Since the project of colonization began, endless have been the acts by Indigenous People across Turtle Island of resistance, solidarity, honouring, resurgence, rematriation, courage, power.
Resistance, solidarity, honouring, resurgence, rematriation, courage, power.
Can struggle and integrity in the face of oppression be fathomed?
To non-Indigenous people, decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. “Decolonization will require a change in the order of the world,” wrote Franz Fanon in 1963. Indeed.
The metaphorization of decolonization and the settler proclivity towards comfortable “reconciliation” language makes possible a set of evasions, or settler moves to innocence, that attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity. Reconciliation is about regenerating settler hierarchy and morality through fictitious national narratives of “diversity,” “kindness,” “human rights,” and “feminist” prime ministers.
Symbolism, tokenism, statements and tears are modern day tactics in the continuation of assimilation and genocide. Gestures absent of action permit the most vile devolution of the human species: the simultaneity of a moral self-regard, while directly benefiting from ongoing oppression.
The unmarked graves of 215 precious Indigenous children found by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is Canada’s history and present. The mass site of 751+ unmarked graves found by the Cowessess First Nation at the Marieval Indian Residential School is Canada’s history and present. Today’s most recent discovery of 182 unmarked graves located on Ktunaxa Nation territory in B.C. is Canada’s history and present. Genocide did not end. There was not an end to “the dark chapter.” This is Canadian history and ongoing reality.
By design and definition, the settler-colonial project that is Canada is white supremacist, happening today with the tax dollars and co-operation of every Canadian citizen. It is existentially tied to the continuation of land theft, extraction, poverty, unpaid labour, and injustice of every kind.
Settler colonialism is not an abstraction. It is a physical structure of hundreds of genocidal institutions behind which thousands of people actively make decisions and/or remain silent.
Settler colonial states are entirely human made, maintained, and in Canada’s case, democratically elected.
As Indigenous scholars Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang outline, settler colonial states are built (and are being built) upon a settler-slave-native triad structure. Accumulation occurs via dispossession. Settler accumulation is by the dispossession of categorized others. Settlers “property” is stolen, sacred Indigenous land. Sit with this for a moment: “ownership” of Mother Earth?
Genocide will continue, the policies and practices that operate unrelenting thieving and murder will merely shift in terminology and context, another report will be called for, and another decade, another decade, another decade, another decade will pass and pass until and unless the entirety is dismantled. Abolished. Done.
Nation-states are but centuries year-old constructs in a land of Ever.
And that, that end of violence, is singularly the responsibility of non-Indigenous people.
Call your MP and everyone else. Do not sleep. Do not rest. Do not stop until every Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry call to action and justice is implemented; until the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is law; until the child welfare system is abolished; until all land is returned; until all individual and corporate wealth is redistributed; until the statues are toppled; until the rivers run clean; until the languages are spoken; and so much more.
Till it’s done. Till the world is good again.
To what else are we called during the lifetimes we are given than to love the hell out of this world? And love, being justice.
Decolonization, rather than reconciliation, is not obliged to ask or answer questions that center the settler concern. Decolonization is accountable to Indigenous sovereignty and futurity.
Decolonization is climate justice. Decolonization is the abolition of slavery in its contemporary forms. Decolonization is the dismantling of the imperial metropole. Decolonization “here” is connected to anti-imperialism elsewhere — a paradox beyond modern conceptualization! It is solidarity.
“Justice is what love looks like in public,” declares Dr. Cornel West.
Indeed. May it be so.
Javney Mohr is a scholar, organizer and educator pursuing PhD studies as a presidential scholar in theology and ethics at UCBerkeley. Grounded in the traditions of liberationist theologies, critical race feminism and decoloniality, her research inquires the role of solidarity and sacredness in movement struggle, and its proposition as critical praxis. Javney holds an MA from the United Nations University for Peace (Costa Rica), a BA in global and development studies from the University of Alberta (Canada), and is a co-founder of Spirit of the Land. Read more about her scholarship and activism here.
Image: Billie Grace Ward/Flickr