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Happy to Unlearn


Happy to Unlearn

Sara General


I recently finished my second course in the Masters in Professional Education – Leadership in Indigenous Education program.  

Being a student again has been an important experience.  As a student, I have the opportunity to listen to other perspectives, experiences and ideas as well as share my own.  I have space to think about the challenges that I am undertaking in my work.  Most of all, I’ve become acutely aware and appreciative of how much I am


learning (aka - decolonizing) and how in the process of unlearning, I am establishing a knowledge base that is honest and trustworthy and is accountable to my spirit and my creative self, the writer that I am.  It helps me to reflect critically on the information I am being presented and makes me very aware of the way it is being presented. 

Over the past few weeks, I realized that for me – it's all real: that sense of wonder and gratitude I carry that comes from being Ogwehoweh and having responsibilities to the lands and waters.  We are not a 'backwards' or primitive people and our knowledges are not inferior to others.  We have a truth and a Treaty to uphold, and I am happy that it is here to guide us. 

I also realized that I have been unlearning things for a very long time and that my work at the Chiefs of Ontario was a big part of that process.   Organizations are always under a lot of scrutiny by politicians, academics, and community members. This scrutiny can be a really good thing, because it asks an organization to critically reflect on its role in the decolonization process and undertake to decolonize itself.   During my time there, it meant that we learned more about the living spirit and intent of the Treaties and about the importance of explaining to the international community the ways in which Canada is failing to uphold the Treaty promise in our reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  I am very grateful for the work I was involved in there, for the people I met who helped me to reawaken and grow.   I am also aware that a lot of what I learned about issues, some of which are very current - like the events leading up to the proposed First Nations Education Act are not known by my friends, colleagues and fellow educators.  I am also really aware that it would be difficult to find well-sourced media coverage of the matter.  I really have no idea how helpful it would be to share what I know, but I decided that I would like to share some of what I know happened in interesting ways.   Because I am a community member and I love education.  I have nieces and nephews who are still in school or about to go into it and  I want school to be amazing for them. We are doing good things but I believe we can create an even more amazing educational experience for our kids. I think that this happens when we share information in kind and compassionate and truthful ways, when we implement best practices, when we are pro-active about making improvements and when a lot of good minded people are excited about working together. But being able to share information quickly is another way that I think will help.  I have planned a little project about how I want to do this using info graphs and puppets.  Should be fun :).  

I am also getting ready to move forward with work on the creative end of things – the stuff I have been personally most excited about for the last few years.  Editing and illustrating two stories: the word count for one is 52, 468 and the other is 29, 858.  Like many other writers I know, I’ve read Stephen King’s

On Writing

– a great book, and though this is nowhere near the amount he suggests as a first draft, it’s the story that I have and I’m happy to move forward with it right now.  I’m sure I’ll discover and learn a lot during the editing process.  There are also a few shorter stories I’d like to work on editing (Iess than 2,500) but I have to set some priorities and targets, so I figure I’ll move the bigger ones out of the way.  I had initially wanted to get through them by September but we’ll see how this goes.  I know this means that I have to make a more conscious effort to schedule the time to write – meaning to work on new material and also to edit. I don’t know how long all of this editing will take me, but I think I will simply need to schedule the time, a few hours every day to work through the material and at least start getting it ready for others to read. 

Should be a blast.  Anyways, I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!  The Six Nations Pow Wow is this weekend and I am hoping to stop by there tomorrow.  Til next time,