Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value in the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you….
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.
– Brown (2017, p. 158)
Brené Brown’s words resonate with many of the anxieties that non-Indigenous faculty and teachers have expressed to their Indigenous colleagues and others in the hallways and outside the classroom. We often hear, perhaps less eloquently stated, that people are afraid they will make mistakes, say the wrong thing, and offend people, and they question the validity and purpose of their voice in the conversation about Indigenization. From this place of fear, people often want to know “the right way” to teach or wanting to have the checklist or know the best practice that will ensure a smooth delivery of Indigenous content.
Corrine Michel, Secwepemc faculty, and Janice Simcoe, an Anishinaabe educational leader, both at Camosun College, have said (personal communications, 2017), “Indigenization of teaching practice is an ongoing process rather than a start-to-end project. Thus, we need to think in terms of flow and ongoing learning rather than hoping to have a checklist that will guide the process to a finale.” A checklist may function as a life jacket, as it may be a way to stay afloat, but this approach does not provide you with the skills to grow and manoeuvre with this growth. In some ways, the checklist or life jacket is a comfortable safety device that could result in people “starting to drift back to normal practice, a sort of impermanent transformation.”
As Brené Brown calls for us to “share our most sacred self by both being part of something and standing alone in the wilderness,” we are inviting you to come along for this journey by standing beside us but also entering into unfamiliar territory. Along the way and throughout this guide there will be points where you will reflect on difficult moments and choppy waters; however, we hope that this guide will provide you with tools, like a paddle, to navigate through it all and strengthen your approach as educators who are part of the team on this canoe journey.