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Reflecting on Canada on Canada Day: from reconciliation to decolonization

On Canada Day, I decided to attend and listen to a #CancelCanadaDay Teach-In: Legal Pluralism on Stolen Land given by Leah and Olivia Horzempa of

It was an evocative and expansive lesson on examining the foundational narratives of Canada as a "colonial project," which begins with the projections and institutionalizations of "terra nullius," the "doctrine of Discovery" that asserted white/European and Christian supremacy, allowing settlers and the construction of British, then Canadian state governmental infrastructure to enact various and continuing forms of systems. These systems have stolen lands, suppressed life ways, criminalized culture and spirituality, dehumanized peoples, and removed children from families and their cultures and languages in the form of residential schools that we are learning so much more about now.

In intercultural parlance, Canada begins with egregious #ethnocentrism, of one culture - with its internalized and taken-for-granted beliefs, worldview, including conceptions of land, property, religion, spirituality, language, etc. - seeing itself as superior to others and allowing its members to feel justified in their actions. Importantly, this ethnocentrism is foundational to what Canada was and is and is enshrined in asymmetrical relationships of power in which settlers (including non-European migrants such as myself) are imbricated. (Indeed, the issue of immigration, official Multiculturalism and the process of Indigenous suppression is ripe for discussion, but I will save it for another post).

Unravelling that ethnocentrism is necessary for #reconciliation. Yet, Leah and Olivia Horzempa also compelled consider how and why reconciliation is insufficient without #decolonization, as various Indigenous assertions of land rights continue to be met with suppression by Canadian municipal/provincial/federal law enforcement (for example; the efforts of the Land Defenders of 1492 Land Back Lane to stop housing developments on their ancestral lands:

As such, I am left to ponder on what Canada has been, is, and can be, on how contemporary Canadians, pluralistic in so many ways, take on the shared responsibility to support Indigenous revitalization and #reclamation and their assertions of their sovereignty, build our #intercultural competencies to learn more and listen to #Indigenous peoples and movements and to work collectively to imagine and enact an alternate shared future.

If you'd like to start with reading, here's a reading list that was shared in the workshop:

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