In my first post I stated, “Trauma and Indigenous people. This is something that has affected us in different ways throughout the course of our life time. This blog is a recollection of my experiences and experiences of my family. For me it’s a way to speak my truth and release the negative experiences that sometimes have a way of lingering in one’s mind. It’s time to acknowledge the past and move forward.” Writing is therapeutic for me and allows me to release the negative and move forward.
For the last two years my job involved me working in a different capacity and not in the classroom as a teacher. It was a secondment which was only two years and within those two years I learned a lot more than just my job. The first year was fabulous. I was constantly learning and I had the most amazing supervisor who allowed me to flourish. She believed in me. She empowered me. She was compassionate. She was diplomatic. Unfortunately due to restructuring I was assigned a different supervisor for the second year. My gut instinct told me that it wouldn’t be the same; I didn’t get a good feeling. My gut feeling was correct.
During the summer before starting work again I was asked to speak at the university and discuss my experience as an Indigenous woman in the school system and in the workplace. I was honoured. I made arrangements with my then supervisor and the head of the department. Both said I could go and did not say I had to take a personal day off to attend. That all changed as my new supervisor called a meeting with the rest of the supervisors. Apparently it was a long meeting discussing me going to speak at the university. This occurred after I went to speak at the university, not before. I had told my new supervisor about the engagement prior to going and nothing was said. After my speaking engagement she came into my cubicle and was very adamant and her tone of voice was condescending. I felt like a little girl getting scolded when she told me I had to take a personal day for going to the university. I was gone from work for a total of 2 hours yet I had to take a personal day. I told her I’d take a half a day but the two hours I was gone didn’t even add up to a half a day so I was owed time. I also mentioned that nothing was said prior. I did cry because all of this was done behind my back and the way she was talking to me was rude and uncalled for. I was told the other workers around me actually left and went for coffee because of the way she was talking to me. It made them feel uncomfortable with her raising her voice at me and with me crying.
My supervisor had brought me a bag of goodies because she felt bad for how she treated me. I didn’t see it as a good genuine gesture, I saw it as a way for her to make herself feel better. Kind of like when an abusive spouse buys his/her spouse gifts after abusing them. I was leery of her.
I found throughout the work year she only came to my cubicle when I was “in trouble”. I had my guard up and was suspicious of her whenever she approached me. In my head I was always thinking what did I do wrong now?
One of my colleagues told me how she would divulge private information about me to others. This happened on a few occasions and it really made me angry. As my supervisor she had no right to talk about my personal issues. I knew I had to talk to her about it but it was extremely hard for me. My heart was pounding. My palms were sweaty. I really didn’t want to go into her office to tell her she needed to stop. I did eventually go and my voice was shaky. And I did end up crying.
My final straw with her was when she commented on my Performance Agreement. Most of her comments were good but I found them to be regurgitated from the year before. It was like she didn’t even know what I was capable of doing work wise. She commented that I should take PD on how to receive constructive criticism. First off, there is no such PD, only on how to give constructive criticism. I knew prior to reading her comments on my Performance Agreement there would be a negative one. I found she had become predicable. She didn’t discuss her comment with me prior to writing on it which should have occurred. I wouldn’t sign the document because I didn’t agree with that one comment and she ended up emailing me but carbon copying her supervisor and the director. I saw how she was trying to throw me under the bus and didn’t appreciate it. In the end the director was told how badly this affected me and that I was thinking of calling our union as the way I was treated throughout the year was uncalled for. It was lateral violence. My supervisor was told that was the end of the Performance Agreement. Afterwards she left me alone and didn’t even check in on me and I didn’t mind. To me she was someone who should have never been a supervisor and obviously had issues.
My supervisor was big on “decolonizing” yet she was backwards in how she approached matters. Her approach was anything but an Indigenous way of handling things. It was very colonial which is kind of funny because she would tell another coworker not to throw her “colonial papers” aka degrees in her face.
One belief I have is that when people treat others in a bad or disrespect way karma has a way of coming around. It may not show up in her lifetime, it could show up in her kids or grandchildren. Even though the lateral violence I received was wrong I still feel sorry for her. She seems like a lost individual who needs help. I’m glad I have a great support system to help me in times of need.
Lateral violence is real. It does happen more often than we think. I have learned that I need to be strong and I need to deal with issues head on.
Here’s a good video on lateral violence from Bear Paw Media and Education. Published on April 28, 2014. https://youtu.be/neWtt3sAqMM