I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan in the days when we really didn’t notice or judge differences Oh, we knew that some students our age had physical or financial problems but they were in our class and just one of us. We helped each other with our weaknesses and celebrated individual as well as group strengths.
My mother was a school teacher and when she would get her class list for the upcoming year, pupils were categorized into one of three groups - fast, average and slow. No diagnoses or special needs rooms. Everyone just learned and played together despite their academic abilities. Even age was not a big factor to divide our community very much. It was small town and we often found ourselves in groups ranging from newborn through to seniors.
Ethnicity was also just accepted as being part of humanity. We lived in Indian Head but didn’t have a reserve. The names of many nearby geographic areas, buildings and sports teams were aboriginal, but we didn’t know the exact origin or language that was at the source. We just accepted everything as it was.
We moved up the grades together just as we were. I remember history classes that taught us about the “Indians” as they were then called who, so the story goes, lived happily until the British arrived and cheated them out of land, putting them on reserves in exchange for guns and liquor. The residential schools were described as orphanages for children whose parents’ couldn’t look after them.
Inuit were called Eskimos and every year we heard about the main character in the Trial of Louis Riel who was hung in Regina for fighting against the British to support the Metis. We just accepted what we were taught and didn’t question many things back then.
I grew up with people from different nationalities and enjoyed the diversity. Later I worked with clients with many backgrounds and always was eager to learn about their uniqueness. Never was I accused of racism when I asked others to tell me about their ethnicity and I did ask.
Well, a few weeks ago, I attended a Town Hall meeting sponsored by the College of Alberta Psychologists. Members were informed that we cannot renew our practice permits in 2024 unless we have completed professional development focused on Indigenous Awareness.
I started researching and was surprised and pleased to find out that the University of Alberta has a twenty-one hour online course that is absolutely free. The instructors and interviewees, who all are Indigenous, offer an extremely interesting perspective of the way things evolved for their people beginning with the fur trade.
Each of the twelve course modules offers details about specific customs, culture, leadership and relationships throughout history from an aboriginal viewpoint. Everything is told in an interesting and thought-provoking manner. I admit that many of the ideas that I had heard and adopted over the years were challenged and have been changed because of new insight and understanding.
I cannot adequately summarize twenty-one hours into 500 words but I can encourage you to sign up for the Indigenous Awareness course so that you, too, can join more than 548,843 people who have already enrolled.
You will gain powerful insight into the world of the Indigenous through music, art, language, interviews, and story-telling.
I am so thankful that I discovered this wonderful resource as I am always learning.
Why not register today? After all it’s packed full of interesting knowledge (and it’s free).