Four Feathers Writing Guide: Traditional Coast Salish teachings and approaches to learning to support Indigenous students develop as academic writers

Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring 2020)
By Theresa Bell, Manager, Blended Learning Success, Royal Roads University

In recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day, I am very pleased to share the Four Feathers Writing Guide with the CWCA/ACCR community.

The Four Feathers Writing Guide respectfully presents Coast Salish Traditional Knowledge to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students’ development as academic writers. The guide was a collaboration between Elder Shirley THE-LA-ME-YÉ Alphonse, who is from Hul’q’umi’num People of Cowichan Nation and who is a spiritual leader of T’Sou-ke Nation on Vancouver Island; the late Elder D. Nadine TEȺȽIE Charles, who was from Scia’new Nation on Vancouver Island; and me in my role of Manager, Blended Learning Success, at Royal Roads University, which is located on the ancestral lands of the Xwesepsum and Lekwungen families and their ancestors. I am from the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, and I have lived, worked, and learned on the lands of the Xwesepsum and Lekwungen families for 17 years. We also received tremendous support and guidance from the Heron People, who are Elders and Old Ones from Xwsepsum Nation, Lekwungen Nation, Scia’new Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation, Tsawout Nation, and Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. Finally, Indigenous Education and Student Services Manager Asma-na-hi Antoine, who is Nuu-chah-nulth from Toquaht Nation, ensured we moved through the project in a good way.

The guide provides a holistic approach to writing that encourages students to bring their entire selves, traditions, and cultures to their writing processes so they can confidently share their voices in their writing. Structured by the four Traditional stages of learning, which are vision, gathering, knowledge, and sharing, each section of the guide focuses on Traditional Knowledge, including teachings shared by Songhees Elder Elmer Seniemten George, Cowichan Elder Arvid Luschiim Charlie, and T’Sou’ke Nation Chief Gordon HYA-QUATCHA Planes.

The Four Feathers Writing Guide launched on National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2019, and in an interview for a Royal Roads’ news story about the launch, Elder Alphonse encouraged both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to learn from the guide:

“Abide by it. Enjoy the stories that we share. Understand where we’ve come from. Our lives were very different long ago and nothing was ever written. It was just learned from our parents and grand-parents. Nothing was written down. We learned by living and following our parents and grand-parents and other Elders. All Elders in a community always watched over the children. They could correct the children if they saw them doing something wrong,” she says. “Everything was learned by witnessing. We learned by witnessing everything, seeing everything happen and learning through experience.” (Royal Roads University, 2019, para. 7)

When I asked Elder Alphonse if she would like to share any comments for this post, she returned to that quotation as her ongoing message and gave me permission to share it with you here.

Please feel warmly invited to visit the Four Feathers Writing Guide, and if you have any questions, please contact me at Theresa.bell@royalroads.ca.

I raise my hands in gratitude for this opportunity to connect with all of you on National Indigenous Peoples Day. Hay’sxw’qa Si’em!


Reference

Royal Roads University. (2019, June 19). New writing guide bridges academic and Traditional Knowledge. https://www.royalroads.ca/news-releases/new-writing-guide-bridges-academic-and-traditional-knowledge

Slouching toward virtual spaces: Reflections on writing support during COVID-19

By Patty A. Kelly
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2020)

Patty A. Kelly’s research focuses on scientific, medical, and psychiatric discourse from rhetorical and discourse analytic perspectives. Her recent article, “The Development of American Psychiatry’s Professional Style: DSM-III’s ‘Common Language’,” is published in Rhetoric of Health & Medicine.

As Program Manager of the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, she designs evidence-based programming for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members.


“Turning and turning in the widening gyre”

Why do I keep thinking of that opening line from the W. B. Yeats[1] poem “The Second Coming”? Each time I click on a link to join a meeting or start a workshop, my English literature past returns to haunt the rhetorician in me with fragments from the poem. Each day, my fatigue with physical distancing builds, and the at-home workplace finds me slouching toward virtual spaces.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” Continue reading “Slouching toward virtual spaces: Reflections on writing support during COVID-19”

Video Chat || Programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption

A Writing Centre Directors’ & Managers’ Roundtable

Clare Bermingham, University of Waterloo, Guest editor
Stephanie Bell, York University, Co-editor
Brian Hotson, Saint Mary’s University, Co-editor

With all the changes to writing centres due to the COVID-19 disruption, many directors and managers are asking questions, wanting to know, “What is everybody doing to manage this change?” To help with this, we organized the blog’s first Video Chat (hopefully the first of many). These Video Chats are moderated text-based and video-based discussions. The blog editors invite proposals for Video Chat topics and guest editors to moderate them.

Below are the elements from the Video Chat, including:

  • Topics, discussion questions, and agenda
  • Recording of the video-based discussion
  • Transcript of the text-based discussion
  • A google spreadsheet of topics, questions, and ideas from the Video Chat

We hope that you find this useful for your writing centre. Continue reading “Video Chat || Programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption”

Video Chat || Writing Centre Directors’ and Managers’ Roundtable

Programming, Technology, & Resource Development during COVID-19

Directors’ and Managers’ Roundtable
Tuesday, April 7th
1:00 – 2:30 pm EST

Registration limited
Click to Register


Come together with other writing centre directors and managers to discuss programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption. Learn from each other, and provide your own strategies, failures and successes.

Registration limited to 7 participants
One participant per writing centre

Facilitators:
Clare Bermingham (University of Waterloo) and Brian Hotson (Saint Mary’s University)

Notetaker:
Stephanie Bell (York University)


Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – final instalment

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 8 (Winter 2020)

Now that we’re all a week into this new reality of writing centre work, and university life in general, here are two final submissions from our colleagues at UBC and UOttawa, and their responses to COVID-19.

We continue to want to hear from you. If you have related stories, please contact us at cwcr.rccr@gmail.com. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – final instalment”

Some free pizza sealed the deal: Founding the Millwood High School Writing Centre

By Kristin Welbourn
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter 2020)

Kristin Welbourn is the Millwood High School Librarian in Middle Sackville, Nova Scotia. Millwood High School has 800 students.


Millwood High School is a fairly typical school for the area, an area of mostly working-class families. It might seem an odd place for what appears to be the only high school writing centre in Atlantic Canada to originate.

Kristin Wellbourn

About two years ago, I was invited to a high school staff meeting where teachers were reviewing the Grade 10 provincial exam results from the previous three years. As the school Librarian, I don’t usually attend that type of meeting, but the head of the English Department was kind enough to include me in this one. Even to my non-English teacher eyes, it quickly became apparent that when it came to writing, our students’ scores were slipping. Continue reading “Some free pizza sealed the deal: Founding the Millwood High School Writing Centre”

Announcement || The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat

Writing is at once two steps away from conversation and a return to conversation. We converse; we internalize conversation as thought; and then by writing, we re-immerse conversation in its external, social medium.” (Bruffee, p. 641)

The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat offers writing studies’ scholars the opportunity to write in community with colleagues from across the country. Proposals should involve research projects intended for publication in the fields of writing centres or writing studies, with a view towards writing pedagogy.

May 24th – May 27th, 2020
Bluewater, Ontario 

Call for proposals closes Monday, Feb. 3, 2020


images_from_summer_of_2006_165
Lake Huron

The idea for this came from a deep desire to create small scholarly writing retreat. As writers and scholars, we have little time to write. And when we write we often write alone, in between classes, or on Saturday afternoons between children’s swimming lessons and play-dates. There’s not enough time at conferences to share in writing. At a retreat we can have a practice together that can result in strengthened thinking, shared ideas, and important contributions to the literature of writing centres and writing studies.

A retreat provides space for tutors, program administrators, instructors, and researchers to write, discuss, enjoy, and share in developing and moving writing projects forward. We know, as scholars of composing process and writing pedagogy, conversation is central to writing and the construction of knowledge.Being together in a space for three or four days, this conversation happens on paper and screens, and around tables and evening fires. Continue reading “Announcement || The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat”

Writing centre is spelled -re: CWCA/ACCR President’s message

Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)
Sarah King, Director, University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus Writing Centre


Pencil sketch of Sarah King
Portrait by Sarah’s daughter

It is my great pleasure, as President of the Canadian Writing Centres Association/L’Association des centres canadiennes de rédaction (CWCA/ACCR), to welcome the arrival of the CWCR/RCCR blog onto the Canadian writing centre scene. Continue reading “Writing centre is spelled -re: CWCA/ACCR President’s message”

Announcement || Rethinking Our Narratives of “Development” | SouthWestern Ontario Writing Centre Symposium, December 11, York University

Rethinking our Narratives of “Development”

Tuesday, December 11th | York University

Featured talk
Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski, Reconsidering Our Rhetorics: Recentering Writing Centre Work To Support Translingual Writing

Please register by Friday November 16th.
Registration

Symposium website


The notion of the “development” of the student writer runs through writing centre narratives. Here at York University’s Writing Centre, our department’s constitution, mission statement, and practiced introductions with new students all clarify that we’re interested in supporting the development of student writers rather than the perfection of student writing. This frees us from taking on the urgency of our students’ deadlines, and serves as a straightforward rationale for our refusals to proofread work on behalf of student writers. However, it raises significant questions about how we conceptualize “development.”

  • What are the assumptions about “good” or “acceptable” writing that inform our understandings of “development”?
  • How are we communicating these standards to our students?
  • What are we telling them they need to learn or do in order to “become better writers”?
  • What forces pressure us to act as gatekeepers, helping to strip away the aspects of student writers’ languages, cultures, or identities that don’t belong in the academy, and what opportunities do we have to resist these pressures?

Continue reading “Announcement || Rethinking Our Narratives of “Development” | SouthWestern Ontario Writing Centre Symposium, December 11, York University”