The Importance of Reconciliation I The Effects of our Relationship I DOL 1

Origins: Canada’s True Identity

When you think of Canada, what do you think of? I think of bronze medals, ice, forest, and maple syrup. But beyond the stereotypical things we consider Canadian, I see our country as a respectful, safe, free, open, and neutral place. The words diversity, acceptance, connection, and apologies come to mind. But never would I have paired the origins of Canada with the word “cultural genocide”.

Growing up in a public school, I’ve had opportunities to meet some First Nations people and learn a bit about their ways. I’ve always known that the land we stand on was and is theirs, but I’ve never made the connection or filled in the empty history; failing to ask myself the question of how we got from just First Nations people to the diverse country we are today?

Looking at our Canadian identity and what we stand for, I believe we value truth and respect. Although most of me still believe that, reading the Truth & Reconciliation Commission made me realize that there is so much more to Canada than what meets the eye. The “dark side” of our history is something we don’t often talk about. To “fix” what we did or mend this broken relationship, we must first own up to our mistakes, and to do that, we must be open and truthful.

It is so important to not just show our “proud” moments but be open about our shameful moments too. The “dark” part our history is a part our story and stories need to be told. It is important we own up to what we have done and stop hiding from it. If the horrific parts of our history aren’t shared, how can learn and grow from them? How can we move past them? The fact of the matter is we can’t move forward without looking back, which to me, is one of the main reasons why reconciliation is so important.


Questions: The Long-Term Effects of a Broken Relationship

Big Question:

  • Why is reconciliation important?
  • How does our relationship with the First Nations people affect Canada’s identity, progress, and the people?
  • How does our relationship affect our political, economic, and social decisions currently?

Trying to wrap my head around our origins, actions, identity, and how it all connects, the big question of “why is reconciliation important” led me to more specific questions relating to the effects of our relationship with the First Nation peoples.

Starting out grade 9 TALONS with the talk on Columbus and tackling the big idea of how history is written by the winners, the “discovery” of Canada lands in a similar boat. So much happened in the 150 years of Canada, it is not only important to understand what happened and hear both sides, but see why reconciling this lost relationship is so important. It would be easy to just gloss that part of our history over and live in the “safe, respectful, and open” façade of a country we call Canada, but abandoning reconciliation changes our country’s identity as a whole. The truth of the matter is that our relationship with the First Nations people is still affecting us today, and ignoring this is not going to progress us further.

Looking at how something in the past still affects us today, I wanted to explore current issues and see…

  • how our relationship with the First Nations people affect our political, economic, and social decisions, as well as our progress
  • how this relationship affecting us right now as a country and as a people
  • how this affecting the first nations, the immigrants, the Canadians
  • how our relationship affects our Canadian identity and our values

Research: Slowed “Progression” in “our home and native land”

When I think of our country and of the First Nations people, it is interesting how we often see the First Nations community as an obstacle to “progress” our country in an economic way. Because Canada is so rich in natural resources, one of the ways we are “progressing” our country forward is to export these natural resources. Building pipelines and mining the land is one of the many ways we extract and export. A few particular projects, such as the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Northern Gateway Pipeline, created a lot of controversy and concern.

On the one hand, creating a pipeline will strengthen our economy, but on the other hand, it has the possibility of destroying the very land we are on. Besides the environmentalists, the First Nations people, who have a very strong relationship with nature, have made claims on lands and have “slowed progression” of some of these projects.
An example of this is found in CBC news, where a “Former First Nations chief stakes claim on B.C. mining minister’s property.” Bev Sellars, the former chief of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, made a claim to raise awareness about placer miners. Upset that it was so easy to be certified as a free miner, she wrote “I didn’t have to contact the people of the private property …  I didn’t have to prove that I had any awareness about the environment or the impacts of the industry. I didn’t have to know about the right of the local First Nations people.”

A reason why Bev Sellars is feeling so passionately about raising awareness is because back in 2014, “the Xat’sull First Nation was one of the communities affected by the breach of the tailings pond at the Mount Polley mine.”

David Haslam, the Energy and Mines Ministry spokesperson said that a placer mineral claim is “only for the purpose of conducting exploration activity” and is subject to a number of legal conditions and restrictions. “These restrictions make it extremely unlikely that any of the surface of this placer claim would actually be available for the recorded holder to conduct any form of exploration activity”, said Haslam.

Although this may be true, this doesn’t solve the issue that 1. Many people are unaware of placer mines and the destruction it can cause 2. That the people making the decisions are not listening or taking into full consideration the possible destruction it could cause, and 3. Canada’s relationship with the First Nations people has not progressed to a point where we are both understand each other. In the last part of the article, it states that “Haslam said the province is committed to collaborating with First Nations and works closely with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council so that First Nations’ perspectives on mining can be better understood.” Yes, this is great news, but it just shows us how far we have to go for, in the year 2017, we still don’t have a great understanding between the two groups.

Another rising issue is the construction of the pipelines in Canada. The Northern Gateway pipeline has had a lot of controversy. In a recent article, titled “B.C. government failed to properly consult First Nations on Northern Gateway pipeline, court rules”, it talks about how the First Nations argued how the “province wasn’t living up to its duty to consult with them.” Although there are a lot more details to this current issue, I chose to talk about it for it shows, yet again, how our relationship plays such an important role in progressing our country forward.

If we had a better relationship, then greater understanding can take place. The First Nations would greater understand the politics and economic issues and the Canadian government would greater understand the environmental concerns. We would be working together, instead of trying to find faults in each other.


Conclusion: Can’t Move Forward without Looking Back

Through my research, I have realized how far we have come and how far we still have to go in reconciling and restoring this broken relationship. Only researching two to three current environmental issues, I know I have only touched the surface on what I wanted to know. I still want to answer the big question of “why reconciliation is important” and tackling the question of “how does our relationship with the First Nations people affect Canada’s identity, progress, and the people?” and “how does our relationship affect our political, economic, and social decisions currently?” I am curious to know more about the conflicts we have and seeing if we, as a nation, are actually listening to each other?

I also want to know if reconciliation is possible. With different values, can we come together as one nation? Can we build a relationship based on respect, trust, and truth when so much destruction and hurt has occurred? I am not sure if reconciliation is truly possible but I believe that we can progress to a point where we understand each other, listen to each other, and make decisions together.

I chose to research about current events to show that our relationship with the First Nations people is still relevant and affecting us in the now, which leads me back to the main question of “why is reconciliation important?” To answer a part of that question, it is important because our relationship is causing setbacks and slowing down our “progress”. How can we truly move forward without looking back? I hope to find a greater understanding by digging deeper into these questions, finding personal relevance and meaning in the truth.

Eminent D.O.L.: Speeches are coming up!

If you have not already checked out the small Ai Weiwei biography I wrote in my intro post, you should!

Eminent has been a very good experience so far. Though I expected to be very stressed and worried at this point, I feel surprisingly calm. I think that everything is going very well, and though my posts are a little late, I still feel okay about the work I have done so far.

I am now very glad that I took so much time to pick my person as this project has been a lot more fun. I have decided to really take my time with all the steps of this project and I think that it has helped me to gain everything that I can from this experience. I think that though there is less we have to do this year; I have learned more because we really have to synthesize this project as we embody the person.

Image result for ai weiwei
We look like twins! Right?! http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Tub97RiVTX/Ai+Wei+Wei+Sorry+Exhibition+Opening/WrEOUJwXIr1/Ai+Weiwei

In the beginning I really struggled to even imagine embodying Ai Weiwei simply because we look so different; but as I began to write my speech I found ways to connect with him through philosophies and history. I think that his fight for freedom of expression and transparency is very important and I agree that he is doing right by standing up for himself and for others. I have never gone through what he has, and I don’t think that I ever will in this day and age in Canada. However, my family has had similar experiences to Ai. Both of my parents grew up in a communist country and experienced first hand the oppression of their government when they were restricted to express themselves, to read certain books, and to travel anywhere. Media at the time was limited and heavily controlled by the government. My parents went through similar hardships that Ai is still facing today, and this connection has really helped me better understand him and relate to him.

Image result for ai weiwei and son
Weiwei and his son Lao http://friendsofaiweiwei.tumblr.com/post/54872152918/ai-weiwei-and-his-son-during-a-visit-to-the-park

For my speech, I chose the perspective of Ai talking to his son Lao as he is being taken away to jail. This viewpoint reminds me of my parents telling me about the hardships they faced as young people. I picked this angle because I think it will make for the most impactful stage presence and overall speech. I have inserted my speech below, it is a rough draft and I am sure it will change a few times before NotN. If you have any suggestions for my speech, please comment below, I really appreciate it!

You ask why the police are putting me in jail? Why your father is being taken away? Why I am being forced into to prison?

I’m not sure what to tell you son.

This is not the first time I have been sent away, I was in exile for the first 18 years of my life. My father was an artist, like me, and we were all sent away because he spoke his mind.

He did not do anything wrong, I did not do anything wrong, my mother did not do anything wrong.

Nothing has changed; and I have not done anything wrong now.

I am being silenced, censored, suppressed.

I spoke out when I saw wrong in the world, the way my father taught me and the way I will soon teach you.

Let me tell you son, in Sichuan, 5,192 young students died; because of the crumbling school infrastructures. And they did nothing. The government launched no investigation, they released no names, and they laid no blame.

But I knew who was to blame for the 5,192 deaths of children. The deaths of children like you Lao. My investigation was only meant to bring peace to the families of the departed. They deserved to know that their child is truly gone.

This injustice should not be silenced, censored, suppressed. We have the right to know and we have the right to speak. I want change and I will fight for change so that you will not have to.

I know now what to tell you son.

I am being taken away in chains because…

(I will get dragged off stage at this part)

Thanks so much for checking out my speech. Just a few more days until we go on!

I also wanted to highlight somebodies work, because they have worked very hard. Rachael has had quite a difficult time with her interview and she has kept a very level head about it all; I really admire her or that. If you want to read more of her work and learn about her interesting eminent interview, you should head on over to her blog! I think that she really deserves the recognition for her hard work.

I hope that everyone is having a good eminent experience this year! I know that though it may be a struggle now, everyone will be more than great on the night of with their speeches and learning centers. Good luck everyone!

The Unofficial DoL

Although I already completed my Document of Learning in the form of a library post as well as stated I would only be doing my eminent posts in the form of video, I felt it would be beneficial to post my speech here for feedback.  Feel free to comment any kind of feedback so I can finish up my speech and get practicing!

The Idea: I, Tyler, just hit 10 million subscribers on YouTube and am making a video to thank my supporters.  In this video I want to emphasize the importance of this community (#TeamInternet) in getting me to where I am today.  I also want to prove to them that they can go places from where they are right now and create positive change in the world.

The Speech:

Hey everyone!  My name is Tyler Oakley and today we hit a pretty big milestone.  If you follow me on Twitter (which you should by the way – @tyleroakley), you’re probably already aware but… we just hit TEN MILLION SUBSCRIBERS.  That’s right, this community right here on YouTube has grown to be a family of ten million people and I want you to know that I am incredibly thankful for every single one of you.

WE have done this together because WE have been through it all.  We created.  Created a book, a documentary, a podcast, a tour.  We raised.  Raised awareness and money for the causes we care about such as the Trevor Project.  We reached.  Reached goals both in your life and my life, in numbers like the 10 million today, but also in our personal achievements.  Whether you have been watching since my very first video, or this is the first video of mine you have seen, WE, Team Internet, are what has made this possible.

If you went back in time and told seven year old poor, fat, closeted Tyler that in twenty years he would be standing in front of a camera talking to 10 million people across the world, he would just laugh.  And yet, here I am today.  That’s why I want you to know that whatever struggles you are going through, you can overcome. Dysfunctional family, eating disorder, not being accepted for being LGBT, or something else, WE can all grow and go places from there.  

This all starts by making a difference.  Whether is be as small as taking care of yourself and bringing a smile to someone’s face or as big as advocating for a cause you care about.  No matter who you are and what you do, all of us can positively affect this world.

Anyways, those were my words of wisdom for today.  I want to thank you, my people, again for helping me hit 10 million subscribers here on YouTube.  If you liked this video you can give it a thumbs up and make sure to subscribe if you aren’t already. Also, leave a comment down below telling me how you plan to grow, make a change, and be your own eminent person.  Okay, that’s all!  Bye friends!!

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If it’s easier for you, here is the Google Doc link as well: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13tExqRBrVbgbq-rHXqYVAQ1F_tgVQMTbIZJcUTA-d4M/edit?usp=sharing