Al­ter­na­tive Canada150 celebrations protest set­tler-colo­nial­ism

The McGill Daily - - Summer In Review -

On June 29, days be­fore the Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tion, a demon­stra­tion took place in protest of the on­go­ing set­tler-colo­nial­ism that has per­vaded Canada’s ex­is­tence. The event was or­ga­nized by the Que­bec Pub­lic In­ter­est Re­search Group (QPIRG), CKUT Ra­dio, and Mid­night Kitchen. These groups hoped to em­pha­size the event’s fo­cus on the real his­tory of Canada’s 150 years of ex­is­tence, and how colo­nial­ism has im­pacted the pre­ex­ist­ing com­mu­ni­ties of In­dige­nous peo­ples, more specif­i­cally, the Mo­hawk com­mu­nity.

The event raised money for the Kar­i­h­wanoron Mo­hawk Im­mer­sion School, a pro­gram that in­cor­po­rates In­dige­nous lan­guage and cul­tures into a non-tra­di­tional ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion. Par­tic­i­pants ad­dressed the events of June 28, when In­dige­nous pro­tes­tors were barred from set­ting up a teepee out­side of Par­lia­ment as part of a Canada Day protest. Guest Speaker Stephen Puskas spoke to the au­di­ence about In­formed racism, a form of sym­pa­thy where one knows about the is­sue but re­mains silent and com­plicit to­wards per­pet­u­at­ing set­tler- colo­nial­ist vi­o­lence. Puskas en­cour­aged mem­bers of the au­di­ence to take tan­gi­ble ac­tion to­wards dis­man­tling colo­nial­ism by en­gag­ing with the gov­ern­ment, “Start ap­proach­ing the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion for ex­am­ple. […] You need to up­date your text­book. You need to have In­dige­nous peo­ple in­volved in telling their own story.” .

The North Amer­i­can In­dige­nous Games took place this sum­mer be­tween July 16 and 23 in Toronto. 5,000 young ath­letes from across Tur­tle Is­land (North Amer­ica) com­peted in 14 dif­fer­ent sports in an ef­fort to fa­cil­i­tate in­ter-na­tion sports­man­ship, and fur­ther de­velop re­la­tions be­tween in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties across the con­ti­nent. This year’s games em­pha­sized Ar­ti­cle 88 of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act, which is a call to ac­tion for the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to sup­port In­dige­nous youth athletics. The two-hour open­ing cer­e­mony at York University fea­tured mu­si­cal guests Taboo and A Tribe Called Red. Speak­ers at the cel­e­bra­tion ex­plic­itly ex­am­ined the ef­fect of Canada 150 on In­dige­nous peo­ples in the set­tler- colo­nial­ist con­text. As­sem­bly of First Na­tions Na­tional Chief Perry Bel­le­garde fin­ished his speech by say­ing: “it’s you young peo­ple, and your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, that are go­ing to write the next story over the next 150 years. And it’s go­ing to be bright, and you’re go­ing to do it in a great way.”

East­ern Door and the North were the over­all cham­pi­ons of the games, which were the first to in­clude women’s lacrosse. . In an in­ter­view with the Daily, Pres­i­dent Stephen Kwin­ter said “[The Games] give us the great op­por­tu­nity to show­case Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tures and achieve­ments…we want to cel­e­brate the fu­ture of these achieve­ments, and we want to do so as a co­op­er­a­tive ef­fort.”

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