How did a nomadic people who lived off the land for millennia end up in settlements? This is one of the stories told at the Qikiqtani Truth Commission looks at this question, illustrated beautifully by Hugh Goldring & Nicole Marie Burton at Adastracomix (reposted with permission).  The idea of the recent truth and reconciliation commissions has been largely to hear and acknowledge the stories from multiple perspectives, that only then can we begin to move towards peace, or Saimaqatigiingniq.

As a first-generation Canadian, it has not always been easy to identify my role or articulate my feelings about Indigenous affairs and colonialism.  My ancestors were not the white settlers who sought to claim and benefit from the land while erasing the culture of the people who were living there, and yet, I will borrow words from Dua (See Further Reading): 

“…as an inhabitant of Canada, I live in and own land that has been appropriated from Aboriginal peoples. As a citizen of Canada, I have rights and and privileges that are denied to Aboriginal peoples collectively, and that are deployed to deny Aboriginal rights to self-government.”

Enakshi Dua

Therefore, I am complicit. The white settlers were known as Qallunaat  in Inukitut. I am Qallunaat. We, who are not originally from this land, are all Qallunaat. We can, as Jafri (see Further Reading) suggests, without looking for ways that “we” can support “them” in their struggles, seek solidarity with Indigenous peoples by recognizing their sovereignty and respecting their unique culture.

Further Reading:

  • Jafri B. “Privelege vs. Complicity: People of Colour and Settler Colonialism” (link)
  • Lawrence B and Dua E. “Decolonizing Antiracism” (link)