One thing is for sure there is never a dull moment in my practicum classroom. Yesterday morning we jumped right into our day with our Peace Circle and Restorative Justice program, this week we were focusing on defining conflict and finding the roots of conflict as week as the “fruit” of conflicts. We were looking at conflict through the metaphor of a tree, where many conflicts have their roots in similar issues of jealousy, misunderstanding, distrust, issues around ownership and property and unresolved past conflicts. With these growing into a number of conflicts that the students learn from through resolution to create the fruits of conflict. The students listed many fruits of conflict including, empathy, stronger friendships, making new friends, learning to see issues from other sides and learning to take responsibility for their actions. While participating in the circle all students were engaged in the activities and were not talking over each other and calling out. The power of putting students in a circle with nothing in their hands, to stimulate conversation , trust and open sharing amazes me. On my long practicum I would like to reorganize the desks and chairs to create a space for the students to come sit together and meet for discussions and read aloud. I like the feeling of being together in one place or formation.
I also had time to work with several students on their inquiry projects looking at the pre and post-contact lives of aboriginal groups in various parts of Canada. I spent a fair amount of time working with some boys who were looking at changes on the BC Coast particularly in an area my family visits, they were looking at the Haida and had located River’s Inlet as a place they were interested in. I loved sharing stories and photos with them. I found this to be a great moment to not only connect with the boys but also to teach through story, they were looking at a story about a place called ” Slaughter Alley” and from the information that they were given were having a hard time understanding the story, as a way of helping them understand the story I retold the story as it was told to me my my Uncle this past summer. After having seen the site of the story from the boat and feeling the change in the air as we drove past gave the story a life of its own. I loved sharing it with the boys as it was told to me and showing them my photos of the space. I also shared with them how the canneries worked and changed life for first nations along the BC coast. As I told the stories I learned this past summer and talked with the boys about their inquiry and what they were learning I could sense that they were understanding and looking at the material in a new way, it was no longer just words on the page it became a story that they could connect to. I think this also supports what we have been discussing in our aboriginal education class surrounding story telling and indigenous ways of knowing.
Below is the story as Uncle Dave told it to me, to set the scene for the story we were running from our home base on Goose Bay all the way across the longest part of Rivers Inlet to the little hamlet of Dawsons Landing to get gas, a nearly 3 hour round trip adventure, this was the first time I’d been out in the boat with just Uncle Dave, I had never known until that trip across the Inlet what a good story teller he is, I didn’t realize until yesterday how much I learned about the history of the area and my family. The story was told over the whine of the outboard motor with the cool evening breeze whipping my hair around as I snuggled deeper into my warm fire engine red survival suit. Bouncing on the bow of the small Boston Whaler fishing boat. As we pulled out of our protected bay Uncle Dave began to tell the stories as they had been told to him. As we approached the Slaughter Alley site Uncle Dave slowed the boat down and manoeuvred it as close to shore as he safely could, with out hitting the propeller on the shallow rocky bottom, as the noise of the engine died away he gestured to the smooth white shell beach on the eastern side of the narrow channel and began to tell the story:
Many years ago before any one came over here from Europe, even before people in Europe knew BC existed. The local aboriginal group invited groups from as far away as what is now Victoria to a Potlatch on the beach here, they call this place Slaughter Alley because of what happened. Long ago it was taboo to bring weapons to a potlach so the aboriginal peoples coming in for it came unarmed, and unprepared for what was awaiting them. As they drew their canoes onto the beach they were ambushed from both sides! Some locals coming from that island others hiding in the forest along the beach waiting, as the visitors came ashore they men were slaughter and the women and children were taken captive.
Historians are still trying to figure out exactly what happened but as I learned that night in the boat and goggled my self when I got home ( we have limited access to technology at Rivers Inlet) the story above has been carried through oral traditions in several aboriginal groups both north and south of Rivers Inlet. How the boys managed to find the story I do not know it would have taken them some extensive Google searches to do so as it took me a few days to track down all of the information I wanted and Uncle Dave told one of the most complete versions of the story.