reconciliation

by waaseyaa'sin christine sy

my fb newsfeed has been on fire with postings about the truth and reconciliation closing ceremonies in ottawa. most of those postings espouse the air of reconciliation. only a few postings are in the spirit of windigokahn–the contrary– infusing this popular postionality with perspectives or truths that counter the popular idea of reconciliation.

the trc or reconciliation talk does not resonate with everybody.

as i’ve learned through some who have bore witness to trc events or news articles, some people have been further harmed by the trc process (e.g. re-telling their dibaajimowad–personal story; windigo lawyers, etc.) or do not agree with reconciliation.

i respect the hope and inspiration that comes with the idea of reconciliation. i get it, wholly. i see and feel the spirit that comes from sharing an ideology of reconciliation. i would not speak against that or act against people who have their spirit, their thinking, their hopes, and/or their analysis of their world; that is not for me to speak against or criticize. in fact, i see the hope and tempered affinity for reconciliation and i want to jump in and be a part of it.

i see the logic in it. reconciliation makes good sense, for gawd sakes.

however, call me skeptical, jaded, cynical or pessimistic; call me tempered, justifiably hesitant, or astute. call me wrong. call me whatever you want but as much as i respect the spirit of what is happening, and the practice of it in walking and marching, and as much as i can get the logic of it, personally, reconciliation discourse makes me feel pissy and harpy and re-traumatized. indigenous peoples in the northern part of turtle island (i.e. canada) have nothing to reconcile with canada. i tense up at the implied expectation that reconciliation seems to require our participation in more ways than answering the question: what do we settlers/government have to do to reconcile what we have done and continue to do to Indigenous people and nations and lands?

for me, there is no ‘we’re in this together’ until all of us is living on the streets or getting sores on our bodies due to feces in the water or being incarcerated at the same rates or all living on 15,000 a year or less. there is no ‘we’re all equal’ until all or our children have education that fits our needs, have access to fresh healthy foods and water, have resources to experience the world as we desire, wear what we want, access art and culture as we see fit, have political power to influence our lives, are able to practice our spiritual responsibilities unfettered by agents of colonization or settlers inquiring what we’re doing when we’re selecting our rocks or harvesting our medicines…

fyi, my ancestors never wanted a treaty.

they were starved into it (from what i understand).

like many other indigenous Nations.

the idea that all the answers lie in treaty-to-treaty relations is a good one, logically. however, even in this case, it requires many nations to suspend the truth of their history: many of us (if not all?) did not want treaty just like some do not want land claims today. treaty talk, which is linked to reconciliation talk, is important and again logical but it does not ask, “what about those nations that were compelled to agree?”

i still don’t want a treaty for the same reasons my ancestors of around a hundred and fifty years ago likely did not want a treaty: canada, in its present formation, as in its historical formation, continues to be windigo. why would i want to have a partnership with windigo?

i don’t.

why would i want to engage in reconcilation with windigo?

i do not.

but you know what the kicker is?

personal responsibilty. so many settlers (i.e. canadians) do take personal responsibility and they/we think that if we “citizens” get along and play nice, then reconciliation will happen. while it is true that we do need to play nice with each other, governments have ways of dividing peoples to pursue their own interests.

so….

reconciliation begins with changing the nation-state and it’s objectives. it’s pretty evident that they will not change or be changed anytime soon. in the meantime, #myreconciliationincludes er, does not include kum-bay-a…anywhere. #myreconciliationincludes 34 million-ish settlers using their energy, time, resources and good intentions to compel the nation-state to honour nation-to-nation governance with Indigenous Nations AND stopping nation-state windigo-ing of our lives and lands when they see it happening. #myreconciliationincludes the time, space, and resources the one million or so of us need to practice and re-generate our Indigenous lives and nations. #myreconciliationincludes, er, does not need a ride to the polling stations where i can vote for settler politicians, particularly if not one of them knows the word decolonization or refuses to say, “Nation-to-Nation”relationship. when they start talking like this, and backing this up with evidence that is verifiable, i will make the time to go and vote. i will not need a ride when settler politicians start to speak in a way that resonates with indigeneity, as long as i have two feet and a heartbeat, i will walk.

none of this means that we can’t still be lovers, frenz, or frenemies, either, because we can. it just means we have different work to do. it also means not voting for the canadian political parties that are going to put indigenous peoples in jail for protecting our lands and waters. #my reconciliationincludes you voting for the party that is looking out for Indigenous peoples and lands and aiming to create governmental responsiblity with Indigenous Nations, not your bank account.

see? i told you. pissy, harpy and all #firedup

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