All Stories Are Important

  1. How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?
  2. Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

My upbring/schooling has shaped how I read the world by giving me a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” bias/lens. Both of my parents grew up in families where money was hard to come by so they raised me in the same way. My dad’s family are immigrants from Ukraine who suffered horribly in their own country AND in Canada (If you need a quick refresher seven million Ukrainians were killed during Holodomor and then thousands of Ukrainians were placed in concentration camps IN CANADA. I bet you never learned that in school. If you think things have gotten better for my people a quick google search of what’s going on in Ukraine currently will bring you up to speed). So as you can guess my family has no tolerance for any of that “poor me” stuff. They believe that you have no one else to blame for your actions/struggles but your own. Over the years I have completely agreed with that mindset and it has been a really hard thing to break. I still struggle with it daily. In order to unlearn this bias I really have to work hard and understand oppression and discrimination and how it makes it impossible to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” I’m not sure that I will ever fully unlearn that mindset but I feel that knowing it is a myth is a great start.

In my schooling, we did a lot to ensure that “single-stories” were not common in terms of Indigenous stories. Our social studies, history, or anything in the humanities was completely and totally devoted to Indigenous studies and their culture.  We never glorified the European settlers when we learned about the first cases of immigration, in fact, we saw them as all horrible people. Now that I am older though I realize that we failed miserably. I was absolutely horrified when my family first told me what my Ukrainian ancestors went through/are still going through today. My first thought was “How is it fair that because we are seen as ‘equal’ now that we don’t have to learn about what happened to my ancestors in the past?” If we are going to learn about the oppression and discrimination of people in Canada we have to learn about the oppression of ALL people.  To this day it is still an upsetting topic for me. I ask other people about it and they have NO idea about the concentration camps, and that happened in our own country. We really need to do better at telling all the stories.

In other subject areas, however, we learned mostly Eurocentric stories. In math, for example, we only ever learned straight out of the textbook the way the curriculum instructed us to. We never even thought to consider that there was another way to do the math, in fact, I never learned until university that there were different systems for counting (different bases).


One thought on “All Stories Are Important

  1. I really enjoyed this blog, Jess! It was really interesting to hear about your background and how your ancestors were treated poorly. I can relate to this as well my ancestors were chased out of Switzerland and most were killed off. I think it’s interesting that we do not hear about these type of these things more as they are part of a lot of peoples history! I also can relate to the “pull yourself up from your bootstraps” mentality. I was also raised this way so reading your blog really stuck with me!


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