By Hanae Tsukada
This page presents my stories in developing an UBC-Aboriginal timeline for Time and Place at UBC: Our Histories and Relations (the “timeline” thereafter). The stories illustrate my moments of confusion and learning as part of the process of developing the timeline that documents Indigenous histories, perspectives and contemporary issues. Like anyone else’s, my learning path is shaped by many factors, including but not limited to my social position, life experiences, and prior knowledge of Indigenous issues (and lack thereof) — and the process continues to be incomplete and evolving. Therefore, sharing my stories here is not to suggest that my learning experience is universal, complete, or exemplary. However, through my conversations with other people about Indigenous histories in Canada, I have noticed that the assumptions and confusions that surfaced in my learning process are not only fairly common but also what often stops people from learning further.
Therefore, I open each story below with a question underpinned by assumptions I once held in an earlier stage of developing the timeline and detail how I worked through the question and my assumptions—however ignorant and uncritical they may appear. I share these honest accounts here in order to speak to those who have similar thoughts and questions or those who teach students like me. If any of my stories help readers move forward from where they are at in their teaching or learning endeavours, my wish is accomplished.
- Story 1: It’s “their” history, isn’t it? – This story discusses how, as an international student from Japan, my view of Canadian history as “their” history transformed into an interest in tracing UBC’s institutional history and relationship with Aboriginal peoples against the backdrop of the broader federal and provincial histories in Canada.
- Story 2 – How many Aboriginal students are there at UBC? – This story illustrates my experiences of learning about why tracing changes in the number of Aboriginal students at UBC is not a simple task. Through talking to people who are knowledgeable about Aboriginal student data at UBC, I delved into the complex social and institutional contexts behind the enrolment data.
- Story 3: Don’t Aboriginal peoples want equality? What is it that they want then? – This story illustrates a “light bulb moment” that I had as I tackled with the question of why Aboriginal communities rejected the 1969 white paper. As part of unpacking debates on the white paper, I explored the myth of multiculturalism located within settler colonialism.
Acknowledgements: I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the individuals mentioned in my stories and those who were behind the stories for helping my learning in one way or another. They were most kind and patient with me moving up on my slow learning curve. I would also like to acknowledge the support that I received from my colleagues in the CTLT Aboriginal Initiatives team. I thank Amy Perreault for encouraging me to document my reflections while developing the timeline and for providing feedback on many iterations of the stories. Last but not least, I thank Janey Lew for her editorial support and thoughtful comments that helped me elaborate on my ideas.