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Archive for the ‘(de)colonilization’ Category

Party Boat, 2011, from Sarah Anne Johnson's "Arctic Wonderland" series.

Party Boat, 2011, from Sarah Anne Johnson’s “Arctic Wonderland” series.

(For the introduction to this series on national narratives click here.)

Last year an archaeological discovery was announced from the northernmost region of the world, one that could change the way we think about history – and it all started with a yarn. (more…)

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"The Impending Nisga'a' Deal. Last Stand. Chump Change" (1996). Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun.

“The Impending Nisga’a’ Deal. Last Stand. Chump Change” (1996). Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun.

(For the introduction to this series on national narratives click here.)

It is a breezy July morning, and a group of weary men are trudging their way up a sloping hill. In their midst they carry a 10-metre long plank of wood. A smaller beam has been nailed perpendicularly to the plank’s upper third to form a cross, the symbol of their God.

The men are nearing the end of what had been a long and difficult voyage along the shores of this strange, new continent. Their captain, Jacques Cartier, led them here in search of a waterway that would lead to the riches of the Orient. That discovery, however, would have to wait. Finding only false starts and dead ends, Cartier and his crew have at last decided to turn return home, and all preparations are in order for the perilous journey back across the Atlantic. No doubt looking forward to their return, it is easy to imagine the minds of Cartier’s men on the sights and smells of their home ports as they work through this final task: the raising of a cross on the banks of a great bay. (more…)

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The Hon. James Moore, talking about... something.

The Hon. James Moore, talking about… something.

As plans for the Canadian Museum of History continue to ramp up, I find myself wondering exactly whose Canada will be presented behind the glass displays of our new national museum. Our current government has taken a peculiar interest in Canadian history and national narratives – most notably, in the 1812 Bicentennial celebrations, and, now, in their unfolding plans for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know that one of my motivations in writing it is my belief that talking about our history is important. The way we perceive the past influences the decisions we make in the present. That old adage rings true, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

There is no doubt that the Harper government’s policies have gotten Canadians talking about the past. Who beforehand had even heard of the War of 1812? The question that lingers in my mind is what histories are we still not talking about, and how do they inform our present actions? (more…)

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Settlers in solidarity with Idle No More.

Settlers in solidarity with Idle No More.

Last week I attended a town hall-style panel discussion in Victoria on the future of Idle No More, one that posed the question that’s on everyone’s mind, “Where do we go from here?”

In one of the evening’s poignant moments – there were many – a non-indigenous woman walked up to a microphone to bring attention to something that was upsetting her deeply. A previous speaker had suggested that non-indigenous people would be supportive of the movement just as long as it didn’t personally inconvenience them – a fair statement in itself, only the speaker didn’t use that politically correct appellation, non-indigenous. (more…)

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Royal Proclamation of 1763

“God Save the King”: Royal Proclamation of 1763

Think of the great dates in Canadian history and what comes to mind? Probably 1867, or possibly 1982. I’d even allow 1812 (begrudgingly).

What probably doesn’t come to mind is Oct. 7, 1763, the day King George III issued the proclamation that enshrined aboriginal rights in British North America. In doing so, he helped to spark a revolution and layed the foundations for a distinct political and legal tradition in what would become Canada. It’s kind of a big deal. (more…)

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A general observation: most advertisements, sports teams, fashion brands, and movies are about as culturally sensitive as a decolonization is easy. Which is to say, not very. That much will be clear to anyone that’s read the fantastic blog, Native Appropriations. If you haven’t already, I’d strongly suggest you check it out. But I got to thinking the other day, what would it be like if your average market industry was a force for decolonization? We’re a ways off that yet, but, hey, what’s the harm in dreaming. With apologies to Molson, here’s an ad I’m still waiting for: (more…)

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About a month ago a pair of white South Africans ignited an international discussion about race and responsibility when they printed 10 t-shirts with the words “I benefited from apartheid” written boldly across the chest.

Those 10 were distributed at an art installation and were spoken for so quickly that another 30 were quickly produced. The gesture, a response to reactionary criticism of a supermarket’s hiring policy, elicited all manner of responses. Some suggested the t-shirt designers were motivated by a misplaced guilt; others felt they were unnecessarily digging up old history better forgotten; still others felt they were appropriating a struggle that whites had little place in.

One thing was undeniable: those 40 t-shirts prompted a debate about race and apartheid, guilt and responsibility. Uncharacteristically, the debate centered on the place of whites within post-apartheid South Africa, asking uncomfortable questions that seldom get asked. To what extent do whites today remain beneficiaries of the apartheid system? To what extent are whites responsible for its ongoing effects? (more…)

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