Saturday, 18 October 2014
Pushing Limits: Exposure and Experience
This weekend my students and I went to London to participate in the filming of a documentary. A francophone historical group, l'Écho d'un peuple, is putting together a webseries that dramatises the four hundredth anniversary of French settlement in Ontario. Beyond getting to dress in period clothing and firing a musket, I felt a compelling connection to my French roots.
I've always identified with French culture and with the French language, even though I'm admittedly an anglophone whose spent most of his life in Ontario. As I've gotten older the interest has transformed into something more central to my identity. Moving to Québec to teach in English was an exciting part of my life and opened my eyes to my own history and identity, but if anything coming back to Ontario to teach in French has truly cemented my convictions about who I am. While I'll always be an anglophone, I'm really pleased to be so deeply immersed in the francophonie. Despite the fact that I've already written about my experience as a Franco-Ontarien, I feel compelled to remark again on the degree to which I feel completely welcomed within the community. I've never felt so at home among strangers. It's incredible.
Working toward a greater understanding of the francophone world is a passion of mine, and it grows with time. Part of what keeps me engaged in life is always wanting to keep learning, and that means exposing myself to new experiences. Being curious is a significant part of that.
This weekend I got to satisfy my curiosity alongside my students. We worked with Métis, Algonquins, Hurons, and Iroquois in addition to other Franco-Ontariens. I admittedly don't know much about aboriginal cultures, despite the fact that I have some native blood. Being exposed to cultural practices, as well as experiencing danse and music, was immersive and engaging. Learning about origin stories, conceptualisations of the relationship between humanity and the earth, and daily life was fascinating.
It was also pretty disappointing that in all my life up until now this information was somehow never passed along. I find this personally embarrassing since I studied history. Moreover, I've been in many social situations where I've had the chance to learn more but held back. Much in the same way that I've slowly come to fully embrace French culture, I'm excited to learn more about aboriginal culture so that I can come to appreciate it and hopefully help other people develop an interest as well.