In social studies, we have been reading The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. This week, we were tasked with the challenge of creating a “blackout” poem using one or two pages from the book. I chose to use pages 8 and 9 because the imagery the author used to describe the forests of the west coast was very striking, and I liked the idea explored on those pages of the forest being a very powerful force. I really liked the language of many of the sentences on the pages I chose, so there were sections that I did not blackout as much because I liked the sentence as a whole. Though this was quite a bit out of my comfort zone, I am glad that I did attempt to write a blackout poem. I know that it is not the best, but I think that I definitely gained a new appreciation for poetry, the book itself, and also some new problem-solving skills. This was a very involved task and I like that this activity encouraged us to synthesize something from a page of the book into poetry. I think that this activity was a lot of fun, and I would like to do more creative activities like this in the future to push my boundaries and see in what new ways I can apply the knowledge I have gained from The Golden Spruce.
Here is the poem that I came up with:
If you cannot read it from the picture, here it is in written format:
The trail of person, the thread of a story,
is easily lost in such a place.
It is not a particularly comfortable place to be,
you can become disoriented.
No future, no past,
Boundaries between life and death,
blur and blend.
everyone wants a piece of the sky,
the feeling that you will be over grown,
by the slow ancient riot around you,
can be suffocating.
The need to see the sun can become overpowering,
you could easily,
if it weren’t for all those,
It rained enough to float an ark,
to support life on a grand scale.
The other part of this activity was to choose a photograph or drawing to go with the poem. Since the first line is about “the trail of a person” I thought back to my time in the mountains, at home, and in Nepal. And the last line about “supporting life on a grand scale” also made me think of this picture as the valleys and mountains were so large and the scale was so grand it made me realize that life can be so large. I thought that a picture of a trail in Nepal would be appropriate and would be a good accompaniment to the poem. This is a picture of the stretch of trail just after Namche Bazaar.
Below is my second confederation blog post, if you have not read my other blog post, then go here to read it. My character is Henrietta Muir Edwards who was a women’s rights activist and reformer. My twitter account for the confederation role play is @Henrietta_Muir.
This blog post was to take place between 1860-1866 leading up to confederation. It is meant to show the aim, obstacle and action of Henrietta at this time. It is also meant to show Henrietta’s predictions and hopes about confederation as well as any “requests” about how confederation should be.
Aujourd’hui est très excitant! Today the Quebec conference has ended, with quite a few interesting results. I was happy that the conference was so close to Montreal, it took place in Quebec City, just up the river. I thought that I might get to see some of the politicians from different parties fighting, but I saw very few politicians here in Montreal, and everyone was really very civil. I found a card the other day with Etienne Cartier’s face and information on it! At first I could not imagine what this card would be used for, but later mother explained that each politician had a deck of cards (“calling cards” she called them) with pictures and information of other politicians so that they could memorize them when talking to each other! To me that sounds pretty funny, but of course those old guys would need a little help with their memories.
I am happy that confederation is in the process of becoming a reality, I think that it will lead to a lot of economic benefits, stability, and a strong central government. Father, who is an avid reader of the news paper, says that the Americans had a whole civil war because their central government was weak. I don’t necessarily think it was weak, but they did give a lot of power to individual states. I hope that confederation does really happen, and that it happens with no blood shed.
However, I don’t think that confederation is enough to make for economic benefits, stability, and a strong central government. French Canadians, First Nations, Inuit, Metis, women, and all minorities of Canada need to be recognized and be given a seat at the table. We need to be given equal rights, and to be treated as equals in society as well as in the eyes of the law. We need to be given the right to speak up, and make a difference in the way confederation plays out. We are just as much Canadians as anyone else, and we all deserve to have the chance to contribute to the confederation of a place we all call home. The legislature that they are creating will affect us as much as it will the law-makers themselves, so I think that it is really important to not over look the rights of minorities while creating the legislature of confederation.
Though I have great hopes for confederation, I do not think that equal rights for all in Canada will be a reality for quite some time. Though this confederation is more civilized than others (the American’s for example) it does not mean that it will include more forward laws. Though there is inclusion of French Canadians in negotiations, not everyone has been given a voice, and this means that the population of Canada will not be equally represented in government. This is a hard reality. There is still a lot of misogyny and racism in our society in this day and age, and there is not a lot I can do as a 15-year-old girl here in Montreal.
I have written several times to the local newspaper in response to some articles, but none of my letters to the editor have been published. I have written in about misconceptions, stereotypes, and falsehoods written in the newspaper about women. My sister sometimes says that it is hopeless to write in to the newspaper about those matters, but I insist on continuing to writing, to continue to try my best to break down the stigma around minorities so that we can have a real voice in confederation and real power to create change.
The Quebec conference is coming to an end today, and though I feel very happy that confederation is becoming a reality, I feel hopeless that there is not a lot I can do so that minorities are represented in the future government in Canada.
I hope to make a difference in the future, I have said for a long time now that when I grow up, I would like to go into politics, but right now, it is a rather un-realistic dream.
The introduction to the report by Parks Canada called, Unearthing the Law: Archaeological Legislature on Lands in Canada was a good insight into archaeological evidence that support the fact that people lived in Canada long before European settlers and uses helpful examples to explain these ideas. It uses archaeological evidence (on land) to show that groups of people lived in different areas of North America at different times in history. The goal of this report was to better understand North America’s history as a whole. The report is very comprehensive and well organized; if you are interested in archaeology in its relation to Canadian history, this is a good report to read.
“For at least the first 20 millennia of human occupation in Canada, no written records were kept to describe lives and events. Even after the arrival of writing, records were usually sparse in describing how our ancestors lived. Sometimes, major events were commemorated in oral traditions; but memories often fade, particularly in details of how the vast majority of any given population lived day to day. Nonetheless, Canada still has powerful tools to illuminate its own roots. Archaeological resources are Canada’s archive of its ancient and historic past.”
Here is the link to the introduction of the report: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/docs/r/pfa-fap/sec1.aspx
To start off the social studies semester, we have been looking at Canadian history; specifically, the history of First Nations, Aboriginal, and Métis in Canada. We have discussed a lot of questions so far including: What is cultural genocide? What are the aspects of cultural genocide? How did Canada commit cultural genocide? Why is cultural transmission valued and why is its disruption so bad? What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? What is the Mandate of the TRC? Why is reconciliation important? What are the key components of reconciliation? I have learned a lot about Canada’s dark past, its implications, what we are doing now to right wrongs, and about the difference between the values of the Canadian settlers and the values of the Aboriginal peoples. However, at certain times, I have had a hard time connecting on a personal level to the topics we discussed in class. I have a hard time imagining the country that accepted my family and I with open arms 12 years ago, could have committed such atrocities against Canadian Aboriginals. I find it hard to imagine the version of Canada does not have the same emphasis and values around multiculturalism.
When we began to talk about the culture and the values of both settlers and Aboriginals, I began to understand the thought process and emotions behind their actions. Talking about the backgrounds, beliefs, and especially the culture of the two groups helped me humanize them, and relate to them on a personal level. I began to see the settlers and Aboriginals through the lens of their culture; I began to see how the progress of time has changed their cultures in to what we are familiar with now. Culture gave a context for the actions taken and a clue to the emotions and thoughts behind the actions. I soon found it easier to imagine being a settler or Aboriginal at the time.
One specific concept that really helped me connect with Canadian history on a personal level, and learn lessons that I could apply to my own life, was cultural transmission.
“[Cultural transmission] is the process of learning new information through socialization and engagement with those around you. The cultural transmission of knowledge is a broad concept, and it refers to knowledge that is gained through non-biological means; the theoretical basis of cultural transmission is that throughout our development, we acquire a considerable amount of knowledge simply by being present in our culture.” (White, 2011).
Cultural transmission is something that I value a lot, and something that is valued greatly by my family. A large part of cultural genocide is the disruption of cultural transmission, and seeing how important cultural transmission is to me, I could only imagine how bad the results of disrupting cultural transmission are.
Questions, Perspectives, and Goals
For our first blog post, we are supposed to answer a question, I have decided to explore: Why is cultural transmission valued and why is its disruption so bad?
To answer why cultural transmission should be valued and why its disruption is so bad, I will be looking at this question through the lens of development and attachment from a young age. I chose this perspective because it relates the topic directly to me as I am still developing, forming attachments, and learning about my culture. I also chose this lens because my mum always told me that attachment is the basis for all relationships. By understanding attachment, and how it is developed, I can better understand other relationships as well; for example, how the relationship between the Canadian government and the Aboriginal people has developed over time.
Through this blog post, I would like to better understand myself, the people around me, and the people I read about from history. I strive to learn the importance and value of culture to different people as well as how to respect other cultures. I would like to learn the importance of having cultural diversity, and the importance of developing an identity as a person, as a culture, and as a country. However, I think that my biggest goal is to learn to understand the multiplicity of history.
Impact of Healthy Cultural Transmission on a Developing Young Person
A lot of the information that we receive daily is through cultural transmission, even if we may not know it. The reason we understand what is socially acceptable, what social cues mean, body language, and other concepts that vary based on culture is because of cultural transmission. For example, no one told me that I have to tip when I go to a restaurant, but because that is what is expected from this culture, I do so by following the examples of friends and family.
Cultural transmission is important for young people to develop a healthy sense of self, and to become well adjusted. “The self develops within a culture, and the beliefs and practices of the culture are absorbed into the individual’s psychology,” (Baron, 2005). Better understanding the people around us, the world around us, and how it all works can help young people better understand themselves and how they fit into the context of their world.
Cultural transmission can create a safe sense of community for the people who are a part of the culture and can help young people to become more open-minded and accepting of others. “As individuals’ psychology is built [through cultural transmission] their behaviour and thinking allow them to live comfortable within the culture and to communicate more easily with others [from other cultures and their own],” (Baron, 2005). As people become more comfortable within their own culture (and with themselves) they can become more accepting of others and more willing to step out of their comfort zone as they continue to have a safe space within their culture.
Cultural transmission through a strong support system can aid in healthy physical, mental, and emotional development. “Secure attachments with [culture] have been linked to later social and cognitive competence… Children who have positive relationships with [their culture] are more likely to engage in the kinds of interactions that foster the language skills and other competencies required to succeed in school,” (Vasta, 2009).
Cultural transmission passes on traditions from generation to generation; installing the importance of cultural transmission itself. Oral story-telling traditions are very important to Aboriginal culture and this practice passes on the stories of band history to younger generations. The history of bands has been traditionally passed on orally for many years, with many stories still known today.
Impact of Cultural Oppression and Genocide on a Developing Young Person
Cultural oppression can result in isolation, little sense of self, little sense of community, difficulties in social adjustment, mental health issues, addictions, and devalued perceptions of culture. However, the biggest impact is that people may come to struggle with sense of identity and may be ashamed of their own culture (when their culture is perceived as less than by popular culture). The oppression of one generation continues to be passed down for many to come; parents who are cut off from their own culture may have attachment issues, when they raise their own children they pass on the same attachment issues they struggle with indirectly to the child. This can continue on for many generations and is why reconciliation for wronged ancestors is also very important, though it may be overlooked. Self –worth, support systems and the meaning that we give to life is very important, when these concepts are not explored within individuals and cultures, or views are forced onto people, it can lead to severe mental health and addiction issues as a coping method. Though Aboriginal culture experienced genocide, it is still alive today. “Aboriginal, First Nations, and Métis populations had to endure extermination and assimilation efforts and were able to do so because of cultural values and strengths such as spirituality; respect for traditional values and ceremonies; extended family networks; allegiance to the family, community, and tribe; wisdom of the elders’ respect for the environment and the land; connection to the past, adaptability, and the promotion of such themes as belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.” (Myers & Spencer, 2004).
So What? What Now?
Understanding the role of cultural transmission throughout history is important to understanding how cultural influences and biases shape our narratives about history today. Identifying the impacts of cultural transmission helps to put the importance of culture in perspective. Looking at cultural transmission through the lens of development and attachment has helped me better relate to the narrative of Aboriginal oppression in Canada on a more personal level. I think that through this blog post, I have come to appreciate my own Romanian and Canadian culture more as well as have come to realize my Eurocentric (ethnocentric) bias. I have come to have more appreciation for the cultures that have undergone oppression and genocide but were revived and continue to live on today. I have come to learn more about the importance of developing identities as individuals, cultures, and as a country. Through the research I have done for this blog post, I have come to appreciate the multiplicity of history, and can see how patterns easily repeat themselves. This research has challenged me to look at the identity of Canada in a different way. Canadian identity and values have changed a lot over time; today we are known as an inclusive multicultural society, but we were not always that way as I have learned from social studies these past few weeks.
Baron, R. A. (2005) Exploring Social Psychology (4th Edition) Pearson. Toronto, ON
Myers, D. G. & Spencer, S. J. (2004) Social Psychology (2nd Edition) McGraw-Hill Ryerson Toronto, ON
Vasta, R. (2009) Child Psychology (2nd Edition) John Wiley & Sons Mississauga, ON
I think that the interview aspect of eminent is the hardest for me personally. I sent out more than ten e-mails and got very few responses. However, the interviews that I did end up getting were very helpful and gave me a lot of insight. In the end, I think that it was worth putting in all the work of sending out so many e-mails because I did get three good interviews that really helped shape my project.
I interviewed Jeanette Langmann the curator of the Uno Langmann Limited Fine Art, Adair Harper a curatorial assistant from the Vancouver Art Gallery and Kathrine Dennis the adult programs coordinator also from the Vancouver Art Gallery. All of the people that I interviewed are around art on a daily basis and are often the people making the decisions around what is inside of their gallery. These people are very well informed and I feel very lucky to have had the chance to sit down with them.
Going in to these interviews my goal was to gain more insight into the art world now and in the recent past and put my eminent person into the context of the global art scene. I may not have reached my goals exactly, but I did learn a lot from the experience that I could not have learned any other way.
Before even starting the interviews, I asked how they would first define that art that we would be discussing. The answers that I got were pretty similar in that all of them described art as a mindset or a perspective of looking at things. Katherine told me a story about young children coming into the art gallery. They viewed a piece that was a pile of rocks and were asked, “Why is this art?” and they answered “Its art because its meant to be art,” (as in the artist had intent to make a piece). I think that the small anecdote Katherine told describes the kind of answers I got to my question on the definition of art.
To get a better idea of art in context, I asked them about what are pieces inspire them and about what makes a provocative piece. I learned that curators pick pieces that start a conversation or grab attention (good or bad) over pieces that are visually pleasing. This was an interesting revelation for me as an observer because I usually think of art in the aesthetic sense first. This helps me better understand the context of Ai’s art in galleries around the world. I also learned that a piece is provocative only if it allows for it. Adair helped explain this idea using a narrative around Duchamp’s fountain piece. When the urinal was first displayed on its side in a fancy gallery, it was shocking, and it made people question why it was art. It was provocative because no one had done anything like that at the time and because it started a conversation around art. Yet, if the same piece were to be displayed now, it would not be as shocking because it has already been done and we are used to seeing more unconventional art now.
To get a better idea of the influence of art and influences on art I asked about arts effect on society, the implication of mass media, arts effect on modern philosophies and the societal issues that are common in art today. At these questions there was pause. They are all rather broad questions, and I got an array of answers. However, what I got out of it was that art doesn’t always affect societies directly but can impact individual people. With mass media art is now seen in the public eye more often and is more accessible to people. I learned that common societal issues in art are ever changing and very different from place to place and time to time. Many artists right now are currently focused on politics, in Canada Aboriginal themes are very common. Though these questions were rather vague, I think that I got some good information and it helped me better understand the vastness of the art world.
At the end of the interview, I simply asked if there was anything else that I should know based on the questions I had been asking. I am now very glad that I took the time to ask this question because I got some very helpful answers. All three of the people I interviewed recommended that I continue to pursue researching art, pursue experiencing art, and pursue making art. Katherine said that the best way to learn about art is to get immersed in it. I found this advice very helpful. Though I am currently very busy, this made me pause and think about visiting a local art gallery as a learning experience. I hope that I find the time soon to go to a local art gallery, I think it would be very beneficial for my project and would challenge me mentally.
I think that these interviews helped me look at Ai Weiwei from a broader perspective. The interviews shed light on the opinions many people in the art world hold about influence, inspiration, society and controversy. These interviews helped me put my eminent person in to context to better understand the influence of his work and what it means today. However, I think the most important thing that I learned from my series of interviews is that art has big roles in the lives of many and is something that should be held dear to our hearts. Art can convey deep emotions and we should not take our freedom of expression for granted. This interview helped me better appreciate the career path not just of my eminent person, but of all the artists, and curators out there. The passion of Jeanette, Adair, and Katherine really moved me and made me think about trying to pursue some form of art in the future.