Curriculum as Place

The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
2. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

 

Reinhabitation and decolonization were key themes in this article, shown through the examination of a community based project. By taking an excursion along the river, a map was formed, highlighting major cultural and historic areas. Indigenous languages were also incorporated, through teaching some original words/ names of nature in Cree. The indigenous land is divided and regulated by Crown, Treaty, and reserve spaces.This control and manipulation has huge impacts on social networks, economic development, survival. It also contributes to language loss, as the linguistic connection to traditional territory becomes weakened. This results in lost knowledge of organized travel routes, that led to food, resources, and survival of the seasons in the past.

“When we hear frogs singing, we know the water quality is safe for our consumption. We listen to the song of the birds to know what kind of weather is approaching. The moose will know when we need food and allow themselves to be taken. Such is the contract we have with the animal world.” (Elder and community member, Fort Albany First Nation)

Although this is translated into English, it shows the indigenous philosophy of deep relationships between humans and the earth. The word “Paquataskamik” in Cree, describes the natural environment and traditional territory of these people. Reinhabitation involves rebuilding these strong, sacred ties with the land, and trying to salvage the invaluable land based knowledge.

Decolonization is also presented in this article, providing a change of perspective on past colonial actions and their impacts. The youth of Fort Albany First Nation were very active in broadcasting their beliefs on the subject of decolonization, rejecting old dominant ideas AND promoting new cultural patterns. Their “zines” and radio documentaries share experiences and perspectives of youth, adults, and elders about the river to the greater community of Northern Ontario. These interviews and stories provided personal context for this decolonization process. The group also organized an excursion on the river, during which, youth and elders explored: history, languages, issues of governance, and land management. These all contribute to the value of the land, and affect both social and economic well being.
After reading this article, I have begun to realize just how important place is, and the role it plays in education and life as a whole. Recognizing Treaty land is an important action, but it’s only just the beginning. This declaration must be followed, by sharing the historical context of the Treaties of Canada through an Indigenous perspective. It is important to provide this because the experience of the settlers/immigrants (which is often taught), and the indigenous peoples were very different. I find it incredibly necessary to explain what happened in the past, and what injustices continue today in regards to this land we now call Canada. Treaty promises were broken, in order to benefit white settlers over First Nations peoples. It must be made clear, that this was not the choice of Aboriginal peoples, they did NOT want this. In teaching Indigenous ways of knowing and values, the great importance of this land and its effect on Indigenous peoples can begin to show through.

 


Reference

Restoule, J., Gruner, S. & Metatawabin, E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Canadian Journal of Education, 36(2). (pp. 68-86). Retrieved from: http://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/RestouleEtAl_2013_Learning%20from%20place.pdf/597510552/RestouleEtAl_2013_Learning%20from%20place.pdf

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