Truth and Inclusion of History

Archival Voices

Source: 1894 (April) Letter to the Indian Superintendent from Various Stó:lō chiefs – presented to the Indian Superintendent on Thursday, April 26th and published in the Chilliwack Progress in 1894 in A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Historical Atlas, 175.
 

“The white people were not here first. By tradition, we can trace our ancestry back for many generations and it has been handed down to us that this land always belonged to the Indians.”

Source: 1911 (May) Petition of Various BC Tribes to Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior in A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Historical Atlas, 177.

 

“Out of our lands they reserved small pieces, here and there... Things were not explained to us fully, and the Government’s motives appear to have been concealed, for they were understood differently by the various chiefs. We never asked for part of our country to be parceled out in pieces and reserved for us. It was entirely a Government scheme originating with them. We always trusted the Government, as representing the Queen, to do the right thing by us, therefore we never have opposed any proposition of the Government hastily and without due consideration. We thought, although things appeared crooked, still in the end, or before long, they might become straight. To-day were the like to occur, or any proposition be made to us by the Government, we would not trust them; we would demand a full understanding of everything, and that all be made subjects of regular treaty between us and them.”

Contemporary Non-Stó:lō Indigenous Voices Through Social Media

Contemporary Non-Stó:lō Indigenous Voices Through Social Media

Source: Belcourt, C. [christibelcourt]. (2016, May 30). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/christibelcourt/status/737445820346290177

“Restoration must precede reconciliation and it's more than about residential schools. It's about colonialism. This is what is missing.”

Belcourt, Christi

Organizer with the Onaman Collective, working towards resurgence of language and land based practices. She describes herself as “a community based artist, environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples”. In her discussion of reconciliation she almost always brings it back to the land, saying that reconciliation is not possible without the return of land. She places importance on protecting the land and water and her artwork focuses on these themes. She also talks about language learning and the injustices in Canada’s child services.

Bellegarde, Perry

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations since 2014, he has had many years of leadership experience in various positions. He is from the Little Black Bear First Nation. The vision that he has articulated as the Nation Chief of the AFN is “establishing processes for self-determination; recognition of inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights; the revitalization and retention of indigenous languages; and establishing a new relationship with the Crown” (AFN, n.d.).

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Source: Blackstock, C. [cblackst] (2017, Dec 27). [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/cblackst/status/946188817861611521
 

“Given that year 151 starts in just a few days, I am going to post a few tips for governments to decolonize.  #1- do not lament the wrongs of the past while perpetuating them in the present. The first step to reconciliation is stop the harm and learn not to do it again.”

 

Source: Bellegarde, P. (2015, June 1). Truth and reconciliation: This is just the beginning. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/truth-and-reconciliation-this-is-just-the-beginning/article24705066/

“I believe reconciliation is about closing the gap – the gap in understanding between First Nations and Canadians and the gap in the quality of life between us...Reconciliation requires investments in First Nations education to realize the full potential of our children. Every citizen should learn our country's true shared history, from painful, shameful moments such as the residential schools and the Indian Act to uplifting moments like our original relationship – the promises we made to one another to share and live together in mutual respect and peaceful co-existence. Reconciliation means repairing our relationship by honouring those original promises...”

 

Blackstock, Cindy

A member of the Gitxsan First Nation, Blackstock is a researcher, educator, and advocate involved in Indigenous children, youth, and family rights. She has 25 years of experience in social work practice, specifically in child protection services. She was influential in holding Canada responsible for their treatment of Indigenous kids, fighting for the implementation of Jordan’s Principle. She is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Much of her social media presence in relevance to reconciliation is related to equity for Indigenous children and in access to public services.

Diabo, Russell

Policy analyst, advocate for First Nations Rights, Editor & Publisher of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin, campaigned for the 2018 AFN national chief election. His platform is “Truth Before Reconciliation”, he focuses on self-determination and First Nations rights. He is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake.

Source: From Platform Page (https://www.russdiabo.com/platform/):

“[...]I don’t believe the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action are sufficient to address the colonization that we have historically experienced and which continues today particularly under the colonial policies and legislation passed under the Constitution Act 1867.” (para 1)

“The Trudeau government has appropriated our terminology like “nation-to-nation” and “reconciliation” and is misusing it for their own purposes. The Prime Minister wants to focus on his version of “reconciliation” while ignoring the “truth” about Canada’s contemporary racist and colonial laws, policies and practices.” (para 2)
 

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Elliot, Alicia

Elliot is a Tuscarora writer and editor who has won a number of awards and recently published her first book, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. She lives in Brantford, Ontario. Her writing and social media activity brings to light ongoing oppression, and is critical of reconciliation

Source: Elliot, A. [wordsandguitar] (2018, Feb 22). [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/WordsandGuitar/status/966824324031160320
 

“There will be no reconciliation while our children can be murdered by settlers without consequences. How dare any government apologize for residential schools when their justice system is still carrying on that legacy today. When their social services are still stealing our kids.”

Harris, Ronnie Dean

Stó:lō multimedia artist, involved in graphic design, music production, performance, poetry, composing, acting, podcast and radio show hosting, writing, and more. He is the Program Director for Reframing Relations, a program run through the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. He talks about a number of different aspects of reconciliation on social media, notably talking about art as a part of the process, and drawing attention to systemic problems.

Source: Harris, R. D. (2019, Jan 21). [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/ronniedeanharris/posts/10156265827547582

“Until people accept that these countries were built from supremacist principles like Terra Nullius, Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny...it will be hard to recognize + acknowledge the multigenerational and genetically modified tenets and values of supremacy and patriarchal dominance over lands + waters + beings that is encoded into educational materials, story modalities of entertainment properties and social movements + organizations and governance models deep ceded/seeded into the conscious reality of those within the colonial structures around the world.It will take a huge paradoxical shift in consciousness for this work that needs ceremony AF.”

Source: Canadian Human Rights Commission - CHRC. (2017, Aug 8). Chief Dr. Robert Joseph - Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhnwIC1T0Tk

“What we’ve discovered however, is that we have a shared history that indeed is broken, and that we need to reconcile that. What we need to do is work together, not only celebrating 150, but visioning a future together that’s different than all of the 150 years before. Creating a new kind of country that’s more inclusive and caring and sharing. And so we’re going to do that by celebrating with each other, by acknowledging our history together, and a general moving forward together. That’s what we need to do, inspire all Canadians to be engaged in reconciliation.” (1:59-2:41)
 

Joseph, Robert

Chief Dr. Robert Joseph is a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation and is a leader in reconciliation efforts. He is the co-founder of and ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council, and an honourary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is dedicated to bringing people together in peace and working towards harmony and healing, bringing a message of optimism and hope. The vision that he presents for reconciliation is focused on relationship, healing, love, mutual respect, and moving forward in harmony. Many of his ideas are shared on social media through Reconciliation Canada platforms.

Source: CBC News. (2016, Jan 17) Chief Robert Joseph, residential school survivor, to receive social justice award. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/chief-robert-joseph-residential-school-survivor-to-receive-social-justice-award-1.3406266

"I think that ultimately, if we're going to mitigate all the harm that's ever been done, that it's got to come about because we've had a real dialogue with each other and transformed our understanding and relationships with each other."

Justice, Daniel Heath

An Indigenous Studies scholar and author from the Cherokee Nation. He is a professor at the University of British Columbia and the Acting Director of the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. He is critical of “reconciliation”, seeing it as an instrument used to uphold the status-quo. He emphasizes the necessity of truth and justice.

Source: Justice, D. H. [justicedanielh] (2019, Jan 17). [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/1086133926333038592

“Doesn't have to be this way, of course. It could be forms of reconciliation Indigenous peoples have sought. But when settler government-led reconciliation efforts ignore or dismiss the truth of Truth and Reconciliation, it becomes little more than coercive self-absolution.”

Source: Justice, D. H. [justicedanielh] (2016, Oct 23) [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/790264027234635776

“If "reconciliation" is always used alone, it upholds the status quo. Truth brings justice to the relationship. No truth, no reconciliation.”

“If "reconciliation" is always used alone, it upholds the status quo. Truth brings justice to the relationship. No truth, no reconciliation.”

Source: Khelsilem [Khelsilem]. (2016, Oct 3). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Khelsilem/status/783119649676234752

“If reconciliation can mean anything, it can mean the reversal of everything done wrong to our people by Residential Schools.”

Khelsilem (Dustin Rivers)

Source: Khelsilem [Khelsilem]. (2018, Feb 10). #cdnpoli #JusticeForColten #JusticeForColtenBoushie [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Khelsilem/status/962437357227012096

“I have officially given up on reconciliation. It’s not working and it’s not enough. Justice first, then we can talk reconciliation.”

Source: McMahon, R. [RMComedy] (2017, Oct 22). [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/RMComedy/status/922275393595326464

“Ignoring the "politics of reconciliation" will result in the recolonization of Indigenous Peoples, our stories & our histories. Slow down.”


 

McMahon, Ryan

An Anishinaabe comedian, writer, media creator and influencer, McMahon is a prominent voice on social media. He has done 3 National comedy specials, records regular podcasts, is building an Indigenous media platform called Indian and Cowboy, and building Makoons Media Group. He makes a lot of criticisms of reconciliation as it is understood in the mainstream, and places emphasis on land.

Vowel, Chelsea (Âpihtawikosisân)
Source: Vowel, C. [apihtawikosisan] (2018, Feb 23)

[Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/apihtawikosisan/status/967151865493274625

“I said this all week:Reconciliation is dead to me. It's time has not yet come, put it away.

We need truth first, and Canada is too deeply invested in denial.”

Contemporary Non-Stó:lō Indigenous Voices through Scholarship

Elliot, Alicia

Elliot is a Tuscarora writer and editor who has won a number of awards and recently published her first book, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. She lives in Brantford, Ontario. Her writing and social media activity brings to light ongoing oppression, and is critical of reconciliation
 

Source: Elliot, A. (Dec 13, 2017). The Year in Reconciliation. Retrieved from https://hazlitt.net/feature/year-reconciliation

“It is important to acknowledge the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s original definition of the term: “To the Commission, ‘reconciliation’ is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour” (emphasis added). What the current Liberal government of Canada has been offering as “reconciliation,” some of which I’ve outlined above, has not been mutually respectful. It has not indicated any change in the pattern of colonial, paternalistic behaviour. Instead, it’s been photo-op reconciliation: highly staged moments that look good on camera and, most importantly, make non-Indigenous Canadians feel better about horrors that have been committed against Indigenous peoples in the past, while rarely acknowledging how those horrors continue in the present. It’s this ahistorical positioning that allows people to rationalize the status quo, saying things like, “I didn’t do that, so I’m not going to apologize for it,” or, “It happened years ago. You need to get over it already.” (para 8)
“At this point, it’s clear that “reconciliation” is designed to help Canadians feel better about their past, not help Indigenous peoples set a healthy course for our future. Anishinaabe mother and professor Andrea Landry put it best when she wrote, “This reconciliation is for the colonizer.” An unfortunate casualty of photo op co-opting and semantic satiation, “reconciliation” needs to be put aside and replaced with what really matters: restoration. Restoration of Indigenous languages, cultures, nations, land. That would make a real difference. That would embody mutual respect and a change in behaviour.” (para 15)

Palmater, Pamela

Associate professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Ryerson University and holds the Chair in Indigenous Governance. Mi’kmaw, from Eel River Bar First Nation, New Brunswick.

Tagline: “Education for the resistance. Talks about the revolution and resistance using hashtags such as #warriorup #warriorlife and #resist.
 

Source: Palmater, P. (2018, May 15). True test of reconciliation: Respect the Indigenous right to say No. Retrieved from https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/true-test-of-reconciliation-respect-the-indigenous-right-to-say-no
 

“Canada will only truly give effect to reconciliation when Indigenous peoples have the right to say no — no to discriminatory government laws and policies; no to federal and provincial control over our Nations; no to racism from society, industry and government; no to sexualized violence, abuse and trafficking; no to theft of our children into foster care and the imprisonment of our peoples; no to the ongoing theft of our lands and resources; and no to the contamination and destruction of our lands, waters, plants, animals, birds and fish. The right to say no is the core of any future relationship with the Canadian state and its citizens.” (para. 6)

 

Source: Alfred, Taiaiake. Public lecture “Reconciliation as Recolonization.” Montreal, September 20, 2016. Retrieved from: https://taiaiake.net/2016/10/03/reconciliation-as-recolonization-highlights/

Abstract:
               Dr. Alfred Taiaiake, is a Mohawk scholar. In this public lecture, Taiaiake emphasizes the major concern regarding meaningful reconciliation - stolen land. For Taiaiake, stolen land is the root cause of all issues within Indigenous communities, including the continued violence and poverty. Dr. Taiaiake also discusses the significance of healing for Indigenous peoples across Canada, along with the importance of connecting with their ancestral vision and heritage, compared to the State lead form of reconciliation that places a monetary value with a cap on the damage caused from colonialism and subsequent settler society. As a result, Indigenous populations throughout Canada navigate through two competing worlds. 

 

“...there’s a problem with Canadian history, there’s a problem with Canada, there’s a problem with the relationship, so everybody understands that. The problem is that it’s not consolidated into an understanding from an Indigenous perspective [that] reflects a true history of this country and it’s not consolidated into an understanding that reflects ethical principles that Indigenous peoples can validate at this point. It’s partially that, it’s kind of talks about it, it gets to it somewhat, but it’s not solidly rooted in a framework of understanding and a framework of ethics that can take us to where we need to go, which is to fix the problem and relationship and to have justice to be the thing that prides our relationship and is at the core of our relationship as a opposed to injustice.” (2:52 - 3:36)

Source: Alfred, Taiaiake and Jeff Corntassel. “Being Indigenous: Resurgences against Contemporary Colonialism.” Government and Opposition. Vol. 40, Issue 4 (September 20th, 2005), 597 - 614. Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1477-7053.2005.00166.x.

Abstract:
            In this article Indigenous scholars Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel highlight how Indigenous identities continue to be encroached upon by settler societies and states, along with multinational corporations and state actors. The co-authors also discuss how despite this encroachment,  Indigenous communities can resist and regenerate themselves both politically and culturally against colonial dominance. Their main question they seek to solve is, how can Indigenous peoples resist this continual colonial-driven dispossession and strive towards a decolonized reality?

 

 “Far from reflecting any true history or honest reconciliation with the past or present agreements and treaties that form an authentic basis for Indigenous–state relations in the Canadian context, ‘aboriginalism’ is a legal, political and cultural discourse designed to serve an agenda of silent surrender to an inherently unjust relation at the root of the colonial state itself.” Page 598

“Consequently, there are many ‘aboriginals’ (in Canada) or ‘Native Americans’ (in the United States) who identify themselves solely by their political‐legal relationship to the state rather than by any cultural or social ties to their Indigenous community or culture or homeland. This continuing colonial process pulls Indigenous peoples away from cultural practices and community aspects of ‘being Indigenous’ towards a political‐legal construction as ‘aboriginal’ or ‘Native American’, both of which are representative of what we refer to as being ‘incidentally Indigenous’.” Page 599

“Colonial legacies and contemporary practices of disconnection, dependency and dispossession have effectively confined Indigenous identities to state‐sanctioned legal and political definitional approaches. This political‐legal compartmentalization of community values often leads Indigenous nations to mimic the practices of dominant non‐Indigenous legal‐political institutions and adhere to state‐sanctioned definitions of Indigenous identity.” Page 600

“It must be recognized that colonialism is a narrative in which the Settler’s power is the fundamental reference and assumption, inherently limiting Indigenous freedom and imposing a view of the world that is but an outcome or perspective on that power. As stated earlier, we live in an era of postmodern imperialism and manipulations by shape-shifting colonial powers; the instruments of domination are evolving and inventing new methods to erase Indigenous histories and senses of place... Living within such political and cultural contexts, it is remembering ceremony, returning to homelands and liberation from the myths of colonialism that are the decolonizing imperatives.” 601

Source: MacDonald, Moira. “Six Indigenous scholars share their views of Canada at 150.” University Affairs. June 7th, 2017. Retrieved from:
https://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/six-indigenous-scholars-share-views-canada-150/

Abstract: This article discusses the 150th year celebration of the founding of the Canadian state. It suggests that Canadians use this celebration as an opportunity to reflection on the nation’s past, both accomplishments and failures. Within this article six prominent Indigenous scholars offer their opinion on what a “reconciled Canada” would entail.

Shirley Williams / Migizi ow-kwe: Shirley Williams is an elder and professor emeritus, Nishnaabemowin language, Indigenous studies at Trent University. She is Odawa-Ojibway, from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

“Reconciliation means telling the truth about what happened to us. It means that we have to rebuild, together, what was broken.”

Source: MacDonald, Moira. “Six Indigenous scholars share their views of Canada at 150.” University Affairs. June 7th, 2017. Retrieved from:
https://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/six-indigenous-scholars-share-views-canada-150/

https://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/six-indigenous-scholars-share-views-canada-150/

Abstract: This article discusses the 150th year celebration of the founding of the Canadian state. It suggests that Canadians use this celebration as an opportunity to reflection on the nation’s past, both accomplishments and failures. Within this article six prominent Indigenous scholars offer their opinion on what a “reconciled Canada” would entail.

Qwul’sih’yah’maht / Robina Thomas: associate professor, school of social work, and director of Indigenous academic and community engagement, University of Victoria. Coast Salish, from Lyackson First Nation, B.C.

“Education is key. We must start with young people, sharing the true history of the legacy of colonial policies and practices, and how they impact Indigenous people. If children grew up knowing this, they would at least have an opportunity to understand Indigenous people in Canada differently and would not have to “unbecome” or confront their Canadian identity later in life – a painful process.”

 

Source: Schiffer, Jeffery J. “Why Aboriginal Peoples Cant Just ‘Get over It’: Understanding and addressing intergenerational trauma.” Visions: BC’s Mental Health And Substance Use Journal. Vol. 11(4), (2016), 7. Retrieved from:
http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/indigenous-people-vol11

“Intergenerational trauma is any trauma, including historical oppression, that has an impact across more than one generation. This impact includes shared collective memories that affect the health and well-being of individuals and communities and that may be passed on from parent to child, and beyond.”
 

Contemporary Stó:lō Voices through Recent Interviews

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Grand Chief Clarence (Kat) Pennier (Sq’éwlets First Nation) 

“Reconciliation is just one of those buzzwords that comes out of the mouths of different people and it sounds nice when we’re going to do something, but when you look at our history, over 150 years of oppression and understanding all of the language that people used, and how they used to talk about us, all the different pieces of legislation that they used to try to annihilate us and how they couldn’t get rid of us, ‘we’ll assimilate you just like us’, and you know to a certain extent they’ve achieved part of it. You know, we don’t always speak our own language because it was beaten out of our parents, our grandparents in the residential schools you couldn’t talk it. Some people were able to maintain it through whatever processes they used, so you know it survived, and we survived, and we’ll continue to survive. They’re not going to get rid of us. And it’s going to take a long time to be able to get to the stage where people really understand what they should be doing, you know, how many people understand case law? How many people understand what’s in the constitution? How many people understand what’s in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indian people? How many people understand what the Truth and Reconciliation 94 calls to action are? What do they all mean? What does a government to government relationship mean with the federal government? What does it mean with the provincial government? What does it mean to our own people? You know, and we’re fractured. So you know, we have a responsibility to educate our own people as well as the xwelitems in this territory”  20:11- 22:34

 

Daina Bonner

“There’s been a start with the schools and that they’re trying to actually teach some of the history, because that’s huge. People don’t know, like they literally have no clue because they’ve never been taught. Yeah.. trying to get them interested in educating themselves now is a tough thing. But we’re slowly going that way I suppose.” [1:37:02-1:37:31]
 

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Daina Bonner

“For me reconciliation- people, not everyone obviously, but I feel like a lot of people think that it’s just going to happen overnight or they expect it to for some reason. Those are the people that don’t fully understand how hurt a whole group of our society is. And when they try to oversimplify it, they think that’s it’s done... And that’s often I think where that mentality of it’s in the past, let it go, we’re reconciled. But like it’s, it’s going to be a really slow steady process. Obviously it’s great if we can keep moving in the right direction, but a lot more people need to open their minds to the things they don't want to hear about their past. Because it’s, you know, it’s not easy, hearing the negative things that have happened. But people need to hear it, and have an open mind to it...” [1:26:20-1:27:32]

Cindy Collins (Matsqui First Nation)  

“For reconciliation, as far as I’m concerned, with the government there is none... we still have a long way to go. I look at that reconciliation book and there’s so many things in there, thirty-eight articles are still outstanding and as far as I’m concerned a lot of the truth hasn’t come out about that reconciliation so, I think that needs to be revisited and there has to be a different word... like beginnings of partnering or sharing... but even with the sharing you don’t always get the truth...”
 

Brenda Morgan (Matsqui First Nation)  

“I apologize for all the historical trust issues that we have but the platform has been so one sided that we have no reason to trust anything the province or Canada is offering, there’s just no reason. So the historical trust issues are huge and I really think that it’s just a set up.” 
 

Naxaxalhts’i Albert “Sonny” McHalsie (Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation) 

“...reconciling our history and the first interactions we had with the settlers. Over the past few years there has been a lot of work done on our part through different historians... there is a lot that has been done lately to fill in those gaps but I think there’s still gaps there that need to be filled in. Settlers need to reconcile with us and they need to have a better understanding of that history...”

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