It's the little things....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It’s the little things...

Karen R. Restoule*

I often think about the role of reconciliation in the Idle No More movement, how both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal peoples play important roles in the quest to achieve equality.  With images of protests, railway blockades, and highway slowdowns that run through my mind when I hear the words "Idle No More", I force myself to shift my thinking beyond the large scale exhibitions and consider the actions that occur at the most fundamental level.  Much less obvious, and not widely displayed to the average Canadian, simple acts of respect and inclusion are occurring across this country and their effects are of a quiet strength.  

One that comes to mind involves my partner, his classmates and their sports journalism professor "Harold".  In their second week of class, Harold challenged his students with the very first question in their current events quiz by asking, “Who is Theresa Spence?”  Now you would think that a room full of educated and engaged folks would have caught a glimpse of news reports of the Chief who was going into Week 4 of her hunger strike.  You would think.  But they hadn't.  Ok, to be fair, less than 1/4 of the students were able to respond correctly.  Was I really surprised though?  Was I surprised that they flipped (or scrolled down) right past the front page photo of a woman who was willing to put her health and life into jeopardy to bring public attention to the life-threatening issues that continue to plague her First Nation?  The very same woman that has been referred as the Ghandi of First Nations peoples?  Not in the least. 

HOWEVER, perhaps I should quiet my inner critic and focus on the good here because there is some good.  In fact, there is some GREAT!  And that wonderful thing is the very reality that in a post-graduate sports journalism class within the City of Toronto, where very few First Nations, Inuit, or Metis students sit (if any), where only non-Aboriginal peoples teach, and where Aboriginal issues are not expected to be discussed, a question regarding one of the greatest Aboriginal movements of our time was included in a weekly pop quiz. 

This is what reconciliation looks like, folks.  It’s the little things.

*Karen is Ojibway and a member of Dokis First Nation. She is a recent graduate of the French Common Law Program at the University of Ottawa. Currently, Karen is completing her articles in the area of social justice. Prior to attending law school, she worked in provincial corrections and legal fields. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2005, in Aboriginal Studies and Linguistics. In her free time, Karen enjoys visiting with family and friends, cooking, film, and working towards the advancement of the rights of First Nations communities and peoples.
Designed by Rachel Gold.