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The Ecological Heart of Teaching

Radical Tales of Refuge and Renewal for Classrooms and Communities


Edited By Jackie Seidel and David W. Jardine

The Ecological Heart of Teaching is a collection of writings by teachers about their life in classrooms. Reflecting over three years of collective work, it illustrates how teachers, parents, and students can avoid some of the distractions and panic endemic to many schools, allowing them to focus thoughtfully on rigorous, beautiful work. It draws on ecological thinking, Buddhism, and hermeneutics to provide deeper, richer, and more abundant sources for teaching, thinking, and practice, and shows how these three lineages provide keys to decode the current malaise that surrounds schooling. The book will be valuable to beginning and experienced teachers and administrators, as well as to parents and anyone involved in stepping away from the exhausting industrial images and ideas that have turned schooling into an ecological and intellectual disaster. For those interested in interpretive research and life-writing, the book provides a wide array of examples; it is a valuable resource for undergraduate classes in curriculum and teaching, as well as graduate research methods courses interested in new forms of thinking and writing.
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Chapter Four: Successful Assimilation


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Successful Assimilation


I first encountered the words “successful assimilation” while reading everything I could about the significant loss of lands for the Michel First Nation Band. Michel First Nation is where my family comes from. My great-grandfather was chief. My grandfather was chief after him. Trace it back far enough and I am a direct descendant of Michel Calihoo for whom the band was named. He himself was a signatory on the Treaty 6 documentation. This is not a loose association with Native people. This is something more.

Something significant.

Yet I would never be looked at by unknowing eyes as a Native person. I don’t have the skin tone; I don’t speak the language and colorful feathers are a fashion statement I have always shied away from.

In 1958, for the first and only time in Canadian history, the Canadian government involuntarily enfranchised the remaining and vastly depleted lands of the Michel Band as a whole and sold these lands to various parties. The Indian Act was changed in 1958 specifically for the “legal” enfranchisement of Michel lands, then immediately changed back in 1959 after the completion of land title transfer. Between 1880 and 1958, the entire 25,600 acres of Michel reserve were lost to enfranchisement and surrender.

We are now a scattered people. A people without a cultural and ancestral homeland. A people without...

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