Lynn Gehl: Centring Indigenous knowledge

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Lynn Gehl.

Gehl is an Algonquin Anishnabe woman who has roots in the Ottawa River valley, though she lives in Peterborough, Ontario. She has, over the years, been involved in various kinds of things related to struggles for survival and for social change. One way of thinking about what brings together those diverse elements for her is that they flow from the act of centring Indigenous ways of knowing, and acting accordingly.

Indigenous ways of knowing, among much else, emphasize that we know the world in embodied, situated ways – that is, both what we know and how we know it depend on who we are, on our circumstances, and on our experiences. So among the many horrible and complex ways that 500 years of colonization and genocide have impacted Indigenous peoples, and the many ingenious and resilient ways in which Indigenous peoples have responded, there are two issues in particular that she has focused on, based on centring her own experiences. One is a response to the Canadian state's ongoing use of the Indian Act legislation to separate people, particularly women, from their nations and communities -- in her case, it is through a policy that, when paternity is not known or not stated, assumes that the father of a given child does not fit the legal category of "status Indian," which has implications for descendants' ability to access that status. The other is the land claims process in which the Algonquin people are engaged. It is the only way in which the Canadian state has shown any willingness at all to recognize even a fragment of what are, for the Algonquins, unsurrendered and unextinguished rights to the land, and Gehl argues that rather than being a path towards a good future, it is yet another colonial process that will end up doing little more than reinforcing her peoples' dispossession.

Over the years, Gehl has pursued a lengthy court battle, she has done research, she has written scholarly articles, and she has engaged with a wide range of people in the community in a wide range of ways. (Including, as you will hear about in the interview, by publishing several books.) She wants her work to contribute to anti-colonial struggle, to a revitalization and resurgence of her own peoples' culture, and to teaching hard truths to Canadians about our past and present. She talks with me about the issues she has worked on, about the different approaches she has taken, and about Indigenous knowledge.

To learn more about Gehl and her work, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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