June 1, 2008

Reconciliation and What We Give Up

This a response to my friend Chris Corrigan's latest post Reconciliation, peace and generative relationships.  I started writing a reply on his blog, but I'm unsure after writing it if it's all directed at him, or someone else?  Hmmm, interesting.


I, like you, am curious how this plays out. My gut reaction was a skeptical one. This talk of "reconciliation," on all parts, feels utterly a lie. I didn't see it coming from indigenous peoples, at the very most, Indigenous politicians MAYBE, but mostly from governmental perspective on the issue. I find all the dialogue on reconciliation is a topdown conversation between First Nations and Canadian government. What more is I'm finding we, the indigenous peoples, are being requested or in some cases, forced to surrender or "compromise" more of who we are and what we own. That's the painted veil of "Reconciliation".

In this whole game, I see nothing coming from the Canadian civil society or Canadian government to compromise itself, or radically change itself. I say radically because what has been required of indigenous people in this country is freaking radical (pre-contact to early colonization, then contemporary colonization). I don't see either of those factors changing itself into something more balanced with power. I say power because that's the dynamic of this. Indigenous peoples power and Canadian government power. In the relationship between those two, the Canadian government wields way more power over us, and is rarely letting go of that. The only factor, so far, willing to concede partial truths is the Courts. Only with an adequate risk assessment is a government willing to commit to something meaningful.

As for Canadian civil society, I see little happening in reconciliation, and I fear very little solidarity building coming from this. Canadian civil society, either out of arrogance in their ignorance, or deep-rooted racism, is not willing to face up to the facts that their existence is predicated on the colonization of indigenous peoples, to this day. Arguments of "That happened a long time ago. Get over it." Or "That wasn't my ancestors who did those awful things to your great grandfather, my parents just immigrated here." Are things that pop up frequently. The absolving of guilt on their part is uninspiring. Will they admit or realize that in order for them to live their lives, have what they have, and be who they are, it is all built on something stolen or plundered. "Their" Canadian economic resources (our indigenous land), their economy (our indigenous land), and their existence as a people.

I don't see reconciliation accomplishing anything but asking us to give up more. We've compromised enough already.

But I will also say this...

I think that this will and can bring meaningful resolution to those who are still alive. I heard the stories from elders themselves of what happened in the residential schools and I seen the effects it had on my family, directly. For those alive, it can bring closure. I say this, because my grandmother said it to me.

The information gathered, could be useful. It depends on what is produced. Although I'm critical of the intention behind it, and can't help but feel myopic about the idea of doing this, I hope that something can come out of this.

I have more news to follow on this coming up about things related to this. In the meantime, I will do my best to wait, listen, and see what comes out of this. Although while I'm waiting, I intend to have idea's to do something I feel is necessary and a need in my community. Create a new legacy to the residential school system: where a generation feels up to the task of ridding ourselves of it's diabolical influence and start living healthy empowered indigenous lives.


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