October 30, 2006
The following story was written by Andrea Monkman, from Windsor, Ontario. Andrea is enrolled in the B.E.S.T. Program in Windsor. Andrea is doing English and Math classes in order to write her GED next year.
My journey really begins when my Practitioner, Theresa Sims, gave me the confirmation that I would be traveling with her to the literacy workshop in Sudbury. I counted the days. I was so excited that the day was finally here.
The journey to this workshop was a long drive. We both were very happy to finally reach our destination. Once at our destination we made our way to the building where the registration and informal social would take place. The workshop organizers where very happy to see us Windsor Gals finally make it. They almost gave up on us arriving that evening.
My Practitioner had given me a project to do while at this workshop. She gave me a disposable camera and a journal book to document whatever photo’s I would take. I began my project with great enthusiasm, taking everyone’s photo. Taking candid shots of others was fun.
The first morning walking to the building the workshop would be held, I noticed the teepee and my heart filled with great peace and joy. The workshop started with a Traditional Native Elder doing an opening ceremony. The native traditional opening I knew in my heart that this workshop would be positive and great things learned and shared.
I really enjoyed the Guiding Circles with Trina Maher, Aboriginal H.R.D.C. Her session showed me that my favourite things I like to do. It has been awhile since I did some of them. I will be making changes and taking part more in the things I like to do.
The Recruitment and Retention session gave me hope that I too can achieve my goals with a lot of hard work and determination to put my goals as a reality. The program is only as good as I make it for myself.
Traditional Native Teachings with Joe Jones was wonderful. I learned lots in this sharing time. Having this session in the teepee was heartfelt to me. Hope that he can return for future ONLC workshops.
The session on Census, voting and how Statistics are used to help native populations, parts of it was very informative. If anything I took out of this session was filling out the Census form was mandatory. By not filling it out one would be subject to arrest or a fine. It made me feel like the government was once again dictating to us as Aboriginal People
Friday night’s free time was spent going to supper with a few of the Practitioners and Learners. That was a delightful time. Following the supper some of us met in the dorm’s common area to start on quilt squares. A call for quilt squares to help alleviate discrimination and violence against indigenous women in Canada and acknowledging and honoring our pain and moving on to healing. Alice Williams, an internationally renowned quilter from Curve Lake First Nation is heading up this project.
During the quilting session Theresa Sims with her strong voice sang using the heartbeat of Mother Earth. This attracted others to listen to this beautiful singer.
Saturday one of the sessions for the Learners was to make a Native Traditional Craft that we would be showing the practitioners how to this. Myself and another Learner started the next session to explain to the practitioners what the learners would be showing them. Now the learners became the teachers. This session went really well.
Saturday evening the learners and practitioners attended a feast and drumming social at the Sudbury Friendship Centre. There was a youth dance presentation that was a big hit with those in attendance. The food we shared was delicious and everyone had his or her fill. The dance fever was in the air this evening as many got up to dance to the heartbeat of Mother Earth.
Sunday sessions of Talking Circles gave the learners and practitioners that time to give feedback on how we all felt about the workshop and to suggest changes for future ONLC workshops.
I am honoured that I was asked to attend this workshop. One is never too old to return and gain their education. What I learned there will stay with me forever, excellent workshop!
Thanks to my practitioner Theresa Sims for inviting me to attend. Thanks go out to Marnie McIntosh and Ellen Paterson with ONLC for making it possible for this workshop to take place.
[This story was taken with permission, from The Spiders’ Web, Summer 2006, published by the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition (ONLC).]