Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Decolonization is not a Metaphor”

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

During the June meeting of the Reading Circle, we considered how land acknowledgements make visible the Indigenous peoples of a region and their histories. The performance of a land acknowledgment expresses a commitment to a reconciled future that is prosperous for settlers and Indigenous peoples. But does reconciliation accept settler colonialism?

In our July article, “Decolonization is not a metaphor” (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society Vol.1 No.1 2012 pp.1-40), Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang attempt to show that when educators work to ‘decolonize’ thinking, teaching, and universities, they treat decolonization as a metaphor and jeopardize solidarity with Indigenous struggles against settler colonialism. The authors do not argue for decolonization. They show that respect for that framework requires that we refuse to absorb it into other anti-oppression projects.

Continue reading “Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Decolonization is not a Metaphor””

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement”

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Waterloo are familiar with acknowledgements of the Indigenous peoples who have been the traditional or treaty inhabitants–Neutral/Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee—of the territory on which the University lies. Community members across campus gathered on June 27 as part of the FAUW Indigenization reading circle to discuss “Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement”, Canadian Theatre Review, vol. 177, Winter 2019, pp.20-30.

The document is an edited transcript of a plenary discussion at the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (May 2018). The contributors were a mix of Indigenous, arrivant, and settler commentators.

Together the statements exhibit the realities of impersonal and passive territorial acknowledgements whose performance re-enacts colonialism and the potential for such statements to disturb settlers’ confidence by highlighting what they do not know about Indigenous ways of being, expressed in their language, relation to land, and their kinship ties. Other interventions offered examples of just relations in covenants of shared stewardship arrived at by the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples (e.g. ‘The Dish with One Spoon‘), and Indigenous protocols for visiting the territories of other peoples.

Many in the reading circle were uncomfortable with delivering the institutionally approved territorial acknowledgement. Some found it tokenistic, others felt uncomfortable because of their self-declared ignorance. The discussion turned to whether formulaic territorial acknowledgements are important as accessible starting points. A commitment to improve the performance of the statement could include paying greater attention to the pronunciation of names and further elaborating on historical details. Others in the circle suggested that the performance could be made more genuine by adding prefatory or concluding comments to the statement. 

Continue reading “Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement””

Trauma in the Classroom for Indigenous Scholars: How Should We Respond? (book review)

This is the second in a series of book reviews written by FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group.

Book cover: Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education by Sheila Cote-Meek

Cote-Meek, Sheila. Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education. Fernwood, 2014. 175 pp.

—Shannon Dea, Department of Philosophy

Earlier this year, in the days and weeks following the devastating one-two punch of the acquittals of two White men on trial for the murders of Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine, many post-secondary educators asked themselves how they should respond in the classroom. To discuss the topic, CBC Radio One turned to Sheila Cote-Meek, whose 2014 Colonized Classrooms addressed the matter square-on.

Sheila Cote-Meek is a professor of Indigenous Relations, and Associate Vice President of Academic & Indigenous Programs at Laurentian University. In Colonized Classrooms, she reports on and extrapolates from her doctoral dissertation, for which she interviewed fifteen Indigenous university students, faculty members and Elders. Cote-Meek uses Indigenous, post-colonial, feminist, and critical race scholarship ranging from Frantz Fanon and bell hooks to Gregory Cajete and Laara Fitznor to frame and expand upon what she learned in those interviews.

Continue reading “Trauma in the Classroom for Indigenous Scholars: How Should We Respond? (book review)”

Reading Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel (book review)

indigenous_writes_web

This is the first in a series of book reviews written by FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group.

Vowel, Chelsea. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada. Highwater Press, 2016, 240 pages.

—Katy Fulfer, Philosophy/Women’s Studies

I have good intentions when it comes to Indigenizing the university and decolonizing my teaching. I have resources available to help with the latter, but the former leaves me feeling overwhelmed. However, dwelling in a space of inaction is irresponsible. ‘Having good intentions’ won’t address structural injustice (and can perpetuate it).

Thankfully, educator and lawyer Chelsea Vowel wrote a primer for people like me who know that I ought to—and need to—know more than I do about Indigenous issues in Canada. I was attracted to this book because I’m a mega-fan of the Métis in Space podcast, in which Vowel and co-host Molly Swain provide a smart, sarcastic look at representations of indigeneity in science fiction film and television. Vowel brings the same sense of humour to Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada.

Continue reading “Reading Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel (book review)”