Post-show notes: Shad's week seven highlights
Welcome to another edition of Shad's informal post-show notes. Here's what stood out for our host in week lucky-number seven. (Notes in italics added by q staff.)
- Tracey Lindberg (First-time novelist): Talking about a class she co-teaches to non-Indigenous seniors where students are encouraged to ask their long-standing, potentially embarrassing questions about Indigenous life and rights. She said the class operates under the principle of allowing for "kind mistakes". I was surprised and struck by that story and I asked Tracey for a link to more info about the course. She kindly obliged. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to read her full write up.)
- Brandi Carlile (Folk/rock/roots powerhouse): Singing these lyrics: "Can you fight the urge to run for another day? You might make it further if you learn to stay". Powerful words in an age of transience.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission arts panel: Calling Canadians to respond to the TRC report with real action. Namely, ensuring that the TRC recommendations are implemented, and engaging in more difficult conversations going forward with open hearts and minds. The week certainly felt like an important moment for this country and it was special to get to hear from artists at the forefront.
- Will Gadd (Daredevil who climbed Niagara Falls): So cool to get to chat with someone with such fascinating and foreign experiences, and talk about different kinds of fear and different kinds of knowing.
- Young Jean Lee (Playwright): Discovering empathy for the most privileged of demographics (Straight White Men). Also hearing about her uniquely difficult creative process. Fresh, nuanced perspective on identity and social responsibility. And a funny, challenging play.
That's it for week seven! What stood out for you?
Tracey Lindberg offers more insight into her course for non-Indigenous seniors
The course was offered through an Alberta university. Myself and another Cree colleague elected to teach it. The course had 50 seniors in it (only one self identified as Indigenous). There were former university professors, heads of corporations, housewives and teachers in it. There were also activists, raging grannies, and allies within the course.
Almost universally, there was a lack of information about Indigenous peoples as members of the community that the seniors live in. Some knew history, some knew current events, but few knew about the link between the two and how Indigenous peoples were and are a part of our own narrative. That is, there had been a bit of examination of Indigenous peoples and issues as "Other" but no examination of us as neighbours, as participants in a dialogue (relationship) with Canadians.
The students were astute, kind and thirsty for knowledge.
Our classroom pedagogy was as follows:
1. You have the right to make kind mistakes. You will make mistakes and it is your responsibility to be as informed as possible when you get to class in order that your mistake is kind.
2. It actually does hurt us, as humans, to hear stereotypes, generalizations and racialized understandings about Indigenous peoples. While we can all make kind mistakes, let us also be fully informed and gentle as we are talking about people in the room.
3. You have the right to ask any question. If you are shy or uncomfortable, please write it down and we will answer it during / as part of a lecture.
4. Our goal in this course is to acknowledge that we have relationships with each other as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. These relationships must be respectful and reciprocal in order for us to share space and ideas (inside of this classroom and out).
Each day we lectured for 30 minutes and answered questions for 30 minutes. We had a course outline in which we addressed: Indigenous Nationhood, Indigenous Governance, Indigenous Laws and Legal Orders, Indigenous Women, Indigenous Citizenship and Indigenous Economic Development.
Students were free to attend or not attend. They attended. Each student / retiree was welcome to speak, take notes, listen or engage as they wished. They were vociferous, outraged, thoughtful, engaged and honest.
Some of their questions were functional: Why would you want a status card when it labels you? What us a land claim? Do you think the Indian Act is fair? Where and when do "Indians" pay taxes? Why is economic development so hard on reserves?
Others were challenging on a number of levels: When we see lateral violence between Indigenous communities, as non-Indigenous peoples, are we just supposed to ignore it? Why do you think Canada is not acknowledging the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls? What does two spirited mean? Does it mean I am racist if I avoid certain people on the street?
What we found is not that we have a lot in common, but that we have a lot to gain by simply having a conversation. So great is our desire to bridge this information gap that 75% of the students have committed to meeting and organizing a group of Indigenist Allies comprised of seniors and Indigenous community members. Our first meeting is June 23.
It all started with a commitment to educate ourselves, create a kind space where we could ask anything and to learn from our mistakes.