How my daughter is helping me learn First Nations history and culture

This Primary Person column is written by way of Bicram Rijal who immigrated to Canada from Nepal. For more information approximately CBC’s First Person tales, please see the FAQ

“Papa, did First Countries folks make diapers out of cedar bushes?” my kindergarten daughter requested over breakfast a few years in the past. 

My daughter’s question left me unsettled. I felt accountable for not figuring out basic Indigenous historical past of Canada, even after having lived in this united states for more than seven years. 

After shedding her off at her college, i started getting to know. on the College of British Columbia’s Indigenous Foundations web page, I realized about the significance of cedar trees among coastal First Nations in British Columbia. Indigenous women used cedar barks “for child diapers and bedding, sanitary napkins, and towels” because of their softness and absorbability.

Whilst she returned from school, i used to be excited to percentage my resolution: “Yes, the first Countries in truth made diapers the use of cedar barks.”

“Do you understand additionally they made napkins out of it?” she puzzled.

“Yes, I Know that now.”

She then persevered to proportion what she had learned at school: First Nations other folks extensively utilized cedars to make canoes and totem poles as well as to plates, buckets, baskets, tools, fishing hooks and fishing nets. turns out her elegance was once finding out First International Locations history and culture, together with some key symbols: raven, undergo, salmon, orca, eagle, beaver.

Later, my daughter’s teacher advised me that Indigenous tradition and historical past have been new additions to university curricula, and that she did not get an opportunity to check a lot of it when she used to be an fundamental student herself. 

In 2015, the truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ultimate report advisable the inclusion of “age suitable curriculum about residential schools, treaties and the lives of Indigenous folks previous and present obligatory in schools.” 

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As a graduate student in anthropology at Simon Fraser College, I Have had some possibilities to be told approximately First Countries in Canada — whether or not thru German-American anthropologist Franz Boas’ writings in regards to the Indigenous groups in the Pacific Northwest, or by means of staring at CBC’s documentary collection eighth Fire at the dating between Indigenous peoples and settler communities, Indigenous identification, land dispossession and reconciliation. 

Then Again, my daughter’s query bolstered my want for a better working out of Indigenous existence and historical past. 

As an immigrant from Nepal and a person of color in Canada,there may be so much to be told about and from Indigenous culture and historical past in order that my ideas approximately Canada as a country are not solely depending on settler colonial imaginations and views.    

However that learning has been a challenge for many of the guy Nepalis in Canada that I’ve spoken to, in part as a result of the shortage of institutional instruments which might be straight away to be had or evident to immigrants.

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the new news about the shameful historical past of Canada’s residential colleges has only contributed to my increasing hobby in Indigenous peoples and views. 

Have Been I no longer a parent to a faculty-elderly kid, my interest and consciousness of Indigenous issues may likely no longer be on the related degree. However, for rookies without children, finding out approximately Indigenous culture and historical past is also uncharted territory, doubtlessly due to monetary, social and cultural constraints taking priority. That’s perhaps a gap that we as a broader society need to fill.

i have never taken the citizenship check yet, but it is one of the few eventualities during which all learners to Canada have the opportunity to be told approximately Canadian historical past. And yet, according to my readings, there appears to be a perfunctory point out of Indigenous people and historical past with little idea toward challenging colonial perspectives or including nuance.

My daughter is in Grade THREE now and she has evolved a prepared passion in First International Locations traditions and cultures. it is via her schooling, and the conversations we have because had as a family, that she is aware of there are other worldviews and ways of life beyond those that we as non-Indigenous individuals are acquainted with.

How my daughter is helping me learn First Nations history and culture

An Indigenous longhouse and teepees are pictured at the Tuckkwiowhum Background Village near Boston Bar in B.C. on June 19, 2021. (Bicram Rijal)

This summer time, we spent an evening tenting at Tuckkwiowhum campground close to Boston Bar, B.C., that’s owned and operated by way of Boston Bar First Country. It was our best summer time tenting enjoy. The grassy campground, with a middle-shaped stone firepit and a primary International Locations Background Village only a few hundred metres away, made it a really perfect studying revel in about Indigenous history, tradition, and background. 

The village had artefacts that mirrored Indigenous history and material culture: a longhouse, teepees, summer and wintry weather hotels, earth ovens, food cache, cloth-drying racks, and the like — all created from objects found in nature. 

On our long ago house, we stopped to peer the vintage Alexandra Bridge over Fraser River canyon. Whilst walking on the trail top as much as the bridge, we saw orange-coloured wood hearts placing from the bushes with messages in memory of the just lately showed remains of 215 Indigenous youngsters in Kamloops, B.C. 

How my daughter is helping me learn First Nations history and culture

Bicram Rijal’s daughter, Aahana, is pictured at the Tuckkwiowhum Historical Past Village near Boston Bar in B.C. on June 19, 2021. (Bicram Rijal)

We attempted to read all those heartfelt messages, which to me have been a reminder that the european “civilizing procedure” has led to a perfect deal of damage to Indigenous groups in Canada, and that the restoration from structural violence can be long.

They have been also a reminder that there is so much to be told for every of us — whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous — as we move forward. 

Do you may have a compelling non-public story that can bring figuring out or lend a hand others? we want to hear from you. This Is more data on tips on how to pitch to us.

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