Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

9.2 Final words

It seems fitting to end our report with a story, one that might serve as a metaphor for what the AESN and its partners seek to accomplish.

Eber Hampton is an Aboriginal educator and former University President who has devoted much of his career to thinking about and promoting what it means to reform education in Canada in ways that include and honour wise ways of knowing and being in the world. He tells a story in a 1995 publication where he meets an older white man in a grocery store who asks him if “he has some time”. Assuming he wants help carrying groceries, Hampton agrees, only to be confronted by the man who walks towards him with an empty cardboard box. They explore the box together, eventually discovering “You and I together can see six sides of this box”. Hampton writes:

Standing on the earth with an old white man I began to understand. I had thought he wanted me to carry his groceries but instead he gave me something that carries me, protects me and comforts me… I am often so close that I can only see one side. Rarely am I able to step back and see one or two other sides but it takes many of us to see more than that. As in all conversations, it is the difference in our knowledge and language that makes the conversation difficult and worthwhile. It is this common earth that we stand on that makes communication possible. Standing on the earth with the smell of spring in the air, may we accept each other’s right to live, to define, to think, and to speak. (1995, p. 41-42).