Reconciliation from an Indigenous Perspective: Weaving the Web of Life in the Aftermath of Residential Schools
By: Herman J. Michell, PhD
Within Reconciliation from an Indigenous Perspective: Weaving the Web of Life in the Aftermath of Residential Schools, Chapters 1 to 5 focus on reconciliation as a series of connections beginning with the land, and then moving outward to include the individual and then families, communities, and society. From a visual perspective reconciliation is very much like a spider’s web with complex inter-locking parts. The spider can be seen as the master weaver and builder. When links are broken they are fixed and reconstructed to make it whole. In Chapter 6, reconciliation is discussed as ‘a journey’ using the metaphor of a herd of caribou moving through the land. Here, the writer is guided by Cree values of ‘Wakotowin’ (Developing relations), ‘Wichitowin’ (Helping one another) and ‘Sitoskatowin’ (Unity). These Cree words are rooted within the northern landscape and reinforce Dr. Michell’s worldview and thoughts on reconciliation.
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Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION: Residential Schools and Reconciliation
2. CONNECTING WITH LAND
3. CONNECTING WITH SELF
4. CONNECTING WITH FAMILY
5. CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY
6. CONNECTING WITH SOCIETY
7. EDUCATION FOR EMPOWERMENT
8. CONCLUSION: The Journey of Reconciliation
About the Author
Herman J. Michell, PhD
Herman J. Michell, PhD is originally from the small fishing/trapping community of Kinoosao, on the eastern shores of Reindeer Lake in northern Saskatchewan. He speaks fluent Woodlands Cree (‘th’ dialect) and has Inuit, Dene and Swedish heritage.Dr. Michell has been involved in Aboriginal education in different capacities since the 1990s. He is a published author. He served as President & CEO of NORTEP-NORPAC for 5 years, a post-secondary organization in northern Saskatchewan. He was a tenured Associate Professor at First Nations University of Canada where he taught undergraduate courses in Indigenous Health Studies, Education and Environment. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Michell sat on the Board of Governors as a faculty representative for 7 years. Dr. Michell has over 10 years of post-secondary administration experience. He served as Vice-President Academic at First Nations University of Canada where he was in charge of 12 departments. He also completed a four year term as Department Head of Science. Dr. Michell is a trained university counselor and has several years of experience working with Aboriginal students. He regularly visits schools and communities promoting science-related professions. Dr. Michell has made numerous presentations on bridging Western Science and Indigenous Ways of Knowing in pre-service teacher programs.
"We are all Treaty People", and as Treaty People we are Called to Action to reconcile the legacy left by the intentional system set in place to assimilate the "Indian" into mainstream society - the Residential School System. But what does that really look like? Reconciliation is not about fixing as Herman Michell clearly illustrates; it is about living in the liminal space between both cultures with the best intent of understanding, acceptance and ethical intent to listen and learn from each other. As he did in Shattered Spirits in the Land of the Little Sticks, Herman Michell sets out in his newest book to explain, again in a very clear and succinct dialogue, what reconciliation looks like through an Indigenous lens - the importance of re-connecting with the land, with the self, with family, with community and with society. Importantly, he explains how the once disempowering franchise of education is the critically important tool to empowerment and voice for Indigenous people. He concludes by teaching the seasonal cycle of the northern caribou, a metaphor to illustrate that like the never-ending cycles and journey of the caribou herd, so to does reconciliation need to be never-ending. As Michell advises as, "we weave through the landscape in cycles of refinement" we must never stop on this journey together. This is a MUST read for all.
Michelle M. Hogue, PhDAssistant Professor
Coordinator First Nations' Transition Program
University of Lethbridge