Waking of the Canoes

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Spring has arrived and tomorrow we will be re-introducing the Blue Heron canoe to the water. Many Tribes around the PNW are doing the same.

Some Tribes believe that after canoe pulling season, canoes are to be put away to rest for the winter; others say, a canoe never sleeps. Either way, come spring there is a Waking of the Canoe ceremony.  We gather together with our canoes and ask the Creator to bless the vessel and give us safe travels and a good journey.

As I stated before, the waters can be dangerous and adequate preparation involves not just the physical component, but the spiritual as well. One cannot underestimate the power and might of the sea. Our Ancestors knew that very well.

Will you please support my campaign?

http://www.gofundme.com/7mo7qw

My Journey to Bella Bella, B.C.

Dear friends,

I’ve been presented with the opportunity to participate in the 2014 Tribal Canoe Journey to Bella Bella. A once in a lifetime opportunity, this journey will cover 550+ miles crossing the waters of the Pacific to the Heiltsuk Nation in the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada.

More than 50 Tribes from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Oregon will be participating in this grand event — all culminating in a week long Potlach where we will share our songs, dances, and build new and lasting friendships.

Being on the water has always been an important part of my life — ultimate peace. Last year, after traveling down the Columbia river on the Chinook Canoe Journey, I realized that I’d been neglecting the very thing that gives me deep fulfillment far too long.

I’ve come to understand that a canoe is not simply an object of transport, rather it is a vessel for healing, empowerment, self-determination, youth and community development. For the youth in particular, canoe journey is a metaphor for our journey through life — providing them with the skills needed to live life to their fullest potential away from alcohol and drugs.

So here’s where I need your help:

Our journey will begin on June 22, departing from the Lummi Nation in WA.

This will not be an easy journey. Paddling for 8-13 hours a day is exhausting and painful both physically and mentally. We rely on the lead puller and skipper to guide us through, but every single person in the canoe plays a crucial role. There are dangers both at sea and on land. The cold temperatures, water, and strong winds are a perfect conditions for hypothermia. In addition, we will paddle through and camp in the Great Bear Rainforest — the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth and  home to grizzly bears.

Participating in Tribal Canoe Journey will keep me focused on the things I’m most passionate about: working with youth, cross-cultural dialogue, music, adventure, and storytelling.

All money raised will go towards:
1. Waterproof cameras: video and still, batteries, SD cards
2. Waterproof clothing and gear
3. Video software

4. Fees related to journey: ferries, support boats (gasoline),
food, ground crew, travel insurance

Simply put, none of this is possible without your support. I’m reaching out to friends, family, and community. Any donation, big or small is GREATLY appreciated and I will certainly pay it forward ten-fold. If you can help, please click the link below!

Al-Mughamara!
-Carla

http://www.gofundme.com/7mo7qw

 

How Education Isn’t Preparing Students For The 21st Century.

A month ago, I was invited to write a blog post for One World Youth Project, an organization based in Washington D.C. linking schools around the world to build generations of discerning, empathetic, and empowered global citizens. Sadly, OWYP suffered budget cuts resulting in the loss of much of the staff and my blog was not published. Many people contributed to it and I would like to share it here.

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I’m  honored to be serving as guest blogger for One World Youth Project. The topic I’m writing about is controversial and remains at the forefront of the educational debate. Let me just state right now that I like to keep it real. There’s no point in beating around the bush when it comes to important topics such as education. So here we go…

How Education Isn’t Preparing Students For The 21st Century.

As an educator with fifteen years experience, I can’t even begin to write the myriad of ways our current education system is failing our youth, but in an effort to keep it short, I decided to take a poll among my colleagues and evaluate the consensus.

Here’s what they said.

“Test prep is short term retention of facts. Regurgitation of facts can’t solve problems. Problem solving requires creating new pathways to move forward.” Brian Harris, Musician – Portland, OR.

With an emphasis on higher test scores and No Child Left Behind, we’ve ironically left so many children behind with their inability to do one thing…think critically. Much of our youth is unable to think outside the box or as my colleague stated above, “create new pathways to move forward.” This is a huge challenge in today’s younger generation. We see it in the classroom, in the job industry, and in everyday life. They struggle to apply skills in new ways, imagine possbilities, or take risks. Their social and academic growth is stunted.

“Students don’t know how to collaborate or live and thrive as a community.” Nathan Olsen, Musician/Writing Specialist at Heritage School – Salem, OR.

Tests are centered on individual performance and so are many school projects. They focus on the me, myself, and I — leaving kids to fend for themselves. It’s no wonder we don’t know how to live and thrive as community. We can’t think like one. I’m all about independent thinking and empowering our children to be strong individuals, but somewhere along the line we’ve created a chasm within our community. This is one of the reasons cross-cultural dialogue is crucial because developing nations understand the concept of community. Whether out of oppression, necessity, or the simple fact that we’re all in this together, they’ve figured it out.

“There is no love of learning.” Lynn DeMarco, Program Coordinator at Low Income Housing – Seattle, WA

A point so true, yet sad because the kids who have no desire to learn likely did at one point, but once the system decided they weren’t learning fast enough or getting the adequate test scores, it killed off any ounce of desire left. I can’t tell you how many students cross my path every year believing they’re stupid thinking they’re done with learning. Seriously, they resign themselves to the belief that they’ll never be as smart as their peers. To them it’s embarrassing enough being alienated in some remedial learning class, so why try?

Learning becomes a competition rather than a yearning.

This is where creativity in the public schools plays an important role. You see, if creativity wasn’t being stifled to the point of extinction, a child might learn to “create” and foster habits of mind that embrace individual strengths and encourage collaborative learning. The fact is, there will always be someone smarter than you. Every single person develops at a different rate and with different gifts, talents, and skill sets. This isn’t a thing of good, bad, or better — we’re meant to be different and we should celebrate that. Furthermore, fostering creativity fosters a love of learning.

“Lack of courageous conversations about racism and white privilege.” Carla Moreno, Educator/Social Media Consultant/Vocal Coach – Salem, OR

Let’s face it, racism still exists. In my opinion we’ve mastered the art of political correctness at best — and that isn’t a good thing either. Where are the conversations about white privilege and institutional racism? Take a look at the disparity in educational and financial resources for people of color and lower income. Consider the conditions of many of our public schools. How about district rules that require kids to travel halfway across the city to attend school because they didn’t make the list to their neighborhood school. I once had a student who took a bus, train, and taxi to attend school. At the end of the day, he spent about 2.5 hours traveling time. By the time he made it to my afternoon music class, he was stressed, angry, and done.

The list goes on and on, these concerns and others aren’t new in the education community. While blogging forums, articles, education journals, and professional development workshops bring these concerns to light, it’s not enough. It’s so important to realize how all this affects our students, teachers, administrators, community, and society as a whole. In all honesty, we can’t throw the blame solely on the education system, it’s our responsibility as global citizens to prepare the next generation for the 21st century.