Are You Properly Educated On The Land You’re On? Dawson’s Acknowledgment of Indigenous History
By Sofia Ben Frej
In January 2020, Dawson created the Decolonization and Indigenization studies certificate, which offers students the opportunity to further explore Canada’s settler-colonial relationship to Indigenous peoples. Dawson has finally taken a step towards acknowledging the true history of our country, but is it enough?
The coordinator of the certificate, Mark Beauchamp, explains why this step forward is so important for the Dawson community. He says that canadian history classes are taught in order to help people “build some sort of national identity.” But often, they are not presenting the history of Canada accurately. For example, students are taught to see many political figures who were central to the construction of residential schools as heroes.
According to Beauchamp, settlers should help without taking space or overshadowing those who are central to the cause: “It’s about being quiet and giving space to other voices, and most fundamentally, it’s about learning.” Beauchamp explains that the educational system has failed to educate us on Indigenous issues. In High School, we are taught by teachers that were themselves never properly educated on the topic, who have bosses that are equally uneducated. “So nobody knows anything, and we keep reproducing that ignorance and lack of knowledge,” Beauchamp says.
Wabanaki Mitchell is a second-year Indigenous student studying Cinema Communications. The three words she uses to explain the relationship between the indigenous communities and the government of Canada is “damaged, miscommunication and also f*ck the pipeline!”
Mitchell often feels misunderstood when discussions about her culture are brought up. She explains that she witnesses a lot of ignorant and racist remarks. Mitchell believes that it’s the lack of education in our school system and the lack of knowledge broadcasted that perpetuates this hatred.
Another Dawson student, Leonardo Scarpa, is in his first year of General Social Science. He is not Indigenous, and when asked if he was aware of the situation, he says if he’s being honest, he doesn’t hear that much about it.
Many feel disappointed with the educational system. Students and teachers alike, from all backgrounds, are speaking up about the evident lack of information regarding Indigenous people, and they will not be silenced.