This week class was spent learning about the importance of Aboriginal identity through the stories of Anna-Leah King and from the film Muffins for Granny. King spoke about her parents’ experiences going to residential school. It wasn’t until I looked up from my note taking that I saw her face mid-story. Gloss coated her eyes thick beneath her lashes and with each word she said a wave of emotion followed, as if it pained her to speak so openly about her parents, herself, and her people. Allowing myself to accept the stories spilling out from between her lips and into my open and supporting heart is one thing, but to metaphorically cut herself open and bleed the truth to a receptive audience is absolutely astonishing.
Then came the film. I have watched many films on the subject of Residential school, but had yet to watch Muffins for Granny made by Nadia Mclaren. The film is dedicated to her Grandmother who shared her tragic experiences in Residential school. The film showcased 7 others who’s stories continue to haunt me well passed the end of the documentary.
From the presentation and film viewing I learned a lot. I had never bothered to think about a presenters feelings before. Whether the topic be very personal or standardized facts with no personal connection, I never stopped to wonder what effects these topics actually had on the speaker. This causes me to reflect back on other presentations I had sat through mindlessly absorbing the words without empathy. Even one week before when I had the privilege of listening to Christian speak about his experience with gender identity while growing up, I was so focused on how I would apply the new lessons I learned from his presentations into my own life in a positive way that I lacked the empathetic nature that I have now. It was as if with Anna-Leah King that my eyes had been opened to a whole new world of listening with an empathetic ear. I would like to thank Ms. King for the insightful presentation and for recommending the heart-touching film Muffins for Granny. If you have not seen the film I encourage you to watch the trailer below.
Reflecting back on her presentation along with the film that followed moves me to tears. As a way to express my feelings about this presentation I have written the poem below.
For the lives that go unlived and the dreams that go undreamt,
For children that ’re not taught and the land that wasn’t leant.
The valiant and the brave fought for the innocent.
This is for the children, families, communities,
For the ones who had to suffer with no opportunities.
The continued negligence reveals the truth of our species.
This is for the food, plates uneaten and unserved,
They made it sound important as if the people they deserved.
A population in starvation, yet their cries will go unheard.
This is for the bodies buried, burned, and all forgotten,
Will the families hear the words if their ears are filled with cotton?
Darkened hearts that keep on beating, taking orders they are rotten.
For the children stuck in past, present, future it’s unsure,
We need to work together wading through the truth obscured.
Teach me in your language let your voices sound secure,
Of the hurtful kind of suffering that your people must endure.