Learning Their Names

Counting down the days to the official launch of Learning Their Names: Letters from The Home Place.

This lovely chapbook cover is courtesy Andy Verboom at Collusion Books, who has done a fantastic job of putting together this collaborative project.

I understand from Glass Bookshop that (free) tickets for the launch and reading are going fast – space is limited – so if you were thinking of coming along, maybe grab yourself a spot here:

This project is close to my heart, and I am very much looking forward to sharing its coming into being with my dear friend and collaborator, Jannie Edwards. There are many crossings-over and interweaving between this writing and the creation-research project 40 Chains a Side that I have been developing for my MFA these last (nearly) two years. The Letters have been another way in, another way to process what I have learned – about ongoing and historical settler-colonial harms, and the responsibilities settlers have within this still-dominant, still-destructive system of relations.

Hard work.

Heart work.

Looking forward to sharing it.

Taking a Moment …

As a settler and uninvited guest wherever I walk in this country, I recognize that many people will be sporting Orange Shirts tomorrow. This action, like the (now ubiquitous) Land Acknowledgment, risks becoming a perforative gesture that assuages guilt temporarily, or (as bad or worse) is seen simply as ‘proper’ to do.

My choice is to step back, shut up, and make room – on September 30th, of all days. Yes I will wear an orange shirt; as a mother and grandmother, I can think of nothing more traumatic or horrendous than to lose a child. As a human being, I feel deeply my responsibility to learn and understand, so that I may better assist in appropriate ways to make things better where I can. As a settler, I cannot make a move to claim innocence, when I live within and benefit from the ongoing harms the Settler-Colonial systems in play in this country are still operating.

I am a deeply imperfect work in progress, trying to find the best way to live better in relation. One day at a time.

I leave the following here, as I feel Paulette Regan expressed my thoughts better than I ever could:

For me, Canada’s apology [11 June 2008, then-Prime Minister Harper] was a call for settlers to take seriously our collective moral responsibility for the systematic removal and institutionalization of Native children, some of whom were abused and most of whom were deprived oftheir family life, languages, and cultures. Although the debilitating impactsof sexual, physical, and psychological abuse upon children are self-evident, and Canadians condemn such practices, the problematic assimilation policy that gave rise to such abuses is less understood by the Canadian public. To those who argue that they are not responsible, because they were not directly involved with the residential schools, I say that, as Canadian citizens, we are ultimately responsible for the past and present actions of our government. To those who say that we cannot change the past, I say that we can learn from it. We can better understand how a problematic mentality of benevolent paternalism became a rationale and justification for acquiring Indigenous lands and resources, and drove the creation of prescriptive education policies that ran counter to the treaty relationship. Equally importantly, we can explore how this mentality continues to influence Indigenous-settler relations today. Failing to do so will ensure that, despite our vow of never again, Canada will create equally destructive policies and practices into the future. To those who argue that former IRS students should just get over it and move on, I say that asking victims to bury a traumatic past for the “greater good” of achieving reconciliation does not address the root of the problem –colonialism.

Paulette Regan, Unsettling the Settler Within, p.4

40 Chains a Side: Some Resources

To those who argue that they are not responsible, because they were not directly involved with

the residential schools, I say that, as Canadian citizens, we are ultimately responsible

for the past and present actions of our government. To those who say that

we cannot change the past, I say that we can learn from it. We can better understand

how a problematic mentality of benevolent paternalism became a rationale

and justification for acquiring Indigenous lands and resources, and drove the

creation of prescriptive education policies that ran counter to the treaty relationship.

Equally importantly, we can explore how this mentality continues to influence

Indigenous-settler relations today. Failing to do so will ensure that, despite our

vow of never again, Canada will create equally destructive policies and practices

into the future. To those who argue that former IRS students should just get over

it and move on, I say that asking victims to bury a traumatic past for the “greater

good” of achieving reconciliation does not address the root of the problem –

colonialism.

FROM Unsettling the Settler Within, Paulette Regan, UBC president 2010, p.4

I have compiled some resources here that I hope are useful in thinking about Settler responsibility and the ongoing harms of Settler-Colonial structures in so-called Canada. All of this material was useful to me in doing the research for my MFA. Wherever possible, I have provided online links to information; I think it is important to eliminate barriers to information wherever possible. While I recognize this page still requires being able to access to the internet, at least more people in more places can use these tools if I offer them here than could otherwise.

If you are interested, please feel free to investigate the project 40 Chains a Side as a whole.

I have listed resources with web links first in each subject area; all links were current and active March 1 2022. Articles and books that follow these first listings may be accessible through local libraries or through university/college library systems. 

Truth and Reconciliation 

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (links to info and history of the Commission)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission 94 Calls to Action (downloadable PDF)

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2 Spirit People

Final Report (downloadable PDFs)

UBC Research Guide (links and downloadable information and resources)

Interlocutor Interview

Treaty 6

Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations (information and history, PDF downloadable fact sheet)

Treaty 6 (Wikipedia – includes references and links to more info)

Digital Copy of Treaty 6

Text of Treaty 6 + adhesions

Surrender Document for Reserve No.126 (Washatenow)

The Métis

Metis Nation of Alberta (information and history)

Métis Nation of Ontario (history/timeline)

Gabriel Dumont Institute (history, images, resources)

Devine, Heather. “J.Z. LaRocque: A Métis Historian’s Account of His Family’s Experiences during the North-West Rebellion of 1885.” Finding Directions West : Readings That Locate and Dislocate Western Canada’s Past, University of Calgary Press, 2017.

Land and Territory

Native Land (digital interactive map of traditional Indigenous Territories)

Assembly of First Nations (AFN). (land and land claims)

Daschuk, J. 2013. Clearing the Plains. Regina: University of Regina Press. 

Erasmus, P. 2015. Buffalo Days and Nights. Calgary: Fifth House Publishers. 

Russell, D. 1991. Eighteenth Century Western Cree and Their Neighbours. Issue 143 of Mercury Series. Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Civilization. 

Disposal” of “Indian Lands”

A good discussion of what “Treaty” actually means in their Land Acknowledgement

Doctrine of Discovery

Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery: A Call to Action

Doctrine of Discovery – Sylvia McAdam 

United Nations Report on Doctrine of Discovery (PDF)

Recommendations of the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus to the Eleventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues re – Doctrine of Discovery (PDF)

Miller, Robert J. and others, Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies (Oxford, 2010; online edn, Oxford Academic, 1 Sept. 2010)

Dominion Land Survey

Dominion Land Survey (Wikipedia – includes references and links to more info)

Ballantyne, Brian, ed. Surveys, Parcels and Tenure on Canada Lands (downloadable PDF)

Dennis, John Stoughton (1892). A short history of the surveys performed under the Dominion lands system, 1869 to 1889. Ottawa: Sessional Notes. 

http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/1777/12.html

Library and Archives Canada. “Western Land Grants (1870-1930).” The Wayback Machine

McKercher, Robert B.; Wolf, Bertran (1986). Understanding Western Canada’s Dominion Land Survey System (PDF). Saskatoon: Division of Extension and Community Relations, University of Saskatchewan. ISBN 0-88880-164-5. (downloadable PDF)

Barnett, Douglas E. “The Deville Era: Survey of the Western Interior of Canada.” Alberta History, vol. 48, no. Spring, 2000, pp. 19–25.

Bantjes, Rod. “Groundwork: The Dominion Survey.” Improved Earth: Prairie Space as Modern Artefact, 1869 – 1944, University of Toronto Press, 2005, pp. 15–35.

Larmour, Judy (2005). Laying Down the Lines: A History of Land Surveying in Alberta. Brindle and Glass. 

MacGregor, J. G. Vision of an Ordered Land: The Story of the Dominion Land Survey. Western Producer Prairie Books, 1981.

Settler-Colonialism

Settler Colonialism” (basic introduction to theory with references)

Cox, Alicia. “Settler Colonialism.” Introduction to Oxford Bibliography. (provides list of good articles on the subject)

Whyte, Kyle Powys. “White Allies, Let’s be Honest about Decolonization.

Cuthand, Ruth. “I’m Not the Indian You’re Looking For.

Shaw, Devin Zane. “We Settlers Face a Choice:Decolonization or White Supremacy.”

Go to 15:20 for the start of a powerful and very informative talk by Métis Scholar and Educator Chelsea Vowel.

Here is the abstract of her talk:

Multiculturalism Cannot Contain Multitudes: Towards a Lateral Relationality and Undoing of Settler Colonialism

Chelsea Vowel 

Despite claims to the contrary multiculturalism operates as the inheritor of official and unofficial policies both cultural and economic that are specifically designed to assimilate newcomers into the white supremacist settler colonial state, thereby ensuring the continued existence of Canada. While effort has been made recently to pay homage to Indigenous peoples as a singular founding people alongside the French and British, we continue to represent an existential threat that cannot be reconciled with the stated purpose of multiculturalism which centres awareness and celebration of diverse cultures. This presentation offers as an alternative, a lateral form of relationality based on the Métis/Cree concept of wâhkôhtowin or expanded kinship, with the purpose of undoing white supremacist settler colonialism.

Links to Articles in the Press and Elsewhere, and Talks of Interest:

Irish Times:

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/2022/11/19/manchan-mangan-indigenous-people-ireland-and-guardians-of-old-lore/?fbclid=IwAR2M5M80slYf1bsVa77fsnn1TSoT2gVhpIOs_LqMlVhHgqdCiLcc-V-u-MU

Alexis Shotwell on White Shame

A Talk on Settler Colonial Space

An Article on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and some educational resources

FREE E-BOOKS – good resources!

A Climate Atlas relating Indigenous Knowledges to dealing with Climate Change

A Documentary Film, Lana Gets Her Talk – This brief study of an artist and her work helps us come to some understanding of the trauma experienced by Canada’s Indigenous people in the Indian Residential School system, of its enduring effects on the children of survivors of the IRS, and of one woman’s journey to recover what was lost: dignity, identity, and voice. A story of resilience, Lana’s journey speaks of the power of Indigenous “ways of being” in our time.

Articles and Books (check with Public Libraries or University/College Libraries for copies):

Alfred, Taiaiake. “Foreword.” Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada, by Paulette Regan, UBC Press, 2010, pp. ix–xi.

Battell Lowman, Emma, and Adam J. Barker. Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada. Fernwood Publishing, 2015.

Decter, Leah, and Carla Taunton, eds. Beyond Unsettling: methodologies for decolonizing futures. Public Journal, Fall 2021. vol. 32, no. 64.

Greer, Allan. Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires and Land in Early Modern North America. Cambridge UP, 2018.

Henderson, Phil. “Imagoed Communities: The Psychosocial Space of Settler Colonialism.” Settler Colonial Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 40–56.

Mann, Geoff. “Settler-Colonialism’s Anti-Social Contract.” The Canadain Geographer, vol. 64, no. 3, 2020, pp. 433–44.

Morgensen, Scott Lauria. “The Biopolitics of Settler Colonialism: Right Here, Right Now.” Settler Colonial Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2011, pp. 52–76.

Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. “Introduction: White Possession and Indigenous Sovereignty Matters.” White Possessive., University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Murphyao, Amanda, and Kelly Black. “Unsettling Settler Belonging: (Re)Naming and Territory Making in the Pacific Northwest.” American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 45, no. 3, 2015, pp. 315–31.

Strakosch, Elizabeth, and Alissa Macoun. “The Vanishing Endpoint of Settler Colonialism.” Arena Journal, vol. 37/38, 2012, pp. 40–62.

Steinman, Erich. “Unsettling as Agency: unsettling settler-colonialism where you are.” Settler Colonial Studies, vol.10, no. 4, 2020, pp.558 – 575.

Tuck, Eve, and K.Wayne Yang. “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeniety, Education & Society. vol. 1, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1-40.

Veracini, Lorenzo. “‘Settler Colonialism’: Career of a Concept.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 41, no. 2, 2013, pp. 313–33.

Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 8, no. 4, 2006, pp. 387–409.

The Clock is an Unreliable Narrator

I’m in the middle of my last day of self-isolation.

I’ve been packing, cleaning, preparing to move to my more permanent residence … about to dive headlong into the next month of work. The first of two Spring Intensive in-person sessions for my MFA is about to start Monday morning.

It feels a bit dislocating … discombobulating maybe a better (certainly more interesting and theatrical) word for it. The way time has warped over the last 2 weeks, the speed with which things are starting to happen in preparation for the work to begin in earnest.

So, to … mark this shift into a new way of being, I offer here a brief meditation on the unreliability of the devices humans have used to mark time’s passage.

You don’t notice the miscues until they are what anchors you to the day. There’s something not quite right with the mechanism, you can hear it, but only sometimes. In those moments, the clock changes character completely; it’s no longer the drone of the day, the comforting rhythm that’s easy to ignore. Then it stops, or doubles up on itself, hiccups … becoming something more consuming … a nervous tick that reminds you of what you can’t fully grasp: the tiny, incremental changes all around you, that you can’t see and can’t hear, but are, nevertheless, more reliable narrators of change and time’s passage than humans will ever be.

A few words from Bernie

… no – not Sanders. Krause. Bernie Krause, bioacoustician extraordinare.

If ever there was a reason to listen, Bernie describes it best here:

Think about it, then next time you walk around outside. Pay attention to what you hear. What does it tell you about where you are?

GJJ Interview for NME

Lots of TLAs here …

Had the pleasure of interviewing Gary James Joynes (AKA Clinker), multidisciplinary artist and musician, for the New Music Edmonton podcast “The NO Normal” recently.

It was a really lovely opportunity to talk to Gary about his work – both new and older – and catch up with him about some ideas and influences we share in our respective practices.

The No Normal podcast is now available on Soundcloud and wherever else podcasts are available.

The first episode of 2021 features some great discussions and music. Ian Crutchley, New Music Edmonton Artistic Director, discusses a wide range of topics with the incoming Artistic Directors of New Works Calgary, Rebecca Bruton and Lesley Hinger. They also share some of their own music with us. The second part of this episode is the interview/conversation between me and Gary. There’s also a sneak peak of some of Gary’s forthcoming work, and discussion of his new piece Sonic Suns (((GENESIS))) commissioned by New Music Edmonton, and available on Vimeo.

Give it a listen – The No Normal Podcast has had a great line up so far – lots of interesting ideas and projects!

Thanks to New Music Edmonton for the opportunity!

X – Camera Talk

Very much looking forward to presenting an informal online talk on December 11 2020, for the X – Camera series, run by Inter-Arts Matrix.

I’ll be speaking on MAKE=BELIEVE, an ongoing site-specific project that has been in development for the last several years. Recently, this project has really taken off in a number of ways; thanks to the support of the Edmonton Arts Council’s Creator’s Reserve Program, I’ve been able to take a deep dive into the project, and have discovered so much more that I want to pursue.

It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to talk about work in progress, and get feedback from a different community of artists, and I’m very grateful to Sheila McMath and Inter-Arts Matrix for the invitation!

Information on the talk and link to register is below:

EVENTBRITE

Hope some of you can join us – it’s free, and everyone is welcome!

SNAP Members’ Show & Sale!

This is one of my favourite annual events – it’s a great opportunity to purchase affordable original art for friends and family (or yourself)!

SNAP has done a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe for the last several months, and the Members’ Show & Sale will be no exception. For folks who prefer to limit their exposure outside their bubbles/cohort, you can shop the entire show online too.

I feel extremely grateful to be part of this community, and even more so that I will have work in this exhibition along side so many talented SNAP artists.

Check it out online or in person – it’s going to be lovely!

Meeting Me (virtually) tonight

Just a quick shout-out to anyone who might want to attend (yet another) webinar :) …

I’ll be speaking on my work and process this evening for #AGAlive, for the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Art Rental & Sales “Meet the Artist” series. The link to register is:

https://www.youraga.ca/events-features/calendar/agalive-meet-artist-sydney-lancaster

The talk is at 6pm MDT (Edmonton AB Time), and will last about an hour, including a Q&A.

A quick preview of a couple of things I’ll be chasing about:

Hope you can make it!

A Meet the Artist Event

I have been invited to participate in “Meet the Artist” for the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Art Rental and Sales program.

This will be a FREE, online, informal conversation with Sarah Huffman of the AGA; I’ll be walking participants through some recent projects, showing some new work that will be avaialable through Art Rental & Sales and talking about my approach to art-making.

If you’re interested and have the time, it would be lovely to see you – there will be a Q&A after the presentation.

Stay safe, and enjoy art!