To start, I think it is important to define reinhabitation and decolonization. Reinhabitation, as defined in the article is “identifying, recovering, and creating material spaces and places that will teach people how to live well in their environments” (Restoule, Gruner, & Metatawabin, 2013, p. 74). Decolonization means to “identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places” (Restoule et al, 2013, p.74).
This pertains to Indigenous peoples because a lot of the Indigenous peoples’ culture was taken away from them through colonization. Furthermore, certain Indigenous groups have gone extinct, such as the Beothuk. As a result, the Indigenous peoples are in a state of confusion on who they are. We, the dominant European culture, cannot tell them what their identity is. So, the Indigenous peoples have to use what little bits and pieces they can find to recreate their culture and identity. In the article, there is research being done on the importance of the land/territory and how one can learn from it. This shows that one does not have to learn only inside of a classroom, their surroundings will also tell them information. They can also go out into the environment to learn life skills. For example, what plants can and cannot be used as medicine. A specific landmark that the Mushkegowuk people place a lot of importance on the river. The river has meaning through the social, cultural, economic, and spiritual among the community members. They relied on the river. For example, they got food, hydration, and travel from the river. The river is a big of their identity and should not be forgotten. Additionally, the interviews that are recorded in the article are a way for Indigenous peoples to reintegrate their oral traditions into their and our culture. The use of story is a completely different teaching method than the European culture uses where a student has to sit in a classroom for seven hours and absorb and recite information that has been taught to them. I believe that by using their traditional teaching methods, the Indigenous peoples will start to get more of their culture back which is a perfect example of reinhabitation and decolonization because the Mushkegowuk are in the process of self-discovery and change.
During my school experience, there was not a lot of importance placed on the land. Almost all of our learning happened inside of the classroom. If we did leave the classroom to go on a field trip, it was rarely educational but more so just for fun at the end of the year/semester. For example, sometimes we would go to wave pool and get pizza afterwards, on a ski trip, our school even had a travel club. We did not have a relationship with the land. We saw the land as something that has valuable resources that we can take without asking. Since my relationship with the land is not the greatest, I believe it would be beneficial to bring in a local Elder to help my class see that we can learn from everything around us instead of only in the school building.
Furthermore, in my own teaching, I will have to recognize that the European viewpoint is not the best viewpoint and I will need to break away from traditional European ways of teaching. I will have to make sure that different worldviews are identified and explored. As mentioned previously, it may be beneficial to bring an Elder into the classroom or go on more meaningful field trips. Nowadays, there is a lot of stress put onto teaching Indigenous viewpoints. I am not saying that this is a negative thing because there will most definitely be a high percentage of Indigenous students in my classroom and they play a big part in Canada’s development. However, I do not want my students who may be immigrants or refugees to feel ostracized in the classroom either. I believe a good way for students to display their culture’s traditions and viewpoints to their peers, is to do a “Canadian Identity Project.” I completed a similar project in my senior year of high school. We wrote an essay and then made our essays into videos which we showed to the class. This project was beneficial because my class has never been separated since kindergarten (I attended a K-12 school). We all knew each other fairly well, but after this project, we all felt even closer and that we understood each other better. In other words, in my teaching, I want to create a sense of community in my classroom. The definition of community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” (“Community,” 2019). Everyone in my future class is going to be different, and that is what makes us all the same. I want everyone to feel that they are valued members of the group and should not be afraid to show off who they are.
Community. (2019). In English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/community
Restoule, J.P., Gruner, S., & Metatawabin, E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dI7wj8JcsOuMVHjWx1aKJy3XzCSoyYuc/view