We are many 10/15/11

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Re-posted by Emily from Redescription: Thoughts on Politics, Society and Media.
(Thanks Tim!)

This is the written version of the speech given by Marc Pinkoski at Centennial Square (Victoria), on Oct. 15, 2011.

I am struck by the ready conversation and commitment to stand together against injustices and inequalities.

I am struck that a discussion of how we come to be here on this land and come to think we can speak law and justice here has been brought to the forefront.

I am struck by the comments that some people feel emboldened to make; and whether it is because of the anonymity of the internet or because of an anxiety about how we come to be here and live our lives, venomous hatred couched in bigotry and ignorance has too-often been directed at friends and colleagues.

I will leave the hate-filled comments for now, but I want to discuss two kinds of comments that have been raised frequently: equality – that we are one and all part of the same movement and that colonialism is innate to Euro-Canadians, or settlers, and that is the only way we can act.

The first suggests that we are all part of an economic and social problem and that somehow the rights of Indigenous peoples and our obligations to them are a special interest in a global movement. It is true that Indigenous peoples are entangled in social and economic systems often not of their making, but to urge Indigenous peoples to “occupy” the Square today with us today is an affront to reality of the situation and the history of here.

This Square is occupied and has been via the HBC, England, the Colony of Vancouver Island, Victoria, BC, and Canada. Notwithstanding these occupations Lekwungen and WSANEC peoples have never surrendered their lands and they continue to persevere amidst great pressures. It is because of this recognition that those of us who meet today, do not meet under the banner of occupation but rather in solidarity with global movements to challenge the power structures that we face and also facing the history of the place where we are right now and how we come to be here. We are many.

Secondly, there is a suggestion that colonialism is the way that Euro-Canadians behave – innately. Moreover, it is contended that colonialism benefits Settlers and does harm to Indigenous peoples. While I am certainly not trying to say that Indigenous peoples aren’t harmed by colonialism or that settlers do not benefit from these relations, I think we also must realise that these actions are not innate to us, they are taught, and they do us a world of harm. They limit how we think about ourselves, the care we offer, and reward exploitation of people, land, and resources.

So, I believe, we need to recognise the connection between economic and capitalist inequalities and injustices and colonial mentalities and work to believe that we are not stuck in these relations. We need to believe that we can work creatively and caringly for ourselves and each other and build other forms of relationships.

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