A piece I wrote with Rob Hancock for the Canadian Journal of Native Education’s 2012 robust special issue “Indigenous Pedagogies: Resurgence and Restoration,” has just been published. I received the hard copies by courier a couple weeks ago, but the electronic version has just become available. Be sure to check out the whole issue, it’s jammed full of really interesting Indigenous scholarship.
For those interested in reading my thoughts, and Rob’s, on Metis life at university, you can read the PDF here:
Decolonizing Metis Pedagogies
This article asks how post-secondary education and scholarship can facilitate critical and engaged reclamations of Metis knowledge through critical intellectual and experiential engagement. First, it explores dominant representations of Metis political and cultural experience in historical perspective, and considers these implications for Metis students and communities. The examination identifies a problem that we address by envisioning models of engaged pedagogy, based on the insights from bell hooks, which draw upon a particular stream of thought in Michel Foucault’s later work. It concludes with a discussion of the possibilities of decolonizing representations of Metis history and politics, through the exploration of relational land- and community-based pedagogies.
A new article of mine has been published by the peer-reviewed journal aboriginal policy studies. In this piece I deconstruct the notion that Canada is a country that finds its origins in the mixing of Indigenous and European cultures, a claim popular with many Canadian studies scholars. I argue instead that this ‘metis Canada’ thesis only takes us further away from the treaty relationships envisioned by our ancestors, which protected the political independence of Indigenous peoples and Canadians alike.
“The Metis-ization of Canada: The Process of Claiming Louis Riel, Metissage, and the Metis People as Canada’s Mythical Origin”
The historical narrative around Métis political leader Louis Riel has undergone a extraordinary change since the 1960s—once reviled by Anglo-Canadians, Riel is now paradoxically celebrated as a Canadian hero, and this “Riel-as-Canadian” narrative has become a common trope in contemporary Canadian political culture. Emanating from the Canadianization of Louis Riel is a parallel colonial discourse that distances itself from past attempts to assimilate Indigenous people into Canada, arguing instead for the assimilation of Canadians into a pan-Indigenous political identity. Central to this dialogue is a discourse on “métissage” and “Canadian métisness” that is heralded as the founding myth of Canada. This paper deconstructs this logic, as put forward by Jennifer Reid in Louis Riel and the Creation of Modern Canada and John Ralston Saul in A Fair Country. Both works uncritically assume that Canada’s colonial problem is largely a failure of non-Indigenous people to embrace their underlying Indigenous political identity and acclimate themselves to this continent as a people of mixed political descent. This claim, however, is simply an inversion of colonization, a re-hashing of age-old colonial fantasies of unity, and an attempt to unite all the Indigenous and non-Indigenous polities in Canadian territory under a single sovereign entity—Canada.
I had the good fortune to edit the most recent issue of the UVic undergraduate journal The Arbutus Review which contains submissions from some very talented students. It deals with a whole range of complex issues in Indigenous governance including WSANEC and Stolo territoriality, the BC Missing Women’s Inquiry, Indigenous Art and Representation, the Zapatista re-figuration of democratic space in Chiapas, and the evolving criticism of the fiduciary relationship in Canada.
Many of these students are from the course I taught last fall, and are the top tier of upcoming researchers at UVic. This is an excellent collection, with great introductions to complex issues facing Indigenous communities. All articles contain original research well above the normal standard for undergraduate research. Please check it out and share it widely.
So it turns out that when the Martlet updated its website, it deleted years and years of archived content. I’ve updated all of the Martlet links with PDFs from my originals. I apologize for the boring word format, but I’ll scan the original hard copies in the next few weeks.
On Dec 17th, 1869, Alexander Begg wrote a letter to the Globe which introduced Riel to Canada. Begg described Riel as a man,
noted for his oratorical powers; and indeed it has been due a great deal to his eloquence that the present movement amongst the French has been universal with them; and his good guidance has made it so far successful. Until he interested himself in the affairs of the country [which] resulted in our existing difficulties, he was not much noticed among his own people; but now he is the idol of the French. He can only speak broken English, but very good French. His utterance is rapid and energetic, and his remarks at times are very sarcastic. He is not rich; in fact his circumstances are not good. He lives with his mother, when at home, and until the present outbreak, he supported himself and her by farming a small piece of land. Riel by his energy and perseverance, has, you may say, conducted the whole of this movement; and, if he does not now overstep the mark, he will doubtless bring his people out safely yet.”
Riel was executed 127 years ago today.
Here is the second part of the interview I did with the Martlet, the University of Victoria’s excellent student-run paper. In this clip I discuss the relationship between the Metis Nation and Canada, as well as the importance of treaty-making in the past and future, and the necessity of educating ourselves about the international and bilateral agreements that underpin Indigenous-Canadian relations.
An interview with UVic’s student paper The Martlet about my fellowship and my research.