On Thursday, February 14th, guest speaker Steve Paquette visited Milton District High School to inform students of the true meaning of “acknowledging the land”. He also talked about the culture of indigenous peoples and shared his personal story with us.
During the SEP period, an assembly was held for all grades in the Large Gym. It opened with a quick introduction by Student Prime Minister Peter Chung and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Abes. Following the introduction, Paquette gave students a deeper understanding of indigenous culture.
He talked about the importance of connections, and the place that building relationships has in Anishinaabe culture. Paquette made a connection with students by maintaining eye contact with them during his presentation. He went on to explain that eye contact is the window to the heart and allows for the building of deep relationships. These relationships are considered sacred in his culture.
He went on to talk about blood memory and how the wisdom and experiences of our ancestors stay with us. He also mentioned how white European settlers often labelled indigenous teachings as “false”, but modern science is proving that there is in fact truth to it. Blood memory was just recently proven by the discovery of DNA, and the idea of Earth being our mother has also been absorbed into our minds after humans realized the damage that they are doing to it.
Paquette spoke of gratefulness and the importance of being thankful for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth we walk upon. He also taught students about the seven grandfather teachings that were passed on through his ancestors, including humility, truth, and bravery.
Paquette further built a connection by telling the students about his own story. He talked about the effects that growing up in a residential school had on his mother, and how that trauma rendered her unable to raise children. This caused Paquette and his siblings to be sent for adoption in different parts of North America.
He also talked about how the adults in the abusive community that his younger brother grew up in committed unjust actions on the young and vulnerable because they experienced trauma growing up in residential school and believed this abuse was normal.
He then asked students to make connections with each other by shaking hands with new people and building relationships through the sharing of their own stories.
With the ideas and teachings Steve Paquette brought to MD, Student Government and the Equity Team will team up together to rethink the way out school acknowledges the land.
Thank you so much to Steve Paquette for coming to our school and sharing your stories and teaching with us, and thank you to all the students that actively participated and learned new things.