It's the text of a paper or speech (in PDF form) called "A Transformative Framework for Decolonizing Canada: A Non-Indigenous Approach" by someone called Paulette Regan, a PhD candidate in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria. Basically, it is an exploration of the potential role for non-indigenous people in the struggle to decolonize Canada. It is worth a read.
This evening I will talk about the impetus behind developing this framework to explore the role and responsibility of non-indigenous people – the Canadian public - in decolonization. I begin by telling you about a conference dialogue, and the writings of two indigenous thinkers and activists.
She goes on to talk about some of her own experiences and observations and to summarize some key ideas from two important indigenous thinkers from within the Canadian state, George Manuel and Taiaiake Alfred.
Here are a few of the paragraphs that were key for me:
To get ‘unstuck’ the non-indigenous - not just in government and legal circles, but more broadly as a society - must focus not, as we have done so often with disastrous results, on the problem of the “other” (that is, Indigenous peoples) but turn our gaze, mirror-like, back upon ourselves, to what Roger Epp calls the “settler problem.” In essence, we must begin to take a more proactive responsibility for decolonizing ourselves.
I am curious as to how these themes of imagination, history and myth, struggle and transformation, might suggest new ways for the non-indigenous to take up our role and responsibility in the work of decolonization. I also found myself thinking about my own experiences of being uncomfortable, working as a non-indigenous woman within indigenous contexts over the years. I realized that my own deepest learning has always come from those times when I was in unfamiliar territory-culturally, intellectually and emotionally.
It seems to me that there is power in this place of ‘not knowing’ that may hold a key to decolonization for non-indigenous people. As members of the dominant culture, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be disquieted at a deep and disturbing level - and to understand our own history, if we are to transform our colonial relationship with Indigenous peoples.
For it is in this space of “not knowing” and working through our own discomfort that we are most open to deep, transformative learning. The kind of experiential learning that engages our whole being – head, heart and spirit.
And she concludes:
The promise of working within a transformative framework is that our dialogue about history – our stories and our myths – beckons us not just to understand our paradoxical past, but to finally take that “genuine leap of imagination” to guide our steps today and into the future. Although the way is not clear and there will be struggle – the “new fork in an old road” is a powerful place of transformation if we are willing to take it. George Manuel knew this in 1974. Taiaiake Alfred, thirty-one years later, invites us again to choose this path. And they are right. We cannot leave this critical task up to governments and the courts. In reality, institutions do not lead social change. The people do. And so it is up to us.
Please read the whole thing.
(Found via this post at Indigenous Solidarity: A Settler's Place.)