Today I spent the afternoon away from school at a meeting with other district colleagues. It was a meeting of the Professional Growth Council, a group which consists of representatives from the different schools in the district. These meetings are used to discuss different initiatives, to plan, and to have discussion opportunities across the different levels and schools. Today’s meeting was quite different than any other Pro Growth meeting I have attended and I feel very fortunate to have been able to be there and to have been a witness to the sharing that took place.
As our assistant superintendent introduced the premise of the meeting he told all of us gathered that the day’s meeting would be different from what we may have come expecting based on previous meetings. He told us that for the next couple of hours we should attempt to quiet the to-do lists in our minds, to set technology aside, and to simply be present. He introduced three individuals who would be leading us through the first part of the meeting… a principal from a school in the district and two teachers, who also happen to be two of my very good friends (the same two friends, in fact, who encouraged me to start this blog way back when as I prepared for my 10 months in Salta).
These three educators attended a conference in the Fall entitled Indspire, a national gathering for Indigenous Education with a focus on reconciliation and moving forward together. While at a day led by Niigaan Sinclair they were inspired by a process that was shared. A process that is deeply personal, courageous, and one that is instrumental to the work of reconciliation. The process consisted of the asking of four questions. Questions that on one hand may seem pretty basic, but, on the other, so incredibly deep. One is meant to take these questions and reflect on them as an individual and then to share his or her own answers.
Today, these three educators did just that. They sat at the front of the room and answered the four questions in a deeply personal and authentic way. And I did what was asked of me, I sat and listened. I sat with the others gathered and bared witness to these courageous and inspiring individuals who were sharing their stories with respect to their own journey of reconciliation.
I left this meeting feeling inspired, wishing that all educators (and all people, for that matter), could take part in such a process. To bare witness to the vulnerability these individuals demonstrated and to then take the time to reflect on the four questions in order that we may, as a community and as a country, continue to move forward together in our journey towards reconciliation.
In my own effort to spend time reflecting on these questions I will, over the next few weeks, attempt to do my best to answer the four questions here. While sharing in writing is not the same as the sharing the individuals did today it will be a way for me to reflect in my own way, something I feel inspired to do after listening to my colleagues today. I encourage you to also consider these questions for yourself.
Who am I? – Why am I here? – Who can help me? – Where am I going?
Dr. Niigaan Sinclair said, “We don’t need more eggshell walking. We need bravery to do this work.” Thank you to the bravery of the presenters today, may this bravery spread to all you have touched with your words so that we may do the work necessary to make true reconciliation a reality in our schools, communities, and in our country.