Positionally or transparency? Both some big-ass words, I know. I think from my own perspective, since these writings are my own words and thoughts; mean understanding who you are, what your privilege is and how you fit into the world or were you stand in the world. This is not a stagnant thing, but hopefully as time goes by and lessons are learned continues to change- the position or place that you stand in. Maybe you could say identity. But I think it is more than that. Its for me being really, really real about myself. Not creating a myth about how great I am but understanding my flaws and mistakes, even misunderstandings about myself put me in a certain place. Okay, so maybe Iím not making a whole lot of sense yet. Let me try and unpack this (as many facilitators I know like to say!)- Ha.
So first off I want to be honest and say this past two years have been about looking inward. Facing my fears and trying to figure things out. A big part of this process has been me being uncomfortable. You know. Questioning and being critical about myself. I hope in a good way. But lets be real I have a long way to go. I canít say Iím a kinder, more loving person yet. I havenít quite mastered being okay with who I am.
So heres a part of this that Iíve been wrestling with for the past while. Is questioning how I see the world, why I see it that way and if thatís a good thing. When thinking deeply about positionality or where I stand, I look at my own privileges. Because in the scheme of things I do have privilege. Thats a first thing to think about. What do I have that others donít and that I may take for granted.
Part of that is understanding what privileges I have from the way I was raised. Do I have opportunities that other didnít or donít because of being adopted by ďwhite peopleĒ or non-native folks. What does that even mean? Its a hard one for me to think about since sometimes I can only see the disfunction I have from my childhood. So Iím still pondering this.
Its looking at my position in life relating to my work. One of the things Iíve been thinking about is this idea of change. Not remaining stagnant or replicating awful behaviour. The other part of this is thinking about whether or not I need to be a part of this grand movement for change in the same way. We talk about impacted communities and people speaking for themselves. So if that is the case and the direction that we have agreed to move in. I donít think I should be in the place I am. I have been trying for the most part to take steps back from organizing work. At this point though I donít know that it makes sense to come back. Since Iím not the one that should be ďthe voiceĒ or any voice for that matter since Iím not from an impacted community. If I am to be really real about it, I have little to no connection to my own community. I wasnít raised there and Iím not sure our family is really welcome there. No one is welcoming me or saying you should come home atleast to the rez where we are registered at as far the Indian Act is concerned. So where does that place me? Where do I belong? In terms of the larger movement for change and in terms of the work?
Iíve thought a lot about home over the years and I keep trying to move back to Saskatchewan. But for some reason things never quite work out or maybe i just didnít try hard enough. Home is an idea that for me is more about being close the land that makes me feel loved and accepted. Its not really about the rez. Since honestly the rez is the rez. For me its not a home, its a forced construct that has been imposed on our people. I donít know if Iíd ever really feel at home in that place. But since Iíve never lived there I guess its all me being an outsider who is making assumptions and being 100% honest about that.
In terms of accountability its not easy. Since there are people in my life who I am accountable to in many shapes or forms. Its funny since this one memory popped up tonight as I was thinking about all this. I was facilitating a meeting and I offended a dear close friend. She left the meeting without telling me I had offended her. It was awful. On my part it was not a cool thing. So I went to see her that nite and talk to her. Sort things out and apologize for being a jerk. However later in the day before I could go talk to her, her family members slammed me pretty hard on facebook. It was one of those moments where I realized that people i know really donít like me, donít respect me or the work that I do. Honestly they were very blunt about how much of a hypocrite I was. It was a very good thing-their honesty. At the time it hurt and kinda broke my heart. It made me feel super shitty for a long time. But it forced me to question myself. To think about who I am. Really whether or not I was a good person or did any good in this world by the means I was using. This moment in someways stayed with me since I have a bad habit sometimes of deeply internalizing peopleís criticism of me. In other ways its really nice that they did that. Since they were honest with me. I appreciate that. I think it is good to be put in your place when you make mistakes. But what I wonder if Iíve been making years worth of mistakes and no oneís told me otherwise. Which means I really need to dig deep and critically think about when Iíve made mistakes and own them. I donít think Iíve done a good enough job in doing that. It is one of the things I hope to change.
In terms of where I stand in this world. It means knowing what ďIndian PrivilegeĒ is. What that concept implies and whether or not I fit in this category. I think sometimes its how the concept of class exists in our communities based on who is grassroots and who is not. It maybe about who has access to resources like money, like a job, even a home. It maybe about who has a voice, who is heard or seen. It maybe about who benefits from the systems at be whether government, institutions, ect. I think though its about how we understand power in our own communities.
I think that I am privileged in someways and in others I am truly alone. Iím not really sure where I sit. Sometimes in these moments where Iím thinking about these things, I wish someone could just tell me and be honest. Even if it hurts or whatever. Other times I push these thoughts away from myself.
Its funny how being at school and engulfed by academia has really transformed my brain to think about my own privilege. It kinda was a ongoing thing for the past while before I got into school, but school has somehow made it okay to think about it. Strange right, I think its because I really need to understand who I am, what I bring, and what privilege I have in terms of research, and doing work back home. Its challenging. Since being transparent means saying to myself, Iím not from the community that my dad is from. I wasnít raised by my family. I have a deep disconnection to community. Its funny since we talked about being objective in research. One of the people that read my research plans that I submitted to get into school talked about whether or not I could be objective if I was working with my family and back home. (Sidenote, I think of back home as the great plains since that is where I feel alive, its not the rez-fyi). I thought to myself If I need to be objective and defend that sometime in the near future; maybe its about being honest that Iím from there but not from there. Does that make sense?
The thoughts that keep me up late at nite are about change, decolonization and assimilation. Honestly. I think about these concepts in terms of where we are as people. Where I am and my family is at. I worked on some writing last term about the Indian Act, and federal indian housing policy. It really forced me to relook at history in terms of pre-Canada policy. It really threw me through a loop. It wasnít so much the history itself, since really I know all of this stuff. It was about how blatantly racist the schools of thought were in Europe at the time. It kinda blew my mind that this was considered fact. It really made question the Indian Act. The question I canít seem to wrap my brain around is this- Did the Indian Act work? Its sole purpose was to ďcivilizeĒ or assimilate our people into Canadian society. Part of me really thinks it worked. The other part believes in my soul that sovereignty still lives and breathes in our people. Its these moments where I know at the end of the day it doesnít really matter what I think. Since Iím a part of something greater than myself. But I do really think critically about things like assimilation and decolonization. Because looking at myself means looking at the world around me. Trying to understand where I need to be, what will be healthy for me and how to do my part to make the world better. Since that is my responsibility.
For now, Iíve decided that I need to change my focus. I put way too much time into work and not into ceremonies. I should be reversing that. As Iíve gotten older Iíve gained responsibility, and thatís been hard to swallow and it still is everyday. I am still in a place of being uncomfortable with myself and part of that is accepting the responsibilities as a honor. Not falling into this strange place were I feel like I donít deserve these honours. That I don't feel good enough. Rather to be humble to learn more, be confident to say I donít know. I just sometimes feel like a little kid even though Iím in the middle of life. I think its mainly because I wasnít raised in ceremony. I ended up here when I was a teenager and Iíve always felt I missed out on so much not being raised like others I know. Its so challenging to try and undo all the ďwhiteĒ habits that are deeply ingrained in me from the adoption process. I canít blame my adoption though for being a selfish person or one that doesnít know how to be kind or loving. I only have myself to blame.
So I guess that might be a lot to read. Iíve been carrying this around for the last couple months and it weights on my brain but really on my heart. I donít know if I can forgive myself for not being better faster. For not seeing my own privilege and being able to step out of places where I donít belong. Its a learning curve for now. I hope that soon Iíll be able to settle into a place that I feel good about everything. Not stagnant since that is not useful. But a place that is happy and the same time constantly becoming a better person by learning more, undoing more and re-building. Its kinda funny since I hope through school and I can learn to re-build. I mean that in the sense of building solutions from a place of love, kindness and probably not objectivity!