FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(May 30, 2017) It should not be a surprise to Canadians that few Indigenous people will be celebrating the 150th anniversary this July. Indigenous people were, after all, cut out of the federal-provincial power-sharing in the 1867 British North American Act, their land rights were stripped away and they were subject to measures that even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada has admitted amounted to “cultural genocide.”
So a group of Indigenous activists associated with Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, are planning to mark the anniversary not by celebrating Canada but by trying to unsettle it with Canada Reads: The Unsettling Canada Edition.
During the month of June leading up to the July 1 holiday, they will be encouraging all Canadians to read Arthur Manuel’s book Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call. Manuel, who passed away in January was one of the leading strategists of the anti-colonial struggle and has been likened to the Nelson Mandela of the Indigenous movement. His book, which he co-authored with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, showed how Canadian policy toward Indigenous peoples incorporated and still reflects all the elements of colonialism that are condemned by the United Nations: dispossession, forced dependancy and oppression.
The organizers of the event will be providing excerpts of Manuel’s book on their website and the publisher, Between the Lines, will be providing a 20% discount during the month. The co-author, Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, is purchasing a case of books that will be donated to younger readers who cannot otherwise afford it.
On July 1, Canadians are encouraged to organize formal or informal public reading or discussion of Unsettling Canada or of key decolonial texts like the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples or the Truth and Reconciliation Recommendations.
“It is fitting that we celebrate the life and work of Arthur Manuel this year,” says Defender of the Land spokesperson, Russell Diabo.
“Arthur was a leading force in the decolonial struggle as both a visionary and a strategic thinker. For non-indigenous, his book provides an understanding of how Canada’s colonial system still oppresses Indigenous peoples and for Indigenous peoples he points to a way forward in the battle to have our title to the land once again recognized and respected.”
Canada Reads: The Unsettling Canada edition is part of a broader Indigenous Day of Action that is being planned around Canada’s 150th anniversary. At the end of July, Diabo and others will be travelling to Geneva to testify against Canada at the UN The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
- Pamela Palmater, Canada 150 is a celebration of Indigenous Genocide https://nowtoronto.com/news/
- Russell Diabo, Don’t be fooled by JT’s Charm Offensive, http://rabble.ca/
blogs/bloggers/2017-03- 23t000000/dont-be-fooled- trudeaus-first-nations-charm- offensive-liberals-real
- Christi Belcourt, Open Letter re: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry – http://christibelcourt.com/
open-letter-to-chief- commissioner-marion-buller- national-inquiry-on-missing- and-murdered-indigenous-women- and-girls/
- Arthur Manuel, Until Canada gives our land back, there can be no reconciliation, http://rabble.
ca/blogs/bloggers/views- expressed/2017/01/until- canada-gives-indigenous- people-their-land-back-there- ca
- Cindy Blackstock, One Year Later Liberals Still Discriminate Against First Nations Children, http://
ottawacitizen.com/opinion/ columnists/blackstock-one- year-later-liberals-still- discriminate-against-first- nations-children
- Kanahus Manuel, Indigenous Perspectives of Canada 150, http://aptnnews.ca/2017/