Posted on October 14, 2017 on Connect
I wonder if the European settlers knew exactly what they were sacrificing, as they searched for new territory to colonize? Leaving behind the land that they had grown up on, learned from, and formed stories from—did they understand the importance of their homeland, the same way that Indigenous cultures did, and continue to do? Dr. Turner’s interview eloquently emphasized how Indigenous stories are “embodied lessons” that connect to the land here, whereas European stories are connected elsewhere. Not having multi-generations live on the same land, for hundreds (thousands?) of years, would seemingly lead to different cultural value systems.
Although I do not have access to the interview, here is a brief interview with Dr. Turner describing the importance of connecting land to its people:
Personally, I do not feel terribly connected to my culture. I could even argue that I am “cultureless”, in many ways. Adopted from birth, I was raised mostly by a single mum and for four years, my grandparents. My grandparents shared the Norwegian culture with me, as my Grandma moved to Stuart Island, BC when she was very young and knowing zero English. Although I value those years with my grandparents, the Norwegian culture is hardly part of my daily life. At Christmas, I will celebrate with some Scandinavian tradition, but that about sums it up. Being adopted also amplifies these feelings of cultural disconnect, along with not living close to family.
My question to my classmates is this: how connected are you to your culture and why?
I ask this, because I am wondering if I am in the minority of people who feel “culturally void”? Also, if you can relate to my experience, is there a commonality in our history?
To briefly respond directly to the question of the week: “Do cultures have the right to protect themselves?” … I must say, that the question even needs to be asked, seems incredulous to me. The preservation of one’s culture should transcend individual rights. It should just be a given that preserving one’s culture comes before all else. Moreover, this is not to say that cultures cannot evolve and embrace the affordances of modern knowledge. But as Lorna Williams said near the end of her interview regarding technology, “if it worked, we kept it.” Lorna also shared her experience interviewing families in the 70s, who had on opportunity to say that they wanted their children to learn “white knowledge” along side Indigenous knowledge. Preserving one’s culture does not mean that one is not prepared to learn new ways. Sadly, there are people out there that advocate that non-European cultures need to “get with the program” and join the melting pot of “Canadian culture”. A more enlightened viewpoint would embrace the concept of adaptation, that allows other cultures to preserve their heritage, while living in a multi-cultural setting.
Again, I do not have access to Lorna Williams’ video, however, here is a brief interview that shares some of the same sentiments of what was shared in ETEC 521:
Dr. Lorna Williams, “Inside a Residential School” from FNESC and FNSA on Vimeo.