Saturday, May 30, 2015

Indigenous Cultural Competency (ICC) - Part I

Resources from "My home and Native land."
I am taking a course through my workplace called Core Indigenous Cultural Competency Health. I knew it was a course in which I could register for free, but other competing motivations kept pushing it down on my to do list.

After attending a workshop with Rebecca in Victoria called Wrapping our Ways Around Them:  Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA guidebook I went straight home and registered for more education.

Our first assignment was to introduce ourselves. We were asked to "Personal Background (First name, ancestry, nation, race, location, and occupation)." I am asked to introduce myself almost daily in my job, so I thought this should be a quick task ... but I laboured and laboured over it, and even called others to get their advice about how many details to include. I suppose some of this was my perfectionist, and some of it was knowing that my contributions can be hard to modulate (I either stay quiet - keep the faucet off, or turn the faucet on full blast forgetting that I should leave space for others to share their introductions).

What would you store in this handcrafted basket?
I went with, 

My name is Bonnie and I am a speech-language pathologist. I live in Annis Bay in the Interior Region of BC in Sewepemc Territory. I'm a fifth generation White Settler and of British/European descent. In the mid 1800 my ancestors emigrated to the United States and then to Canada and settled in Southern Alberta in Kainai, Siksika, and Northern Piegan Territory. I am excited about this course and being in a community of learners.

I easily could have added, "It took me over an hour to look up the names of the indigenous territories in which I live and my ancestors moved to. I

'm terrified to write, lest I say something offensive out of my ignorance that comes from lack of personal determination to learn about those who lived in these lands before my people and the unearned privileges that come with my skin colour and my ancestry."

If you would like a basket of your own, here is the
contact information for the artist who made it.
I am very slowly making my way through each page of the course, looking up words I do not know. For example, I did not know what a "potlatch" was nor why the federal government if Canada outlawed them 1884-1951. As I read the history time-lines, I try my hardest to match those up with my own generations of ancestors and where they were and what they were doing. In spite of many examples, I am still struggling to differentiate between the terms culture, ancestry, and race.

What would you store in it? This is what  David and I store it in.
This is my first online course. I registered for a Biology correspondence course with Athabasca University in 1994, but didn't even manage to submit one assignment. I am determined to do better with this one, and am grateful that my facilitator gave me the nudge. I was 8% through the course material at the half-way point in the course. Time for me to pick up the speed, let some details go, and accept I am in this course to learn rather than show how culturally competent I want others to think I am.

I was looking again at the essay that transformed my thinking on the topic of being White. I found a reference to a film in which she speaks called Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible. You might enjoy it like I did.


  1. I've been wondering what I would tell David to write.

    To help David work out his, I need Joaquim's. Here's what I got from him: Joaquim, Catalan ancestry, Catalan nation - a nation without a state in an area currently politically part of Spain, White race (race being a social construct), Salmon Arm as the location, and tutor/teacher as the occupation.

  2. So I guess David would write ...

    David, British/Catalan ancestry born in the United States of America, White race, having two homes on the Shuswap, one in Salmon Arm and one in Annis Bay, student as occupation.

  3. Hello,

    I am wanting to know more about your class. Do keep writing. I like to look around me and see if I can add any specific knowledge of this kind. I started back when the '88 Olympics were in Calgary. There was a special display at the Glenbow and a book that celebrated the display. I thought it would be a good addition to what I already knew about indigenous cultures (facts I had learned from the Book of Mormon). The book was beautiful -- more like one designed for a coffee table.

    25 years later I am still trying to be alert to new knowledge. Rebecca told me that I should watch the Moose and Marmelade series on TV, so I have been taping it and watching it. The last thing I watched was Art and his cooking companion kill a beaver, skin it and cook it. So Mary reminded me of this with her comment about stopping to watch a skinny wolf feast off of a road kill carcus. I am assuming you kids were in the car, Mary. Years from now they will be sharing this experience with their children when they come to the topic, "My mother and father are weirder than your mother and father".

    Of course, I like it that you watched the laws of nature at work.