It is a cold, crisp autumn morning. As I make my way to the smokehouse, I can feel the dew from the long grass blades along the path. The sun is just about to greet us so the air can be seen with each breathe I take. When I get to the smokehouse, my mom and grandmother are already getting prepared for our long days work. I rub my eyes, stretch and yawn. It is pretty chilly I say to myself and wish I were back in the warmth of my warm cozy bed.
Dinï ze’, ts’akë ze’, skiy ze’ Had’i’h/Greetings. My traditional name is C’tan and my English name is Marjorie Dumont. My father’s name is Wah tah k’eght and my mother’s name is Wila’at. My house chief’s name is Chief Namoks. I belong to the Tsayu clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. My roots are also of the Gitksan Nation.
I want to first of all thank the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Watauth First Nations for allowing me to live and work on their territory. I feel very privileged to be working for the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation as the Assistant Director for the Aboriginal Education program in the Professional and Social Issues Division. I have learned so much from the processes of the Federation, from my colleagues within the BCTF building, as well as from the teachers and students in the public education system.
My journey through Aboriginal education at the Federation is like my experience growing up around the smokehouse. There were many days I felt alone as I did many mornings walking towards the smokehouse. Yet just as my mom and grandmother appeared from front door of the smokehouse so did others appear from their offices at the BCTF building or from their schools and classrooms from around the province.
Once I realized I wasn’t alone I was able to continue with my responsibilities. As a child, I was shown by example what my duties were at the smokehouse. If I ever made any mistakes, I never heard my grandmother tell me that I was doing something wrong. She would be right by my side and would help me with whatever it was that I was doing at the time. I would see that she was doing it differently than I so I would change what I was doing to what she was doing. I made many mistakes in my current position at the Federation and as with my experience in the smokehouse; I learned by doing and learned from my mistakes.
I am still learning and with the many other BCTF members, we are still persevering and determined to make the public education system a better place not just for the Aboriginal students but for all students in the province. Advocating that the curriculum include Aboriginal content in all subject areas and to have more Aboriginal teachers in the classrooms is just two of the many initiatives the Federation is working on. I look forward to the many more opportunities to come in the next couple of years as we forge into uncharted territory with Employment Equity for Aboriginal teachers. I would like to thank all those who are yet to join me in my journey and to all those who have joined me thus far. For me, the smokehouse is BCTF and BCTF is my smokehouse.