Summer of OUr Decolonial Love -3

By Mark Solomon posted 09-15-2017 13:06

I got a guy for that…..

A while back One-Stop was all the rage in Student Affairs, then it was First-Stop now its…. Well I am not sure. I laughed a lot when I was invited to meetings to discuss the one-stop model. I used to begin by making the comment, go to any Aboriginal Student Services and you will see an organic one-stop model. Our Indigenous colleagues have cornered the one stop market. Often they are off-campus housing, academic advising, personal counseling, club advisor, advocate, social convener, personal counselor and on and on. Resources have always been scarce for Indigenous services and the staff always pulled through for their students. However Indigenization has added to that already full plate.

I was asked in the summer of 2016 if it would be ok if three sentences were added to a grant proposal for a new building. These three sentences were to imply that the building would have Indigenous elements of design throughout. I was reassured by the person writing it that they thought that we had very little chance of receiving the money, and with that assurance I said “Are you sure no chance………., ok well it sounds like a great idea!!” Well didn’t we get the money.
The announcement happened and I hoped that those three sentences would get over looked in the 30 plus page application. To my astonishment I got a call from our capital assets people and they asked me if I could do the Indigenous elements design for them. Now I consider myself pretty handy, my family doesn’t, but designing the Indigenous elements was out of my experiences that is for sure. A whole crew showed up to a meeting with me and on baited breath and raised pencils they asked me what would the Indigenous elements look like. I asked who was designing the rest of the building. They said oh we have designers for that but you need to do the Indigenous elements. My mom always wanted me to be an architect.

Crazy as it sounds helped designed some parts of the new build to be Indigenous. Indigenization is tasking Indigenous people to do more and usually outside of their expertise. It is very common that Indigenous Student Services staff guest lecture on Indigenous issues, but designing curriculum, strategic plans, major capital projects might be beyond the staff.

Indigenization is asking much more of Indigenous people than non-Indigenous. I went to an Indigenizing the academy conference and saw a room made up of 80% Indigenous people. I am not sure that Indigenous people need to learn about Indigenizing the academy, it in fact is their Identity.
So why don’t Indigenous staff just say no. The answer is simple it is our identity. We are Indigenous. We have a responsibility to make our communities better. If that means we take on extra work we do if we can. This identity goes beyond the “my work is my life” or I live to work. Rather Indigenous people have connection to the students. These students may have come from their own community or come because they know the staff member, or are related or or or. The students/community have put their trust in the advisor.

I feel an obligation to my identity. Not a nagging obligation but a sense of justice for my people. I also want my institution to do well and better. Sometimes I am at a cross roads between my employment and my identity. Although neither side would/nor could/ ask me to choose I am often find myself conflicted, and thus I don’t say no to extra work. Please don’t get me wrong I love that we are making things better for students, both Indigenous and non. I also love contributing to legacy work. But I would really like to finish a cup of coffee one day.

Hey guys sorry this was more of an op-ed rather than a blog working with the Ryerson crew to make this more interactive and fun.  If there are any topics you would like to to rant about please let me know.