Janet Love Morrison

from Janet Love Morrison

Janet’s website

The Hawk and the Hare by Janet Love Morrison

Reflections on Teaching at Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex

Chief Gabriel Cote Educational Complex

In September 2017 I started teaching at CGCEC. I went from teaching English as Second Language (ESL) at a college in downtown Vancouver, BC, to a First Nation school on the Cote First Nation in rural Saskatchewan. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

Four years later I have to say that it has been an incredible learning experience. I was the student—my students were my teachers. I have witnessed the generational trauma of residential schools and cultural oppression. I’ve studied treaty rights, the Indian Act, local history and more.

At times I had to meet extremely difficult challenges and I felt so ill-equipped for the job; however, most people I worked with were patient with my questions and under the leadership of Principal Jonas Cote I felt welcome as a staff member.

It seems to me, if we as a country are to move forward to make reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a reality, we need to study the Indian Act and ask ourselves how would we as non-Natives feel if those restrictions were put on us? For starters: denied the right to vote; forbidden the right to speak one’s native language; forbidden the right to form a political organization; renamed with a European name; denied the right to leave one’s reserve without permission from an Indian agent (using a pass system). Would you want to be subjected to those laws?

I would like to see non-Native educators truly take the initiative and learn and participate in sharing the facts with all Canadians.

It is with great respect that I thank my students and the friends I made teaching at CGCEC for the opportunity and may we all participate in holding ourselves in a state where the new can be born for future generations.