On March 4, 2017, the UR STARS, UR Pride Centre and Camp fYrefly hosted the first Gender and Sexual Diversity Ed Camp (#GSDcamp on Twitter) at the University of Regina. The PD event (using the edcamp model of PD by teachers for teachers) started off with keynote Jack Saddleback. “Jack is a Cree two-spirit transgender gay man from the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta.” (Source link)
In his presentation, “There are no Closets in Tipis,” Jack spoke about the importance of family and community support of diversity for the wellness of diverse individuals. As a genderqueer child, Jack, who was born female, increasingly felt the pressure to fit into the feminine spectrum, but felt at odds with this social expectation. At puberty, when Jack finally decided to embrace the feminine, he began to suffer from severe depression and isolation and eventually tried to take his own life. But something inside him called out “No,” so he went looking for help.
When Jack finally decided to tell his grandparents that he was a man, he felt terrified. He feared they would no longer love him. But he needed them to know who he was. Their response was “We don’t know anyone else like you in our family. But we want to help you in any way we can.” They suggested Jack meet with a medicine man who was coming to their community. Jack agreed to this. The medicine man diagnosed him as having two spirits. Jack said, “I’m not just gay, Cree or trans. It’s the inseparability of all those things that I was experiencing.” After the medicine man tried to exercise him, Jack felt hurt. He knew he needed to tell his story so that this type of thing wouldn’t happen again. (See documentary sexspiritstrength.ca)
Jack said, “If it wasn’t for my family and community support, I wouldn’t be here. Ask yourselves how can I be a good ancestor to those little ones.”
Jack’s keynote was followed by two sessions (with six concurrent presentations in each) from Camp fYrefly, UR Pride, TransUmbrella, PFLAG Canada, GSA, and a Two-Spirit Panel discussion.
Photos below: (Slide cursor over the photo to see the arrow, click on the arrow to go to the next photo)
An astounding number of preservice and in-service educators (over 300!) gathered together on Saturday, October 1 to take advantage of a great opportunity: to learn about treaty education at #TreatyEdCamp 2.0. Treaty education is mandatory in Saskatchewan curriculum and #TreatyEdCamp is professional development delivered “by teachers for teachers,” allowing educators to learn about treaty and how to implement treaty education in their classrooms.
Katia Hildebrandt, Meagan Dobson and Raquel Bellefleur co-organized this second annual #treatyedcamp with the help of UR S.T.A.R.S. and many volunteers and with financial support from the Faculty of Education and the Aboriginal Student Centre.
Before participants went off to concurrent sessions (27 presentations over 4 sessions this year), Mike Desjarlais sang and drummed a song of remembrance, a reminder to participants to think of their loved ones who have gone before them. Dr. Jennifer Tupper spoke on the importance and need for treaty education, reminding participants of the recent murder of 22-year-old Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant Reserve, which highlighted the racism that is prevalent in Saskatchewan, “still touching us all.” Education about what First Peoples have gone through at the hands of government — broken treaty promises that resulted in such losses as the loss of language and culture, loss of children to residential schools, and loss of loved ones to intergenerational trauma effects– will help to make changes that honour treaty rights, and someday will hopefully eradicate the issue of children in foster care and youth in gangs.
Brad Bellegarde, a Regina hip-hop artist and journalist, brought the Keynote presentation, “Hip Hop is the New Buffalo” after a lunch of soup and bannock. Bellegard expressed his desire to see the smiles on the faces of First Nation youth as they find relevance, self-expression and the ability to fight oppression through Hip Hop music. (See his video: https://youtu.be/TGZSBx3Ye5c). He also showed a youtube to demonstrate how music can bridge cultural gaps, creating opportunities to collaborate in schools. He encouraged teachers to ask about what they don’t know, just as he did when he went to Germany and Chile. “You’re teachers; you’re just like a big gang,” he said, “you can support each other.”
(See photo album by sliding cursor over the photo below and clicking on the arrow key)
If you couldn’t make a session, watch for the notes that will be posted for each session here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1auBuAsi3sTIhfcaXBsoHz7aNdaO0z_W9mX8LViyXfEU/edit#
In April/May 2016, the Regina Public Schools Treaty 4 Project organized a Treaty 4 Youth Conference. Some of our faculty and our UR S.T.A.R.S. students were involved in facilitating the sessions. Dr. Shauneen Pete and Dr. Michael Cappello presented keynote sessions. Dr. Jennifer Tupper presented “A Promise is a Promise” and Russell Fayant (SUNTEP Regina) presented on “The Métis Experience.” The UR S.T.A.R.S. group led the students in the Blanket Exercise. Have a flip through the ebook to read learning reflections and to view artwork by some of the students involved.