This past weekend, I was asked to create a mural and slogan for an organization that I have been volunteering with for the past year or so.  The mural was supposed to reflect what some might consider to be a controversial topic - a sexually transmitted disease - and generate awareness about it.  I had about a week's notice to come up with some ideas for the mural and okay them with the person I report to.  The text that I came up with was intended to catch peoples' attention but it was not graphic, it promoted smart decisions and education, and it was approved by the person I report to.  

Another volunteer and I spent a better part of Saturday working on this mural - many people who passed by us commented that it was really well done and that they liked the message we were trying to get across.  Today, however, I received an email from the person I report to that said that the mural had to be taken down because it had made some people unhappy.  The email also said from now on when I volunteer to stick to messages that talk about healthy choices.  I think reading that made me even more unhappy than the so-called unhappy people for several reasons:
a) The mural did promote well-being
b) I am usually a very good judge of what could be considered controversial and always try to present matter in a positive, informative, and tasteful manner (having worked in advertising and having to adhere to strict CRTC guidelines)
c) According to the Public Health Agency of Canada,   Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 
d) Seeing Saskatchewan has such high rates of STIs, it could be assumed that current messages about healthy choices are ineffective

In my opinion, I do not feel that the mural we created should have been taken down.  I feel that it wasn't given a fair chance to get enough, diverse feedback.  If more time had passed and the consensus was that the mural was still inappropriate, then I would definitely reconsider it.  I guess this is just a taste of some of the things I might encounter in the school system in the future.  I worry that I will be silenced because I want to do or say things a little differently than how they have always been done.  Is there a happy medium when it comes to saying what you know is right and doing what others think is right?
I started off my summer by going on a five-day road trip through Wyoming and North and South Dakota with my Dad.  My Dad and I have been talking about taking a trip together for some time now but between my school schedule and his work commitments it has been a challenge to find a week that we could both get away. Both of us went on this trip so that we could, essentially, turn our brains off, relax, and sightsee but, instead, we ended up learning a lot along the way.  The tourist attractions are rich with history, full of beauty, and they teach about western and First Nations culture, equally.  For example, at Devil's Tower National Monument, a gigantic rock formation in Wyoming, you can read the scientific explanation and the Indigenous explanations of how it formed.  I would love to take my future students on a field trip to these states because I feel their artifacts do a very good job of informing people about different ways of knowing, including those of the Sioux, and Lakota.  Some of my favourite points of interest were: Devil's Tower, Needles Highway, Deadwood, and the Crazy Horse Memorial site, which is home of The Indian Museum of North America.  

Here is a map of the route we took, which I would highly recommend, as well as a few pictures I took along the way :)