CJ 5: time

My fifth and last creative journal for Environmental Education class now exists only in the past, in memories and in consequences.

I walked outside. I went for a walk and appreciated Earth as it is. With all its flaws and its beautiful things. I saw one rabbit alive and one that was dead. I saw gulls walking and flying. I saw the wind making the grass, newly green after the thaw of snow, shaking from here to there. I left the Wakpa Tower and went around all the buildings in the University of Regina, stopping at the First Nations University. I took off my jacket and felt the cold wind while I watched the crows cawing at something I didn’t know what it was. I saw ladybugs not moving under a thorny plant and hurt my finger lightly trying to get them. I saw trees with and without leaves, feathers with and without birds.

My performance was fleeting and fitting. The best thing I have to offer the Earth is my time, my senses, my curiosity and sense of wonder. Time flies and lost possible experiences can never be relived, much like the real outdoor experiences that can’t really be explained, only felt. I took pictures during the walk, recorded videos, gazed and listened and felt. I affected everything around me, leaving only footsteps, and everything affected me. My offering to the Earth is the time that I have. This creative journal is the time that I had. That is both my thanks and my gift. To all that made this possible, to all that lived here before, to all that helped preserve so much green around where for four months I called home. For all the living beings that survived the winter and now come say hello in their own specific ways.

No visuals go along with this entry because nothing could represent the real feelings of being outside. The good thing is anyone can recreate this performance, as long as they keep their eyes open, their ears attentive, and their skin and whole selves connected to what’s around, beyond the walls of our artificial homes.

My performance is in the past, but I am here.

CJ5: My Family of Butterflies

Majority of my heritage is Ukrainian. That means that my family celebrates Ukrainian Christmas and Easter. The holidays normally occur after Christian Christmas and Easter. Easter is a huge holiday for both Christians and Ukrainian Orthodox followers. Traditions are ripe throughout our celebrations. They normally involve food. Food is huge in my family; it does not deal with reciprocity to the land. We would have feasts because when my grandparents grew up they were really poor and starved. This was around the time when there were no Wal-Mart’s to buy cheap food. The ability to get food for cheap at a moments notice instead of having to grow it in a garden was lifechanging to my family.

For Easter we would create elaborate baskets full of food. We would take these baskets to a church to be blessed by a Ukrainian Orthodox priest. Afterwards we would have dinners and lunches to eat the blessed food. We could not throw away the blessed food because it was blessed.

Another addition to the baskets were pussy willows. Pussy willows are plants that grow in the ditches of Saskatchewan. We would have the pussy willow blessed too. It represents the cycle of rebirth. Pussy willow grows wild around Saskatchewan. One stalk of pussy willow contains many seeds. If we bless the pussy willow it makes those following seeds sacred. I drew this picture to symbolize the importance and the sacred nature of the pussy willow plant in my family. The butterflies were my grandmothers favourite. I wanted it to symbolize those who have passed. When someone has passed we bring pussy willow. Even though death is a loss of life on Earth the pussy willow layed on the gravesite allows the pussy willow to be blown by wind dispersing the seeds so new pussy willows can grow.

I adore my family traditions and hope to pass them along to my children one day.

Creative journal 5

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Growing up when my grandma was well enough to garden she did, I was always fascinated how things grew and how they tasted and hoe I could just pull up a potato wipe the dirt off and eat it, the same with carrots. I have always loved summertime because that’s the time grandma grows and I get to go eat all of the fresh vegetables. I have never known how to do it myself but since this class it has really sparked my interest in growing things, and plants. For one of my early childhood education classes we had to come up with an invitation for grades K-3, for my invitation I used an indicator from the sk curriculum relating to plants in their natural environments, so I took focus from our class when we planted all the different seeds and pea chutes, and I got a tray of peat moss and grabbed a package of flowers. I let the students plant their own and they had fun with it! So far all 50 of them have sprouted pretty well and may be ready to plant soon, and that is my new offering to the earth. I will be planting these flowers at my house and I am really excited to see how they turn out, I would also love to talk to my grandma about how to maintain a garden, I really think I would love to start a garden of my own and I could start composting out in the garden as well.

 

We need to give back to the earth like Kimmerer says, we need to offer it good things and I think that a garden is great for the earth in so many ways and would love to stop buying produced food at grocery stores, that way I can offer more to the earth by lowering my use of plastics that the food is packaged in. “The visible became invisible, merging with the soil. It may have been a second-hand ceremony, but even through my confusion I recognized that the earth drank it up as if it were right. The earth knows you, even when you are lost.” (36.) I thought that this quote was beautiful because I can’t tell you how many times I have gone outside to be in beautiful nature because I was upset, because the earth knows me and it cheers me up when I am lost and am looking for guidance. I feel connected to this earth and I want to give something back to it, because it is always there if I need some peace in my soul.  

Creative journal 4

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For my creative journal four I decided to based it off “moments of relearning & unlearning” from Jade Ho’s paper. I have drew me in the past going down both of the paths of unlearning and relearning, because not only until recently have I learnt about the importance of land and the history behind it. Growing up in Moose Jaw and travelling to Regina lots I never knew that I lived so close to Treaty 4. It wasn’t until my first year of University in ecs 110 that I learnt we were living near a Treaty signing. In grade school they took us to Fort Qu’Appelle a few times but all I can remember from it would be just general stereotypes about First Nations/Aboriginals, they didn’t teach us anything while we were there, its like they expected to take us and we just know what is going on. We watched pow-wows, we made bannock, we also watched an Elder smoke Bison meat, we even got to go stand inside of tipis, but that was all I took in from it, I didn’t know why they lived in tipis and why that was sacred, and the history behind Fort Qu’Appelle and these people we were visiting. It would have been a great history lesson for us students while we were there if our teachers would have told us about the history and why we were visiting this place and why these people held pow-wows, because to us students it was just a fun field trip.  “One of the dangers of formal schooling is“it will imprint a disciplinary template onto impressionable minds and with it the belief that the world really is as disconnected as the divisions, disciplines, and subdisciplines of the typical curriculum.” (3.)

 

“I knew then I had to re-learn and re-cultivate affinity with nature and start slowing

down to appreciate and understand life’s beauty and suffering. Through this process, I

had come to see the complexity of my own situatedness. I had to shed the layers of my

own privilege and oppression— as drifter from culture to culture, and place to place, I

have become a colonizer and the colonized, the privileged and underprivileged, oppressor and the oppressed.” (12.) It is very important to notice your own oppression and to know the history to imprint it onto your students to avoid white privilege and oppression, to let them know that the land is not yours, you may own a property of land one day but the land you live on goes way back and they need to be aware of the history of Canadian colonialism. When we went to the Regina Indian Industrial School I wanted to go in and pay my respects but it is not my place, I do not have family history with this, and even though I only wanted to go in there with good intentions, it may be seen to others of that culture and background as disrespectful, and we need to teach our students that. “For this reason, a critical pedagogy of place fails to recognize that

there are many intergenerational traditions that have evolved in ways that co-exist with

the environment in non-destructive ways and it also fails to include the long and diverse

histories places have.” (5.)

Journal Blog Five

I initially had a difficult time with this prompt, at first when I thought about a ceremony I pictured a formal occasion celebrated with a large group of people. After reading, Kimmer’s story An Offering I had a different understanding of what a ceremony can be. Kimmer describes a ceremony as something that “reminds me of who we are; it reminds me of our gifts and our responsibility to those gifts. Ceremony is a vehicle for belonging—to a family, to a people, and to the land.”When I started thinking about ceremonies in this way, about how they can be something to show reciprocity with the land, I thought about the time I have begun to spend outdoors in my daily routine.

Each morning, I have a long walk to get to the university. I used to fill this time by listening to music through my headphones. The music helped me to pass the time but it also made me oblivious to my surrounding. Practicing stillness at the beginning of this semester was helpful for me because it reminded me that I don’t need to escape to the mountains, or be in the forest to feel connected to nature. There are ways of having this connection in my daily routine in the city if I take time to remember and appreciate my surrounding. Now on my morning walks I make an effort to leave my phone in my pocket and instead I try to pay close attention to what’s happening around me. When I walk past a tree I find myself thinking about the the exchange of breath between me and the green beings. One day as I heard birds chirping in the tree branches above me, I began to wonder what the day of the birds looked like. What places will they fly to today? How many other people will notice their chirping? Somehow even though I was reflecting on how different our days were from one another I still felt a connection to the birds. We happened to be under the same sky breathing the same air. In this way I felt a connection to my environment and I felt like I belonged to this land.

On the weekend I have begun taking my younger sister on walks with me to the park and around our neighbourhood. On our walks we always bring a plastic bag to pick up the litter we come across on these walks. This is similar to Kimmer’s experience with her mother who “ had her own more pragmatic ritual of respect: the translation of reverence and intention into action.” Kimmer’s mother ritual of respect was to “leave the place better than you found it.” I try to reproduce this ritual in the places that I visit and try to encourage  those who I am with to be a part of these rituals.

For my art piece this week, I wrote a short poem following one of my walks. On this particular walk I recall being in awe of the setting sky. I placed the poem over the photograph of the sky so that I when I come across this poem again I don’t forget the feeling of gratitude I felt that inspired me to write the poem. The poem is a  prayer, it incorporates my gratitude for the beauty and resilience of the natural world around me, my gratitude for belonging to this land and my hope that the nature around me continues to be a source of happiness and hope for me and others that shares this land.

The Offering

Respect

Most religions have ceremonies of thanksgiving, respect, and reciprocity. For myself, I did not really grow up practicing a religion but I know for myself that I do respect others practices, religion, and culture.  Recently we had gone a school field trip to the Industrial First Nation residential school burial site. While we were there was a lot of discussion on religion and what we believe. It was a good start on how to write this blog post but for me, something else happened at the site. Deep inside I felt the need to show my respect or I would also call this a calling. Audrey did not feel comfortable allowing us into the boarded area of the burials but for myself, I had the urge to go in and show my respect. Intentionally that day I packed a grocery bag to maybe sit on my but to my surprise maybe the whole feeling of grabbing was to help. I had asked Audrey if it was okay to go into where the bodies were buried and clean up the garbage I saw. No one is taking care of these people and where their home is now. It is important to now respect not just for people you love but others who have been love but now are lost. I would count this as a way of an offering or ceremony because I allowed my emotions to break me down to make a connection with these fellow people. I had used tobacco to allow myself in by making a door, I had walked around cleaning up garbage and closed opens with the tobacco symbolizing a door making it complete and more sacred, During this whole time I was speaking to them apologizing, asking if they were okay, hoping they were okay and wishing that someone was looking out for them  in sort of life a prayer. I finished my ceremony by closing the door I had my with tobacco as I said my goodbyes. This feeling has changed my life, and I never knew I could feel this way. I thank that land and those people for show me a new way. Thank you.

 

Decolonizing Encounters

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Every day we live our life and participate in activities, but the thought usually never occurs that we are on stolen decolonized land. Especially for me after talking up the class I had never really thought about it before. In reality, we all think we are just having innocent fun and not really thinking about the consequences that allow this.

For my visual piece, it shows the different levels of nature. The bottom klinex box has a pattern that reminds me of waves, then the next one represents rocks, then we have leaves again, the weird shapes represent colonization and lastly leaves again. It is meant to show nature in steps; I tried to relate this piece to being outside mostly camping. These are different parts that you partake when camping. We boat/ fish on the water, lay upon the rocks and sand, stay in tents/ campers and play in the woods. It had never occurred to me that this lifestyle was not always ours. Just in the fact that this land has not always been ours, we do some activities were we are not giving back to the land which is always been the main purpose or to respect the land. I know for fact is on the body of water there is garbage sometimes or I have witnessed cans being tossed into the lake. This isn’t respecting our Earth. Not only did we take over land that was not ours but still choose to treat it with no respect.  I know now that the next time I participate in activities to have an open eye about relearning and unlearning the land. Tell people they are doing something disrespectful to the land and they need to stop. I need to stand for our land because it can not do that by itself. There was a duty to care of this land and out of respect we should continue that sacred piece about the land. Further on I will unlearn my bad habits and relearn the land to make good habits.