ECCU 400

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin weekly engagement #5: Treaty Mindfulness (as inspired by “An English Teacher’s Treaty Mindfulness: A Polyphonic Invitation”)

“We leave you with this open invitation, an invitation to consider how you engage with meaningful treaty mindfulness as you go about each day living treaties.”
-Sheena Koops

**Warning: the following is less a blog or essay and more a stream of consciousness. The result is a lot of run-on sentences. As I wanted to get my thoughts out rather than worry about grammar, I wrote these sentences as they came out of my mind, down my fingertips, and onto the keyboard.

I would like to take this opportunity to accept this open invitation and consider how I currently and how I strive to engage with meaningful treaty mindfulness in my day to day life. As a White settler Canadian, a 36-year old woman, an Education student, and a mother, I am aware of the privilege that I have always been surrounded by and have actively taken part in due to my White settler ancestors that came to Canada from Europe and benefited from everything this land had to “offer” – or more accurately everything this land couldn’t protect itself from losing that my ancestors took. Although I myself did not physically get on a boat from Europe, land in Canada, and participate in removing First Nations peoples from the land so I could farm it, I have always been surrounded by all the benefits and riches that resulted from my ancestors who did do these things. This privilege is a form of White supremacy that I did not realize was around me all the time until I was old enough and mature enough to critically question the environment my parents created for me. They were never uncomfortable enough to question the environment their parents created for them, and so they continued on as if White people were indeed the ONLY “race” that mattered. I am grateful that the very privilege I was born into has allowed me to enter a space where I can finally see how unjust and plain wrong this environment is and I can entirely change my behaviour and actions and do my damnedest to immerse my children and students in an environment where tâpwêwin is spoken regarding our shared colonial past and where our privilege is not something we pretend doesn’t exist.

I am scared of what this means for me in the context of my social self because almost all of my family and friends do not understand their privilege and don’t care to learn about Canada’s colonial history. Their apathy is a roadblock to me expressing my empathy. I avoid social backlash as much as possible. Confrontation is my worst nightmare. I am not a brave person. I have been gifted with the luck of the draw to have been born into privilege but I lack the courage to use that privilege to express the sacredness of treaties to my family and friends. Maybe this is why I have chosen education as my future. Am I taking my frustration at being too afraid to stand up to those around me and getting them back by infiltrating their childrens’ school?

Yes, probably.

Perhaps this is the best way for me to use my privilege in a productive and meaningful way and donate a part of what is has done for me to the treaty people on the other side of the handshake.

With all this in mind, I want to express a White settler Canadian, 36-year old woman, Education student, mother’s mindful treaty acknowledgement, as inspired by “An English Teacher’s Treaty Mindfulness: A Polyphonic Invitation.” With sincere honesty I say that these statements are becoming a part of my consciousness and I am extremely grateful that education has provided me with the awareness of these that have always existed and the words to acknowledge them. I realize some of them are more a confession than a treaty mindfulness statement but I think I have to get them out in order to move forward with true treaty mindfulness.

I am mindful that despite the fact that my ancestors came to Canada from Europe with only the best intentions for their future and the futures of their descendants, the way that Canada was settled was unjust and wrong and the Indigenous peoples that were here did not deserve any of what they got as a result of colonization.

I am mindful that my whiteness has provided me with everything I have: my education, my job, my family, my home, my fearlessness at existing in this world, and my assurance that everything will work out for me because it always has and always does for White people like me.

I am mindful of my past ignorance of treaties and the hypocrisy I displayed when preaching empathy, kindness, and respect for all while actively taking part in those ignorant, disgusting, racist “what’s wrong with them?” and “why can’t they just fix themselves?” conversations.

I am mindful of what I need to do going forward in order to enact productive, useful change in the world and those around me now that I have been gifted with the tools of education and awareness.

I am mindful of the beautiful gift I have been given as a mother and the opportunities this presents to me to bring living treaties into my home and my children’s lives.

I am mindful that I still have so much to learn as I am just beginning to live treaties in my life and in my home. Just as my privilege has always surrounded me and made me immune to its existence, living treaties have always surrounded me and I strive to engulf myself in them to the point where I radiate them in my thoughts, words, and actions.

Koops, S. (2019, March 16). An English Teacher’s Treaty Mindfulness: A Polyphonic Invitation. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LjWGy3oYX5POTMEGMqCyhwWhXl2x09fgy20SVGVPjYc/edit?usp=sharing

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