Finding reconciliation and not having reforms perpetuate the poison of colonialism

Over recent years in the context of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples be it indicated  by acknowledgements at the get go of meetings or announcements of policy’s and initiatives, there has remained a sense for me we are not going about reform and change very well.  Mary McPherson’s drawing “Reconcile What?” helped to wake me up.

(Mary McPherson drawing from )

How do we bridge: understanding with action that advances Indigenous Peoples in our society?  Where have I got it wrong and right on the steps, – because I have it both ways.

Here are some approaches that I use to engage and learn from:

Reconciliation: The False Promise of Trudeau’s Sunny Ways: Under the Liberals, statements of moral feeling have been elevated to a governing strategy

…What appeared to be a sweeping transformation was, in fact, a skilful technique for managing the status quo: everything would appear to change in order for things to remain the same. It was the changeless change that the Liberals so excelled in. The outcome would be stamped as reconciliation but would, in fact, be what Indigenous peoples had been fighting in each generation: being consigned to small land bases, shorn of any say over developments in their traditional territories, with the right to administer their own poverty. This relationship wouldn’t be nation-to-nation. It would be nation-to-municipalization. Nation-to-glorified-reservation. Nation-to-dressed-up-subjugation. …

Yellowhead Institute

…For too long, the relationship between First Nation peoples and Canadians has been characterized by inertia: the same old, paternalistic and racist policies and the corresponding apathy and neglect. Yet, the resistance of Indigenous peoples continues to grow and today, there is an acceptance on behalf of governments and Canadians that change is required. This is a tremendous opportunity. The challenge is ensuring the direction of change is towards the transformational. Yellowhead Institute can play an important role here, scrutinizing government policy, advocating for the rights of First Nation peoples, and models of change that support First Nation jurisdiction. …

        Russell Diabo

…Since the federal election of 2015, the Trudeau government has embarked on a top-down, nontransparent approach to federal Indigenous policy. There are reportedly 40 to 50 “exploratory tables” with Indigenous groups. We don’t know the topics or with whom the federal government is holding discussions, but these discussions are supposed to feed into an equally opaque Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples.

The discussion results are to be presented to a “bilateral mechanism” — federal cabinet committees based on political agreements with three national Indigenous organizations representing the Inuit, Métis and the Assembly of First Nations, a Chiefs’ organization. This stealth approach to change policy and law bypasses the legitimate rights holders: the Indigenous peoples. They are the ones who have a right to self-determination, not the national Indigenous leadership groups. …

        Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization

…Now that we have proven that we will not accept annihilation, we find ourselves in an era of reconciliation. Reconciliation? Like many of my sisters and brothers, I have trouble understanding what it is that we are trying to reconcile. Is the time for fighting over? Have we come through to the other side of the nightmare that is history? Have we decolonized this country? Reconciliation: the invitation from Canada to share in the spoils of our nations’ subjugation and dispossession. What a tainted gift, and such a false promise. Reconciling with colonialism cannot heal the wounds the colonizers have wrought on our collective existence. The essential harm of colonization is that the living relationship between our people and our land has been severed. By fraud, abuse, violence and sheer force of numbers, white society has forced us into the situation of being refugees and trespassers in our own homelands and we are prevented from maintaining the physical, spiritual and cultural relationships necessary for our continuation as nations. …

Dennis McPherson

Indian on the lawn journal

Indian on the Lawn: How are Research Partnerships with Aboriginal Peoples Possible?
If Aboriginal research is to be meaningful, its initial benefits
must accrue to the Aboriginal community from which the
data are derived. Interpretive analysis can only be carried out
by individuals grounded within the area of study. This paper
addresses systemic discrimination present within mainstream
institutions that negatively influences the Aboriginal research
agenda. I argue for a respectful approach to the investigation
of the wisdom of the Elders while recognizing that we are not
a homogenous group of like beings where we can build solely
on similarities. Like it or not, we are unique individuals and we
must respect our differences.
A review of the literature pertaining to Aboriginal peoples
shows an overwhelming acceptance by researchers to focus
their research ON Aboriginal peoples as objects of inquiry; as
things to be studied. From this perspective, researchers have
developed their careers, their understanding of Aboriginal
communities, their partnerships with these communities and
their research priorities revolving around this perspective as
if it were a legitimate conclusion. But this is a wrong-headed
perspective leading to a false conclusion. We, the Aboriginal
peoples, are not objects of inquiry, and we are not things to be

See the series of articles here:

Maundrell's reponse

McPherson’s  and Rabb’s response to Richard Maundrell

… We are, in fact, very optimistic. We believe mainstream
universities can change, or, rather, can be made to change, as
more and more and more Native students complete graduate
studies and become members of faculty. However, change
will never happen so long as Native faculty members remain
invisible. There is, and will always be, tremendous pressure on
them to “blend in,” to assimilate, to stay quiet, and just try to get
along. It takes courage and sacrifice to stand up and say NO to
assimilationist policies. It takes courage and sacrifice to stand
up and say, “Being Indian is being different and that difference
is something to be proud of!” This is just what “Indian on the
Lawn” was all about. Lakehead University was our test case
because it was, and is, one of the most progressive universities
in North America. Yet, even this most progressive of universities
failed the test. When confronted with an Indian faculty member
who said NO; who said in effect, I am Indian, I am different,
accommodate me and my Indian students, don’t make us fit into
your system, the university simply did not know how to cope. …

See article here:  

Rabb journal

Ethics in Locality: Confessions of a Not-So-Innocent Bystander, J. Douglas Rabb 

…. Using narrative form, so important in the Indigenous tradition, this paper tells the story of
Ojibwa philosopher, Dennis McPherson, a friend and colleague of the author, and his persistent efforts over the years to liberate Locality. …

See article here:

More suggestions?  Please add to comments section, thanks.

3 thoughts on “Finding reconciliation and not having reforms perpetuate the poison of colonialism

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