The Canadian government has declared September 30 a federal statutory holiday (National Day of Truth and Reconciliation) to recognize the violent legacy of residential schools. Different Indigenous peoples respond differently to this initiative. Some of these differences are generational: while it could be important for residential school survivors to hear the acknowledgement of the harm they have suffered, many young Indigenous peoples are cynical towards government initiatives that use “reconciliation” to deflect from their responsibilities for reparations and redress, which would involve the slow and difficult process of building relationships with Indigenous nations based on trust, respect, reciprocity, consent and accountability.
Over the past few years GTDF has published several resources that attempt to address the complexities of settler-Indigenous relations and that make visible the paradoxes and contradictions of uninformed efforts towards reconciliation in what is currently known as Canada. These resources include: Wanna be an ally? (2018); Why I can’t hold space for you anymore (2019); Towards Braiding (2019); Learning to read and to be read (2020); Scarring our collective soul wound (2020); Letter to prospective immigrants to what is known as Canada (2021), Stamina for decolonizing higher education (2021); Conspicuous consumption of Indigeneity (forthcoming), to name a few .
However, more than critical reflection and the sharing of resources, we would like to encourage everyone to take tangible steps towards reparations and redress by acknowledging the debt we have to Indigenous peoples, since our comforts and privileges are created, secured and maintained at their expense.
On September 30, if you have secure income, please consider donating a day of your salary to an Indigenous-led organization in Canada committed to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples and their territories. Please also consider making monthly donations and deepening your engagement with Indigenous struggles in multiple ways.
GTDF has a long-term collaboration with the Indigenous leadership of Shinah House in Alberta. This organization offers mental health programs, services, and housing for Indigenous youth who carry the legacy of intergenerational trauma. They are trying to raise 1 million dollars to buy back land near Fort McLeod, so that their programs can happen on their ancestral territories. If you can, please donate here.
Our Indigenous community partners in Brazil are also facing enormous challenges as the government has mounted a coordinated legal attack to take away Indigenous lands, to cancel Indigenous rights and to open up the amazon and other environmentally sensitive areas to predatory industries. GTDF has partnered with the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre to launch the LAST WARNING educational campaign. We also have an emergency fundraiser for communities in Brazil here.
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GTDF arts/research collective.