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Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

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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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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Mi’kmaq figures view Halifax from across the harbour.

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m feeling the post-turkey melatonin hangover this week. Three feasts and a few left overs besides have left my poor, would-be vegetarian stomach in recovery mode, after this most North American of holidays. Thanksgiving, we are told, began with the sharing of harvests between settlers and indigenous peoples in early colonial North America, and continues to be associated with the “harmonious” nature of colonial relationships in popular culture today (if not always within family traditions).

That much is contentious – perhaps offensive – but the holiday is at least a reminder of the nature of our settler society. We, the relative newcomers to Canada, have not always been here, and yet we are seldom reminded of this fact (or its implications), because settler society has by and large marginalized the voices of the societies that preceded it. So, allow me take advantage of the holiday to go back to those early colonial days to tell a settler origin story. (more…)

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