As I reflect on a personal decolonizing encounter, I can’t help but think about my first creative journal entry representing my connection with the environment. I created a mobile with various photos of my children at Prince Albert National Park. Although I still feel connection to the environment through these photos and moments, I have realized that when I was creating that journal entry, my only consideration was me and my children in that space. There was no acknowledgement of the white dominant narrative I was perpetuating through those photos. It has become so clear to me how badly I have reproduced this dominant narrative in my children’s lives. Although I have always made every effort to reinforce to my children that everyone is important and to consciously fight back against racist attitudes or comments, by not being aware of my privilege and failing to pass on that awareness of privilege to my children, I am still actively adding to the racism present in our culture.
With this realization in mind, I wanted to use my original visual representation as a jumping off point to represent my current effort to decolonize. I reprinted the photos I included in my first visual journal entry. Putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle represents the process of my reflection on these moments and how they are connected to reinforcing a colonial attitude. Taking these pieces apart represents my journey through deconstructing this attitude. I consider this a moment of unlearning. The final step is relearning and taking action to decolonize. This is the part of the process that I am currently working on. I am not ready to say I have figured out exactly how to decolonize. As Ho (n.d.) states “it is not enough to be constantly critically vigilant and questioning of the status quo. We also need to find ways to help our students recognize the dominant oppressive ways and provide a space for processing and finding alternative[s].” (pg. 14). I am aware of the dominant narrative I have reinforced, but I recognize that it’s not enough to just acknowledge that awareness – I have to physically act in order to disrupt the dominant narrative. This is difficult for me – I still carry a fear of social rejection due to unpopular opinions around colonization. I’m also still digesting what decolonization means to me. As a start, the first step will be bringing intention to how I make my children aware of our privilege and the humility we must have when we experience “wilderness” such as Prince Albert National Park. I think it’s important that me and my family investigate who the First Nations people were that resided in that space before it was colonized and turned into a national park. I really connected with Ho (n.d.) when she states “I started to see and understand the rotten fruits of my education and my own actions that contribute to perpetuating the system, at the same time recognizing a growing feeling for the potential education has to reverse the current dismay” (pg. 12). I truly believe that one of the ways to decolonize and fight back against the dominant narrative is cultural evolution through education (by cultural evolution I mean the culture of the white dominant narrative).
I’m really struggling with the “space in between embodied feeling and making sense” (Ho, n.d., pg. 6). I feel a constant tug back and forth between my connection to the environment and a feeling of guilt now that I have awareness of colonization in the context of the environment. This is an area that I still need to explore and reflect on as I haven’t fully come to terms with any sort of peace. I will give myself credit for at least being willing to acknowledge my ignorance with respect to my role in reproducing a colonial attitude, but I know just acknowledging it isn’t enough. Decolonization is a daunting idea that I don’t want make light of.