Whats this about
From May 31 to June 2 I attended Congress, a large joint conference for the humanities and social sciences.
The theme of congress was ‘The Next 150 Years’. Late in the planning, after panels had been submitted and accepted, the theme was altered to ‘The Next 150 Years: On Indigenous Land’.
The process of late inclusion of Indigenous people is a sign of the colonial project that is on going in Canada. The fact that Canada is a stolen land is well known and Ryerson University (where the conference was hosted this year) is doing work on reconciliation. This means that this late change of the theme was an attempt to counter the colonial erasure of Indigenous people the first theme engaged in.
While my presentation, and that of my co-presenters, strove to acknowledge Indigenous knowledge in out work from the beginning we decided to make colonialism a focal point of our presentations after the theme change occurred.
We identified three colonial themes we all addressed (white citizenship, devalued knowledge, and pathologization) and made them a focus on our presentations and the discussion.
Why addressing colonialism is needed
In Canada colonization is not a history. Settlers continue to live on stolen land. The Canadian government continues to engage in colonial projects that attempt to erase and kill Indigenous people.
While living in Canada we can not forget that this colonial process is happening. That in order for citizens, immigrants, illegal immigrants, temporary workers, and refugees to thrive in Canada Indigenous people are being harmed and killed.
Canada is a colonial space. Settlers have a responsibility to resist and fight against this project in any way we can. We need to acknowledge the harm we support just by living where we live.
This will undoubtedly be difficult for many people. But by not acknowledging colonialism in Canada we actively participate in the harm and death of a large number of Indigenous people.
We must be willing to sit with being uncomfortable. We must acknowledge the harms we cause by unthinkingly supporting the Canadian state. We must challenge out biased beliefs about Indigenous people and ourselves as settlers to begin the process of making change.
This post is part of series connected to critically engaging with KMb. I want to note that while I explore KMb that it is part of a colonial system. As a result, the findings noted about the KMb field can are a reflection of the larger system. Because of this I encourage people to consider if these topics discussed are found within the spaces they engage with.