So at the beginning, in my pledge to being an engaged citizen, I committed to meeting with an elder from the community. In that I was going to offer a service of kindness and helpfulness in return for some wisdom or knowledge about life.
To be honest this was a rocky journey and I felt for most of the semester I was going out searching for these moments. At times these moments would present themselves naturally to me, and at other times I struggled finding time or a way to MAKE it happen. I wrote make in capital letters because that started to bother me. Should this process of being an engaged citizenship be a forced thing? or should it come naturally?
Anyways, as I begin to reflect I partially felt like a failure in this department of my assignment. I felt like I struggled with time and energy. So I sat back to figure out what ate up all my time and I started to giggle. Why? you ask?….. I will tell you.
Aside from my school work, travel, family and work I also volunteer my time to help others and my friends. I volunteer to: play music at places, help teachers at the school with their christmas recital preparation, help friends with fundraisers/functions, drive kids from the school to their games and activities becuase other parents are unable too.. and so on.
So what was to be the real purpose of the process of engaged citizenship? Was it to do a certain action regularly to make sure we can check off some box of – I DID THAT – or was it to open our eyes to pay attention of how we can offer time out of our lives to help others around us? To be aware of what is going on around us? To become citizens that do instead of citizens that complain that something should be done?
So I know in my heart of hearts that I am truely engaged in my community, my kids, my students, their families, people around me, my family, and being in the moment. So in that sense I feel like I have passed with flying colors!
DON’T COMPLAIN, DO!
So my engagement is to seek guidance from elders and in doing so exchange a return of an act of kindness or a favour.
So this week I met for tea 🍵 with a beautiful lady. (Name wants to be unknown) she is not to keen about this internet stuff. She has told me how she just wanted to have tea as she is lonely these days. I was able to do her dishes for her at least.
She, herself, had gone back for education when she had children too. She said in the moments she felt horrible, but in retrospect she had made the right choice. Times were hard and she was determined to help out and contribute to the family finances.
Her advice to me was to breathe, even when things become chaotic, sit back reflect, be thankful and remind yourself of the purpose. She then said, “do what you need, no more no less”. More will bring stress and less will bring failure, but it’s a fine line.
I feel more calm after talking to her, but I know it will still be a process of trying to find that line…
In all honesty this is probably the first time I have read through a review of my work that was handed in. This process causes me such anxiety. I had to wrk up the courage and physically make myself read through both reviews. It was easy to hear the good stuff, but when it came to the more criticizing part of things I became irritated and frustrated.
I don’t like to hear that I am not doing the best job. Even though I know I have struggled a bit with this assignment, I didn’t want to hear anything negative from anyone else. I give what I can, and I know sometimes that is not enough. I have become okay with that though, just in order to get through this difficult time of hard work.
I appreciate the feedback and have found that some may think my commitment has not been quite clear or lost direction. I have found this is because you can not necessarily force relationship or make someone else’s time frame fit yours. That is actually a selfish thing to do. So instead I have been alert and waiting for opportunities to be able to engage with elders of my community.
It is hard to keep giving when you are starting to feel empty.
In my process of becoming an active citizen for ESST317, I found myself evaluating what that process should look like. Even though Audrey and Katia have probably said it over and over, it is hard for us as students to change our way of thinking like a university student and becoming an active citizen.
It finally dawned on me that this is not some ASSIGNMENT, but it should be a practice of engaging in something important on a daily basis. Being aware of the people around us, the moment we are in and engaging. This is actucally living and engaging instead of going from point A to point B everyday of our lives.
This weekend we had some friends that came to see us from Steinback, Manitoba. They are a very musical family similar to ours. Their three children play fiddle, cello, and banjo. So yesterday as they were all playing together we decided to pack up our instruments and go to the closest nursing home and jam in front of them (share our gifts for them to enjoy).
It was so wonderful! We did not call ahead, we just walked in, and the looks of the faces of all the residents was priceless. Usually it is a quiet audience, but yesterday they were hooting and hollering, clapping, smiling, and even tears were shed because of memorable songs.
Needless to say, being an active citizen should come from the heart. It should be something that becomes a part of your life because you see a need for it. It should not be some assignment that you force yourself to do for a mark or a grade. This was a wonderful moment for me as I was able to see the elderly be emotionally moved by the music. It was also a wonderful, teachable moment for the the children to see how they can connect with others.
I had the amazing opportunity of being able to travel to Cape Breton this last week. I have realized that my mindset and lense which I look through has changed in the last year or two. Not only was I enjoying the great beauty around me, I was also looking for whose story is being told everywhere I was.
Even though I am still in Canada, Cape Breton Island is quite different from my little Saskatchewan. I noticed many differences even within the culture of the people that reside there. On this Island everyone, from everywhere, is accepted and loved. We drove all over from Sydney, Judique, Wycocomagh, West Mabou, Baddeck, Fort Louisburg, and Ignoish. If you notice from the names of the communities there is a representation of the settlers and the Idigenious people of the land. There are signs all over that represent the Mi’kmaq, Gaelic, and French language. Every place we went to, wether it was a hall, school or even a community center we would see representation of all cultures together.
Our first day, we met Burton MacIntyre, this man is so full of life and enthusiasm for other people. He was a school teacher for 35 years, and you can tell he still appreciates the young people and is interested in helping them learn and thrive. I immediately tought of my assignment in Social and decided that I would exchange myself to do something for him to hear some of his knowledge. As I was talking to him he immediatley jumped up and said, “I will answer all your questions, as long as you take the time to dance with me!” I laughed and agreed. This man is in his late 70’s and he danced for 3 hours straight not a word of a lie.
We xchanged ideas about teaching and children, what works and what doesn’t, little things about the people we will work with, and so on. The most important thing he told me, was the importance to love the people we meet and to make sure we love what we are doing is what we need to keep at the forefront of our hearts. I agree with him. It was so refreshing, fun, and I have never felt so much joy with another stranger…
The following is a clip of burt (Burton) dancing for the kids…. while they are playing and taking part in a Celidh! We call them a jam in saskatchewan..lol
So I believe that I had one of the most packed up weeks of my life. I had friday off, but in kicked family duties and motherly roles. I had dentist and doctor appointments that I had to run all over Saskatchewan for ( as I live in a village ). This weekend was the Treaty Education conferance as well I had two live performances to be at. One on Saturday night and the other on Sunday afternoon.
I was beating myself up as I wanted to help out my neighbor Hank and be able to visit with him. It wasn’t until I realized that in doing the two performances/gigs, that I was giving of my own time and resources to help a group of young teens be able to raise money for their trip to Cape Breton.
I find that often in times we get caught up in the chaios of life and we are trying to juggle to many things in order to fufill obligations and commitments. When it is in those times that we are actually engaging in our goals or purpose without be aware.
I believe that the goal in our social studies course is to become and engaged citizen, make a footprint, realize ways that we can be a better version of ourselves. This weekend amidst the hurricane of duties and commitments I was being a good citizen to those around me that were in need of my service. I was able to listen to the words of two elders on saturday that shared their story and their wisdom of life.
One thing that resonated with me from listening to the elders is that we need to focus on the positive. We can not continually be blaming the past for where we are in life, but grab onto who and where we are today and hold onto the positives that we have now.Look at these beautiful faces! I feel that I have accomplished making a postive footprint this week!
To be honest I have become overwhelmed by the expectations as I sit and read through each syllabus. When I find that I have been asked to complete an assignment that requires more time of my schedule, I ask where? where do I find more time.
I am travelling for classes, I have three kids, a husband, I teach music lessons (in order to bring home some sort of an income) All of these things take TIME!!
So how can I do any of these things well if I can’t put in the time to them? This is my process as I am tring to think of a way to become an active individual in some sort of a social awareness that connects to treaty, curriculum, family, well being, and I can do well to recieve a passing mark.
So I sat down and wrote down the things I am not willing to give up to make this action happen. I am NOT willing to give up more time with my children:
So the girls and I talked and we decided that one thing we have learned from treaty education and learning about the culture and tradition of the First Nations Peoples, is that they hold their elders as important individuals of society that impart wisdom, knowledge and they need to be cared for.
Our white society does not hold the same value towards elders and their important role of our well being. So what does this mean and what can we do?
We are going to make a commitment to a few of the elders in our community maybe even one, named Hank Nickel. He has been on my heart as he is quite elderly, and unable to move around. I thought it would be wonderful to meet with him once a week and exchange my ability to help somewhere and ask if he would sit for tea and share his stories of life.
This would connect to the curriculum when exploring interactions and interdependence of nations, or even dynamic relationships. Juxtapose different communities, cultures, races, and their values and traditions. What makes a society and where that society places their value within the people. Acutal curriculum that I could connect to are: PA6.3 Explore examples and explain how people, such as ethnic minority groups, the disabled, youth, and the elderly, may be affected by injustice or abuses of power as well as RW6.2 Contribute to initiating and guiding change in local and global communities regarding environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Sunday will be our day to set up times to go to tea and do something for an elder of our community.