By Clara MacCallum Fraser with Kelly King & Nicole Latulippe
This essay is part of an ongoing series reflecting on this summer’s Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI).
Is it possible to convey the depth of embodied learning through the written word?
In the past, when I was in a similar learning environment (such as the Anishinaabe Law Camp at Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation), I was asked to put away the pen, the paper, the computer, and just listen. But really listen – listen actively, with my whole body.
It’s a scary thing. I often feel I have the memory of a goldfish, and worry that I’ll forget everything I hear or read if I don’t take copious notes.
I was told then “you’ll remember what you need to for now, the other things will emerge in time, when you need them, or when their time comes.”
This was a challenging lesson to learn, but one that I sought to work towards during the MISHI trip.
On this trip, I was reminded yet again that every time I step into this sort of immersive learning environment, whether for a moment or for an extended length of time, to learn about Indigenous ways of knowing, some piece of learning or memory from the last time appears and finds solid form. The wisps of learning from the past take shape, as new wisps appear and wait for a future when they too will find form.
Although quiet reflection and pondering is indeed necessary in order for us to work through our own thoughts and ideas, I’m beginning to learn that it is really lived experience following initial teachings, and in relationship with others, where the seeds shoot roots and begin to grow; the light turns from a hard brightness to a glowing warmth.
During this week with MISHI, I found I wasn’t alone in my worries, nor in my aspirations to listen more wholly.
A piece from Michael Belmore’s installation “Smoulder”. Carved stone, gilded copper.
Kelly, Nicole, and I have met before. Kelly and I were classmates in a course on Indigenous research methodologies taught by Dr. Deb McGregor. Nicole was a guest speaker at one of those classes. Continue reading