I am celebrating my graduation from the College of St. Scholastica with a Bachelor’s degree in Global Cultures and Languages, History and Linguistics, and a minor in Ojibwe language. I also did complete the necessary coursework to secure a certificate in Contemporary Indigenous Multilingualism at University of Hawaii—Hilo. These were stepping stones in my fellowship plan to achieve a teaching liscence. I have now applied to the Graduate Teacher Lisensure program at the College of St. Scholastica. School has taught me so much about priorities and how precious my time is whether I be studying, working with elders, or sharing quality time with my children and partner.
So far in my leadership development surprises have come in many forms. For me, some have been very personal and I want to thank everyone in the cohort for being so supportive. I have come to deep revelations about who I think I am and who I actually am; which of those I can live with, and what I need as a person to sustain my wellbeing to an effective, compassionate and authentic leader. It is through great suffering that I have found an anchor inside of me. An anchor of security but a very freeing lightness also.
A topic that is taboo, especially for people in leadership, is codependency—something that I am less ashamed to say outloud today. As a leader, my credibility and authenticity is at stake. But without authenticity, can you lead people to the change needed? From the outside, leaders must be independent, self-sustained, creative aids to problems and in most cases they have the charisma and gift of speak that could wield influence. Because of strategies and coping mechanisms that are developed when dealing with an addicted relative (often times drugs and alcohol of a parent or sibling), codependent people, usually have difficulty in taking responsibility in challenging times. Further, they are known to have many ways of manipulating those around them. They have been identified as those that would attempt control in as many areas of their lives as possible to secure stability. My personal suffering, I’ve come to realize, comes from me. I create it. I get stuck in it. I have huge blind spots that are continuously coming to light. I talked about in past reflections but this was big. It was a release. I accept the blind spots now with more ease but am still tested. I hope that in my journey of healing and leadership that my pain not be cast on those closest to me in the form of anger or hostility. The ignorance of my conditioned thinking, behaviors and reactions are not suffocating me anymore. I have another way to see the world and I hope to gain more. I lead from a more loving and understanding place where I can breathe deeply. If it were not for the shame and vulnerability work of Fellow, Dr. Corey Martin, I may not have been able to write about these significant personal behavior changes. Thank you, Corey.
Another surpise in my leadership has been relationship development. I have been more successful in reaching out to leaders all over the nation that are involved in similar work. I have come to be peers with directors of schools, chairs of university departments, and chiefs of nations. Through building these relationships, I have enhanced my knowledge of systems significantly and gained a more robust understanding of how the systems interact with one another to serve oppressed people.
I think the most notable surprise has been developing conversations with a fellow Fellow, Dara Beevas. We are merging our energy and the organizations that we serve have come together in a professional way to potentially create bilingual Ojibwe/English print materials for teachers with an Ojibwe History focus while being aligned in the state standards. Her mission to reach people of color and tell authentic stories has met with mine to bring Ojibwe language and culturally competent curriculum to an accessible place for the OJibwe language speaking community. We shall hopefully see the fruits of that labor in the not so distant future.
My fellowship plan is about Indigenous language. It’s about healing community through behavior design and helping people return to the culture that their soul yearns for. It’s about helping a community of thousands of people transform their systems so that we are meeting the needs of the soul, promoting healthy living through cultural practices, and lastly, that we do what it takes for us to secure our existence as Anishinaabe people for the next 500 years. I continue to laugh at myself when I think about the enormous changes that must come in order for these things to happen. I laugh also at the mystery behind it all. I can only do so much but I can’t seem to turn away no matter the obstacles that are set in our way. Feeling warm and full of light today.