School

Little Miss Kwe

So the other day someone said, “I saw your blog, it said ‘qu-we.'”

For those that don’t know, I am Aboriginal. More specifically I am Three Fires. Even more specifically, Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi. But I learned to speak three different dialects of Ojibwe back in elementary school and high school. I didn’t learn much beyond animals, numbers, places, directions, some actions which is one of the multigenerational effects of Residential schools: loss of language–as Aboriginal children weren’t allowed to speak their native tongue (if they did, they were severely punished).

One of the things I do remember being taught is that “Kwe” means “Woman” or “Lady.” Yes, there are different spellings and I am going off the spelling I was taught in elementary school by my favourite teacher: Mrs. Naogizic (whose name I forget how to spell, sorry!)

I don’t know why I chose “Little Miss Kwe” as my blog name. I guess I wanted it to have some sort of Aboriginal vibe to it. But in truth, I think it sounds nice… Little Miss Kwe. (Oh and “Kwe” is pronounced “q’way.”)

I figured I would write about this and share with it since someone already thought it said “qu-we” (and this person actually pronounced the “we” as the actual English word “we”). Not their fault, but I corrected them. “We” in Ojibwe is pronounced “way.” I guess that sums it up with what I am really trying to say.

Residential Schools(Miseducation)

The other day our professor asked in class: what are some push and pull factors for youth leaving school?

Some of my peers answered: Drugs, family.

Our professor replied: Those are pull factors.

I raised my hand and said: Knowing this as a First Nations student, some teachers have a certain view about First Nations’ issues and the way they present those issues may affect other First Nations students.

What I really wanted to say: A teacher at my high school told her class that Residential Schools were created to educate First Nation children, when in fact they were really created to assimilate First Nations into “mainstream” culture. That type of miseducation can marginalize what really happened and what continues to affect certain communities and families who had members enter the Residential school system. In turn, affecting the way First Nations students view the material being taught in school: just a bunch of nonsense.

100%

Lately I have been reading about education and Aboriginals in one of my textbooks.

It caused me to reflect on my education experiences. If it weren’t for my family who have been there for me no matter what, and to help push me through, I don’t think I would have done all the great things I have done in my life.

However, this is not what this post is about. Yes, I did excel in school. I graduated top three in elementary school. In high school (even after a really bad car accident where I sustained an Acquired Brain Injury), I even graduated on the honor roll, received a scholarship upon graduation, and won four business awards. But this is not what this is about. It is about the fact that even though, I did do well in school, there was a lack of support for me and other similar students. What I mean by other similar students is other Aboriginal students who excelled.

I remembered being teased sometimes for being too smart or getting good grades. When I look back, it all means nothing today. I remember those around me who excelled as well, they also were teased (whether they were Aboriginal or not).

It amazes me how little support there is for Young Aboriginal people who excel in school. My teachers throughout elementary school consistently would approach their students as they would approach “bad kids.” Because as one supply teacher put it, upon her first day of supplying for us for the rest of the school year, “Don’t think that I don’t know what your reputation is.” I was the only student that asked, “What is our reputation, because even we don’t know what it is.” I wasn’t a “bad kid,” but I did stand up for myself and others. The teacher that day didn’t answer but told me to go to the office. I went. It wouldn’t be the first time I was sent to the office for asking why the teacher said something or what the teacher actually meant when she said we were “just a bunch of dumb cows.”

This may come as surprising to people who read this, but in the school I went to it doesn’t surprise me looking back. We were at a school with the majority of the population being Aboriginal (sad even for me to say that). So, I really do wonder what the school is like today? Is it still the same, population wise? Reputation wise? Teacher wise? I plan to go back one day and influence the young people, Aboriginal or not, but to tell them that if you work hard (yes, school does kind of suck sometimes) and if you don’t let all the teasing (yes, it will be hard) get to you, it does get better. And really, the teasing and the name calling (even though hard to endure at such a young age and sometimes all alone), it doesn’t matter when you’re older. When you work hard, study, and apply yourself 100% to everything you do, that is what matters.