Transcript: Why do Indigenous topics cause such emotional discomfort? | Apr 21, 2019

Pam is in her forties, with long slightly wavy black hair with a blond streak. She wears a white shirt and long pendant earrings.

She says MY STYLE AS A PROF IS NOT TO
SUGAR-COAT THE TRUTH
WHEN IT COMES TO
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES,
AND SOMETIMES THAT GETS
A VERY EMOTIONAL RESPONSE
FROM SOME OF MY STUDENTS.
I DON'T APOLOGIZE
FOR THAT,
BECAUSE THE WHOLE PART OF
TEACHING THESE COURSES
IS ABOUT RECONCILIATION,
AND IT'S NOT RECONCILIATION
IF IT FEELS GOOD.

(SPEAKING INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE)

The title of the show appears against a map of the Mi'kma'ki territories. It reads "First things first. Handling emotion in difficult conversations."

A caption reads "Pamela Palmater. Professor and Chair for Indigenous Governance."

Pam says HI, MY NAME IS PAM PALMATER,
I'M FROM EEL RIVER BAR
FIRST NATION.
I HAVE EIGHT SISTERS
AND THREE BROTHERS.
MOST OF THEM WERE
POLITICALLY ACTIVE,
THEY WERE SOCIAL JUSTICE
ACTIVISTS,
AND FROM THE TIME
I WAS A SMALL CHILD,
THEY TOOK ME EVERYWHERE.
LITERALLY,
TO GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATIONS,
TO PROTESTS.
SINCE THEN,
I'VE ALWAYS SEEMED TO NAVIGATE
TOWARDS PLACES WHERE I AM
HELPING TO PROVIDE THE ANSWER.

Pictures of Pamela leading protests and giving TED speeches appear.

At a lecture, Pam says WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING
TO BRING ACTION TO WORDS
IS HOW WE EDUCATE OURSELVES.
EVERY YEAR AS A PROF
IN MY INTRODUCTORY COURSE,
I GET THREE BASIC EMOTIONAL
REACTIONS FROM MY STUDENTS.
TEARS,
SHOCK,
AND ANGER
AND DEFENSIVENESS.
AND I'M GOING TO TELL YOU
HOW I DEAL WITH THOSE.

The caption changes to "Tears."

Pam says SO WITH REGARDS TO THE STUDENTS
WHO ARE REALLY EMOTIONAL,
I ALWAYS TALK TO THEM AFTER
CLASS AND SEE IF THEY'RE OKAY,
WHAT ABOUT WHAT THEY LEARNED IN
CLASS WAS REALLY UPSETTING,
IF THERE'S SOMETHING
THAT I CAN DO
TO GIVE THEM MORE
INFORMATION.
BUT THEY HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND
THAT IT WAS FAR MORE DIFFICULT
FOR THE MULTIPLE GENERATIONS OF
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
THAT LIVED THROUGH IT,
THAN FOR THOSE THAT JUST HAVE
TO LEARN ABOUT IT
FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.

A black and white picture shows pupils at a residential school with the caption "Fort Providence Indian Residential School, 1920."

Pam says AND SOMETIMES,
THAT KIND OF HELPS.

The caption changes to "Shock."

Pam says THERE'S OTHER STUDENTS
WHO HAVE NEVER TAKEN
ANY OF THESE COURSES BEFORE,
AND ARE LEARNING THIS FOR
THE FIRST TIME, AND REALLY FEEL
A SENSE OF SHOCK.
THEY'RE THE ONES WHO REALLY
HUNGER FOR THE INFORMATION,
THEY WANNA HAVE A DIFFERENT
CONVERSATION WITH PEOPLE.
THEY WANT THE WORK THAT THEY DO
IN WHATEVER FIELD IT IS
TO ACTUALLY BE INFORMED,
BECAUSE THEY'RE
CONSCIENTIOUS STUDENTS
WHO DON'T LIKE THE FACT
THAT THEY'VE NEVER BEEN TOLD
THE RAW TRUTH ABOUT CANADA.

The caption changes to "Anger."

Pam says SO THEN THERE'S ALWAYS A GROUP
THAT IS VERY DEFENSIVE,
RIGHT FROM THE OUTSET,
AND THEY DON'T BELIEVE ANYTHING
THAT'S BEING TAUGHT
IN THE CLASSROOM.
THEN, THEY GET BRAVE ENOUGH TO
START CHALLENGING ME IN CLASS,
WHICH IS GREAT, I THINK THOSE
ARE THE BEST STUDENTS,
BECAUSE THEY REALLY REPRESENT
A LARGE SEGMENT OF
THE POPULATION WHO HAVE NEVER
TAKEN INDIGENOUS COURSES,
DON'T KNOW THE HISTORY,
DON'T KNOW THE FACTS,
AND THEY'RE JUST REPEATING
WHAT THEIR PARENTS HAVE SAID,
THEIR FRIENDS HAVE SAID,
OR WHAT THE MEDIA HAS SAID.
SO I ACTUALLY CONSIDER
THOSE STUDENTS PART OF
THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
IN THE CLASSROOM.
THEY ACTUALLY HELP TEACH
EVERYONE ELSE.
BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE
OVER THESE YEARS OF TEACHING,
THERE ARE VERY DIFFERENT WAYS
OF DEALING WITH EACH OF
THOSE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS,
BUT THEY ALL HAVE
ONE COMMON FACTOR,
AND IT'S A LACK OF INFORMATION
AND A LACK OF FACTS
ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO US.
HERE'S WHAT YOU
CAN DO FIRST.

A document appears with a caption that reads "Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Volume 5."

Another document appears with a caption that reads "Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report."

Pam says YOU CAN READ
THE ROYAL COMMISSION
ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLES,
AND THEN YOU CAN READ
THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
COMMISSION REPORT.
WHEN YOU'VE READ THOSE,
AND DIGESTED THOSE,
COME BACK TO ME AND WE'LL HAVE
A REALLY GOOD CONVERSATION.
IT'S REALLY ABOUT
WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT,
WHAT DO YOU WANNA
DO ABOUT IT,
WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR ROLE IS
IN ALL OF THIS?

(music plays)

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