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Reconciliation can be used to address global problems. But first, we must deal with white supremacy
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Reconciliation can be used to address global problems. But first, we must deal with white supremacy

A sign for the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Resource Centre is seen in front of a chemical plant.


For many Indigenous people in Canada, reconciliation is dead. All Canadians should be concerned about this. Sadly, it’s not.

Both the Settler colonial governments of Canada and mainstream Canadian society fail to see the connection between issues such as Missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit personsThe soaring rate at which they are growing Indigenous youth suicide — which are still seen as part of the “Aboriginal problem” — to broader societal challenges such as climate and ecological degradation.

These issues are closely linked, and the common denominator between them is white supremacy. Reconciliation can help to solve many global issues, but white supremacy remains one of the greatest threats. We need to look at Indigenous place-based practices in order to move forward.

I am an Indigenous, feminist scholar and activist of Ngāi Te Rangi (Māori), Scottish, Welsh and German ancestry from Aotearoa. I was raised without any connection to my tribal roots, but I have spent the last two decades reconnecting with my tribe and traditional territory. Recently, I I wrote a bookThis article is about Indigenous-led intergenerational resilience.

White supremacy

White supremacy is all about the power, privilege, patterns of individualist binary and hierarchical thinking as associated with, but not longer Exclusive to white people.

The alignment of white supremacist ideologies with NeoliberalismThe rising global corporate power means that lands are increasingly considered disposable.

This is evident by the Kentucky candle factory disasterThe death of 74 workers was caused by the refusal to allow them to leave their workplaces and seek safety during an impending climate crisis.

The government’s wind down of the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women — despite women and girls’ ongoing trafficking into “man camps” for sex services — is an example of how corporate interests dominate decision-making.

The government-sanctioned poisoningOf Aamjiwnaang First Nation, whose lands lie in the heart of “chemical valley” — is yet another tragic example of the sacrifice of lands and bodies to corporate interests.

The overtly racist patterns and structures of thinking that are white supremacist also underlie the overtly techno-rationalist — an overemphasis on western science and ways of knowing that rely on the application of technology to fix problems — approach to climate catastrophe and the corporatization of the renewable energy sector.

This has led to a greater emphasis on market-driven goals climate prosperityProfit is the priority and this leads to replicating racialized, genderedand species hierarchies, oppressing some groups.

A sign for the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Resource Centre is seen in front of a chemical plant.
A sign for Aamjiwnaang’s First Nation Resource Centre is located just across the road from NOVA Chemicals (Sarnia, Ont.

Implementation of UNDRIP

The global challengesWe face complex, interdependent problems that require Indigenous intercultural decision-making and intergenerational solutions.

Reconciliation requires a reprioritization and collective effort to achieve the goals. Resilience and knowledge about placeTo make any visible difference.

The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canadian legislationThis could be a beacon for the country.

Ultimately, UNDRIP calls the “The long-ago colonized” and those who are intergenerationally disconnected from their traditional territories and peoples, to reconcile with the Legal orders for the land from indigenous people.

This is one way to support it: The following Indigenous-led intergenerational resilience practices:

  • Concentrate on reclaiming the human fundamental capacity to be of use.
  • Centre Indigenous legal orders, leadership.
  • Be inclusive, intergenerational & culturally situated.

Indigenous intergenerational resilienceIt’s about belonging. Ethics and relationality. This means treating our non-human relatives (waters, trees, rocks) like Elders and taking responsibility for their care.

One example of Indigenous-led intergenerational resilience comes from land-based learning which privileges the Indigenous traditional knowledgeStories of place and stories from people, while inviting others to share their stories and experiences. People learn best when they are comfortable in their cultural environment.

Learning is rooted in the place

In an age where Indigenous Peoples are being erased, inviting them to a collective belonging can be dangerous for them. This is because they have a tendency to settler laws, identities, and ways of thinking that further marginalize Indigenous Peoples.

For Māori — the Indigenous Peoples of Aotearoa — this practice, or tūrangawaewaeStanding place is when a person’s identity is defined by their connection to their tribe, environment, and Indigenous knowledge base. Once this is achieved, however, it is not possible to lose it. tūrangawaewaeThis is not a guarantee and requires that kinship practices continue to be maintained.

Te ahi kā, the Māori concept that means burning fires, meanwhile, denotes the continuance of these kinship practices.

According to Tuhoe (Māori) scholar William Dohertyahi kā” expresses continual connection to the land. If a person is not able to live in their territory, or maintain their kinship relationships, they may be considered as having lost their connection to the land. ahi kā is deemed “matao” or cold. A person must re-establish their identity. ahi kāThey must be apprenticed, regardless if they were in a previous position.

Continue reading:
Through Anishinaabe teachings, children make connections with Aki (Earth).

Ahi kāRoots reconciliation in the land provides guidance for those who are disconnected to their lands or communities. It also offers a way forward for those who aren’t Indigenous to Canada.

TurangawaewaeApprenticeship to Indigenous knowledge keepers within a territory would lead to a qualification. Participants would learn about the Indigenous laws on the land they are guests.

Reconciliation can be guided by the knowledge and wisdom of the land and will eventually address the seemingly insurmountable global problems of climate change, interspecies displacement and gendered and racist violence as well as white supremacist structures. Ultimately, it will heal our condition of human “disconnection.”


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