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.

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?

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!

(Be)coming Together Apart

Deeply grateful for the serendipity that brought me to this series of video works today.

Especially grateful for this work by Sally Morgan and Lou Sheppard, and Kinetic Studio for the series. So much of the threads of thought and feeling I (and I am sure many, many others) have been experiencing over the last months are encapsulated here.

The Space Between Us

Into roughly the 8th week(??) of isolation (time has become incredibly fluid for me), and as the days pass, I think increasingly about what will be in the “time after.” Everyone is in such a rush to “get back to normal,” to reopen businesses and relax some of the protocols that have kept many of us safe and healthy – if not employed. I do absolutely sympathize with those who want to re-open their businesses, who are desperate to earn an income to support themselves and their families. It’s at least as frightening to have the economic rug pulled suddenly out from under you as it is to come face to face with a pandemic. This is about survival, on so many levels.

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https://www.carfac.ca/news/2020/03/30/a-notice-to-our-members-and-our-community-regarding-covid-19/

BUT. I am going to articulate  massively unpopular opinion.

I DO NOT WANT to get back to “normal life.” Not soon, and if I am honest, not ever.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how ‘normal life’ breaks people and communities through its enactment of privilege, how many people are silenced in so many ways, how at its root this is all about the trade of labour and creativity to enrich the few on the backs of many – and at the expense of the environment and all other beings. How I desperately, urgently, passionately want it all to CHANGE for the better on the other side of this. How afraid I am that it won’t. And how I feel increasingly paralyzed by the prospect of a ‘return to before.’

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This is true for me in relation to the broader culture in which I live, and for the sector in which I work. This is a moment in which we could – and should – recognize that not only will the ‘new normal’ be with us for a long time (2 metres for the win!), but the ‘old normal’ is something that we should neither wish for nor return to. It also may be moot – because the ‘old normal’ may not exist for much longer, regardless of what some (or most) people desire.

“Normal” or “business as usual” has been exposed with utter clarity by the pandemic:  the glaring gaps in care, the enormous disparities that are actively cultivated and maintained by the systems in which we live and work. How many people have no choice but to risk their health and that of their loved ones & work in this time, in order to survive; how the most vulnerable of us have even fewer options to remain safe and healthy.

How many of us have seen our entire sector shut down, cancelled, income evaporated, in already tenuous livelihoods.

So this is a point in which we can CHOOSE what kind of world we want to live in moving forward. And we need to ask these questions of ourselves – NOW – while we have the time and opportunity to do so.

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What are you prepared to do to create a more equitable culture and community as we come out of this? How can we work together to make that happen?

What aspects of ‘normal life’ are you happy to see gone?

I leave you with these questions – and encourage your replies … and also with an excellent essay by Lou Sheppard; they articulate far more eloquently than I some of the things that have been worrying me about what comes next.

Take Care of Each Other.

Sharing … at a Safe Distance

It’s been quiet here in some ways – and definitely not in others! Whilst we have all been minimizing our in-person contact with friends and colleagues (well ok, with EVERYONE!) for the last few weeks, there’s been a flurry of activity behind the scenes regarding advocacy and support initiatives of various sorts. It’s been confusing at times, and much has happened very quickly – so it’s been challenging to keep up and understand what is relevant to my profession as an independent visual artist, and to the sector as a whole.

Happily, CARFAC Alberta and CARFAC National have been doing a fantastic job of compiling and distilling information as it becomes available, and advocating for appropriate support for our sector. I have never been more grateful for the work these organizations do to support artists and advocate on their behalf. As a board member in both, I continue to offer my time and effort to help them help all of us.

If you want to chat about what’s available, what you are facing, and what CARFAC is doing, I’ll be part of an online session on MAY 2, from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm MDT

Join CARFAC Alberta for a SATURDAY ZOOM ENGAGEMENT…
What CARFAC is doing for Visual Artists during COVID -19
Hosted by Chris W. Carson: Executive Director, CARFAC Alberta and guest Sydney Lancaster: CARFAC National Board Member and Alberta Representative on the CARFAC National Board.

The ZOOM coordinates are here:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87871667746
Meeting ID: 878 7166 7746

I hope to see & hear from you then!