Book Review: Resurgence (Christine M’Lot & Katya Adamov Ferguson)

“The word ‘resurgence’ means to “rise to prominence.” It is a fitting title for this book, which is a celebration of Indigenous voices, feature narrative, poetic, and artistic works…In contrast to reconciliation, which has been critiqued as “for the colonizers” and for failing to offer the multilayered changes needed to support Indigenous communities, resurgence signals a shift in power that gives prominence to voices of Indigenous communities” (pg. 3)

And so, with that opening, the reader is brought into this incredible resources for educators looking to integrate Indigenous voices and focus on Indigenous perspectives. (pg. 3) With several different works, this book is an invitation to educators: structured to provide any educator with the tools, resources and support.

You would be interested in reading this book if you:
(1) Wanted to explore Indigenous pedagogies
(2) Wanted to explore Indigenous essays, poems, short stories and art
(3) Wanted to share these with your students
(4) Wondered how to integrate Indigenous ways of teaching, learning and knowing into your practice
(5) Wanted to continually evolve your teaching practice in a responsive way


Indigenous ways of teaching & learning

On page 5, we are introduced to pedagogical approaches that support Indigenous ways of teaching and learning: connecting to self, connecting to community, talking back/critical literacy, and inquiry.

The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action serve both as an inspiration for this book, and as a mission, and in particular #62 & #63:

 

 

 

 

 

“By learning about the past and committing to a better future, we can work towards reconciliation. We hope Resurgence challenges you to reframe your own past and current understandings to see the beauty and intellectual and creative resilience in Indigenous communities” (pg. 6)

To support the educator, the book is structured to help build confidence to integrate voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples into curriculum. “Each of the four parts of this book opens with an overview that prepares you for the journey across the footbridge that connects Indigenous world views and the classroom.” (pg. 7) This is known as “Becoming Story-Ready”:

This structure of the book is reflected in this beautiful cover image

“As the Elders say, it is more important to listen with ‘three ears: two on the side of our head and the one that is in our heart.'” (Pg. 9) As an educator, we may bring different experiences to these works based on our own identities and so we must also anticipate our own responses and that of our students. To support this anticipation, the authors provide context and questions. “As yourself and your students if your own story has ever been retold in a way that did not respect you or your perspective.” (Pg. 9) Being “Story Ready” is founded upon Jo-ann Archibald Q’um Q’um Xiiem storywork principles: respect, responsibility, reverence and reciprocity. (Pg. 8)

To respect the story and carry its responsibility, each work is prefaced by abiography, narratives and expressions. The work is then shared, followed by a section of “Educator Connections”: these inquiry questions inspired self-reflection, or are excellent discussion starters amongst colleagues. (Pg. 11) There are also reflections from the curators of the book themselves.

On Page 13 of the book, there is this annotated “map” of the book, that I think captures the thoughtfulness and care put into this work. It begins with Preparing to Set Out, Leaving Shore, Crossing the Bridge, Reaching the Shore and then Beginning a New Journey. In this way, the book really is about going on a journey as an educator.  And it is grounded in excellent educational research:

“The inquiry process in compatible with Indigenous perspectives of learning, highlighting the importance of student voice, autonomy and mastery. In this style of learning, the educators role moves from content expert to facilitator of a student-directed learning process. Inquiry-based and student-centred approaches are an essential part of learning in the 21st century helping students gain the ability to apply their knowledge to complex issues.


The Four Parts:

The works of the book are placed intentionally into four different sections to underscore the framing of each of the works, and their purposes in the larger purpose of the book.

The first part is based on the theme of Resistance: addressing oppressive structures, loss and colonialism. The authors write, “Be prepared for the responsibility of listening…Always consider respectful language usage  as you engage in discussions with colleagues and students.” (Pg. 27)

The second part focusses on Resilience: “these works address how visual mediums support personal and community resilience through activism that breathes new live into important topics.” (Pg. 78)  The authors encourage us to have reverence for these creations as powerful storytelling tools.

Part three is focussed on Restoring: “Part of restoring is thinking about what is possible.” (Pg. 124) and in this way, these works provoke us to consider reciprocity and respect for the storytellers and their works and how we might open space for them in understanding our own selves and lives.

The final section of this book has works that focus on Reconnecting: “Offering reminders of how to reconnect ideas, practices, and works to bridge personal experiences and professional practices.” (Pg. 172).

These four sections help support the educator with integrating Indigenous works into their teaching through the framing in these themes. Too often, our students first encounter with Indigenous experiences is through “Orange Shirt Day” – which is an incredibly important day, but one that skews the understanding of Indigenous peoples to that of victims only. This book brings a much needed curation of work that invites students into Indigenous ways of knowing and living.


Two Highlights:

It’s difficult to pull out two highlights here, but I think it’s important to give you a sense of what the works are: everything from poetry to carvings to essays.

Personally, I really enjoyed the work “Games as Resurgence”, where Dr. Elizabeth Lapensee, Anishinaabe, professor of media and information at Michigan State University, talks about her response to the game “The Oregon Trail” entitled “When River Were Trails.

From The Oregon Trail, the description of Indigenous peoples is sparse and similar to this quotation: “They established an outpost that was called Fort Astoria. Astor’s company, the Pacific Fur Company, weathered deadly Native American attacks and the War of 1812.”, or as Dr. Lapensee writes: “Indigenous characters are portrayed in relation to settlers. They are rarely given the opportunity to speak let alone exist sovereign.” (Pg. 159).

By writing the game “When Rivers Were Trails” she has taken a step in rewriting history: “The next generation will experience better. They’ll know the truth of the impact of colonization and the falsehoods of westward expansion.  When Rivers were trails was written specifically for middle-school and high-school classrooms and focuses on Indigenous perspectives on history, expressing cultures, encouraging land recovery, and conveying land management practices.”(Pg 160)

My second highlight is that of Christina Lavalley Ruddy, and her prose “We Are Inherently Mathematical”. In this piece, she recounts her “…opportunity to revisit crafting, beading and leatherwork.” (Pg. 203) and ultimately bringing these crafts into mathematics class. “Beyond the incredible student learning [that was happening through integrating Indigenous art into mathematics] I was slowly learning, day by day, that as Indigenous people wea re inherently mathematical.” (Pg. 208)


There are many ways that this book connects and reinforces “Potlatch As Pedagogy” as well as the works of Richard Wagamese, like Embers; and, what I enjoy most about this collection is the structure provided, specifically for educators that want to do this work ethically and responsibly.

I hope that book reaches the hands of many of my colleagues and is enjoyed by students everywhere.

 

 

 

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