There comes a certain point in your adult life – or in my case, not so adult life – that saying you are a Canadian from Canada just doesn’t cut it anymore. These words are too loaded. The concepts too big to be encompassed into a single word.
So now we need to create a critical pedagogy of place. This involves undergoing the process of reinhabitation, which in the article “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional: Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin, is defined as the act of identifying, recovering, and creating material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments. And we must also begin to decolonize, which is defined in the article as changing our ways of thinking that serve to injure and exploit other people and places (Restoule., et al. pp. 74).
In order to critically evaluate their pedagogy of place, a group of youth from Albany First Nation partook in a ten-day long camping trip with Elders in order to better understand the Indigenous people and their connection to the land, nature, and all that it contains.
Throughout the article, the Mushkegowuk youth and other participants worked hard to change their pedagogy of place. On the journey, an act of renaming and remapping the region in the Cree language takes place, with each bend in the river getting a name. The youth also learn how nature works together to signal clean drinking water by the croak of a toad, future weather events from the songs sung by birds, and are provided food by animals sacrificing their bodies during hunting practices. The project also fought to stop intergenerational language loss that is taking place within hundreds of indigenous languages across the world by having the Elders teach authentic Cree to the Mushkegowuk youth while simultaneously building intergenerational bonds. This type of bond leads to stronger communication on future matters.
In order for me to truly and critically evaluate my pedagogy of place, I must do the same things that the Mushkegowuk youth did. First I must partake in the reinhabitation of my home I call Canada.
- Unbuild, and relearn what it really means to live on Canadian soil.
- Concern me with the ways in which Canada has exploited the riches of the land and profited from the exploitation of the elements.
- Learn how to live sustainably and co-exist with nature.
Then I must decolonize in order to improve the lives of everyone who inhabits this land with me
- Understanding how my actions support the repression of minority groups rights to land in Canada
- Educate myself on the endangerment of Indigenous languages, and their connections to the land itself.