The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
- List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
- How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
- Some specific ways that I see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative are as follows:
- Bringing generations of community members together on the land to advance the community’s recognition and reclamation of Mushkegowuk knowledge and culture.
- Creating an audio documentary about relations to the river and engaging in trips along the river, as younger generations were re-introduced to traditional
ways of knowing.
- Learning about the land in critical ways in regard to cultural identity, especially during a time during external forces seeking to impose a different meaning of land and its ‘utility’, upon the Mushkegowuk in the Treaty 9 region (i.e. the Ring of Fire mineral deposits being extracted by mining companies).
- Involving Elders and youth in intergenerational discussions about the importance of the land and river.
- Essentially, seeking to identify routes towards “decolonization” towards shaping adequate responses to problems arising in the face of externally-driven development and its implications for life and land in Mushkegowuk
- Youth were offered skill-building workshops in which participants made their own audio documentaries based on the interviews they carried out with community members.
- Names for places in the Inninowuk language were marked as an effort to bring the original names and Cree concepts to more common use among the youth. The words paquataskamik and Kistachowan Sipi (Albany River’s original name) were written along the fifty-foot long sides of the raft. The focus on the word is an explicit attempt to retain a relationship to the rivers, the lands, and the communities joined together by them.
- Some ways that I might adapt these ideas to consider place in my own subject areas and teaching are as follows:
- Have students use specific language and traditional terms to define meanings of place. Evident by ‘paquataskamik’, the use of specific words and language choices can have wide implications in relation to governance, land use, economic development, and social relationships. If the use of a specific word is deteriorating, that could be an indicator that culture is deteriorating (or working to be colonized) as well.
- The authors offer that decolonization as an act of resistance depends, in part, on “traditional, non-commodified cultural patterns such as mentoring and intergenerational relationships.” Thus, as an educator, I would work to foster intergenerational relationships between students and Elders/elders. Elders/elders have so much knowledge to share, and know of the stories and ways of life that existed before many of us were born. Without the transmission of stories, traditional culture and cultural identity could perhaps not exist. Our past is so much of who we are as individuals.
- Learning about the land, of the land, and on the land helps us to understand the context, and how we benefit from the land (it is not often anymore that the land benefits from us). I will without question focus much of my teaching about, of, and on the land. Students may find connection in the land that they are unable to find in/from anything else. Further, the quality of the land can tell us a lot. For example, in the article, the land was facing extraction from mining companies. The land can often serve as an indicator of the status of land rights and political autonomy. This is merely one way that my students would be able to tie deeper learning and connection to place-based education.