not travel down the routes of our ancestors if we wish to see any different results. The people’s belief in the wrongness of residential schools is the only true indicator of its very unjust values. The government’s ‘apology’ and removal of the schools shows their admittance and agreement that these settings are unequal, but where has their resolve gone since then?

“Investing in Aboriginal Communities” is included in the federal budget, but closely followed by the Canada 150 celebrations section. The Aboriginal support from the government should not be just a small few pages in the book. We settled here, occasionally moving into their pre-existing settlements, and supposedly we have accepted their peoples into our society. Now if only we could actually accept them and make their culture more than just welcome, but flourishing.

 

Bake At 400 For 3 Weeks: In-depth Post #7/8

Finally, bake the dessert in the oven for three weeks at 400 degrees celsius.

Wait, that’s the last step of the recipe! Oh my gosh, that’s it, I’m almost done!

Yes, my in-depth project is nearing a close, and as I put my project in the oven for it’s final stage of baking, I can only hope it turns out alright. I’ll put my finishing touches on my presentation dishes and plans so that I’m ready when the dessert comes out, and I can get my icing ready so I’ll be lickety split, before it gets licked up, in literally putting the icing on the cake. As in-depth nears the end I am beginning to work on my preparations for in-depth night itself. I have spent many long sessions with my mentor trying different recipes and learning about different techniques and types of baking, along with some tricks of the trade. Nonetheless, I’m not quite done yet, I still have to be sure not to burn my cake!

In my most recent sessions with my mentor, this past weekend, we spent our time baking three separate dishes over the course of two days. The dishes we prepared this time were a chocolate wafer layer cake, “old-fashioned cookies”, and a secret dish that I am considering making for in-depth night.

For the layer cake, we prepared the cake portion of the dessert on the first day, and made the icing, in this case acting as the glue, and assembled the cake on day two. The cake was much sweeter than I expected and fairly firm in its texture. Below is a picture of the cake being mixed and the portion which was later cut in half and stacked in between icing and wafers to create the layer cake.

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The second dessert of our weekend baking adventures, was pressed cookies, or as my mentor called them “old-fashioned cookies”. I believe she uses this name because we made them using an old family cookie press of hers that she brought form her home in Croatia. It was very cool to use this press and it made the cookie cutting very efficient. It also allowed you to choose from multiple designs for your cookies. For these cookies, we made the dough on day one and then cut them and baked them on day two. The recipe made a very large amount of cookies so it took a while to cut and bake them all and I came home with a few more treats than expected. Below are some pictures of the cookie cutting/pressing and the finished products.

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(sorry for all the pictures being in a line, when I put them in via Flickr link, my blog doesn’t allow me to edit the size or location of the photo)

Finally, the third, mystery, dessert, is… Well I can’t tell you, because then you would know what I’m going to make on in-depth night, which I guess would be okay, but don’t you think it would be better as a surprise? Well actually, I might not make this dish for the event night. I was planning on it, but for one, in my mentor session, it was rather difficult to create, which is a good thing because it challenges me, however, there are also some time constraints for the dish and I’m not sure how it would work for the actual event. We’ll see what works itself out in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m still looking for a way to present this dish to you all! Here are some pictures of a part or the mystery dessert/dish, as a small hint or teaser perhaps.

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To finish off this post with some insight from de Bono, I have chosen to write in the sections of emotions and feelings, and diversions and off-course. I think these two sections of de Bono’s writings come up often in my mentor sessions, sometimes related to baking, and sometimes “off-course”.

One example of both of these categories, is a conversation with my mentor from a session a month or so ago. As we have to wait for the dishes to bake, if we are not working on another dish while the first is in the oven, then we often end up talking about sometimes unrelated topics. Sometimes we will discuss the dish we are making, or go over recipes for later or alternatives for when making a certain dish. However, the conversation that I am going to use, was when my mentor asked me about my in-dpeth project itself.

Although this conversation was about my project, it was more off topic as we were waiting for a dessert to bake in the oven, so we had no rush or urgent matters to discuss. It was also a more broad discussion, not focused specifically on what we were doing that day. So this conversation was a diversion from the topic, or an off-course conversation.  My mentor asked me what subject the in-depth project counted for when we are marked on it, and I actually wasn’t sure. Initially I tried to puzzle my way through it and answer a couple other of her general questions about the project. She was rather surprised that it was unclear what subject it went towards, and also largely because I was unsure so came across somewhat unclear as to whether it counted for much at all. At this point in the conversation we both were feeling confused, but we hadn’t necessarily clearly shared that emotion with each other yet. I then clarified to her that I was really not sure as to what area it counts for in large part. I had made some logical guesses, but I wasn’t positive. She then answered with a “Ohhh, I see” type of reaction, and now we were both on the same page as to where the other stands in terms of understanding if the issue. Now we both have a more positive and less confused outlook and emotion on the conversation, tying in to the other option of posts’ section on “attitude”. From here  we continued to discuss this topic until it became clear there wasn’t much more for either of us to say, at which point, she gathered over the kitchen island with me and we looked through a cooking book of hers and she showed me some tips for different baking steps.

I have come a long way in my baking endeavour, but as I said, I still have a little ways to go before the desserts come out of the oven. I’ll be back on those pots, at the ready, planning for the final hurrah of in-depth night! I hope to see you there, and if not, have a wonderful day, and week, and year, and life!

Bye for now, and I’ll go prep those piping bags to put the icing on my project!

The Deep Depths of Tradition: Aboriginals – Europeans in Canada

Where have we come from? Where are we going? Where are we now?

You may remember these questions from the start of our social studies semester in my blog post, and I’m bringing them back up again because they are, literally, what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are going to do, which is what this post is about. However, this post is specifically focused on learning outcome B2 in the socials studies 10 curriculum: “Evaluate the impact of interactions between Aboriginal peoples and European explorers and settlers in Canada from 1815-1914”. I see this in itself, completely as a situation of the above mentioned questions.

This specific PLO directs the attention of the learner to the past, the “Where have we come from?”, 1815-1914.

Where have we come from?

Upon discussing the topics of Aboriginals in Canada I have gained many new perspectives and angles to the topic. Through class discussions, small mini-conferences, and, sometimes heated, debates with my parents, I have heard many different opinions and sides to some of the issues in the modern world surrounding Aboriginals, and how they came to be. In the beginning I was a bit confused, sometimes ‘drowned’, you could say, in the complexities of Aboriginals in Canada.

Over the course of our recent studies I have found myself intrigued by many different aspects of the topic; How did we get to where we are? Who has the rights? Or, had? Where does the puzzle begin? The topic has seemed to present itself as an extremely deep and complex situation, dealing with rights at the time of “North American discovery”, Canadian Confederation, and the modern day.

I have always been interested in Aboriginal peoples and their culture. In grade 7 I participated in an after school group where we learnt about various cultures and traditions of the local Aboriginal people. Further, in grade 8, our class had a guest presenter come in to teach us about the history of Aboriginals in addition to some stories of residential schools. I find it hard to believe that the events of residential schools actually occurred, and that they occurred in our country, and very recently.

Some points that have come up in my various discussions that I am interested and have been struggling to mull over in my mind, are ‘Who actually had the rights to the land when the Europeans came to Canada?’ The obvious answer to this question is the Aboriginal people, who were currently inhabiting the region, but as someone pointed out, if the existing Aboriginal tribes and groups simply overtook one another using manpower and physical attack, then what prevented from the Europeans from doing the same? I then wonder whether the Europeans’ introduction of a new system atop the existing, and to their position successful, form of title and claim simply outdid themselves and made it more complicated than it needed to be.

If you shoot an arrow and hit a target at the end of a dock once, you’ve succeeded, but if you shoot another arrow, in the same spot, and it knocks the target off the dock into the water, it could be lost forever. No one may ever know who shot the arrow, or why, or where from, or who was there. It may take years to uncover the truth, to get to the bottom of it. The arrow and target may end up somewhere totally unexpected, in situations completely unforeseen, but most of all, it will create confusion. Now this is just one little arrow and target of course, but what if those targets become a currency for all of Canada, then it would be pretty important.

In this metaphor, picture that the the Europeans are the shooter, the first arrow is their military, the second is their law. The lake is the people, the unforeseen situation is modern Canada, and the target is the Aboriginals. I’m not saying that Aboriginals are a currency for Canada, but as I am learning, they are becoming more and more of a factor on not only our economy, but also our society.

Further, I am interested in how the ‘modern’, or more man-made style of living of the Europeans, has meshed with the more natural way of life of the Aboriginals years ago, and how they are still meshing today. When I think about the Aboriginals and their culture, I think or peace, serenity, very natural. How have these characteristics changed, or are they true in the first place, since the collision of cultures long ago?

I am very interested to pursue further into the section of this learning outcome  stating “critique the rationale for treaties and the Indian Act, and evaluate their impact on Aboriginal peoples.  I have gathered some questions I have that I would further like to pursue and try to understand surrounding these issues:

  • What do the Aboriginals want now?
  • Did the Europeans fulfill their constitutional agreements, then and now?
  • How did the Europeans’ views at the time of Confederation shape their future?
  • How are they carrying out this ‘future’?
  • Are there other countries in a similar situation to Canada, or that went through similar events with Aboriginal groups? What happened there?
  • Did the Europeans have the right to physically take over the land inhabited by the Aboriginals?
  • What was the beginning piece of the dominos, or what first caused the complexities and confusion, or began it? Who knocked them over? When? How?
  • Why are there more and more treaties and agreements being negotiated?
  • What is treaties and agreements are being negotiated today?

Some of these are very broad questions that could not be answered in a simple black or white response. Though, in order to fully understand these issues, one must first build a basis of knowledge of the past. I feel that I should learn more about what happened in the law and constitution at the time of Confederation and the Indian Act, and how those agreements have been carried out. In regard to learning about another culture or society, I feel that this would be highly beneficial in order to have something to base our history on and compare it to. However, many of these questions are deep and intertwining puzzles that could take years to solve. In fact, they have, and are still. So, many of them will be difficult for me to solve individually throughout our study, however I can attempt to further understand the sides and background of the history.

In regard to what other areas this research and learning may entail, I think this topic, and PLO, relates to almost, if not all, other areas of the curriculum. The fact that this is the case, indicates a certain importance of this issue in our society, both then and now. Some specific PLOs  that connect very closely to this issue are A1, C1. and B3, to pinpoint a few.

A1, which involves cirtical thinking, comparing, and questioning, are the exact skills and techniques needed to fulfil this outcome, B2. Comparison could be used when analyzing the similarities of another civilization to Canada and our Aboriginal relations. Further, questioning and critical thinking are often required to progress in understanding and knowledge, even though it may feel liek you are moving backwards when coming up with radical ideas or questioning the norm.

On the other hand, C1, and B3, are possibly more debatable outcomes in connection to Aboriginal relations. However, I believe that C1, describing the evolution of ‘responsible’ government in Canada, is a key outcome to critically analyze when digging into the depths of Canadian traditions in relations with Aboriginals. Though it may require questioning, and thinking outside of the norm, I feel that the analysis of what exactly ‘responsible’ government is, is a valuable place to start when learning about the relations of Aboriginals and Europeans. Additionally, I think that B3, evaluating the influence of immigration on Canadian society, is another useful outcome to explore. However, I think we should look at it from a different angle, the angle of the Europeans being the mass immigration on the existing majority, the Aboriginals. This may also be a useful area to explore in a slightly earlier time period, but also during this time period of the impacts of more and more Europeans existing and their influence on how society functions and how the land function changed.

To continue, many of the outcomes discussing resource development and therefore the economy connect completely to Aboriginal relations as to do with land ownership and title. As I mentioned before, virtually all the PLOs connect to B2 and Aboriginal relations in some way as they were the inhabitants of our land before the Europeans arrived, and the results of this merger are still occurring today.

I hope to develop more knowledge through this study that will help me in the modern world in understanding current issues and how we can move forward as a nation together. Many of these twists and turns in the knots of law and relations are challenging to understand, but I hope they can take me closer to the deep depths of traditions, and the lake, to find the target.