By Kelly Anne Smith
NORTH BAY— Presenter of the Nipissing University Aboriginal Week organized by Enji giigdoyang – Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, Lorraine Sutherland gave a talk entitled Tipaachimowin/Tipaachimowina Matter. The content stems from the learning she did on the campus of Nipissing University as well as in her community in Attawapiskat and the teachings she received.
“All I’m going to share today is my dibaajimowinin or my dibaajimona. I ask you to sit down and listen. I hope you leave today with something that speaks to you. That’s the whole point of what I learned from dibaajimowinin and sharing is that anytime you share or hear a story it will apply to your life in some way let it be for that moment, ”she explains. “I am for sharing. I believe in sharing a story and learning from it, taking that information and using it in the best and most respectful way possible. When I get a story, I’m always aware of how I’m wearing it and how I’m using it, of course with the permission of the people sharing it.
His presentation is based on his own experience and learning about life and ceremonies learned by being on the land and living by the land in his home community. Sutherland says elders can be included as teachers.
“It can be parents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, everyone, it’s about teaching and learning. We have a sacred responsibility to ensure this for all of our children in our care,” she says. “One of the things about reconciliation is that we learn together. For some of us, learning our history might be new to us. Everybody’s in a different place in there. We must learn together and ensure that children and young people who come forward say who they are.
There are key questions that have guided Sutherland’s work in education, with teaching and learning, including: Who am I? Where I come from ? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is my heritage?
“Reflection is an important element for me to understand where I come from, where I am now and where I am going. It informs everything I do. This can inform you, because they really apply to everything.
Sutherland didn’t always know she was Indigenous growing up in Attawapiskat, Toronto, North Bay and Timmins.
“I went on this recovery trip. Reclaim who I am. Reclaiming my language and my heritage. I know now that I am a strong Ininiw Iskwew. I am very grateful to be able to speak the language and to know where my traditional family territory is. I am grateful to be able to go there to live on the land and be close to the land. And perform the ceremony. More specifically, how to live off the land like my ancestors before me.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in history at Nipissing University, Sutherland asked John Long to be his master’s advisor. He had been on the coast and spoke the language. Long a consultant about writing her master’s thesis on her mother and residential school, Sutherland asked if she could skip the part that she went to St. Anne. He said no.
“It really made me realize the importance of telling a story. And part of that story is traumatic, that residential school. But there’s also a story along that traumatic experience of happy and good stories that don’t happen. are not produced when they were in school. These are very, very important. We have to tell this story of trauma, but we also have the story of who we are and the pride that we have. And what we do when we are in community is so different from what is shared in the media, that we are happy people. We are able to share good stories by having these good experiences on the ground. “
Sutherland worked on the curriculum to incorporate Indigenous perspectives. As Mushkegowuk Regional Assessment Manager, she first used assessments that were Western tools.
After doing her Masters in Native Oral History, it was a complete turnaround.
“I’m being asked to use these tools that aren’t culturally relevant. Over time, we were able to create culturally relevant assessments… Let’s hear the story orally. Let’s read it. Now, how can you incorporate that still using that storytelling lens in that approach? ” she says. “Grade 5 students laughed when I talked about ceremony and drumming. And then sharing with them and reminding them, “Before we had the Roman Catholic Church, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s part of who we are now, but before contact we had a ceremony. They are your parents, five generations before you. We must honor and respect that. It really changed their perspective. I try to find ways to understand our history through history.
Sutherland says she would take a piece of the program, set it aside, and insert Omuskego’s story. The work of the educator is not finished.
“Last year, with all the unmarked graves that appeared… I am aware that this is continuing. This is what we are working on and trying to understand. It triggered for me, I have to take care of myself. I have to tell my story now because my mother is the survivor, but I am also a child of that residential school survivor. I feel that my story also needs to be told and understand how it affected me.