A River of Recovery: Incorporating Reinhabitation and Decolonization

For our reading this week we were asked to read Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin. The paper is about a project that was created in order to connect the youth with the adults and elders. The project was a 10-day river trip that encouraged practicing and discussiing traditional waters and lands and what they mean to their family. The article highlighted the importance of situational learning (place-based) and re-inhabitation in decolonization. The trips around the river “were part of the decolonization process of re-membering as younger generations were re-introduced to traditionl ways of knowing” (Gruner, 71).

The article highlights various forms of reinhabitation and decolonization including recovering and renewing traditional cultural patterns. The youths were able to learn lots from the Elders that participated in the river ride including the meaning of paquataskamik, which is the Cree word for traditional territory and all of the enviroment, nature, and everything within. The reason why the meaning of the word pawuataskamik is important to the youth is because Residential schools had an effect on the different generations education. Resedential School’s have had a negative impact on fluent speakers in the community so it is important for the Elders to pass on the most important traditions to them. The youths are also educated on why the location, the river, is vital to their community as it does represent their community. The river is known as family since family members are buried by certain spots of the river. There are points among the river that indicate significant events and moments to their community.

This project also encouraged “strengths binding social and economic well-being to land and enviroment and social and family ties and their rootedness in land” (Gunner, 84). I believe that this entire project is something I would like to take some ideas from in order to show my students the importance of community and identity. If I was to be teaching in my hometown of Swift Current, I would see if it would be possible to have my students take a field trip of downtown Swift Current with Elders who are around their grandparents age. The Elders will be able to educate the students on what the place use to be for them and how/why it changed. The students will gain a strong sense of community and will hopefully gain a new understanding of Indegenous history in Swift Current. I learned a little about what the First Nations contributed to making Swift Current what it is. I believe my education to be biased about the First Nations involvement and I would like to grow my knowledge about the topic as well. With this assignment I could have it go with a social studies class or ELA as a lesson in identity.

The article will be tagged below if you would like to to read it, which I highly recommend:


Published by Jessica Buchanan-Carlin

Weekly Blog posts for ECS 210

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