Our last regular post of the 2023 calendar year is by frequent guest blogger Janan Chan, who writes, “I was born in Hong Kong SAR and moved to Canada with my mother when I was seven. Growing up in a small university town in Québec, I struggled with accepting my Chinese heritage. Graduating from Concordia University, Montréal with an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing, I found an ESL/EFL teaching position in Shanghai, China. From 2021-2024, I have continually modified the lesson materials provided to discuss real issues and to use language in creative, expressive and meaningful ways. Teaching ESL/EFL in Shanghai, China has helped me to develop my teaching ability and allowed me to reconnect with parts of my identity which I had once rejected. I am a life-long creative and my poems have been published in The Mitre (118, 122, 128), yolk. (1.1), Soliloquies Anthology (25.2), Warm Milk (3), and the chapbook “Water Lines”. My poems explore identity and belonging (Chinatown, Montreal, pg. 62-63) and feelings of nostalgia and longing (On Track, pg. 15, Knowing Few People in Early Semesters, and 15.), to name a few.
This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.
Internet access in China can often seem contradictory. While smartphones allow people to scan QR codes in restaurants to order food, unlock shared bicycles and make cashless payments, China’s internet firewall blocks access to foreign websites or sites which might provide dissenting information (Economy, 2018). Social media posts can be removed, censored and monitored, and users can be blocked from posting text with certain keywords. Within this restrictive communicative landscape, however, internet users still find creative ways to express transgressive opinions, thoughts and information.
We welcome guest blogger Narjes Hashemi back for her second BILD post (her first can be found here). Narjes is a PhD candidate in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. Her research interests encompass social justice education, educational equity, education in diverse societies, development education, and the integration of immigrants and refugees in Canada. In addition to her academic pursuits, Narjes is a dedicated mother to a 2.5-year-old daughter. Currently, she is immersed in a doctoral project investigating the Educational Trajectories of Afghan Refugee Youth in Montreal and Vancouver.
Canada is often seen as a beautiful mosaic of different cultures and languages, a place where everyone can come together in harmony. But, as with any society, the reality is much more complex than that. John Porter’s ground-breaking work on the “vertical mosaic” showed that there are layers and hierarchies in Canadian society that reveal unequal distribution of power, privilege, and socio-economic status among different groups (Porter, 1960). This means that there are intricate social hierarchies that exist in Canada, which can be hard to see at first glance. Drawing from my own experiences, I want to shed some light on just one aspect of this complex reality.
This blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.
In the past few years, I have been on a Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) reclamation journey. Gàidhlig is an endangered Indigenous language in Alba (Scotland). The reclamation journey has not been easy and is marked by contradictions, tensions, and hopes. The causes of Gàidhlig endangerment—such as land dispossession, destructive policies, and classroom violence —have influenced the journey. Embodied memories, trauma, grieving, refusal, and healing have all been associated with the reclamation process (see Lane, 2023, for more on language reclamation as an emancipatory, yet sometimes painful and silencing experience). In this BILD blog post, I will share some of my experiences and what language and reclamation mean for me.
A splash of water.
A cocoon of dirt.
That spark of germination that sets us afoot.
Spiraling through the ground.
Arms unfolding wide.
Legs tunneling through the dark of time.
Rooting in place.
Drinking the sun.
Plants teach us just how wild we can become.
The language of plants has been capturing our imaginations since we first evolved onto land. Rocks are our 3-billion-year-old ancestors, moving in a time and space that is inconceivable to our 200-thousand-year-old imaginations. Plants are our second oldest teachers, outpacing us by 500 million years.