Day 3: Leisa Desmoulin's Who Am I ... In Relation to

Leisas photo placeholder


Name: Leisa Desmoulins

Area/Discipline: Faculty of Education/Indigenous Education

Leisa is a member of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg through marriage to her Anishinaabe partner. Her teaching/learning and research work in Indigenous Education is for their children and future generations.

Twitter handle: @LeisaDesmoulins

The Technique

I like to start my courses with a simple, grounding conversation. I do this because I want to build a community by learning about the students I will work with, so I have a conversation with learners about relationality.

I will first share with my students my connections to Indigenous peoples, in and though community. I then follow my story by asking them to share their own answers to the question, “Who I am in relation to Indigenous peoples?"

Many students will share how they are in relation to Indigenous peoples. My most important contribution to the discussion that follows is to connect relationally with students. I also connect with those who perceive themselves as having no relations. With them, I pose a different question to help them understand how we are all in relation. This may require further resources to aid the learner to know more than they did when the questions were asked.

The purpose of the conversation is for students to understand that we are in relation to one other and to Indigenous peoples.

How I Use It

To facilitate this conversation online, I provide learners in my course with a discussion space within D2L where they can share their responses to the question. I will share my relationship details in my introduction and will direct learners to consider their answers and share them with others within the discussion space created.

I will monitor the discussion posts and provide extra support to learners who perceive no direct relationship. Using the private chat function, I will often share a link to the perfect stranger (the link may be to either a video or a book) as an effective approach to help learners reconsider this question. I also ask that they return to the discussion once they see a connection and share this with others.

NOTE: Because my teaching connects to my social location (i.e. within northwestern Ontario/Anishinaabe family and peoples), I contribute to this conversation from my own understandings. If delivered by another, it must be facilitated in such a way that it connects to Indigenous peoples and where they are physically located: on campus, on the land.

Feedback from Learners

Learners often share two types of feedback. Some students welcome the opportunity to begin the course in relation to peoples and places. Other learners work to understand the question and their relationality as a new idea. They begin to recognize the work they will need to do within the timeframes of the course or beyond the course.

A Short Task to Challenge You

  1. Think and then answer the question "What are my relations to Indigenous peoples and territory?"
  2. Watch this video by Indigenous educators:

    As the lead for the NCCIE research team for the northwestern Ontario region, I remain in relation to these educators that I learned from in the first year (2017-18) of this project.
  3. Ask again, 'What are your relations to Indigenous peoples and territory?' Is your answer the same?

If you have a bit more time to extend this challenge...

  1. Visit the website for The National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous Education which serves to amplify community voices and foster connections so that people across the country can learn from one another about Indigenous education.
  2. Reflect on your review of the NCCIE site and its resources (interviews, videos, lesson plans).

One Final Task

Is this something you can use in your classroom? How might you utilize it?  If you want to share, your results on social media, please let us know by using the hashtag: #12techLUDay3.