I’ve given myself some time to sit back and reflect on my first Smudge experience with Noel Starblanket and his grandson. I think this experience was a big step in my treaty walk. I was so grateful to be able to experience a Smudge as it is something I have never done before.
Noel talked a lot about many different things but there were a highlights that stand out to me. The first part I want to write about was one of the last things Noel talked about during his time with us. Noel made brought forward the idea of individuals having an awareness of the events and experiences that have taken place over hundreds of years that have negatively affected Indigenous peoples. He used the analogy of a light switch. He talked about how there are so many things that Indigenous peoples have experienced but yet there are many individuals in society who aren’t even aware of what has taken place. As soon as you turn that ” light switch” on, you open yourself up to learn about and try to understand the things they have gone through. It is almost like bringing forth that awareness and desire to learn more. This piece really resonated with me, I feel like until I began university four years ago, my light switch was turned off. Very soon into my degree that switch was turned on and I have learned a lot, but have so much more to learn.
The next part I want to talk about is how Noel talked about women. It was very heartwarming as he was talking about how women are held to such a high regard in his culture. It is such a different view than I am accustomed to. Usually in our society, men are seen as superior and held to a higher regard than women, but Noel talked about how it is the opposite for his culture, it was very empowering. I feel that women truly don’t get the respect and admiration they deserve in society so to hear him talk about women the way he did was very heartwarming for me.
The last part I want to talk about is when Noel was talking about his Residential Schooling. I think that it is hard to truly understand the effects of Residential schools, but Noel tried to get us to see what it would be like for us if the tables were turned. He said what if I took you away to the reserve and made you learn our language and raped you and so on. That was a really emotional moment for me. I cannot imagine being a young child at a Residential school and being raped and feeling so alone and afraid. I really tried to put myself into his shoes during that moment. It was almost as though he was saying, this is what happened to me, now how would you like it?
Overall, it was a very positive experience and I am looking forward to more hands on experiences as I explore myself as a treaty person throughout the semester!