Gathering together as Indigenous Education Learning Leaders means that we need to linger in the highs and the lows, the celebrations and the sadness that comes with the truth that we are reconciling.
Recognizing and acknowledging what it means to be together in this work requires a constant setting a-new (Arendt, 1969) as we find our way forward. Each time we meet, we smudge, we talk, and we share. This time, we shared our feelings about wellness, and then we gathered together to ask deep questions about literacy within the Indigenous Education framework. We used the provincial achievement data as a provocation to discuss what a given discipline looked like in each of the schools in the pilot project. We talked about storytelling. How do we want to tell our story together so that others might learn from our journey this year? We ended with a reading a story that used mirrors as a metaphor to ponder how we can reflect our best selves out to the world, linking back to our opening smudge when we shared how this is hard work and heart work.
Where are the gifts from this long day of rigorous sharing and reflection? For so many of us, it was starting the day in a circle, with a smudge, a blessing and a candid conversation about how we are taking care of ourselves so that we can care for others. It was having a deep conversations about literature. Why? We realized that there is a need to know more but this was realized with caution. Being an Indigenous Education Learning Leader does not mean that we now become literacy specialists and then math specialists in our schools, and so on.
So the gifts offered from the cedar in our smudge? The day became about finding a path forward. Perhaps this path starts with bringing principals and different leaders together to build a collective understanding of the nature of this position as it evolves. Perhaps it is also about supporting Indigenous students and supporting the entire school community in actively embedding holistic ways of knowing across and through the curriculum for the benefit of all students, all teachers and all citizens who live here on Treaty 7 land.
The sweet grass in our smudge represented balance. So I pause a minute here to wonder and reflect about what we are offering our Learning Leaders in terms of balance. Direct knowledge of different aspects of the positions so that we might develop an understanding of what it means to have the responsibility of this role? Also community so that we might support each other on this meaningful and necessary, yet difficult journey.
Meeting together as a cohort always leaves me feeling balanced by traditions and the relationships before we head out again into situations that can quickly become unbalanced from the pressures of the work.
Arendt, H. (1969).Between past and present: Eight exercises in political thought. New York, NY: Penguin Books.