About My Life

Critical Family History

Everyone has a culture, a history, a way of being in the world resulting from the complex interactions with others and the environment. Dr. Christine Sleeter describes a process by which we become aware of these histories and how they impact our current and future actions in the world. Here is my attempt at such a history.

Suggested Reading

Sleeter, C. (2008). Critical family history, identity, and historical memory. Educational Studies, 43(2), 114-124.

Sleeter, C. E. (2016). Critical family history: Situating family within contexts of power relationships. Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 8(1), 11-23.

Ancestry

I am a multi-generational Scottish Canadian with roots in both the borderlands of England and Scotland (Douglas) and the Isle of Lewis (Morrison). My family came to North America through several pathways including voluntary (immigration) and forced (Scottish expulsions, also known as the Highland Clearances) migration. My family was involved in the displacement of indigenous peoples' in North America through their farming and logging activities. They accumulated property and wealth in various ways at the cost of the oppression of the First Nations of North America.

I acknowledge this history of struggle, migration, and trauma that has both been inflicted on my ancestors and by my ancestors and seek to grow from it.

Family

I was born in rural Canada (Gibsons, BC) to a family of loggers and mariners (see photo of family logging camp). My early memories are of walking with my father in the forests of British Columbia to fix our water line that the bears would occasionally bite through. We would talk about the things around us and from this time in place I learned a love of the forest, non-human life forms, and the way it all connected together in an interwoven system of interdependence.

When I was 9 my parents divorced and I was given to my mother with whom I moved a lot and lived in a variety of urban poverty settings until I was 14. As a result of this particular five years of my life, I am a survivor of abuse. At the age of 14, I returned to my childhood home to live with my father and brother. During the time my dad was at sea every two weeks (coastal freighter captain), my brother and I would live with my grandmother. All three of these people have been foundations in my life and continue to provide me unwavering love and support.


Family logging camp on East Thurlow Island, BC, Canada

My amazing grandmother, holding my father...also amazing.

My father taught me my first lessons on justice. He named the complexity of our interactions with indigenous peoples and how we were caught in a difficult position having been expelled from Scotland and yet now taking on the role of oppressor in our new home of North America. He always expected me to support my arguments with solid information and not hearsay, he encouraged me to develop my critical thinking skills, to speak my own mind.

My father and I moved to Victoria, BC, Canada when I was 16 for his work as a BC Pilot (marine navigator) and I graduated from high school there.

As a result of both my ancestry and my closer family history, my roots are deep with people that have been complicit in the theft of land and oppression of indigenous peoples as well as with those who have sought justice and activism. This dilemma has been complex, multi-generational, and is ongoing. I seek to learn from my ancestors and my family and be a better person moment to moment as well as a deep co-conspirator in disrupting and dismantling oppressive structures in all spheres of my influence.

I'm still developing out this part of my story. I will be adding more detail of different life aspects as time permits.