Canada’s 2nd National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
I am Seema Ahluwalia, KFA’s Executive Representative For Decolonization, Reconciliation, and Indigenization.
I greet you from the sacred and unceded territories of MST (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waatuth, and offer my respect to all the Coast Salish-speaking nations of these territories, including Kwantlen First Nation, whose name is borrowed by our University. Regrettably, I humbly acknowledge that I am not yet in your territories in a good way because I am here as a Canadian, a nation that has no paddle song. My life journey is to live in right relationship with the Original nations of this continent. Someday, your sovereignty will be respected again, and I will be able to take permission from you to be in your territories according to your laws.
Today, Canada’s second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is a day meant for Canadians to contemplate and reflect upon Canada’s colonial project, its historical and current impacts on Indigenous peoples, and the ongoing ignorance, denial and silence of most Canadians about these very things.
Some of you may be looking for resources to help you understand what this is all about. I will share the guidance I am taking today, hoping it may be of use to you.
Today, I will remember the children who did not survive the genocidal residential school system. I will honor the survivors, my husband included, and read or listen to their brave testimony provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Canada), some of which you can access here:
I will reflect on how we can respond to the TRC 94 calls to action:
I will read the Yellowhead Institute’s report “Calls to Accountability: A 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation” by Dr. Eve Jewell and Dr. Ian Mosby that documents how little has been done thus far:
I will learn more about the LandBack Movement and the intergenerational efforts of Indigenous people across Great Turtle Island who work for the return of their lands:
I will reflect on the way the Canadian Government is co-opting resistance discourses like anti-racism and decolonization and deploying them in performative ways that substitute surface gestures for meaningful change. One example of this is the Canadian government’s enormous efforts since 1946 to confuse and degrade the understanding of what the term “genocide” means in international law in order to hide its culpability for this crime. Nehiyaw scholar Tamara Starblanket documents this in her research:
I will continue the struggle to bring Indigenous voices for decolonization into my workplace and curriculum, knowing that this will make me the target of racist backlash, marginalization, discrediting, and silencing as has been the case for over 30 years.
I express my gratitude to Elders who have taught me to see beyond highly codes, state-sponsored uses of the term “decolonization.” Canada cannot be on a “decolonization journey” as it is not colonized. The Canadian state, and we its citizens, are the colonizers. Our consent for colonization and complicity in genocide is gained through the extension of citizenship. That is our truth.
May we all spend this day reflecting on and learning about how to take meaningful action in support of Indigenous underlying title and self-determination.
KPU Dept. of Sociology