Walking into NBE 3U on September 6th my stomach was uneasy because I knew I was very uneducated. I only knew the basic things, things such as the four colours of the medicine wheel, indigenous people have status cards, and that children couldn’t go to a regular school. The most shameful thing is that I didn’t know a difference from first nations, metis, Inuit, and indigenous, I thought everyone was classified as native. I am humiliated in myself and in the people who taught me as I grew up because we were all very uneducated. With only weeks left in this course I personally feel much more aware in the way I address indigenous people. If I were ever to educate someone of any age I would feel exceptionally good with the grasp I have on this culture, my knowledge is subsequent to this class.
The medicine wheel, residential schools, and the aboriginal groups are three things I knew basic things about, throughout the semester I have broadened my understanding on all of these things. A medicine wheel is known as a sacred hoop, it is used by many generations in various forms of health and healing, there are four sacred medicines associated with the wheel. The white colour in the medicine wheel is representing North, air, animals, wisdom, and the sacred medicine of cedar. Red is a colour that represents the South, the emotional aspect of life, things such as water, plants and the sacred medicine of sweet grass. The East side is yellow, it represents fire and the sun, its sacred medicine is tobacco, and spring is the season associated with it. Lastly is the black segment representing earth, the physical aspect of life, West, and the sacred medicine sage.
Residential schools were where children were forced to go so the aboriginal culture could be extinct from all of those spiritual thoughts. I knew residential schools had no positive aspects but the depth of how abusive these school’s actually were is what I’ve learnt during these months in this class. Lasting almost a full decade the first residential school was founded in the late 1800’s and the last one closed, 1996 in Saskatchewan, we had a residential school located in Spanish river between Sudbury and Manitoulin Island. Pastors, ministers, and nuns who ran these schools were both Catholic and Anglican, the government sponsored all the funding to these schools, children from the united states were brought into Canadian residential schools. The main goal of a residential school was to assimilate indigenous children stripping them of their identity and culture. From years in a residential school many forms of abuse were caused; sexually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Post trauma of a residential school caused alcoholism the biggest stereotype in todays day in age, Aboriginal people can’t get jobs due to drinking problems, these drinking problems were formed by the unfortunate event of a residential school.
As white people we are classified into different ethnic races, Indigenous people have many races as well such as Metis, Inuit, Anishinaabe, Iroquois, and Aboriginal first nations. This course has taught me just that. I was unaware that the Indigenous culture was so widely spread. The difference in these terms refer to where people come from, first nations is mainly used if you lived historically on the land. Where they live now is also contributing to the different races. Each of the various ethnic races have their own culture based on the traditions they follow. When walking into our NBE 3U class now I can confidently say I am ten times more educated then I was on the first day. The things I learnt, what I’m taking with me out of this class, and the more research I plan to do on this culture is outstanding. It is truly all thanks to this environment I was able to learn in throughout this semester.