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Canada? The word was taken from the Iroquoians of the St. Lawrence Valley by Jacques Cartier and other early explorers and settlers. But the ground under our feet in what we know as Canada was taken over a centuries-long colonial process — this past is inseparable from contemporary injustices all across these lands. This political fact is inescapable, in spite of the denials of some pundits and politicians, like Stephen Harper’s laughable assertion that Canada has “no history of colonialism.” 

‘Harper’s history’ isn’t fooling many anymore, however. That’s because, over the past year, the inspiring and vibrant social movement Idle No More emerged and changed the conversation — INM is just the latest in a long, varied tradition of Indigenous resistance and activism. We hope to contribute to the critical and overdue discussion and re-examination of Canada’s past and present.

Questions of Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty — and opposition to the Harper government’s agenda when it comes to First Nations — are more of a focal point than ever around this year’s National Aboriginal Day, Friday, June 21. 

Ten days later is Canada Day, July 1, which in recent years more than ever has become both a national holiday and an opportunity for the federal government to drape itself in the flag. 

Given a renewed Indigenous movement and a federal government using and shaping its own version of Canadian identity (and history and militarism) as never before, we figured this was an ideal time to kick off a series of articles examining and critiquing the uses of Canadian identity, and the ways in which activists and thinkers across these lands are addressing these fundamental questions.

Over the next 10 days we’ll be featuring a number of different pieces looking at these issues. We hope you’ll stay tuned and join in the conversation.