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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.

The End of Emine…- What?!!!!!

Where do I begin?

It honestly seems like eminent just began and I was deciding who to do. Well let me start there I suppose: I am so glad I chose Teresa! I don’t know how I could have done anyone else for my first and 1 of 2 eminent projects(nothing against my other prospective eminent people)! And yes, I am now finishing my first and one of only two eminent projects ever!

Me at the end of the night at my learning centre.

 

That’s basically a short summary of how I felt at the end of Night of The Notables: Sad, happy, sentimental, “introspective”(quote Emma F. for one word that describes the night). That’s basically it, it’s like total chaos for about 15 hours, and then you just have to do a bunch of posts and you’re done your project. It really is crazy, in many ways. But I loved it.

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Photo creds: TALONS Flickr

I loved every single part of this project: the posting, the night, the interview(aaaaaah – in angelic voice). It was… a splash! That was my word to describe the night. I don’t exactly know why I chose it, but I did. Maybe it was because some of the other words I had in mind had been taken when it got to my turn, or because I was just hyped and felt like saying a crazy and rewarding word. As I said, I’m not entirely sure. But as I also said, I do know something: I had fun!

On the night of, or should I say, the day of, it’s mayhem, but in a good way. Everyone is frantically reserving desks and furniture and putting finishing touches on their learning centres from the moment they arrive in the morning. I had my parents drop my learning centre stuff/materials/cardboard furniture/clothes, whatever you want to call it, off at lunch, because it was far too much to carry in the morning as I had basketball practice before school. They had to bring two cars to get it all to school, and I recruited a team of assistants to help me relocate the ‘stuff’ up to the second floor, where it would remain for about 10 hours. In the afternoon, and continuing after school, I began assembling my learning centre and putting on a couple finishing touches.

Here’s a few pictures of my learning centre coming together:

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After our allotted set-up time, we headed down to the MPR for Dinner. Oh, forgot to mention our record-breaking fast MPR set-up that happened immediately after school; truly, many hands make light work. The dinner was fabulous, and even though we had had a small technical difficulty while setting up the MPR, we remained mainly on schedule for the duration of the night, or at least what I though was right on time. On that note, I’d just like to thank the two phenomenal project managers, Mira and Andrea, for their crazy efforts over the course of the evening. They worked so efficiently and looked like real professionals, real professionals. Also thank you to all of the other grade 9 committees who ultimately hosted the event with great success.

Then, after any final touch-ups were completed on the amazing learning centres we headed down to the MPR again, to await the renowned grade 10 speeches. And let me just say, we had no idea how this would change our destiny.

Okay, I know, over-dramatic, but the speeches were amazing, and when I say destiny, I mean, I don’t know how we’re going to live up to those speeches next year, we ‘got big shoes to fill!

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Photo creds: TALONS Flickr – Afternoon tens after speeches
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Photo creds: TALONS Flickr – Morning tens after speeches

 

I was lucky enough to help out holding up a sign for Lyle/Emma’s speech/performance. I say lucky, because I got VIP access backstage during the morning speeches, and I was also allowed to be inside the theatre prior to the performances before the audience loaded. This was a great experience and I think it will help me in preparing for next year. I really got to see how intense and nerve-racking the speeches truly are for the grade tens on the night of, but I also got to feel all the amazing positive energy going through the room beforehand. Something that I thought was really special and nice, was that before the audience entered the theatre, all the tens, morning and afternoon, got into a big huddle, and collectively gave support to one another. There wasn’t a single leader of the group, they just all huddled up and came together, not just physically. This reminds of how on a team, I’m thinking basketball, but any really, you’ll huddle up before games and at halftime and other breaks to hear each other out, support each other, and get pumped up as a group, a team, a unit. Being backstage during the morning tens’ performances, I saw that unity. I think that’s something really special about TALONS, and also the middle school program that I was in(MACC), you become much more than just a class with your classmates. Some would say, you become a family.

I think with the fall retreats gone, this event was huge for bonding within the TALONS family and coming together as one. It was amazing seeing everyone’s unique and creative learning centres that were all so different but interesting in their own ways.

My learning centre turned out very well. I had a lot of fun putting it together as it is something I am very passionate about, and it was very easy for me to talk about it with the many visitors I had to my station over the course of the evening. They all seemed very intrigued by the remarkable success and magnitude of her career at her height, her perseverance through staying at home and her crazy full-time job, and her outstanding dedication to the game over so many years. I had my interview documentary playing on the right of my learning centre(facing it), and on the left I had my home-made player locker. The locker housed a replica Team Canada jersey signed by Teresa herself in person, a SFU Women’s Basketball T-shirt, and a replica Canada practice jersey, along with basketball shoes also signed by her, and a water bottle taped and labelled the same as the national team. On the ground I had a, almost to scale, basketball half-court with a timeline of some of the major events of her career along the three point line. Lastly, in the centre on the wall, I had my title reading “Teresa Gabriele #5” and some Team Canada posters, one of which is signed by Teresa and of her and another player. Here are some pictures of my learning centre in full swing and me presenting, so you can get a feel of my little Teresa Gabriele world found in the far left corner of the second floor of Gleneagle Secondary on December 3rd:

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Photo creds: Mom – Me talking to guests at my centre, notice the projector cart matches theme

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Above photos creds: Mom – Me showing off Teresa’s water bottle and my basketball court timeline.

Night of the NotablesNight of the Notables Night of the Notables

Above three photos creds: TALONS Flickr, but I believe Jess SL. (TALONS alumni) actually took these three. Thanks Jess, they’re great photos.  The first one: Teresa’s locker; The second one: my interview video playing; The third one: me standing at my station at the ready.

Note:  I wore a Team Canada T-shirt given to me by none other than my eminent person.

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And then, that was that. It was all over. I packed up my learning centre reluctantly after running around to some of my fellow TALONS family members and giving them hugs due to sentimental splashes in my mind (ahh, there’s that word)and the sadness that I won’t again be a part of the night of the notables with the current grade tens with them as grade tens. That this was also the first and only grade 9 version of eminent night to be experienced by me, and first and one of only two to be experienced by me as a current TALONS learner.

I managed to capture a few of the grade tens’ amazing costumes in picture at the end of the evening, and can we just take a minute to appreciate them?

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Photo creds: TALONS Flickr: Jamie F./Shane Koyczan and Vanessa G./Angela Davis

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Above left: Vanessa F./Nancy Wake; right: Katherine V./Julie D’Aubigny
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Emma F./Frida Kahlo

 

And another lovely photo of three amazing people in the TALONS family after the night: Katherine, Karolina, and Emma M.  IMG_0921

 

Well I really could go on forever probably, and include more and more pictures of the night and all the outstanding notables and notable students, but unfortunately just as this project, and the sun setting over SFU(see interview doc.), this post must come to an end.

I guess my narrations in my interview documentary aren’t inaccurate, as I can now look at ‘the end’, as not the end of this particular project, but rather my whole eminent experience across both grade 9 and 10. And that is fortunately still a long ways off.

You’ll notice that I tagged ‘moment’ on this post. But in reality, eminent was much more than just one moment, but really a collection. I gained so many things from this project, connections(as mentioned in interview post), experiences(night of the notables and also mentioned in SFU post along with much more), and they all came together to make one big splash.

A splash in school, a splash with friends, and a splash in my life.

Thank you again so much to everyone who helped me in this project: Teresa, Allison, Mr. Jackson, Ms. Mulder, Mr.Albright, my fellow nines and my amazing tens.

As a grade 9 I thoroughly look forward to next year, but as I look back on this year’s project I’m happy with how I didn’t take the grade 9 experience for granted, it’s half of your eminent projects after all. I wanted to make the most of it, and I did. It was certainly a success, but as I said in my interview documentary, it’s not over yet, however I will be saying goodbye for now.

So as this year’s project comes to an end, and I finish my last blog post, now this being symbolic of the sun set rather than vice versa, I say:

Anne – Teresa Gabriele eminent person – over and out – splash!