{November 1, 2011}   Why Facilitate and Advocate for First Nations Education, Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training.

Its fall 2008, I jump on UBC 99 express bus to head to my Ethnic Relations class. It is the week of my 30 birthday and my last semester of University and because of that I found myself pondering many different things in regards to myself: life, where I was, and where I wanted to be.  In class, I sat listening and observing as they discussed the relations between ethnic groups and of the interplay between ethnicity and other social factors.

It was because of this class I quickly learned to understand some of my own questions I had about race and ethnicity. During class the professor asked the class, “How many you can tell me what your ethnic background is?” Out of approximately 17-21 students I was the only student that was able to distinguish my many ethnicities as a First Nations person.

After this exercise I had come to my own conclusion that the society we live in and the government upon which governs us, keeps us in racial and ethnic groups to better benefit the majority ruling government currently in place.  Because, the majority is considered to be European, but truthfully, if we were to break Europeans down into ethnic groups, would they end up being the minority group?

The next day I was sitting in my First Nations Studies class where I learned that not many students had the opportunity to learn about First Nations people in the mainstream education system. Many of the non-Native students had said that they couldn’t really remember learning about First Nations people after the history of the Fur Trade, or what they do re-call being taught in elementary and secondary school was only about 3 major groups of First Nations people.  Here on the West Coast it is the Haida, Nishga, and Coast Salish and on the East Coast it is the Mohawk, Ojibway, and Cree.

Most of the students of non-Native background stated that it was pretty sad that they had to wait until University to learn the real truth about the history of First Nations people.  This is why I majored in First Nations Studies.  When I tell people what I majored in, they ask “So what can you do with a Degree in First Nations Studies”, “What is a Degree in First Nations Studies?” or “What do you plan on doing after University?”

Starting University I had no idea what I wanted to do. During University I gain somewhat of an idea. But I would have to say that it was an accumulation of my life and educational experiences in the end that helped to discover my true calling and absolute passion in life. To Facilitate and Advocate for First Nations Education, Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity training.  

I would like to work with, assist and encourage all parties within the Education system, right from daycares, pre-school, elementary and secondary to be more culturally sensitive in regards to First Nations people. It is important for people to recognize how cultural backgrounds affect individual perceptions and actions; and how cultural awareness can improve the relationship between people from differing cultural backgrounds.

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