Each session begins with Dr. Bear lighting a small piece of sage and spreading the smoke over his face, arms and hair in a stain, or “spiritual cleansing”. The sessions, it becomes clear, are as much about Indigenous ways of knowing and learning as about historical content.
“You can’t just read about it in an abstract way in an ethnography and absorb it in the Western sense of the possessiveness of knowledge,” said Dr. Gareau, an expert on Métis history who sees his role in the sessions as bringing lightness. “The indigenous articulation of knowledge occurs through experience and visit.”
“A lot of what I love about this thing that we do with Dan,” he added, “is that we’re visiting.”
Across the country, in his parents’ home in Toronto where he returned to survive the pandemic, Mr. Levy is a serious listener, absorbing every lesson, extrapolating and mixing his Jewish ancestry and experiences in as gay.
“The word discovery is used over and over again in our learning,” he said during a discussion of the fur trade between First Nations and colonial merchants. “They haven’t found a place. It was inhabited. They just visited a place and took over.
He continually reiterates how grateful he is for the weekly discussions. He calls them “my favorite part of the week”.
For fans, the experience was a giant awareness session.
“It made me ashamed of my country and the lack of knowledge,” said Sharon Thirkettle, 70-year-old artist from Calgary. Although it was Mr. Levy’s participation that inspired her to enroll in the course, she said she stayed there because of the gripping topic.
Marla Taviano called the Sunday sessions a “spiritual and emotional experience”.
“Not just my brain, but also my heart and body are connected to this,” said Ms. Taviano, a 44-year-old writer from Columbia, SC, who takes numerous notes throughout the sessions and has commissioned many books. mentioned by professors.