Canada 150 | 150 years of colonization
June 2, 2017 10:08 AM   Subscribe

The Government of Canada has been making preparations for Canada 150, this year's half-billion-dollar birthday party in recognition of 150 years since Confederation, but many First Nations people are pointing out that there is nothing for them to celebrate about 150 years of colonization. #Resistance150 is "a project intended to highlight the many ways Indigenous peoples have historically resisted, and continue to resist, what many see as discriminatory and assimilationist policies of the Canadian government, such as those regarding pipeline construction, access to drinking water and child welfare funding gaps. Perhaps most importantly, the Indian Act itself."

The group of four indigenous artists, activists, and authors who started the #Resistance150 project: Michif artist Christi Belcourt, Métis author Maria Campbell, Cree activist Tanya Kappo, and Anishinaabe teacher/storyteller Isaac Murdoch

Ryan McMahon: Canadians need to face uncomfortable truths about how we treat indigenous people

Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: Reconciling Canada's 150th: Why 2017 should start with tears

Kent Monkman's "Shame and Prejudice" art exhibit at the University of Toronto Art Museum highlights Canada's colonialist history

Yukon artist Lianne Marie Leda Charlie's poster, "We Still Think of the Yukon as Our Land," for The Graphic History Collective's #Remember|Resist|Redraw poster collection [previously]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (20 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks! The Centenary of Canada in 1967 was remembered for its exuberant celebration of 100 years of Confederation, when were still big Dominion with a northern wish. Fifty years later, we are becoming a much more sophisticated and reflective country, understanding more now that a peaceful and just future requires the next 150 years to be about becoming reconciling.

To be sure, Canada has lots of racism and exclusion under the surface. And it's also a peaceful and prosperous place. Our society and economy doesn't work for A LOT of people. And many would recognize they won the lottery to be born here.

It is this morass of contradictions and confusions that create a feeling of being slightly unsettled with the celebrations underway this year and that is as it should be. Being unsettled is the best way settlers can enter into reconciliation. It is at least the pre-requisite to the process.

Thanks for the links.
posted by salishsea at 10:24 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm glad you posted about this. It's something I've been thinking about, this so called "celebration" and how problematic it is.

I'm also thinking about the CBC's historical mini-series The Story of Us and its problems.
“"We must be able to acknowledge that a mistake was made, and this one was shocking," he said before the motion was voted on. "It can be argued that the production company made mistakes, but it was still our public broadcaster that endorsed that series, bought its first episode, and then the second and the third, and felt that it was fine." The motion itself asks CBC to speak to its efforts to "ensure the representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and of francophones" in regards to its programming for the country's 150th anniversary.”
Thanks for starting this conversation, it's definitely one we should all be having as Canadians.
posted by Fizz at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Man is this ever true, and it's something I think about a lot, having both Euro-Canadian and Indigenous heritage. When I lived in Quebec, I'd meet all kinds of lovely, progressive people who were all about freedom and equality, but who had some shockingly ugly opinions of Indigenous people, mostly because of Oka. I found it sad and puzzling, not least of all from people as conscious of the concept of cultural erasure as the Quebecois are.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:42 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Speaking of the Indian act, Trudeau Government Solves The Indian Act: The Beaverton (Satire)
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 11:07 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Indigenous Canada Reads: The Unsettling Canada Edition in response to the 150th. I also saw this yesterday and purchased the e-book.

Indigenous History Month is a good time to read this or the UNDRIP or TRC Calls to Action. A friend of mine has set up a Twitter account TRC Daily that displays one page of the TRC Report a day so you can get through the whole report one day at a time.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:07 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I pass a gas station banner for a Canada 150 special edition Powerade flavour on my way to work every day. The bus is always going too fast for me to read what that flavour is, but it's red and looks opaque so my hunch is Clamato.
posted by wreckingball at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

What do people think justice would look like for the First Nations of Canada, out of curiosity?
posted by durandal at 11:51 AM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

According to this article from APTN (Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network) from before the last federal election, a start to achieving justice would include Ultimately, though, we know what First Nations think justice would look like by reading the 94 Recommendations (Calls to Action PDF) from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:47 PM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]

Equal Funding is the big justice that Canada needs to provide. In addition to the examples above, one of the public libraries I run serves a [white] population of a thousand, and receives about $600,000 year in funding. The First Nation community about ten minutes away serves a population of three hundred and receives $9,000 a year. Multiply that underfunding by decades and it is obvious the lack of funding for basic infrastructure has been purposeful.
posted by saucysault at 1:19 PM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Speaking of funding:

Ottawa spent $707,000 in legal fees fighting a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order since January 2016 that insisted they stop discriminating against Indigenous children, according to the attorney general’s office.

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus asked Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on April 10 what the government’s total legal costs were in the battle between the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations against the government since Jan. 25, 2016.

Angus just received the answer of $707,000 for legal costs, including disbursements. That is nearly twice the $380,000 needed by Wapekeka First Nation for emergency mental health care after the northern Ontario community uncovered a suicide pact last year. Health Canada denied them the funding and two 12-year-old girls, Jolynn Winter and Chantell Fox, took their lives in January.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:51 PM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also, this is a great, thoughtful post on this topic. Thank you.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:53 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

A colleague of mine here in Ottawa was at a public service orientation for students yesterday, and Trudeau came to talk to the students and answer their questions.

One Indigenous student apparently asked "During the election you came to us, talked to the youth, talked to the elders. Where have you been since then?"

Apparently it gave Trudeau pause, but I would have like to have heard his answer.
posted by aclevername at 3:00 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

"During the election you came to us, talked to the youth, talked to the elders. Where have you been since then?"

posted by Fizz at 3:35 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Poet Laureate of Halifax told a pretty right-on story about the creation of Canada, from an indigenous point of view, in seven short minutes.
posted by sixswitch at 5:54 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

To hurdy gurdy girl's list I'd access to clean water, acceptable housing and access to fresh and healthy food at a reasonable cost. Those can rolled into economic equality and health care but I think it is important to spell out what that means in concrete terms. It also should be pointed out that these basic necessities have been ongoing problems for multiple generations in many First Nations communities and that it has been a succession of provincial / federal governments from the entire spectrum that have consistently failed to correct this injustice. Justice means being able to enjoy the same basic rights that a non-aboriginal Canadian citizen takes for granted.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:26 PM on June 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

Maybe also add the basic human right to breastfeed your child.
“A young Indigenous mother who was refused a breast pump while being held in a Saskatoon detention facility last year has received a formal apology from the city's police chief. Lillian Desjarlais, 22, complained she was mistreated while being held in a police cell because she wasn't able to express milk to feed her baby, or to relieve pain and avoid infection. Saskatchewan's Public Complaints Commission has concluded its investigation and ruled it was neglect of duty, but said no disciplinary action is required.”
posted by Fizz at 9:11 AM on June 3, 2017

We have a Parks Canada 150 pass that they gave out for free this year. If we wanted to make a financial contribution in the amount of the price of last year's pass, to the benefit of some first nations cause or community, what is one you'd recommend?
posted by andromache at 4:31 PM on June 3, 2017

Justice means being able to enjoy the same basic rights that a non-aboriginal Canadian citizen takes for granted

I find it hard to untangle historical injustice vs non-substainable habitats sometimes. So many aboriginal communities seems to be located in locations that made sense "back in some other era" and that have few ways of functioning by themselves now without substantial external funding. But people manage cabins in harsher conditions so you feel it should be possible for the communities to have access to better amenities.

We have to do better with First Nations, but i have no idea how the situation get fixed long term. I have this feeling that the current distance between aboriginals and others isn't helping (reserves are not a solution) but joining the country wholesale doesn't seem to bring much for them. So what's the next step?
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:50 PM on June 3, 2017

If we wanted to make a financial contribution in the amount of the price of last year's pass, to the benefit of some first nations cause or community, what is one you'd recommend?

My usual recommendations are to donate to your local Native Friendship Centre, which are the backbones of urban Indigenous communities in cities, to an Indigenous-focussed women's shelter or to an Indigenous focussed food bank.

There is also this Emerging Indigenous Voices Award that has been crowdsourced as a response to the Appropriation Prize debacle of a couple of weeks ago. They're at over $100K now!
posted by urbanlenny at 9:23 AM on June 7, 2017

One very simple way of entering the justice conversation is to remember that no matter when you arrived in Canada - ten generations ago, or last Tuesday - as a Canadian you are a treaty beneficiary and that the historical relationship that makes it possible for you to own land, profit from the commons (Crown Land and oceans) or receive services funded by activities on Crown Lands makes you a personal real life present day treaty beneficiary.

First Nations have argued since almost the time that the treaties were signed, that Canada took their part of the deal but haven't lived up to their responsibilities. The historical record is littered with expression from First Nations about what constitutes justice. It involves a much more robust form of decision making on their lands and territories and a material benefit from the prosperity and wealth of Canada, that was promised as the original basis of the treaties.

Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in HUMAN HISTORY. The fact that it has become that way while, for 150 years and more, systematically suppressing the rights of it's founding partner to benefit from that wealth is a mark of shame on our history. We know that now. To not substantially correct it implicates us in whatever happens in the future.
posted by salishsea at 1:07 PM on June 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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