Hi, everyone. My name is Sidney, and I am a first year English and Professional Writing student. I am from Thunder Bay, ON and hope to move to Toronto permanently in the next couple of years. I have loved reading and writing from a very young age — before I went to bed, I would always insist on reading the storybooks myself even though I could hardly read any of the words yet. Other than that, I like to paint and draw in my spare time. Unfortunately, I have had little time to do that between school and work. Like many people, I love to travel; in the last three years I have gone to Toronto and Montreal for the first time and travelled Spain starting in Barcelona and continuing along the coast into Madrid. After graduation, I would like to find a career that allows me to travel more.
Coming into the semester, I expected the material and assignments to be dry in a research course. Fortunately, I assumed wrong as I am really looking forward to working on the course project. I have just recently started listening to podcasts and like the idea of creating my own but am overwhelmed with where to begin. This course is allowing me experience in something I may have otherwise never tried on my own. I also appreciate that we are working in a medium and learning a skill that feels relevant in our digital culture.
When it comes to research, I am guilty of just googling my topic and hoping to find websites that end in “.org” or “.edu.” While I do find relevant and reputable information from these websites, it is admittedly a lazy way to do research. Throughout this semester, I hope to become more familiar with how to search databases and ultimately form better research habits.
Upon reflecting on whether or not all knowledge is simply “a matter of opinion,” I was quick to think no. If all knowledge is simply “a matter of opinion,” that leaves me with a very uncomfortable possibility that there are no universal truths. I desperately wanted to cling onto the idea that the things I know are objectively true, but I have concluded that the answer to this question is, in fact, a matter of opinion — you could argue either way.
On the one hand, I agree with LaBossiere in his blog post Is philosophy just a matter of opinion? when he says, “an opinion can become a fact - a belief that is adequately backed up by evidence or reasons.” I think that in many instances we are told that our reasoning is “just our opinion” as a way to try and delegitimize our claims. However, this ignores that we can develop well-informed opinions based on facts. If one has formed a view or judgement based on something irrefutable, then they must have arrived at some sort of knowledge or truth.
This line of reasoning is then complicated because, as discussed in lecture, “our access to reality is strained, and that reality itself is socially constructed . . . and changeable.” In the TED talk we watched in lecture, I was sure that the orange circles were the same shade, while the person sitting next to me asserted that the grey circles were the same. What was true to me was not true to someone else, and even more unsettling was that what was true to me was not the truth at all but only my perception of reality. If knowledge is subject to our perception of reality based on our senses, culture, lived experience, etc., then our knowledge is simply a matter of opinion.
In A heartbreaking catalyst for change, Niigaan Sinclair argues that the discovery of Tina Fontaine’s body in Winnipeg’s Red River in 2014 was a wake-up call for Canadians regarding the severity of the nation’s epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Sinclair first draws on anecdotal evidence to back up this claim when he states that thousands of Manitobans joined the Indigenous communities in mourning Tina’s death “for one of the first times anyone could remember.” He then outlines how the national outrage resulted in change on the federal level. In 2015, the Trudeau government “promised to adopt the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action,” and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal demanded that the nation’s child-welfare system restructure so as not to discriminate against Indigenous children.
Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe and assistant professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba (umanitoba.ca). Sinclair is also a columnist at Winnipeg Free Press, and, after a quick visit to their website, I found that he regularly comments on Indigenous issues. Sinclair’s article is an opinion piece because it is his judgement of what constitutes change. His bias lies in that he is more acutely aware of and affected by these issues and is likely often engaged with groups that are rallying for change. When one is that involved, smaller bits of progress are more evident. Unfortunately, I think many Canadians are unaware of, or even maybe even completely apathetic towards, the issue of Indigenous inequality.
I think Sinclair’s piece has the potential to create an interesting podcast episode because of this current social climate. The Trudeau government seems to constantly contradict itself when it comes to reconciliation. Tina Fontaine’s death has sparked these monumental policies, but they seem to only serve the purpose of placating Indigenous people instead of creating real change. During Trudeau’s campaign, he made a point of reaching out to Indigenous communities and making their voices heard. Nearing the end of his term, the Trudeau government is now constructing a pipeline through the Wet’suwet’en reserve. I think the podcast would be a way to explore these interesting contradictions.