Event Title

Beyond Traumatic Pasts: broadening Settler-Indigenous relations in the Canadian present

Start Date

13-1-2012 9:00 AM

End Date

13-1-2012 10:30 AM

Description

The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the issues that have arisen in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC), which is currently investigating and documenting testimonies of Indigenous people who attended Indian Residential Schools (IRS) across the country. From the 1840s until 1996 children were removed from their homes to attend Indian Residential Schools in an aggressive assimilation project to fit people of Indigenous cultural and historical roots into mainstream Canadian society. Today, many Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars argue that the IRS system has led directly to the cultural genocide of Indigenous people in Canada. In this presentation it will be argued that this cultural genocide is not merely an artifact of past colonial projects to strip First Nations people of their heritage; rather it is still perpetuated in present day Canada, a nation that is built upon waves of immigration. Unlike many other TRC processes, which follow from acute gross human rights violations and function to prevent further conflict, the TRC in Canada is taking place in a time of an increasing national amnesia, as newcomers unwittingly participate in sustaining neo-colonial structures that herald modernist notions of the nation state. The apparent lack of societal urgency in addressing past national harms brings attention to a complex set of concerns that arise for “new settlers” such as traumatic memory linked to migration and/or the suffering of gross human injustices elsewhere, and of systemic class and racial discrimination experienced in Canada, which then become interwoven into cultural and political apathy in relation to Indigenous people who live alongside in the present. In conclusion, it will be argued that with its focus on the Indian Residential School experience, the TRC in Canada is limited in its capacity to bridge disparate cultural communities, and that creative and artistic avenues will be needed to reach beyond trauma narratives as a means to bring people together. Eminent Indigenous thinkers, John Milloy and Audra Simpson, as well as post-colonial intellectuals and activists such as Roy Miki, Ashok Mathur, Renisa Mawani will be used to support the arguments presented in this paper.

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Jan 13th, 9:00 AM Jan 13th, 10:30 AM

Beyond Traumatic Pasts: broadening Settler-Indigenous relations in the Canadian present

The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the issues that have arisen in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC), which is currently investigating and documenting testimonies of Indigenous people who attended Indian Residential Schools (IRS) across the country. From the 1840s until 1996 children were removed from their homes to attend Indian Residential Schools in an aggressive assimilation project to fit people of Indigenous cultural and historical roots into mainstream Canadian society. Today, many Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars argue that the IRS system has led directly to the cultural genocide of Indigenous people in Canada. In this presentation it will be argued that this cultural genocide is not merely an artifact of past colonial projects to strip First Nations people of their heritage; rather it is still perpetuated in present day Canada, a nation that is built upon waves of immigration. Unlike many other TRC processes, which follow from acute gross human rights violations and function to prevent further conflict, the TRC in Canada is taking place in a time of an increasing national amnesia, as newcomers unwittingly participate in sustaining neo-colonial structures that herald modernist notions of the nation state. The apparent lack of societal urgency in addressing past national harms brings attention to a complex set of concerns that arise for “new settlers” such as traumatic memory linked to migration and/or the suffering of gross human injustices elsewhere, and of systemic class and racial discrimination experienced in Canada, which then become interwoven into cultural and political apathy in relation to Indigenous people who live alongside in the present. In conclusion, it will be argued that with its focus on the Indian Residential School experience, the TRC in Canada is limited in its capacity to bridge disparate cultural communities, and that creative and artistic avenues will be needed to reach beyond trauma narratives as a means to bring people together. Eminent Indigenous thinkers, John Milloy and Audra Simpson, as well as post-colonial intellectuals and activists such as Roy Miki, Ashok Mathur, Renisa Mawani will be used to support the arguments presented in this paper.