For the final post of the 2017-2018 Law and Social Media Project, Team ReconciliAction YEG got together to speak openly about our blogging experience over the last 8 months. Read on to see what the team has to say about the challenges and highlights from the journey.
What was the biggest challenge you each faced with this project?
Ms. Cave: My biggest challenge was opening up on social media. While I do enjoy social media, I try to avoid the “comments” section and rarely post my thoughts in a debate. I don’t like engaging that way and don’t consider myself a “keyboard warrior”. Admittedly, I also don’t like confrontation or too much criticism (weird for someone who wants to be a defense lawyer, I know). So opening myself up to potential criticism from my peers and the online community was intimidating at first and still is, especially when we are posting about contentious issues, such as the Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine cases. It was challenging striking a balance between law and personal opinion, but I think each of us found our voice by the end.
Ms. Cleveland: The hardest thing for me was actually the content we engaged with. Some of our posts included extremely affective material, and it was sometimes hard to leave the work on the screen at the end of the day. The section that I struggled with most was when we wrote about missing and murdered Indigenous women. No matter how many articles you read and no matter how familiar you are with the statistics, that feeling of deep despair does not go away. You don’t just write a blog and forget about the women whose names you typed out and how many more there may be in the future if nothing changes. Each one of us experienced feelings of helplessness and hopelessness at some point over the year, but we were lucky to have one another to lean on, and to have Professor Hadley Friedland support and guide us through the especially heavy sections. I think that by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and by committing ourselves to humanizing the people we wrote about, we were able to find and create a little light in the darkness.
Mrs. Arcand-Kootenay: The biggest challenge for me was twofold: 1) the content we covered on the residential schools, sixties scoop, and MMIWG, and 2) feeling that reconciliation was a hopeless feat. In regards to the former, despite my familiarity with this content, it didn’t make it any easier to work with. I’m honestly not sure if going through this dark history, and how Indigenous peoples have been/continue to be mistreated, will ever get easier to face. However, following the recent Boushie and Fontaine decisions, I believe unpacking this history is essential. This leads me to my second challenge, of feeling hopelessness as we strive for reconciliation – something brought on tenfold after these decisions. All we can do as a team is try to educate those who fall victim to the false stereotypes of Indigenous peoples. However, it is up to those individuals if they want to listen.
Ms. Creelman: My biggest challenge during this experience was undergoing the emotional experience when the academic interacted with the emotional. It is easy to read a case “logically”, and understand how the law is changed or not. However, it is not always easy to read a case while recognizing the effects on the individuals of that case. Writing this blog forced us to to see, recognize, and interact with the human affect while also researching the academic. This was something that I did not fully expect, or fully understand how it would affect both me and my writing.
What was your favourite moment from the past year of blogging?
Ms. Cave: Interviewing Cindy Blackstock. It was such an honour to meet someone who I admire and look up to. She is such a fantastic speaker and has such thoughtful and thorough answers to what I thought were too simple of questions. It was so fun attending the Spirit Bear Teddy Bear Tea Party & Book Launch event where she read her book, “Spirit Bear and Children Making History”. Seeing so many young children engaged in the topic and responding so enthusiastically and genuinely was amazing. It was an experience I will never forget.
Ms. Cleveland: Choosing one favourite moment is tricky because we had such a special year. That said, my top moment has to be when I was grading a student’s assignment and realized that they had cited our blog! Being able to see (in such a concrete way) that people are building on the knowledge we’re putting out there was so impactful. We’ve been able to create such a strong community across the campus, city, and even country, and that, for me, has made it all worthwhile.
Mrs. Arcand-Kootenay: My favourite moment with the blog was probably when we had the interview with Global Edmonton. It got me out of my comfort zone (I always dreaded public speaking, let alone being aired on TV!), and the support from my family, friends, and colleagues after the interview was incredible. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and so valuable to our readership – with our followers expanding dramatically across our social media platforms after it aired.
Ms. Creelman: My favourite moment isn’t really a moment at all -- but a larger effect from participating in this experience. In self-reflecting about how much I have learned over the past year, I realized I’ve not only learned from completing my own research and writing, but from my three team members. I have also become so much more aware of the differences that Indigenous people still face in Canada -- not only in Canada as a whole, but as a micro level, within the law school I attend. I am so excited to continue this learning, and share it with our readers on the blog next year.
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Team ReconciliAction YEG wants to extend a huge thank you to all of our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and email followers from over the past year. We couldn’t have done this without you. As a result of the project’s success, some of our team members will be returning in the fall to continue the important work that we began in September 2017. Come back then for another year of reconciliaction with us!