Assumptions: What does this book assume about education/FNMI communities/the reader?
Arguments: What argument does this book make?
Agreements: What do you agree and disagree with in this book?
I do agree with the book and what happened.
Action: How did you connect with this book and what action does it encourage in your teaching practice?
Empathy and understanding. We still need to teach this and get rid of the past assumptions.
Multi-Media Experiences: Which “version” of the story did you access first? How did this impact or change how you experienced the story told through other media?
I accessed the hard copy of the book first. I went through each discussion blind. Very powerful when done that way.
The book seems to assume that education within residential schools was not genuine education - that it was more about the removal of a way of thinking than a source for stimulating thinking. If we think of education as the lighting of a spark (hopefully), perhaps this book assumes that education within a residential school was more like putting out the spark of indigenous culture and trying to replace it with compliance to "the way things should be" - that is, the culture of the colonizers. To extend a bit, perhaps the assumption is also that education needs to be a lot more than what we see - that much is obvious and I think everyone would easily agree with that. I feel that the assumptions about the FNMI communities would be that they could not benefit from the system in place at the time and have/had potentially different priorities from the ones being forced upon them. Families within these communities have a lot in common with families in any other community and, as such, the practice of forcing students to attend schools far away from their families was simply unacceptable - I think the book certainly assumes that much. Lastly, I think the book assumes that the reader might have an interest in Chanie's story but not a lot of background knowledge of residential schools in general. As such, the visuals attempt to paint a picture that goes beyond Chanie's specific experiences and help us to understand what life at a residential school may have been like.
The book makes a very clear argument against the approach taken by the Canadian government and the Church in trying to "fix" first nations children. It clearly argues against the cover ups, the atrocities and the system that not only allowed for this kind of injustice but actually wrote it into law and practiced it routinely. I think it also argues, to an extent, that a failed attempt at freedom made more sense than enduring the realities of residential schools.
I agree with the message being presented in this book. I wholeheartedly agree with this text as a whole.
I think I have made most of my connections clear within my responses but, again, I felt a powerful connection to Chanie's story and I felt that the poetic work by Downie and brilliant illustrations from Lemire told the story in a meaningful and accessible way. I am working with jwall to introduce 'Secret Path' for cross-curricular work and as a component of an "alternative history" unit for her intermediate students. We will be looking to include the voices that are typically excluded from our history resources and residential school students certainly fit this criteria. There are several ways and subject areas for us to work through and we are in the early stages of planning.
I pre-ordered the text and received it on its release date. When I first read it I actually listened to each song from the album as I read the poems and read/looked through the pages. I feel like the music added to my experience and helped me to make a further connection emotionally - even though I certainly feel strongly connected to the poetry here without any music at all. I genuinely enjoyed the visuals from Lemire and enjoyed the animated piece as well (when it aired on CBC). My deepest connection remains, however, with lyrics of the songs/poems themselves - I feel that this is simply a fit with the fact that I have a passion for music and poetry. Reading the text and listening to the album again, through the lens of the discussion questions provided, added yet another layer of depth for my connection to the text and my deeper understanding of it.
This book assumes some level of awareness of the residential school system and its efforts to eradicate indigenous cultures and education systems. I also think it assumes that the reader would like to better understand the impact residential schools had, and continue to have, on indigenous communities.
I think the book argues that we must confront and accept responsibility for the resulting injustice and genocide and gain an understanding of FNMI societal structures so we can support their efforts to rebuild communities and re-establish traditions.
I’m not sure that I agree or disagree with the book…it is what it is. One child’s story connects the reader to the reality of the residential school system and encourages curiosity about its origins. We feel outraged and pity for Chanie and that opens the door to extending those emotions to the FNMI population. I do think that this book reinforces the colonial view that indigenous people prefer to live a quiet life close to the earth. While that is likely true, it is also true that they have and are moving into roles as lawyers, doctors and owners of large businesses, on their own terms and without abandoning their value systems. We look to their communities and leaders to help us achieve environmental protection goals, resist unchecked urbanization and even, in Quebec, to frustrate attempts to fragment Canada. We must learn to get better at returning the favour.
At first, I confined my engagement to the book. However, the multimedia version gives a much richer experience and I referred to both so I could think about how it was curated to make the print version.
I enjoyed participating in this group. Thank you!
Definitely agree with your perspective around current reality vs holding onto ideas that simplify who FNMI are in today's world