Hjalmer Wenstob’s Self-Location Exercise


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Carving On The Edge



“There’s no wrong answer to say who you are.” 

Hjalmer Wenstob

In his Indigenous Studies class at Camosun College, Hjalmer Wenstob begins and ends every semester with a self-location exercise. It is a way of laying the groundwork that will support the important, albeit uncomfortable, conversations around cultural appropriation. It is also an exercise that first grounds each student’s perspective in their own introspection. “The first thing they have to do is a self-location assignment. I ask them to think about themselves—think about their family, where they came from, what ‘home’ means to them, what ‘place’ means to them, what land and territory mean to them—and I recognize there are no wrong answers to those questions. Just like introducing yourself, there’s no wrong answer. “

Hjalmer references Kaleb Child’s language of First Nation versus “second nation” cultures. He emphasizes how important it is to keep the conversation safe and constructive for all of his students. According to Hjalmer, “we look at our own selves as inspiration for what we create.” He says that when students learn that, they are less likely to appropriate.

The following resource has been generously provided by Hjalmer Wenstob, adapted from his coursework through Camosun College. Included in the document are links to assist you in your personal exercise. Revisit the “Experiential Panel Discussion on Cultural Appropriation” video included below for more on the self-location exercise.

Experiential Panel Discussion on Cultural Appropriation” with Lou-ann Neel and Hjalmer Wenstob



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