Save the date for the next Whisperings of the Land Indigenous Speaker Series, Thursday November 17, 2022 @ 10:00 a.m. via Zoom. The presenter, Dr. Kim TallBear, will speak on Science v. the Sacred, a Dead-End Settler Ontology.
Dr. Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) (she/her) is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Society, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta. She is the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. In addition to studying genome science disruptions to Indigenous self-definitions, Dr. TallBear studies colonial disruptions to Indigenous sexual relations. She is a regular panelist on the weekly podcast, Media Indigena.
Settler-colonial society works to separate so-called spirituality from the material. This worldview inhibits understanding Indigenous knowledges as knowledge based on centuries of observations and lived relations with other-than-humans. Instead, Indigenous peoples are viewed as “spiritual,” and the disciplines tend to implicitly denigrate Indigenous understandings of the world as beliefs rather than knowledges. The knowledge/belief divide stems from a hierarchy of life that the sciences share with major religious traditions. With this understanding of sentience and agency, some humans rank above others according to race or gender, for example, and humans rank above other life forms. More recently, “new materialists” and multi-species ethnographers have analyzed other-than-humans in less hierarchical and more “vibrant” or agential, if still secular terms. I bring such ideas into conversation with Indigenous ideas of being in good relation in ways that disrupt longstanding racial hierarchies of thought.
Elder May Desnomie, a Woodland Cree from Peter Ballantyne First Nation, was born and raised in the northern Saskatchewan hamlet of Sandy Bay. Her family on both of her mom’s and dad’s sides and grandparents going back generations lived off the land, hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering. Before she was taken to the Catholic-run Guy Hill Indian Residential School in The Pas, Manitoba at the young age of 6, May also lived off the land: “I was 100% immersed in my language and culture until I was taken away to residential school in 1956.”
If being far away from home at such a young age wasn’t enough hardship, residential school was made harder because of the parental visitation policies: “Parents weren’t allowed to visit in residential school. They had a room they called a parlor next to the principal’s office. The parents would come to visit there, and they were only allowed one hour,” says May.
Though attending residential school didn’t destroy May’s Catholic faith, it did affect the faith of some members of her family. “There are four of us that went to residential schools and two will not have anything to do with the church. I personally didn’t suffer any physical or sexual abuse.”
Still, May recognizes the damage done by the policies of residential schools, She says, “I have nothing good to say about residential schools. They destroyed our cultures, our languages, our families. For myself, I met many good people along my journey. Although I am not going to say anything nice about residential schools, I will say there were nice people. However, the policies were destructive: the residential school was trying to destroy our way of life. That is still their goal: They still want to assimilate us, to fit us into the Canadian multicultural dream, but they can’t forget that we were the first people on this land.”
May moved to Wilcox to attend high school at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame boarding school after 9 years as a student at Guy Hill. She says, “I was sent there as part of the integration policy. My aunt was a teacher/nun at the elementary school there, and I could see her because she was a supervisor.” The change in landscape from her northern roots was a big change for May, “It was a culture shock for me, being from northern Saskatchewan with the rocks and the forest. Honestly, Wilcox has the flattest land in Saskatchewan, I swear. And we didn’t have the water that we had up north. When I was a child, you could drink water right from the lakes up north. We drank the water from the dugout at Wilcox and it was bad.”
After being in an institution for 11 years of her life, May decided to move to Saskatoon to take her Grade 12 from E. D. Feehan Catholic High School. “I had to find some freedom. I don’t know why, but I ended up in Saskatoon. Indian Affairs put us in boarding homes.”
May decided to become a teacher after graduating high school because she wanted to help change the narrative of Indigenous people in Canadian society. She says, “When I was in residential school, I did not learn my Indigenous history, like the history of Indian people. We were told we were savages and pagans and I didn’t think that was right. I was hoping I could change that narrative in the classroom to some degree.” After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Education, May and her husband Gerry Desnomie returned to the North, moving to Red Earth First Nation where she taught Grade 1 students.
Changing the narrative has been the work of May’s entire career in education: “It’s coming along slowly, but now they teach treaties in the classroom, and now they have native studies in high school, but they still need to change the curriculum to have more of the Indigenous perspective in there.” To help with curriculum change, May is sitting with an elder’s group that is advising the provincial government on curriculum.
May also has a heart for reparation work. She belongs to three groups dedicated to this work: the Intercultural Grandmothers Uniting (IGU), which is made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women working toward building bridges of understanding, respect, trust and friendship; the Aboriginal Non Aboriginal Relations Community (ANARC); and a TRC committee, with the Catholic Church. “They are hoping to repair the wrongs done by the church to Indigenous people, so that is why I joined that group.”
In her role as Elder-in-Residence with the Faculty of Education, May hopes to continue her work of changing the narrative about Indigenous people. She says, “I hope I can tell the wider society about Indigenous people, that we are part of society and we feel the way they do: We have our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our dreams. I want them to know about our history, our Indigenous history. Many of them wonder about and have so many stereotypes about Indigenous people, that ‘they’re lazy, they don’t want to work, or they are alcoholics,’ and those are the ones you see. The majority of us are okay, we are successful. This is what I want to tell the general public. The government has made us invisible in the past, through residential schools and restricting us from leaving our reserves, and they told the wrong story about us.”
Being made invisible damages Indigenous people; May says, “They don’t know the damage they are doing to our person; it makes it so you’re not proud of yourself as an Indigenous person. I always tell my students to be proud of who you are; I know you can’t be successful until you are proud of who you are. Otherwise you are always trying to hide who you are.”
“I want to tell the right story. But not just me, I will have a hard time trying to educate society. Canadians will have to go out and educate themselves, read books, and find about our history and they will know who we are and can be our allies, and help us move forward and walk with us.”
Elder May Desnomie replaces the former Elder-in-Residence, Elder Alma Poitras, who retired recently.
First-year medical students from the newly formed University of Saskatchewan (UofS) Regina campus College of Medicine participated in their first Indigenous Health Experience, facilitated by land-based learning teacher (Kakisiwew School on Ochapowace First Nation), Lamarr Oksasikewiyin, from Sweetgrass First Nation.
First-year medical student, Julia Billingsley, says, “I think this was a really great opportunity to experience Indigenous games. It’s a great way to experience the culture and it’s great that the games are being brought back and that they are being taught to this generation. I think this should continue and this event should be an annual thing.”
Student Whitney Curtis agrees, “Today was so exciting! It was a great opportunity to get involved and gain a better understanding of Indigenous culture. Like Julia said, it’s great that we are working towards reconciliation and learning more, and that there is a cultural resurgence. I’m very excited to be a part of this.”
“This was a great experience,” says student Eriq Marleau. “It was fun to get out on a nice day and learn a bit about Indigenous culture, about how there are similarities; some games that they played, we grew up with as well. Like the top game, Lamarr noted that it is similar among a lot of cultures, and some of the other games too, like double ball and lacrosse. It was super fun to get out and play these games and have a great afternoon.”
“Traditional games are a safe way to learn about Indigenous culture and are the foundation of modern medicine,” says Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose, Chair of the Educational Psychology and Counselling program at the University of Regina and Adjunct Faculty in the U of S College of Medicine, Regina Campus.
Dr. Sasakamoose and Amanda Crowe, the Indigenous Coordinator at the U of S College of Medicine Regina Campus, organized the inaugural event, which took place at the First Nations University campus, Treaty Four territory, on September 21, 2022.
Crowe says, “We are shaping the next generation of health care practitioners at both universities. Volunteer counselling students from the U of R education psychology program made swag bags for the new med students to welcome them.”
The event is part of the first stage of relationship building to develop the Interprofessional Health Collaborative (IHC), a partnership between the University of Regina, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the University of Saskatchewan.
Sasakamoose says, “During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina, along with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), collaborated on the development of a partnership model to co-develop a community-focused medical school at the U of S Regina Campus, including programs to assist and address community health care needs within the Treaty 4 territory. The Interprofessional Health Collaborative (IHC) was formed to implement a model to increase access to healthcare, support and ensure better patient engagement with treatment, and provide health advocacy, education, and promotion focused on the region’s healthcare needs.”
Crowe adds, “The IHC mission is regionally specific and intends to increase the recruitment of Indigenous students into STEM (K-12) and health profession careers to enhance and expand preprofessional health education opportunities and training in advanced health and wellness research.”
The IHC is responding to the TRC Calls to Action for health care (#18-24). Sasakamoose says, “Indigenous people in Canada have had to deal with disease, sickness, and starvation. History shows that we can’t count on the federal or provincial governments to provide enough support. As partners, we work together to teach students in a wide range of interprofessional programs how to better help under-served people while developing social responsibility. We provide health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, medical students, counsellors, educators and community-based peer health advocates, continuing education and training in culturally responsive, respectful ways. Utilizing traditional approaches such as land and cultural-based programming and community and relationship building, we respond directly to the TRC’s calls.”
The IHC will produce a final report informed by consultations with Indigenous people in the province, centred on the Treaty Four region. When released, the report will identify essential Indigenous health concerns and make suggestions for the region’s future Indigenous health and research agenda.
You are invited to join us via Zoom for a presentation “Rethinking Our Science” by Leroy Little Bear, a Blackfoot researcher, University of Lethbridge professor emeritus, founding member of Canada’s first Native American Studies Department and recognized leader and advocate for First Nations education, rights, self-governance, language and culture. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Officer Order of Canada, and the Alberta Order of Excellence. Leroy Little Bear’s lifetime of accomplishment includes some of the most important political achievements for Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. His dedication to education, leadership, community-building and advocacy has led to a United Nations declaration, changed the Constitution of Canada and influenced the lives of thousands of students.
Description: Every society, however it comes into existence, sooner or later, claims a territory. Within that Territory a culture arises based on the mutual relationships with the totality of the environment. This culture also comes up with an interpretive template on that reality structure. The interpretive template is what we refer to as metaphysics or paradigms. The metaphysics and paradigms determine the type of approach to science and scientific methodology. In this talk we’ll examine the metaphysics that underlie Western and Indigenous Science.
The Whisperings of the Land Indigenous Speaker Series presents Wilfred Buck, a Cree astronomer and long-time educator, who will present on Ininiw Acakosuk (Cree Stars). Everyone is welcome to join us for this virtual event, 10:00 a.m., Monday, May 16, 2022.
The Whisperings of the Land Indigenous Speaker Series presents Dr. Herman Michell who will speak on “Land-Based Education: Embracing the Rhythms of the Earth” as part of the 2022 Indigenous Science: A Spiritual Path series.
Congratulations to Dr. Anna-Leah King who is part of a CIHR-funded team that is researching “Takohpinawasowin: Knowledge Keepers’ Stories of Traditional Birthing and Child-Rearing Practices.” The team also includes Dr. Brenda Green (principal investigator), Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly, Dr. Elizabeth Cooper, Dr. Cassandra J. Opikokew Wajuntah, Colleen Strongarm (Touchwood Agency Tribal Council), and Debbie Vey (midwife). The project is based at Touchwood Agency Tribal Council and has been granted $512,546 over 4 years.
Please join us on Wednesday, Feb 16, 2022,10:00 am-12:00 pm CST to hear from Elder and Professor Willie Ermine, First Nations University of Canada.
Elder Willie Ermine will speak about “tapping into the creative life-force for ultimate understanding.”
The 2022 Whisperings of the Land Indigenous Speaker Series, hosted by the #UREdu Education Indigenous Circle, will focus on Indigenous Science–A Spiritual Path. Indigenous speakers will share their perspectives on Indigenous science and how all teaching and learning is spiritually imbued.
A note from the Dean…..3
Stories about Indigenous education and unmarked gravesites in Canada…..4
Artistic expressions: masinahikêwin yêkâhk/ Writing in the sand poem…..10
Inaugural Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis/Michif Education…..13
Education Students’ Society Truth and Reconciliation Week events…..16
Candidate for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Awards 2021-2022 competition…..17
“I need to be in the quinzhee, not just talk about it!” Embodying our pedagogy…..18
Pimosayta: Learning to walk together slideshow…..21
Les étudiants du Bac mènent les activités de la Journée nationale de vérité et de réconciliation…..22
Le Bac student activities…..23
Funding and awards…..24
New faculty and staff…..26