If anyone were to look at my Google calendar for the upcoming months, they would probably assume that I’m a pretty busy person. While that’s not entirely incorrect, the truth is I schedule in a lot of things in my calendar that I know I’ll probably never attend. Half of those events are things that are happening on campus (U of T’s just so darn big! You always feel like you’re missing out on something).
This week is Indigenous Education Week at U of T and there are a bunch of interesting events happening as part of the celebration. Having found myself wandering through Hart House again in between classes (anyone else have those pesky one-hour gaps in their schedule?), I stopped for a moment to take in the Talking Walls Exhibition in the Main Hall. After coming back from (and blogging about) my experience attending a conference on issues of diversity in physics and science I feel like this is a great way to continue on with conversations about inclusivity and awareness.
Reading about the famous indigenous contributions to science and society that were highlighted in some of the exhibit panels, I found myself being drawn to all of the panels celebrating women scientists. Like this panel of engineer and educator Mary Ross:
It’s easy to get involved with issues that directly affect you and have created barriers for you, but realising and acknowledging all of the different ways in which you have benefited from others’ challenges (whether or not it was intentional or even conscious on your part) is a much tougher task. When I was younger, I think I underestimated the importance of being able to own my history or identify with a role model who actually looked like me. I grew up in a fairly supportive environment and so I assumed I never needed to know about those narratives or those role models and that I had enough determination (or something) to succeed on my own. As I am now actually understanding the necessity of such things, I realise it’s just as important to learn about those histories and role models that are not a part of my own communities, but have similarly been underrepresented in society and culture.
As I try to be a more aware and informed person, I’ll certainly challenge everyone to join me in trying to be more mindful of experiences that are not your own. I think events like Indigenous Education Week are great opportunities to broaden your horizons and I’m looking forward to attending some of these events if I get a chance to.
- We Are The Future (Jan 24, 7pm, Hart House Music Room): a talk on art, media, and more with Narcy and CBC’s Pacinthe Mattar.
- Mind, Body, Spirit (Jan 25, 12pm, Centre for Indigenous Studies Turtle Lounge): a self-care workshop with Elder Ernie Sandy.
- Clearing a Path (Jan 26, 2pm, Hart House Debates Room): poetry readings and discussion with Indigenous poets Gwen Benaway, Lee Maracle and Gregory Scofield.