Occasional Paper Series #45

Witnessing Encounters: A Response to Nicole Ineese- Nash’s “Ontologies of Welcoming”

by Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw

Responding to Nicole Ineese-Nash’s beautiful offerings is exhilarating and humbling. “Ontologies of Welcoming” invites us to create openings that those of us who have been educated within a Western tradition are unequipped to do. Before writing, I read Nicole’s contribution more than 10 times, unsure how to respond to it as a non-Indigenous scholar in Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, and Lenapewak and Attawandaron territory. Reluctant to appropriate knowledge that isn’t mine, I was aware that not responding for fear of implicating myself in ongoing colonization would be yet another way to enact my privilege.

Imperfectly, I offer a story from my own work with young children in early childhood education: witnessing encounters between children and squirrels in an urban park. In early childhood, witnessing means much more than observing from afar. Witnessing requires us to respond and be accountable to the troubling stories of our times. We become attentive witnesses through ongoing encounter, recognition, and curiosity that exceed all rational calculation (Nxumalo, 2019).

About the Author

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw is a professor of early childhood education in the Faculty of Education at Western University in Ontario, Canada. Her writings and research contribute to the Common Worlds Research Collective (tracing children’s relations with places, materials, and other species), and the Early Childhood Pedagogies Collaboratory (experimenting with the contours, conditions, and complexities of 21st-century pedagogies).