By Yusur Al-Salman, Redefining Traditional Project Member
Hello everyone! My name is Yusur Al-Salman. I’m a graduate student at OISE, in the Adult Education and Community Development program. I’m the newest member joining Redefining Traditional Initiative, and I wanted to share how my journey led me to it.
Uncertainty has followed most of us diligently into this academic year. I only recently started remembering what it’s like to plan for the coming month, instead of the coming week. In addition to that, I don’t know what pre-pandemic Canada looks like. I landed in one of the evacuation flights in spring of 2020 and it [still] doesn’t make sense that I was seeing snow in April. But the slowness of life at that period allowed many feelings and plans to simmer, between half-thoughts and half-actions. And as life picked up pace now, I find myself carefully opening a tightly shut Pandora’s box. I now allow fears and more distant plans to come up once again, to be acknowledged and discussed. One such plan is motherhood.
Written by J. Sparks – Redefining Traditional Team Member
“How do you do it?” As a postsecondary student parent, other parents have asked me this question. When you are a parent, the idea of taking on more responsibility by going back to school can feel discouraging. “How can I do it? Can I be academically successful and take care of my family?” I had asked myself these questions and deliberated before enrolling in graduate studies as a student parent.
Please note that this post speaks about residential schools and the meaning behind Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. At Redefining Traditional, we acknowledge that the land in which we work from at the The University of Toronto has been, for thousands of years, the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. Learn more about which lands you may reside on at and their histories, visit: https://native-land.ca/ or https://www.whose.land/en/
Here in Canada, September 30th, we commemorate Orange Shirt Day, a day intended to raise awareness on the centuries long impact Canada’s Residential School System has had on Indigenous communities, knowledge, traditions, and beyond. Orange Shirt day comes from the experience of Phyllis Webstad (Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation), who was six-years-old when she first arrived to a residential school. On her first day of arriving at the school she was stripped of her new orange shirt. You can learn more about Phyllis’s story and the importance of the orange shirt here: https://www.orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story.html