I made these kamiks for my oldest daughter when she was seven years old. They have since been worn by both of her younger sisters. I learned to sew from my mother-in-law. Together we borrowed ideas from other areas within the Beaufort Delta area to create them. We made some mistakes and learned together.
I have replaced the soles and repaired broken seams several times in the past decade. When I do I think of her lovingly laughing and correcting my stitches that seemed to always be too small or too big, too tight or too loose. Sometimes she corrected me along the way and sometimes she let me go to the end so that I could see for myself the consequences of what I had done wrong.
Building this site feels similar to sewing those kamiks.
I created this site as an assignment for one of the first courses in my Doctor of Education program at the University of Calgary. The assignment was to present the content of Dr. Marie Battiste’s book Decolonizing Education.
It is part resource and presentation of Dr. Battiste’s book and part experiment and exploration. Though is was not my plan at the start, throughout the site I have tried to look for localized examples of Dr. Battiste’s concepts and ideas among the Inuvialuit, the indigenous group with which I am the most familiar. Having been away for over nine years it became an exploration of the wonderful work being done in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to preserve the culture and decolonize ways of thinking. I knew some of these resources existed, but was surprised by the depth and variety of materials available.
The site has a section for each of the 10 chapters in Dr. Battiste’s book. The site menu allows visitors to explore the content in the same order as Decolonizing Education with titles that align to the book chapters. On the site homepage however the sections are out of order and begin with quotes and stories from Dr. Battiste rather than chapter titles. This is a reflection of my feeling that each chapter was a separate story that was on its own complete. It is also an experiment with focusing on the action of telling the story rather than noun-based content. As with everything I do, there is plenty of space for this concept to be flawed. And I am appreciative of other ideas and interpretations.
Although the site is localized to the Inuvialuit, I have tried to identify either national resources that will point to other localized resources (the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Indspire, etc.) or point to the types of places one might look for (and find) resources (local indigenous organizations, radio, APTN, NFB, youTube, etc.)
Throughout the site, I have linked back to the original sources of the content in as as many ways as I could think to. My goal was to curate rather than replace, a starting point for further exploration. The site is also built in an open-source framework in a way that I hope enables others to reuse, remix, reuse and build upon it while exploring ways of linking and sharing that ensure ownership of cultural resources is respected. In some cases when embedding and direct linking did not work I did take screenshots and place those images directly into this site. While I did link all images back to their original sources, I am uncertain about that approach.
Through this process many questions emerged. Isn’t part of decolonizing getting beyond paper-based assignment in classes and thinking differently about how we construct and share ideas? What is my role in changing colonized approaches? Do I have a responsibility to share what I have learned? How do I share without appropriating, amplify but not speak for? What happens if we supplement and/ or replace mostly Dr. Battiste’s Mi’kmaq examples with those of another Canadian culture? I found her ideas to be largely transferable to the Inuvialuit context, but who am I to make such a decision? What is technology’s role in all of this? What do my own children lose if I don’t share with them what has been taught to me?
Anyone who visits the site is invited to leave comments whether they be suggestions for additions or critical questions about the approach. The goal was never to answer these questions but to explore options, to take risks and to get it wrong. It is by design both personal and incomplete. Built not to offer answers but in the hopes of advancing the creation of an ethical space for dialogue. To open up new ideas (and identify bad ones).