Engaged Citizen – Semester End Representation

Hello everyone,

With the semester coming to an end, it’s time for me to post a digital story of my pledge over the course of ESST 317.  I struggle using the word final in regards to my pledge, because it isn’t really terminal.  I still fully intend to maintain my pledge, and live through it every day of my life from here on out.  It has been said my many people, notably Justice Murray Sinclair, that education caused the assimilation in the first place, and it is through education that the bulk of reconciliation will occur.   This is something I really took to heart, as it positions me as someone who can really make a difference in the grand scheme of Canada.

On a slightly unrelated note, I would like to share a song with anyone reading this.  The song is a source of inspiration in regards to my pledge, and what I see as my position as a future educator.   It is called “People Live Here” by Rise Against.  Although I doubt it was written with reconciliation in Canada in mind, the lyrics always invoke strong images about why reconciliation is important.  I invite you to listen to it at the link shared above.

Thank you,
Daniel St-Jacques

 

 

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Active Citizenship Pledge- What kind of citizen I am?

Going over the article What Kind of Citizen?, I have found that my active citizen pledge touches all 3 pillars of citizenship.  The first, the personally responsible citizen, is because I am participating in something without really questioning or planning why.  That is to say, because I have decided to participate in reconciliation (which I hope every does, as reconciliation is something that affects us all), I am being a personally responsible citizen.  I am doing something to contribute to a greater good without questioning it, and without planning it.

On another level, my pledge can also be see as participatory.  What would have been participatory would have been if I had participated in UR S.T.A.R.S. more and facilitated more Blanket Exercises, which is still part of my pledge.  In this case, I would have been actively participating in the community to help students, and community members learn and live through a representation of a story, which is instrumental when working towards reconciliation.

Finally, my pledge can also fall into the justice-oriented citizen category.  My approach of writing letters to significant politicians and people in office would have fallen into this category, as my letters would have contained questions about what is being doing to target systemic oppression, and how they believe it is important.  Albeit, in this case, the letters never got written, and although I plan on it, they likely won’t be written until the new leader of the Sask. Party is chosen, so that it may potentially get an answer from the major parties that affect us here in Treaty 4.

 

 

Active Citizenship – Peer Feedback Post

As part of my last blitz of posts regarding my active citizenship pledge,  I have decided to look over the peer feedback I received over a month ago.  Granted, this post was supposed to be made over a month ago, but better late than never?

Peer 1

Thank you for your feedback in regards to my growth.  Personally speaking, I have always felt that demonstrating growth is more important than demonstrating skill or knowledge.  It is a theme I would much rather look for in my individual students than how well they can write exams, or how much they can remember from a book.  Not that knowledge isn’t important, but seeing a student grow, and finding ways to help them grow, seems more important to me in this moment.  Unfortunately, due to my lackadaisical effort over the last month, I was not able to able to integrate your suggestions into my blogging.  I do agree that an important addition to my blogging would have been to talk about what I plan to do next.  That way, I would have been keeping myself accountable, or writing a great many posts about the reasons I had failed to do what I set out to do.  When it comes to the Calls to Action, I have not yet decided which one I would like to focus a lot of my energy on.  Over the next few weeks (the Christmas Break) I would like to read over the entire Calls to Action, and kind of decide what each means to mean.  From there, I will take the most meaningful to my situation, and think of ways I might implement them into my 1)Classroom, and 2) Every day life.  Both of these are important to consider as a teacher, as both roles are so closely intertwined.

Peer 2

I thank you for pointing out my writing talent.  It is something I have always worked hard on, and something I am incredibly proud of.  I enjoy writing, and could probably turn each of my posts into a chapter book if I didn’t stop myself.  I do appreciate your critiques of my approach, but unfortunately, due to my lack of time and effort over the last month, I was not able to implement either of them.  However, I do plan on going forth with my pledge into the future.  I have many reasons for why I believe what I originally set out to do is important for my development as a person and as a teacher.  As such, as I get ideas regarding my pledge, I will definitely look to dig deeper than just scratching the surface.  Writing letters would very likely had been easier if I came up with what I was going to say instead of just trying to write a letter from start to finish with no other ideas beforehand.  Additionally, I do plan on being more vocal about my ideas with my support system.  Oddly enough, I never considered asking them for advice during my pledge.  I thought that as an active citizen, I was going it alone.  Which is a little sad, considering everyone in our class had a similar pledge, and helping out a friend would have been an act of active citizenship.

Thank you both for your feedback!  Although I did not get a chance to implement ideas from either of you due to my lack of posts, I do plan on continuing to work toward my pledge, and potentially blogging about it into the future.

Active Citizenship – Update

Because it is nearing the end of the semester, and I will be posting my final post some time today, I have decided to release a series of updates on how my active citizenship pledge has been progressing.  To make a long story short, it hasn’t been going as well as I had planned.  At the start of this semester, I made a lot of plans for my pledge, and as the semester went on, I found it harder to keep up with my pledge, but also harder to find time for it.  Not because I didn’t try, but rather because there was always something “more important” that needed to get done.  It’s odd to say that there are things more important than being an engaged citizen – I mean, part of the idea is that you are participating and being an active part of society.  In terms of being human, that is one of the most important things you can do in my opinion.

However, for whatever reason, I found this particular task became increasingly difficult to dedicate time to.  Between projects for other classes, and what has felt like ongoing sickness for the last month, my participation in this has not been at a level that I planned for.  Perhaps my feelings are due to the fact that I set goals too high for me to reach in the beginning.  Perhaps my original pledge was too ambitious to begin with, and as I went on, I constantly added different elements, eventually overwhelming me.

At this point, I can say I have not been as active in my pledge as I would have like in the last month.  But, that is not to say I haven’t been planning for what I am going to do after this class is over.  Ultimately, I made this pledge because I felt it was important for myself as a citizen, but also as a future educator.  To recall, my pledge originally involved becoming more knowledgeable about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report so I could be a better educator.  However, as time went on, I found it harder to take part in my pledge, and easier to get absorbed in other projects for this class and others.  Many parts of my pledge have gone unfulfilled as of yet, but here is a small plan for how I will reach the goals of my pledge in the future.

Reading the TRC’s report.  This document is quite long, but it contains the stories of those impacted by Residential Schools.  In my opinion it is important to become familiar with these to some extent, and at least to try and read some of it.  As the document itself is quite long, I have decided that the most effective way for me to read it is to have it saved to my desktop.  This is opposed to having a print copy as it would be a lot of paper to print out.

Becoming familiar with the TRC’s Calls to Action.  This one is a little easier for me to do, as it involves reading the Calls to Action, and coming up with ways of how I might implement one or more of them in my classroom.  This idea was further strengthened by Aaron Warner’s 100 Days of Cree presentation, in which he did the same thing.

Becoming more active with UR S.T.A.R.S.  Unfortunately, for much the same reason I was too busy to post and to do other parts of my pledge, I was unable to be more active with the UR S.T.A.R.S. group.  In the New Year, I want to try and pay more attention to the emails and events, however, I feel like this may be one part of my pledge I will have to let go of while I am still a student due to my hectic schedule inside and outside of school.

Finally, writing letters to politicians and people of importance.  This is definitely something I want to look into doing, however the obstacles I have faced including writer’s block, and lack of time, have prevented me from doing so as of yet.  Some modifications I plan to make is to address primarily the leaders of the federal parties, to get a better idea of how they might steer their platforms in the future.  I would like to know how each major candidate plans on actively working towards reconciliation, and to ask them in a direct letter seems the best way to do that.

Although my pledge has not progressed how I would have liked to this point, I look forward to renewing my commitment past the end of this course and into the future.

Active Citizenship – Week 5

This week proved to be quite useful in redefining what exactly my pledge should be.  Over the weekend, having participated at Treaty Ed camp, my points of view have changed a bit in regards to my pledge.  First of all, after sitting in on Aaron Warner’s 100 Days of Cree presentation, I feel that maybe I should go through the calls to action and focus on one specific one.  That isn’t to say not keeping the others in mind, but rather really putting an effort to come up with ideas on how to implement a different call to action in my classroom.  This would ideally become an aid to other teachers who catch on, and start implementing strategies I find useful.

Additionally, over the weekend, I participated in my fourth blanket exercise.  This was quite possibly the most difficult one I have done as there were First Nations’ women present.  Seeing their reaction, and the amount of emotion they felt during the blanket exercise brought another level of importance to reconciliation for me.  It cannot just be a one-off.  The extent of treaty education cannot just be a blanket exercise at the start of the year and then nothing for the rest of it.  That does nothing to further reconciliation, and can in fact hinder it.  If students think that they are reconciled after one blanket exercise, it becomes problematic.  They need Treaty education to be constantly integrated into their learning throughout the year.

Active Citizenship Pledge – October 16 Update

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have still been struggling to compose my letters to people of importance.  As such, I have turned my sights elsewhere for the time being.  First of all, I have begun reading “Children of the Broken Treaty” by Charlie Angus, a book lent to me by Audrey.  So far, one of the passages that made do the most reflection is a sentence from the introduction chapter. “…if the young people stood together, they could make a difference.” (p. XIV). This sentence refers to how all children, regardless of their ethnicity, could hold the government accountable for the broken treaty promises.  This made me ponder what it might look like to have students in all classroom across the country taking the steps that Shannen did — penning letters to the prime minister, standing up for the basic human right of education for all people.  What would happen if the seemingly voiceless students suddenly became engaged in a quest for equality for all?  Would it change?  I would like to think so.  If not right away, then when these students grow up and hold the positions of power with the ability to rectify the wrongs done.

 

Additionally, I have sought inspiration for my letters in the Calls to Action document.  The 10th call to action, “We call on the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. ” is something I firmly believes needs to happen.  After reviewing the grade 5 Social Studies here in Saskatchewan, I feel as if there is a long way to go to ensuring culturally appropriate curricula, one of the principles under that specific call.  Although the present curriculum does include some demands for students to learn about First Nations’ culture, it does not specify whose point of view they have to learn.  This means that a teacher could technically get away with the bear minimum, or simply telling the story so that it makes it seem as if Settlers had nothing to do with the fate of the Indigenous peoples of this land.  This would definitely be something I include in my letter to the officials within the provincial government as they legislate curriculum.  Perhaps asking the curriculum to be more to the point, or to eliminate its neutral tone in favour of one that matches the reality of the situation.

 

That is all for this week!  Next week, I hope to have some of my letters written, or partially written!  Stay tuned!

Active Citizenship – Week 3

Hello everyone,

Coming up to week 3, I must admit I have faced some difficulty.  Granted, my main goal of my citizenship pledge for week 2 was only to come up with some letters to send to some figures of authority, I have found that is a lot more difficult than I thought.  I have sat down many times throughout the week, trying to pen something together.  I have tried writing in different forms, whether it be with pen and paper, or electronically.  Each time, I have faced writer’s block.

Mainly, when I have tried to write, I have found that the people I am trying to address has made the task significantly harder.  It is not just an essay for class, but rather a letter that may or may not be seen by people of great importance.  The main difficulty I seem to face is how to write.  Normally, I would just write in a formal tone, and let the words flow from my mind to the paper.  However, this time, I can’t seem to organize my ideas in a formal, concise way, all the while keeping the tone respectful overall.  Certain people I am trying to compose letters to are not people I necessarily approve of.  In fact, more often than not, I find myself questioning their decisions, and feeling disappointed  by them.  That being said, there is another degree of difficulty writing to these people.  I need to stay respectful, all the while stating my concerns, and as someone who pours emotion into almost everything I do, it can be a challenge to conceal some of the negative attitudes I have towards these people.

Finally, I want each letter to be personalized.  I do not want to sound like a robot, simply spewing out the same letter devoid of emotion.  I want to be able to properly convey how I feel about the topic, to make the readers understand, or maybe even feel the same way.

That is all for this week!  I expect to have all of my rough drafts done by next week with the long weekend coming up.  It will give me some much needed time to reflect on how I want to go about penning these letters.