Tuesday 1 November 2016

First Nations Truth and Reconciliation: Know whose land you are on

are excellent sources
On whose land do you live?

Cultural Misappropriation

It has to stop. Many, both First Nations and non-Indigenous people, are objecting to cultural appropriation. "An Open Letter to those in Headdresses".

Then, there is the #NotYourMascott movement. There has been a vocal group objecting to Cleveland's mascott. I have spent years learning about Indigenous people's culture. I taught Grade 5 (First Nations and Europeans in New France and Early Canada – PDF), where students learn about colonisation. See also: Idle no more, and Attawapiskat: forget laying blame - find a solution.

More importantly, a seed has been planted in the consciousness of more Canadians about cultural appropriation, indigenous representations and identity.

My students learned about the many tribes decimated by colonists and the diseases brought by Europeans to North America (e.g., The Beothuks). Grade 5 (First Nations and Europeans 
in New France and Early Canada

Back when we were in Bala, we lived near to the Wahta Mohawks. We always had shared Remembrance Day ceremonies. They were quite moving.

The Truth and Reconciliation journey begins. 

I asked myself, what else could I do?

Acknowledging on Whose Land We Live

Our home sits in the middle of a wetland. It is on unceded Algonquin land, where Indigenous people hunted as part of their summer hunting grounds. Ontario Treaties.on.ca

The first Algonquin petition to the crown was in 1772.  Seriously. It was 244 years ago. Still racism, and settler colonialisation, has dominated First Nations. Lanark County land is part of the Algonquins of Ontario Land Treaties: Agreement-in-Principle (AIP). A treaty still unsigned. Their original territory was enormous, going right up to Algonquin Park (green, below) in central Ontario. Creating a treaty is a slow process, and not finished yet.

Ontario Treaties

Just a few of the treaties, PDF

I set up flags during the 2016 Perth 200th Anniversary of the Trek. Scottish, UK, and a Mohawk flag decorated my fence. I had good conversations with a couple of people about this. We are on unceded lands.
This woman thanked me for honouring First Nations.
She is First nations descent.

Part of Reconciliation, surely, is listening to the stories. Recently, our Gord Downie (dying from a brain tumour) teamed with an artist to create Secret Path (YouTube). Secret Path tells the story which was inspired by Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwe boy, who tried to escape a residential school by walking home to his father. You can watch the video here. It was 50 years ago, some students fled the horror and the abuse by trying to walk home to their reserves miles and miles away. They perished.

Like so many, the iconic singer first read about the runaway in the pages of Maclean’s, in a 1967 story that drew national attention to a case that otherwise would have surely been forgotten. Chanie was enrolled at Cecilia Jeffrey School, also in Kenora, and all he wanted was to reach his father—in Ogoki Post, a reserve 600 km away.
Chanie Wenjack
Jan. 19, 1954 -  Oct. 22, 1966
It is a start.

I attended a meeting, called by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Lanark County.

What is settler colonialism?

  • Settlers come to stay, not pass through.
  • It's a structure, not a single event.
  • It results in the containment of Indigenous peoples on set apart lands.
  • It is the replacement of Indigenous sovereignty.
  • It is assimilation.
  • It is the creation of national narratives that create falsehoods.
  • It is membership control.
  • It is genocide.

Proclamation 1763 (PDF)

From 1763 until 1900
Many are ignored

Perth was actually established in “contradiction to British Law and the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

These laws stated that settlers could only be given land after an agreement had been reached between First Nations and the Crown, with the decision being ratified at the 1764 Treaty of Niagara, “where delegations of Indigenous peoples from across what is now southern Ontario met and exchanged wampum belts with a representative of the British Crown.
The 1840 address by Omamiwinini (Algonquin) leader Kaondinoketch describes a painful reality already existing a mere quarter-century into Perth’s history: “Our hunting grounds that are vast and extensive and once abounded in the richest furs and swarmed with deer of every description are now ruined. We tell you the truth, we now starve half the year through and our children, who were accustomed to being comfortably clothed, are now naked.” (reproduced by Ardoch Algonquin leader and Indigenous studies professor Paula Sherman, in the book At Home in the Tay Valley
Presentation to G20, in 2009.
Some Canadians exhibit some smugness, including our previous Prime Minister.

Our Canadian history includes
  • arrival of European explorers and settlers, 
  • the fur trade exploitation of native hunters, 
  • the reserve system, 
  • the Indian Act, 
  • residential schools; 
  • French Canadians: expulsion of the Acadians, 
  • loss of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham; 
  • Japanese: forced relocation during World War II, 
  • the creation of Africville in the Maritimes.


Anvilcloud said...

Our history with native peoples has been awful, and I am all for respect.

OTOH, I think think the anti appropriation movement has gone overboard. When a university cancels a yoga class (even if just temporarily) or a white woman can't wear cornrows or a non-Mexican can't don a sombrero or a white person can't possibly cook an oriental dish, we have jumped the shark.

So, I'm not disagreeing with you at all on this post, but just getting something related off my chest. lol

William Kendall said...

Definitely a lot to think about. Given all the horrible things that have been done to First Nations peoples, we more than owe it to them now to treat them with respect.

DUTA said...

The solution is to go on... without a solution. As I commented in a previous post, God has given every ethnicity a territory. If the europeans wanted to leave given Europe and go somewhere else like north America and Australia that were given to other nations, and by doing so violate the order of the Creation, THEN THEY'RE IN FOR TROUBLE - NOT NOW , NOT TOMORROW, BUT SOMEDAY. Reconciliations and apropriations won't help.

Cloudia said...

Thank you Jenn, and you too Anvilcloud for this important conversation

Red said...

People cannot understand the relation the indigenous people had to the land. The land was taken away and the treaties were pretty well worthless. Read the Kings of Ireland for an eyeopener when land is taken away from a people.

The Furry Gnome said...

Thoughtful stuff that I really struggle with. To me, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission turned my understanding all on its head. Before, we widely blamed native people for their own condition; after I now understand that it's all our fault. How could anyone stay healthy after 7 generations forcibly sent to residential schools!