All Our Relations
We mourn the members of the Black and Indigenous communities who have lost their lives as a result of racist violence by police: Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Rodney Levi, Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Jason Collins, Elshia Husdon, D’Andre Campbell, Randy Cochrane, Sean Thompson, Machuar Madut, Greg Ritchie, Chad Williams.
We stand and act in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those who resist racist abuses of power. We stand and act in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are living with deep-seated colonization and racism, manifested in Canadian society and globally. The lives of the original inhabitants of this continent and the newcomers, whether coming here voluntarily or involuntarily have been and remain connected.
For half a millennium, greed and racial superiority have dominated the relationship between European newcomers, Blacks and Indigenous peoples. Blacks were forcibly removed from their indigenous homelands, transported across the ocean, forced into labour and lives filled with unspeakable cruelty, promised better lives and have not seen the promise fulfilled. Indigenous peoples were dispossessed of their lands, confined to the edges of their former territories, were subject to aggression and violence and then asked to live well with the settlers who came to dominate the continent.
We see the effect of insatiable greed and racism upon our lives, our societies, and our hopes and dreams for the future. The pandemic has rendered visible the structure of power and dominance in North American society. We see systemic racism and its effects clearly even though those in positions of power often do not. We see systemic racism at work in the inequitable treatment of people of colour by the police.
As the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, mindful of the history of colonialism and racism that sits at the centre of Canada, we continue, as we have done for the last half century, to work for relationships that are just, equitable and enable us to live well with all our relations.
Confronting systemic racism is challenging and dangerous. As academics and university staff, we use our minds and our words to understand the damage and its cause. We use our minds to understand how to repair the damage. We use our classrooms to help our students understand the forces that influence and shape their lives. We help to develop tools that enable our students and our colleagues to confront racism and colonization. Our stories, our teachings, our traditions, our values form the foundation for building strong and resilient societies.
All our relations.
The Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies June 8, 2020