Prompt #1 A First Nations excerpt from The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

Watching him sit there, with that smile, I realized something.  He was resting now, enjoying the moment, as if he had just completed the victory lap after an important battle in his life.  He was looking back and enjoying the view.  What an amazing achievement it had been….

Ndede had waited.  He waited until the last of the residential schools was closed, a move spurred on by leaders such as himself and others of his generation.  He waited until it was okay for him and others to tell their stories, a moment brought about in large measure by the leadership of his good friend Phil Fontaine.  He waited while the class action lawsuits piled up and the churches began to apologize.  He waited until the government, pressured by the threat of billions of dollars’ worth of liability, finally came up with an offer of compensation.  He waited until the prime minister apologized, until the Pope told him he felt sorrow for what Ndede endured.

He waited until someone who looked like him and came from a community like his was lifted to the greatest heights of the religion that had caused him so many sorrows.

He waited for the country to change, for the churches to change, and, finally, for the government to change.

He waited for the world to start seeing him and his people differently.

This is part of what my father and all the residential school survivors achieved.  The full force of colonization had set out to change them, yet these brave young boys and girls held on to who they were and instead changed the colonial state and the colonial religions.  That is a remarkable journey.

Prompt #2  An First Nations excerpt from The Dawn Country by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

 Cord soberly tightened his fists.  He’d already lost too many warriors in the battle–men and women he’d grown up with.  People he’d loved and respected.  And it looked as though he might lose the ones around him in the next hand of time.  He’d been a fool to make this raid.  He’d tell that to his elders when he returned–if either was alive.  Both matrons had been badly wounded in the attack on Wild River Village, making decisions in hast, probably afraid they were dying.

Cord had argued against joining forces with the other Flint and Mountain People war parties to make this strike, saying they needed to bury their dead and make their way to a new village for protection before they considered any retaliatory action.  the matrons had disagreed–and the rest of the village council was dead.  He had never disobeyed the matrons, but he wished with all his heart that in this one instance, he had refused.

 Prompt #3  A First Nations excerpt from Peace Pipe Dreams-The Truth about Lies about Indians By Darrell Dennis
 When I was a much younger man and possessed a much slimmer waistline, I worked for a stint as a desk manager in a New York City health club.  I mention my occupation and location for two reasons:

  1.  to wistfully remind myself that I was once fit enough to work in a health club; and
  2.  to point out that New York is generally considered a hotbed of intellectual sophistication

With that in mind, one day I was chatting with a co-worker–a typical, educated New Yorker–when she finally mustered the courage to pop the question that had been nagging her ever since she discovered I was “Native American” and not Puerto Rican.  “Why are there so many American Indians in Canada?” she asked.  “Was there a lot of immigration back in the day?”

When I finally stopped laughing, I realized her quetion may not be so ridiculous after all.  As an educated New Yorker she was probably taught in school that America’s first inhabitants were called” Indian” but now prefer “American Indian” or “Native American”–emphasis on the word American.  It probably never occurred to her that the first inhabitants were spread across the continent long before borders were drawn.

***(Please point out to students when they are done writing that the more appropriate term now would be Indigenous or more specifically, one of the following groups:  First Nations, Métis or Inuit.)

Prompt #4  A First Nations excerpt from The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew   

I had been told the four layers of meaning to the words “I am the reason you walk,” delivered as though it is God speaking to you.  Now the Creator was speaking to my father.

I am the reason you walk.  I created you so that you might walk this earth.

I am the reason you walk.  I gave you motivation so you would continue to walk even when the path became difficult, even seemingly impossible.

I am the reason you walk.  I animated you with that driving force called love, which compelled you to help others who had forgotten they were brothers and sisters to take steps back toward one another.

And now, my son, as that journey comes to an end, I am the reason you walk, for I am calling you home.  Walk home to me on that everlasting road.