An Introduction to My Journey

My name is Sylvia and I am currently a 4th year Cognitive Systems student specializing in Psychology. In general, my literature choices revolve around topics such as the human mind and artificial intelligence.  I have not taken an English literature course since my first year at university, and my most recent literature course was Philosophy of Literature, which was quite interesting as it allowed me to view literature from a deeper perspective.

I am excited to discover new literature and stories that I would not otherwise come across. I love taking literature courses because they introduce me to new worlds and points of view that would be difficult to discover otherwise.

I got my first taste of First Nations culture early on in elementary school when we stayed the night in a Traditional Coast Salish Bighouse, where we made bannock, rock soup, and slept together in the large room. We also learned about different family roles such as weaving or plant gathering – I was part of the wood carvers! Overall it was a very educational experience. I learned lots from the elders and it gave me an interesting and hands-on look into Indigenous culture.

This course appears to delve deeply into storytelling, and explores topics such as colonization and nation building in a historical context. I am eager to develop awareness of past and current issues related to Canada’s history and the relationships between its people. I decided to do some research on Aboriginal writers and came across this list that spoke of some great Aboriginal women that wrote amazing stories. Reading about these people made me more excited to discover the stories we would be reading within the course, and I cannot wait to discover them and to share my experiences of them with all of you.

Until the next blog,

Sylvia Halpert

Works Cited

Kirton, Jónína. “14 Aboriginal Women Writers to Read This Summer.” Room Magazine.
________N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.

“Experience a Traditional Coast Salish Bighouse.” North Vancouver School District.
________N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.

First Nations Bighouse Program. Digital image. North Vancouver School District.
________N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.

5 thoughts on “An Introduction to My Journey

  1. janine fleming

    HI Sylvia,

    I really appreciated reading your blog. I grew up in Ontario, but spent some of my elementary years in Connecticut, so whether as a result of a gap in the educational system, or a gap caused by my time in another country, I wasn’t able to have such an informative experience in my elementary years. It’s great that elders led you through the experience. Sometimes these field trips are led by non-indigenous tour guides who may or may not understand the full story behind what they are teaching. As problematic as this may be, I am encouraged by the fact that school districts are making an effort to introduce students to the rich history of our nation’s first people. I wonder if you could share more about this experience.

    Looking back on this time, would you say that the experience was helpful in opening you mind to the complexities of Coast Salish communities and cultures? Did it simply perpetuate deep-seated biases or stereotypes? How effective do you think these experiences are in building our understanding and bringing reconciliation to broken relationships?


    1. SylviaHalpert Post author

      Hi Janine,

      I would say that the Bighouse gave me a positive outlook on First Nations people and their culture. I was fortunate to not have heard negative stereotypes and biases surrounding them at that age, so my first experiences of learning about Ingenious people were positive ones. I think these types of experiences are invaluable — it’s unfortunate only those in my school district got to experience them. I think more of these programs should be available, and for multiple age groups. I am sure the parents who chaperoned learned lots as well.

      I found the Bighouse was a great way to experience the true culture of First Nations people hands-on, and not the negative stuff we may see today. I actually used to visit the shops along the reserve as well when I was younger and I was always fascinated by their art and culture. While it is important to learn about things like Residential Schools and problems that are currently arising in First Nations communities, I am glad I did not hear about them until I was older and was able to understand them more, but also when I had a positive perspective on the culture and the people as a whole.

      Thanks for you questions! Let me know if there is something I can answer further or if you would like more details.


  2. DiliniePerera

    Hi Sylvia,
    I’m a little envious of your specialization. It just sounds so interesting! I was just wondering, as a 5th year English student, what you mean when you say you can “view the literature from a deeper perspective”? Do you mean understanding the mental processes behind the literature and the author’s writing style? This is not meant to sound accusatory in any way, As an Literature student, I’m just fascinated by the way in which an individual interprets any given text is so subjective in nature.
    Your experience in the Bighouse sounds very beautiful and I hope this class meets your expectations.

    1. SylviaHalpert Post author

      Hi Dilinie,

      My program involves a lot of Philosophy, and with that I have begun to take a ‘deeper’ look into things. What I mean by this is to look behind the meaning of a piece of literature or an idea or an ethical dilemma. For example, in my Philosophy of Literature class, we were not looking necessarily into the symbolism of the book, but more how it related to what we thought of as literature. Are the emotions we feel when we are reading a book really real? Are we just pretending? What does it mean to enjoy a tragedy? I want to be able to look behind a work of literature’s main points. While those are important, sometimes you can find a deeper meaning within the text itself, and even behind these points.

      Perhaps you have felt this too — sometimes I walk away from a movie and I cannot stop thinking about it. Its meaning, how it relates to my life, what messages it really tries to convey, if there is something more to it…movies like Interstellar and Ex Machina have left me feeling this way — things that make me think in an existential way, that make me disconnected from my comfort zone momentarily. Just ways I can view something a bit differently.

      I hope that answers your question — let me know if there is anything else you would like me to clear up!


  3. laryssa legan

    I loved your story about being able to experience the first nations culture in person. I think this is really important for people to have these experiences. Do you know if there is a way for others to have these experiences like adult day camps or something? It seems like it would be a good way to keep people informed.


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