April 1 was our field trip to Fort Qu’Appelle. When I woke up that morning, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was expecting us to go to Fort Qu’Appelle, walk around, visit a couple places and then call it a day. Never did I expect, to learn and experience so much in one day.
Throughout the day, we had engaged in:
- a walk through of the Hudson Bay Company building
- a walking tour and reflection on various statues in Fort Qu’Appelle
- a tour of the museum
- lunch at the high school with one of Sheena Koops’ colleagues and a student, followed by a brief tour of the school
- a trip to Lebret to visit the site of the residential school and listen to an Elder talk about his experiences
- a tour of the All Nations Healing Centre
Now, Audrey posed the following question at the start of our day and it is something that I am still thinking about…whose story is being told here?
Throughout the day, I found myself thinking back to this question. The Hudson Bay Company store tells the story of the European settlers and how they established the very successful company which started with the First Nations. However, First Nations kind of get left out of this narrative. The statues tell the story of the Europeans yet again; especially the giant one that was only a couple blocks from the Hudson Bay Co. Store. It screams European; it is big and tall and everything is written in English. The second statue was a of a First Nations man but statues are a very European ideal. Now the museum was a different story. The story of European and settlers was told and was more dominant as you walked through but First Nations story was present and a lot more dominant than the previous stops. At the high school, you could tell that the student’s story was being told. There was student work on the walls, pictures of students, and posters that were made by students. It was awesome to see and kind of reminded me of what I love about teaching; it is all about the students. Now tt is pretty obvious whose story was being told as we were listening to the Elder at the site of the Lebret Residential School. However, what really struck me was that learning can happen almost anywhere. There we stood, in a back alley of all places, listening to an Elder speak; never would I have pictured this. But it opened my eyes about where learning can take place. Our final stop of the day, was the All Nations Healing Centre. The gentleman who guided us, told us the story of First Nations, why this centre was important and what it means to them. I found this experience informative and I would take students there. You can tell the people at the centre are there to tell the story of First Nations people and want to continue using the traditional methods of healing that First Nations people have been using for centuries.
So overall, I feel as if the Europeans story was pretty dominant at the start of the day but towards the end we got to hear the First Nations story. As we drove home, I found us discussing the highs and lows of the day and I think I can say that the three of us were exhausted. I got home and after eating something, I curled up in my bed and went straight to sleep. I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and decided to take a walk around Wascana to plant the tobacco Audrey had given us. I found a nice spot that was peaceful and quiet and planted it. I then took a moment to site on the bench, gaze at the lake and sunset and just think and reflect on the day before and whose story was told.