The importance of diverse knowledge’s and learning practices is rooted in my identity as an urban mixed-race Indigenous woman. My praxis is shaped not only by theoretically grounded pedagogy, but also by my experiential knowledge, my relationship with my ancestors, my multiple identities, and the dialogues in which I engage on a daily basis. I see myself as a perpetual learner both inside and outside academia.
I focus much of my work on Indigenous systems of knowledge, decolonization, consent within the workplace and highlighting Indigenous and racialized collection and resources. Additionally, I believe in the importance of grounding my working in community, engaging different folks in the academy, collective organizing, and having a dialogue about the ways in which anti-oppressive understanding can change systematic violence.
I believe in creating spaces for traditionally marginalized voices in the academy. Being the first in my family to attend university, I bring my whole family with me in my work. I am a proud older sister who has been watching my sister navigate the academy in her first year of university. I remember two weeks into her first semester we were talking about how things were going and first impressions of her classes. We got talking about her Introduction to Indigenous Thought course she said to me, “did you know they let white people teach these courses?”. With a heavy heart I had to tell her this is common in the academy that indigenous and people of colour professors are still a small percentage of teaching faculties, but that there are some good allies out there, so I hoped this professor was one of them. I had to explain the reality of negotiating academic spaces as a racialized body but be mindful to not discourage her in her first semester of her first year. I come to this place with the intention of making space for our youth, so that their academic and community journeys are less strained by the harsh realities of colonial violence.
As much as academia has created ways to engaged on a different level, I am challenged by my family and community to keep striving and always to come back to the heart of my work. Connecting my work back to community is an offering of self to the process of learning, the process of engaging outside academia, which will only strengthen my commitments within. As such I am actively involved in the organizing collective for the Victoria Stolen Sisters Memorial March which annually honors the lives of murder and missing Indigenous women in Canada and have previously worked with youth through surrounded by cedar child and family services, Camp Moomba for children with and affected by HIV and AIDS, and Antidote: Indigenous and Multiracial Girls and Women’s Network.
Diversity is truly about community. To truly be in community with one another we need to not only acknowledge the hidden histories but the lands to which we live work and play on. Being intentional in our work in territory acknowledgments, bring communities’ elders and youth to the table we can cultivate relationships that are built on collective community values. Using storytelling and books such a Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton with illustrations by Liz-Amini-Holmes, If I Ever get out of Here by Eric Gansworth and Pipestone: My Life in an Indian Boarding School by Adam Fortunate Eagle, as entry points to larger conversations around residential school, native reserves, intergenerational traumas, child welfare systems, violence, and indigenous identity. We can connect youth to this history so that children grow up with an understanding of indigenous communities. Additionally, using cultural protocol frameworks and the truth and reconciliation calls to action we can solidify our personal and institutional commitments to indigenous and marginalized communities in areas such as but not limited to, education, language, research, intellectual property, and repatriation.
Both professionally and personally I want to work on reshaping library spaces for racialized and Indigenous peoples. My belief is that collection and curation are focal points of representations of communities, and can be used as a way to educate both racialized and indigenous people and non-racialized/Indigenous people. To me, libraries as spaces of learning can be key to the growth and development of my various communities. I hope to continue to ground the valuable theoretical knowledge I have learned with practical skills to be in the process of learning that support community for the next generation.
**Originally Written for the University of Washington LIS 564: Multicultural Resources**