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Chapter 5

FEM 3108 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Decolonization, Mohawk People

Women's Studies
Course Code
FEM 3108
Claudette Commanda

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Chapter 5: Alienation and Isolation: Patterns of Colonialism in Canada’s Education System
Wisdom comes from what we do with our life experiences; how we make our experience
work for us, after we have worked to understand what these experiences mean
True wisdom requires much self-reflection
oThese are the ways FN people recognize people
FN people have a hard time understanding degrees, it is not degrees that are important
FN people have had little opportunity to affect the shape of formal educational
oThe problem lies in how and who has been able to define what education is
oIt is in how we put education to work for us that education is most important; it is
a “means”, not an “end”
Problem in education is that there is a gap between formal education programs and FN
Each of us has at least one gift from the Creator which is meant to be shared with people
oIt’s important that each of us is able to identify and understand what our gifts are
Most important thing to learn through non-Indian post-secondary education is confidence
and self-respect
oMonture didn’t learn her confidence because of her formal education but in spite
of it
One of the greatest failures of the current education system is that FN children don’t
leave the system with a positive FN identity
oFN children are always pointed at as the problem, they never think of themselves
as the solution
Encouraging positive self-images must be a fundamental building block on which
Aboriginal aspirations are built into the education system
Path of formal education allows Monture to commit to maintaining and following a good
“Indian” path, and, at the same time, function in the White world
oShe can choose to act as a bridge between FN people and non-Indian people – in
the home of the boundary warriors
Connection with FN communities keeps Monture strong enough to continue to press the
university to provide educational spaces that are meaningful to FN
FN must first consider what is meant by providing education for our children. Then, we
need to talk about how to put these dreams in place
oWe must remember what education means to us before we consider what exists in
systems of formal education

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Meaningful educational opportunities is the standard to which we must compare existing
patterns and beliefs in current educational institutions
What presently exists in formal education systems is the problem, not the solution
oWhat we must remember is how we traditionally educated our people in a good
Starting place for traditional FN education is an understanding of who we are as
oMonture defines herself as a FN woman, a Mohawk woman, which is important
to her and how she understands herself
oIt is important that we carry our distinct nation identities
oThe other most important thing about Monture is that she is a mother
The core of Monture’s identity is not located in the fact that she has formal education
Reclaiming our place in formal educational institutions is going to be difficult and
requires a lot of patience
We must remember that schools in Canada were once in the government’s plan to
assimilate FN
We must question if education institutions that were founded on a belief of Aboriginal
inferiority are really part of the answer, or the problem?
FN must learn to rely on ourselves and not on institutions of colonial governments
We must always have in our sights the process and nature of our oppression and
Education is important if and when we are able to educate our young in a decolonized
oColonialism and its consequences are the obstacles
Fear of making mistakes is one of the consequences of our oppression
oThe first time you make a mistake isn’t a mistake, it is a teaching
oOnce you have had a teaching and you don’t pay attention to it, you have made a
mistake – that is when you become accountable
Monture’s real fear is that we are going to wrap education up in pretty red wrapper and
call it “Indian” education and saw we are done
Law and education are two of the central institutions or processes through which FN have
been colonized or oppressed
“Aboriginal Rights” has developed over the past hundred years, but they are not the
traditional FN way of doing things or understanding law
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