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By Jay Bird
Indigenous peoples are talking about decolonization. In order to understand that rhetoric you need to know what colonization is. Colonization is basically “some form of invasion, dispossession and subjugation of a peoples” (Emma LaRocque). In Canada this relationship happened between the British Crown (which eventually became Canada) and it’s subjugation of Indigenous peoples. Colonization results in the domination of 3 aspects of Indigenous life: Social, Political and Economic (Ziltener and Kunzler).
Alienation - to quote Frantz Fanon “colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it.” – Residential Schools were meant to assimilate the Indigenous to Canadian ideals; to ‘kill the Indian in the child’ – Indigenous history is hidden from the Canadian landscape as if it does not exist The Ruling power creates division via racial di erences, playing one side versus the other, building a racial polarization – One only need look at the Indigenous stats to see how true this is in Canadian history and presently New colonial borders – Creation of Canada and the United States are borders the Indigenous did not use Christianity and local assistants – The ruling power brought its faith and had local Indigenous create their own parishes to ensure its ideology would thrive – this was evidenced in residential schools but also in your communities – have a church anyone? Pacifism e ect – After a while all of this created an apathy in the Indigenous which ensured economic disruptions were minimized
constructed. “Race is created to interpret human di erence and used to justify socioeconomic arrangements in ways that accrue to the benefit of the dominant social group” (Bell, Teaching for Diversity and Social ustice, 2007, p. 118).
m – “A system of advantages based on race
and supported by institutional structures, policies and practices that create and sustain benefits to the dominant white group and structure discrimination, oppression, and disadvantage for people from targeted racial groups” (Bell, Teaching for Diversity and Social ustice, 2007, p. 118). “The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs” (Bell in Teaching for Diversity and Social ustice, 2007, p. 1).
- “The term oppression encapsulates the fusion of institutional and systemic
Removal of wealth from the land back to the central ruling power (i.e.: British Crown Canada) – 98 ownership of the land via treaties – Legislative power over Indigenous workforce via Indian Act AANDC – Exploitation of natural resources – mining, oil, gas, diamonds, water, tree’s, etc – written into the numbered treaties – Enslavement of the Indigenous peoples – The Indian Act set in motion a pattern, that continues to this day, concerning Indigenous political, legislative, and financial control... all of these are in the hands of the Federal ov’t.
With political power came the expropriation of land – we see this in the treaties of Canada which took 98 of the land mass from the Indigenous Development of ‘martial races’ to become soldiers for the colonial power – happened during the development of Canada in peace and friendship treaties in founding Canada Ruling roup created political allies accompanied with privilege – One could argue this is the numbered treaties but it seems it more the political groups the Indigenous created to work in the system (i.e.: FSIN, AFN)
Creation of infrastructure with regards to settlement – all buildings, train ways, and roads were built with the idea of settlement (westward), not with Indigenous benefit in mind
When you review all of these disruptions in Indigenous peoples lives do you understand how you got to where you are today? Is there a way out of colonialism? I don’t think there is. We have entrenched ourselves so tightly into the Canadian fabric even when it barely recognizes us; worse yet, mocks us. We accept the benefits that being Canadian outweigh the benefits of being Indigenous. Our political representatives provide minimal opposition to the Indian Act; I would say they gladly accept their fate. Oil, gas, and mining seek to impose deeper into our territories and we ignorantly stand and watch the parade. Borders, we respect them. Churches, we love them. Cities have won us over, leaving the reserve is not only normal – it’s expected. Our existence is pacification – we don’t want it to be - but even after Idle No More we settle into our couches, grab the chips, and watch some hockey. Do you know when you stopped caring?
mag (nat e) dent t and te e t e R e – Race is not based on biology and is socially
The movement of governance to a central point of power, away from territories, belonging to the colonizing group, in this case, the Federal ov’t in Canada. This is where the creation of legislation to rule us comes from (i.e.: The Indian Act)
discrimination, personal bias, bigotry and social prejudice in a complex web of relationships and structures that shade most aspects of life in our society” (Bell in Teaching for Diversity and Social ustice, 2007, p. ). “Color-blindness” or the claim “I don’t see colour” – one of the first things we notice about people after their gender is their race. When we see someone we do not know we often ask “where did you grow up” when what we mean is “what is your racial background”. Race is not biological – but it is socially constructed. Race determines where we live, the kind of schooling and health care we receive. To claim to be colour-blind is to ignore the institutional structures that maintain race-based inequality. Colour-blindness is a fallacy.
Re er e r m – this term is used to describe the prejudicial actions of a targeted group towards members of the dominant group. While uncomfortable, these actions do not have the historical,
institutional nor cultural weight to cause lasting or permanent inequality. Reverse racism is a fallacy. “Meritocracy” is the idea that “if you just work hard enough you can be successful”. This idea is premised on the ideas that race and or gender no longer matter and that the “playing field is now level”. owever, a history of unequal access to education, employment, housing and other matters has resulted in persistent racial discrimination and gender and race-based advantage. Meritocracy is a myth.
l ro l – Racism continues to persist in our society. “Driving while black brown” is a form of racial profiling. Driving while brown black is an all too common experience for individuals of colour who are pulled over by police. ictims of this form of racial profiling are asked where they got they car; where they are going; why they are in particular neighbourhoods or on particular roadways – all because of the race-based perception that they “must be up to something wrong”.
e ler - To put it simply: if your ancestors moved to Canada from elsewhere to settle – you are a settler.
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Dr. Shauneen Pete I’ve been an educator in this province for nearly 0 years. I remind my university students and my colleagues – as you teach about Indigenous peoples you have to plan for racism to emerge in the content and the reactions of your learners. Racism isn’t only that mean thing that one individual does to another; racism is also the ways in which social inequalities are created and maintained based on race based privilege and disadvantage. Social inequalities are those historically rooted di erences between peoples and groups; these di erences can limit access to housing, education, health care and justice etc for many groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation etc. Social inequality is a system of projects meant to continue privilege to the dominant group as established by the dominant group. Teaching about Aboriginal peoples, issues and priorities exposes social inequalities which are historically rooted in the colonization of this country. We, as First Nations peoples do not continue to live in poverty at high levels because we don’t work (though some individuals don’t)... we have been structurally denied the opportunity to access resources which ow to some groups through a number of interconnecting social projects, some examples include: the pass system which limited First Nations people’s ability to travel freely o reserves; the permit system which meant that we had to ask permission of the Indian agent to sell our grain and produce of our labours (and the monies were kept in trust for us to access in the form of rations from the Indian agent or farm instructor); the residential school system which prepared us for labour jobs only;
e ler o e – Razack (2002) explains “white-settler society” is one “established by Europeans on non-European soil” (p. 1). Additionally, it is a historical term of reference that colonial elites often used in defining the sort of country they were attempting to shape. Abele & Stasiulis (1989) explain that early economic and political analysts utilized this term to justify a segmented workforce that was defined by evolving racial lines. Razack describes how “the origins (of white settler society) lie in the dispossession of and near extinction of Indigenous peoples by the conquering Europeans. As it evolves, a white settler society continues to be structured by a racial hierarchy” (p.1). This racial hierarchy to which she speaks allows those of the dominant group to over time distance themselves from the acts of the conqueror…they can and do proclaim that they are simply “Canadian”. By doing so they can promote the dominant myth that “they” are blameless and innocent of the injustices of conquest. Those of the dominant group attempt to diminish those events as “happening a long time ago” so as to assert that
Enfranchisement whereby if we went to university to become a professional we lost our Treaty status. The peasant farm policy which limited the scope of agricultural participation for Treaty Indians on reserves The 2 cap on post-secondary funding which has limited the number of First Nations peoples who can attend post-secondary; The educational funding gap which means that First Nations schools are challenged to retain qualified teachers, provide adequate learning resources, and o er a range of academic programs that would support learners to seek higher levels of post-
secondary and employment.
As a First Nations educator it is easy for me to identify some of the sources of our oppression; but is it easy for you to identify how these social projects also created advantage for the dominant group? Let’s take a look: The pass and permit system allowed for individual settler farmers to sell and transport
their grain when they would gain monetary advantage;
The myth of meritocracy allowed those of the dominant group to assume that they earned the privilege of gaining monetary advantage because they had worked hard enough for it not because the pass and permit system reduced competition; When settler veterans returned from war they were o ered resettlement lands – lands that were reclaimed from reserve lands. First Nations veterans when they were o ered land, were given reserve land – reducing the size of this Treaty entitlement;
“they” are blameless for ongoing inequality. Abele, F., & Stasiulis, D. (1989). Canada as a ‘white settler colony’: What about natives and immigrants? The new Canadian political economy, 240-77. Razack, S. (Ed.). (2002). Race, space, and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Between the Lines.
e o – Produced, living, or existing naturally in a particular region or environment (Merriam Webster Dictionary). Indigenous is the claim Indian peoples grew up from Turtle Island and have always been here; this land is their roots and they did not need to travel somewhere to get here. or l - Of or relating to the people and things that have been in a region from the earliest time (Merriam Webster Dictionary). This terminology has been the all catching term for defining everyone: Metis, Status, Non-Status, and Inuit. Many Indigenous people have an issue with this word since the ‘Ab’ makes it seem like ‘Ab-normal’. The truth is the ‘Ab’ means ‘from’ and is not derogatory. r o - The term “First Nations peoples” refers to the Indian peoples in Canada, both Status
When townships grew to over 8000 peoples – lands were reclaimed from the reserve lands and were given to the townships to allow for growth; istorically, settler society narratives were at the root of race-based segmented workforces. That’s why Chinese Canadians worked in only certain occupations (ie: railway labour), as did African Canadians (ie: railway porters);
“Social inequality is a system of projects meant to continue privilege to the dominant group as established by the dominant group.” The idea of multiculturalism means that many Canadians believe that “we are good people” and “all that happened a long time ago” and “First Nations just need to get over it”. et, social inequalities still disadvantage First Nations, M tis and Inuit peoples; and those of the dominant group are able to proclaim their individual “blamelessness” and to
deny their historical advantage.
Teaching about Indigenous issues on campus must begin with telling a more honest story about our collective past. I hope you can see in these few examples, privileges and disadvantages have owed to di erent groups because of race. We cannot attempt to engage in higher levels of academic Indigenization without talking about race racism racial inequality. This too is Indigenization.
and non-Status. Some Indian peoples have also adopted the term “First Nation” to replace the word “band” in the name of their community (AANDC Terminology).
e - Born in a particular place—used to refer to the place where a person was born and raised: belonging to a person since birth or childhood (Merriam Webster Dictionary). Anyone can be native of somewhere (i.e.: Canada) as long as they are born there. - The native peoples of America came to be described as Indian as a result of Christopher Columbus and other voyagers in the 15th-16th centuries believing that, when they reached the east coast of America, they had reached part of India by a new route. The terms Indian and Red Indian are today regarded as old-fashioned and inappropriate, recalling, as they do, the stereotypical portraits of the Wild West. (Oxford Dictionaries)
ee e - The term “Neechie” derives from the Plains Cree word “Nichiwagan” which means, “my friend”. The term is used to greet one another. A positive word used to promote friendship. (Wikipedia)
e n at n ede ned eed m n the m d t n t e A person can not compartmentalize issues that are related to colonization. All issues that surround colonization are entangled, related, and often over lay each other with double binds of di ering perceptions, limited and or rigid belief systems and contradictions. Ultimately, we can’t talk about freedom from injustice without highlighting key factors that have contributed to the current circumstance and quality of life of Indigenous people. owever, one of the most common mistakes has been focusing on politics between First Nation’s and the colonizers as the most important component to seeking resolution from past and current ongoing injustices. The intention of this piece, in consideration to these details without going deep into the debate, is to evoke conscious action for social transformation. The residential school chapter, though highly significant, is such a small section in the total history and cosmology of Indigenous existence. It is vital to be aware and educated on the history of what has transpired that has lead to the current circumstance that we are seeing within our society today. Only when there is conscious understanding
will we see moving forward become embraced, encouraged, and liberating. Reconciliation is a harmonious word that has been used to illuminate the potential of rebuilding relationships between peoples. The reality is Indigenous peoples have experienced injustices of genocide, land displacement, destruction of family systems, and trauma from other factors stemming from colonization. The issue is the lack of knowledge, understanding, consideration, and conscious communication within the relationship between Indigenous people and the political-economic system of colonial Canada. The settlers are either selfaware facilitators of that system or settlers who are ignorant of current realities and therefore feeding the continuation of further assimilation and social injustice.
forgive what we have endured as result of what our parents, grand parents and relatives have been through. More importantly, we need to forgive ourselves for what we have done to our own families and relatives. In today’s circumstance,
“...one of the most common mistakes
has been focusing on politics between First Nation’s and the colonizers as the most important component to seeking resolution from past and current ongoing injustices.”
What does social transformation look like in the circumstance of the abusive relationship between Indigenous people and the colonial system? Forgiveness does need to occur however not necessarily between the colonized and the colonizer. Especially when there are assimilative processes still in a ect and unfolding to this day. Indigenous people have the right to be angry, they have the right to be free and authentically express their truth. Asking the oppressed to stop being angry is like asking a child crying from starvation to stop being hungry. Indigenous people innately know that freedom exists. It’s in our veins that are tied to our land based practices. Freedom is law within the land.
Colby Tootoosis is a life skills coach out of Red Echo Associates and a presenter and leadership coach out of Conscious Leadership Coaching, an international leadership programming and coaching organization. His passion is working on the front lines in community resurgence in the area of health and well-being. He is currently a councilor for Poundmaker Cree Nation.
By Colby Tootoosis
The oppressor feels they have the right to control freedom. The oppressor will only grant freedom and liberation under their imposed definition of freedom and liberation. Which will ultimately lead to the compromise of the original way of life of the oppressed. There is no special therapy or healing modality designed for the oppressed. The source of freedom for the oppressed is hidden in a way of life that refuses to be defined, subdued, and restricted. A close friend of mine, Sarah oi, highlights this well when she states that as a younger generation “we are survivors of the survived”. Though many young people didn’t attend residential school, we still experience the e ects of it. We have to
the oppressed need to admit and then forgive the reality that they have given up their power to the colonizer. They have also allowed the colonizer to define their children’s identity, and have given power to a foreign system to have authority over their quality of life. The forgiveness is a self-forgiveness. True reconciliation is the reconciliation within our own families, between families, within community, between communities. It is in this way that selfpower is reclaimed and collective power becomes fueled, which becomes re ective in overall wellbeing and quality of life on all levels. If settlers wish to be allies, they need to know who they are, where they come from, and understand their legacy. The shame and guilt of the settler that often arises with their realized legacy is not the responsibility of the indigenous. Indigenous people are family oriented, and settlers need to be allies with their own families. To me the front line social transformation is in the heart of family, and how children are raised. Freedom in the midst of injustice is in the choice of following through with values and morals, in speaking and expressing truth, breaking rules and limited beliefs of confinement, and raising children consciously. Though not on purpose, freedom in the midst of injustice is a resurgence of a way of life that will o end the colonizer. Their identity of superiority will be threatened and they will respond in fear like the closing of stores during a round dance ash mob at a shopping centre. Let them, and let freedom define you through conscious choice.
Change(d) the Name It has been a month since Saskatoon Public Schools voted to change the name and logo of my high school’s sports team, the Bedford Road Redmen. It has been nearly two decades since the last request for a name change was shut down in 1996. It has been only one week since I lost yet another high school friend who said she would be a “proud Redmen” forever, regardless of how many Aboriginal people find it o ensive. Indigenous people are not the only groups subject to the mascot treatment, but it certainly seems a bit more absurd when other groups are the focus of “honor”. Take for example the Coachella alley “Arabs”, or the Pekin “Chinks”. Why do these seem so strange, while hundreds of Native mascots in North America are normal? One argument our group dealt with countless times was: “It’s just a name, it’s just for fun. Don’t you people have bigger issues to deal with?” If it were only about a high school sports team name, the backlash against us would not have been so violent. When the University of Regina cheerleaders took a picture of their “Cowboys and Indians” party, depicting the girls dressed as “cowboys” playfully aiming their fingers as guns at the girls dressed as “Indians”, it was about more than just a party. When you walk into a store at alloween and see overpriced costumes like “Sexy Squaw” and “Indian Princess”, while Indigenous women remain the
Cha t e me #notyourstereotype I’m an Aboriginal Cree woman (from Cowessess First Nation) and I wished to do something for my people in Treaty Four territory. This is my home.
Chasity Delorme is enrolled in the Health Studies program at the First Nations University of Canada at the University of Regina. She was tired of seeing stereotypes of ‘Indian princesses’ played out in the media and in the local community, so she decided to challenge the idea of what being a First Nation person in Canada is in mainstream society. She asked some friends and family for photographs on Facebook with the hashtag #notyourstereotype. Delorme tells RezX how she is using social media to promote Aboriginal identity in a positive and pro-active way.
By Erica Violet
group most likely to face sexual violence in Canada, it is about more than just a costume. And, far from being just a name, the Bedford Road “Redmen”, Washington “Redskins”, Moose aw “Warriors”, and Chicago “Blackhawks” are products of white supremacy; stories told about our people without our input. While it seems like a small issue on the surface, challenging insulting depictions of Native people is a big step toward a better life for our youth. At Bedford, the Redmen logo was used for sports, while a diamond-shaped emblem was used for academics. This is why I don’t accept the claim that Indigenous people are only “warriors” or “braves” to be an honor. We are more than stereotypes with tomahawks in ohn Wayne stories where the injuns always lose. We are teachers, students, lawyers, writers, artists, musicians, and activists. We are capable of doing well in school while still holding on to our traditional knowledge. We are individuals. The hardest part of this work is listening to the stories of Aboriginal youth who dare to speak out against stereotypes, and faced ostracism as a result. In anuary, a student from Oskayak stood up at Bedford Road’s basketball tournament with a sign that said, “We are people, not mascots”. e was booed by hundreds of Redmen fans before being escorted out of the school. To me, that is a real warrior. On May 1, Bedford Road will be having a sale of Redmen memorabilia. A teacher said, “That logo
RezX: What inspired you to do this action? Delorme: It occurred to me that there was still a very low understanding of Aboriginals in Regina. I wanted to promote and encourage the Aboriginal community to participate in a positive way to combat stereotyping. My original photo challenge was intended for local Aboriginal people to provoke reaction to negative stereotyping. I wanted them to share and react to negative stereotyping they’ve encountered with hashtags like notyourtonto notyourpocahontas notyourtigerlily. I also wanted them to post selfie’s which portrayed Aboriginal peoples as they want to be portrayed. The selfie’s send the positive message about who they are, including Iamachef, Iamanathlete, Iamamother. This approach allowed people to identify with the reality of Aboriginal people in Treaty Four territory - everyday people. The image of the ollywood Indian is still sneaking up on us; it’s not how we wish to be portrayed. RezX: ou mentioned there was a thousand retweets of the notyourstereotype message in the first week. Why do you think it caught on so quickly? Delorme: I believe it caught on because it was a positive approach (that was) non-invasive and nonconfrontational.
Erica Violet Lee is a Nehiyaw (Cree) philosophy student at the University of Saskatchewan. Since speaking at the first Idle No More teach-in, Erica has worked as an international organizer with the movement, and as a mentor for Indigenous youth.
is like a swastika to me. It is a symbol of hate.” It would be a nice gesture if Bedford uses the proceeds of the sale toward Aboriginal educational initiatives. The name and logo are gone, but the damage is not undone. I still have my Redmen gym clothes. I will not sell or destroy these memories, but keep them in a drawer as a reminder that as Aboriginal people, we still face stereotypes from those who refuse to see us as individuals, but there is always a way to overcome. We convinced Saskatoon Public Schools to change the name after they realized we wouldn’t give up, hkam yihtamowin: perseverance. Even after so many have predicted our demise, we are still here. Now it’s time to tell our own stories.
I see you’ve created t-shirts with the notyourstereotype hashtag. Tell me about the t-shirt fundraiser for scholarships.
Delorme: I didn’t want (the action) to die there. I want to raise money for a scholarship for Aboriginal youth in rades 11 & 12. I want to celebrate and award youth who are making positive changes in their community to combat negative social issues; comba ng bullying.
Delorme recently became President of the FNUniv Student’s Association - Regina Campus.
Interview by Mirand Hanus Delorme says she’s almost sold out of her first batch of t-shirts for her grassroots initiative. If you want to buy a t-shirt you can contact Delorme by calling 306-501-5151, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook.
Realize. The promise in YOU.
what you can become The Aboriginal Student Centre strives to connect students with the many services and supports that are here to ensure success both on campus, and beyond. Much of the programming that is offered through the ASC is due to effective and dynamic partnerships with many of our campus units. The Aboriginal Student Centre's main focus is on assisting Aboriginal students': · Successful transition into university · Retention at the post-secondary level · Participation at University events and · Successful completion of University · Transition into the workforce
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