Engagement, Indigenous Learning

Learning Together by Learning to Listen to Each Other

Without question, we need discussions about Truth and Reconciliation in all classrooms in every community and every educational institution across Canada. From my traditional Mi’kmaw way of understanding the world, I firmly believe these discussions must begin with exchanges of stories because such is the foundational basis of all relationship. I also passionately believe these exchanges must be ongoing and that they must take place within an acknowledged journey of co-learning wherein we – Indigenous peoples and the newcomers in our Indigenous lands – seek to learn together, to learn from each other, and to learn to draw upon the strengths, indeed the best, in our different ways of knowing, doing, and being.

Many years ago, I brought forward the guiding principle of Etuaptmumk or Two-Eyed Seeing for co-learning. It encourages the realization that beneficial outcomes are much more likely in any given situation when we are willing to bring two or more perspectives into play. As such, Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing can be understood as the gift of multiple perspective, which is treasured by the Mi’kmaw people and probably most Indigenous peoples. Our world today has many arenas where this principle, this gift, is exceedingly relevant including, especially, education, health, and the environment. I’ve often described Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing this way:

“I, you, and we need to learn to see from one eye with the best or the strengths in the Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing… and learn to see from the other eye with the best or the strengths in the mainstream (Western or Eurocentric) knowledges and ways of knowing… but most importantly, I, you, and we need to learn to see with both these eyes together, for the benefit of all.”

In my experience, many people across Canada and in different locations have a desire to bring together the ways of knowing of Indigenous peoples and newcomers. Different approaches and different names are in use for this type of work and Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing is but one. Regardless, the work is not easy. I always emphasize that the ongoing journey of co-learning is essential in order to develop and nurture collective and collaborative understandings and capabilities. Otherwise, the work can all too easily slip into a lazy, tokenistic approach in which Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing and similar efforts quickly become mere jargon, trivialized, romanticized, co-opted, or used as a “mechanism” where pieces of knowledge are merely assembled in a way that lacks the S/spirit of co-learning. And thus, we need ongoing co-learning in our classrooms. But we need also to act upon the recognition that informal learning environments exist in abundance throughout our communities and within the whole of society… and co-learning needs to occur in them as well as in the formal classroom setting. So I believe this educational need is both deep and broad.

I look forward to this special issue of Education Canada: We must share our stories and we must learn to listen to stories other than our own… our knowledges live in our stories.

Apoqnmatultl’k Jiksktuali’lk

L’pa ma’ pun tluow ta’n tettuji nuta’q sku’tminenow Ketlewo’qn aq Apiksiktuaqn msit wutaniminal aq msit ta’n te’sikl kina’matnuo’kuo’ml ta’n telki’k u’t Kanata. Ta’n ni’n tel nestm koqoey, amujpa tela’sik wlu wsitqamu’kminu. Amujpa etlewistu’ti’k aq wesku’tmu’k ta’n wejitaik mita ta’n tujiw etlewistu’ti’kw melkiknowatu’k ta’n teli-mawqatmu’ti’k u’t wsitaqmu. Paqsipki-tlamsitm ta’n tettuji nuta’q u’t tla’siktn ke’sk pemitaikl msit wutawtiminal. Nutaik toqi- kina’masultinew mawi kwilmu’kl ikjijitaqnminal aq kinu’tmasultinew ta’n koqoey maw-kelu’kl e’tasiw ala’tu’kl, muskajewe’l. Mu ajkine’nuk ta’n tettuji pilui-kina’masulti’k, ta’n tel-lukuti’k aq ta’n telo’lti’k – mawikwaik amujpa nike’ – l’nu’k aq ak’lasie’wk.

Sa’qiji’jk na nike’wesku’tm aq kekkina’muey ta’n ni’n telo’tm wela’sik tel-kina’masultimk kiskuk. Telui’tmap “Etuaptmumk.” Akklasie’wiktuk telui’tasik – “Two-Eyed Seeing.” Etuaptmin na koqoey, toqa’tu’nl ikjijitaqnn. Mnaqij akkaptmin u’t tel kina’masimk, nmitisk aq wetuo’tisk me’aji wl’a’sik toqa’tumk ikjijitaqnn l’nue’l aq aklasie’we’l. Na nekmowey wjit Etuaptmumk teliksua’tasik kutey iknmakumkl ta’n tujiw tel-kina’masimk l’nuimk. Nestmu’k, mita sa’q ki’s tel’ukuti’k aq kesite’tmu’k.

Kiskuk u’t eymu’ti’k u’t wsitqamu pukwelkl etekl koqoe’l ta’n kisi we’wmu’k Etuaptmumk. Kisi we’wmu’k wjit kinamasuti, t’an teli-tajiko’lti’k, aq ta’n te’li klo’tmu’k u’t wsitqamu. Kaqisk teluey amujpa ewe’wmin newte’jk pukik meknimin ta’n mawi-knaql lnueye’l ikjijitaqnn ta’n nenminn aq ta’n mawi-wla’sital wjit ki’l, ni’n, aq kinuk, tujiw kekknu’tmasin ewe’wmin piluey pukik ta’n te’sik nenmin ikjijitaqn akla’siewey koqoey kelu’k ta’n tel-nmitu’tij. Tujiw weswa’tu’nl ikjijitaqnn aq toqwa’tu’nl – Etuaptmumk msit kowey, mawa’tu’nl aq aji wlaptikemk kwilimimk mawi-kelu’k wjit msit wen. Ta’n ni’n telaptm koqoey aq ta’n tel nenm, pukwelk wen ewe’wk Etuaptmumk msit Kanata aq se’k u’t wsitqamu. Pukwelk wen wetnu’kwalsit kisi toqa’tun l’nuey aq akklasie’wey klaman wla’sitow aq klu’ktitow. Jel ap pilu’wi’tmi’tij ta’n tujiw wejitu’tij, katu newte’jk na pasik ni’n telo’tm etek – Etuaptmumk. Katu ap mu-ajjkine’nuk mita l’pa ma’ pun tluow ta’n tel nuta’q mawa’tunew aq toqa’tnow ikjijitaqnminal pemitaik kekknamasutimk klaman ml’kiknowatisnuk mawa’tu’kl ta’n te’sikl iknmatimkewe’l ala’tukl aq ta’n te’sikl me’ kisi kina’masultitesnuk.

Mu ml’kuktmuk u’t nike’, aq attikineta’wk toqa’tunew, aq e’tasiw kepmite’mukl kjijitaqnn lnu’eyl aq akklasie’we’l, na mnaqnatew aq ewliksu’a’tasiktitew koqoey maliaptmu’k. Na ni’n nekmowey ketlamsitm aq kejitu nuta’q u’t toqa’tasin kkjijitaqnn kina’matmuo’kuo’ml, katu elt nuta’q kepmite’tminow te’sik kisi kina’masimk wutaniminal aq msit u’t wsitqamu. Nuta’q elt tuwa’lanew kwijimuk ta’nik kekknamu’kik mita asa newte’ te’sik kisi kina’masultitaq kwijimuk aq malikwuo’mk. Ta’n tel-nemutu ni’n, kenek me’ eltaik kekkna’masulti’kl toqwa’tumk u’t kkjijitaqnn, pukwelk me’nuta’q pana’tunew. Nenaqite’tm u’t wi’katikn: Kina’masuti Kanata: Nuta’q kin’ua’tatultinew a’tukwaqniminal aq kina’masultinew ejiksitmu’kl atukwaqnn se’k wejiaql – kkjijitaqnminu mimajik atukwaqnnminal.

(Elder Albert’s voiced thoughts, written in Mi’kmaw by Carol Anne Johnson)


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First published in Education Canada, June 2018

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Albert Marshall Author Education Canada Magazine

Elder Albert Marshall

Elder and Honorary Doctorate, Mi'kmaw Nation

Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall, LLD, lives in the community of Eskasoni in Unama’ki – Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in the Traditional Territory of Mi’km...

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