In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of teaching Indigenous education because without the proper education, then it is so easy to fall into stereotypes without even realizing. I don’t just want to bring awareness to my students but I want to challenge them to dig deeper, and think harder about why there are stereotypes involved.
For example, “Those Drunk Indians” is published in briarpatch magazine online, which explains very well how the stereotypes in Canada are very prominent. There is a quote in this article that was heartbreakingly real, “I am seen as an Indian first,” she says. “Then a woman. After that, it doesn’t matter that I’m gay or an auditor or someone’s aunt. I’m already less than.”
Why is this true? This is exactly why Indigenous education needs to be implemented more, and mandatory, as I challenged in my previous post. It should not be a choice, because it is not a choice for this woman to be seen as anything less than she is just because she is an Aboriginal woman.
As I mentioned also in previous posts, awareness and knowledge is the missing piece in my opinion. I grew up surrounded by countless stereotypes about Aboriginal people. It wasn’t until I was educated that I started asking the important questions such as why and how can I change this? If students aren’t aware of our country’s history, then how could they begin to understand the stereotypes and the implications that come with them?
The reason this is so important is because we need to fill the gap between Canadians and Aboriginal Canadians. For example, the article references the countless Aboriginal women that have gone missing and have been murdered, and yet there has been hardly anything done about it. It has been years, decades and there it is still not a pressing matter, as it absolutely should be. Again, I didn’t know about any of these because the media seems to be covering news stories from one side – the privileged. There is hardly any media coverage from the Aboriginal perspective.
The article also references the horrible murder trial for Cindy Gladue, who bled to death in an Edmonton hotel room from an 11-centimetre wound in her vagina. The white man was found not guilty, after graphic images of her wounded vagina were on display for all of the jury to see. Would this case be any different if the woman was white and the accused man was Aboriginal?
As a cat lover myself, I was devastated to find out that a cat was found in Regina, tortured, with his legs tied up with electrical tape. Evie Ruddy compares the media’s coverage on these stories – the media continues to post numerous updates about this poor cat and he has even gotten international media coverage. Citizens have fallen in love with this cat and have raised over $22,000 for him. How is it that a cat can get more media coverage, whereas a horrific murder trial with an outrageous verdict is nearly hidden from the public?
This article, and this author’s experience with stereotypes is exactly why Indigenous education is so crucial for our society. There is no question that we have a long way to go, but I am confident that once there is more awareness raised, the critical questions will soon follow.