Decolonization and Indigenization is the New Reconciliation

Decolonization and indigenization is the new reconciliation.

And many of our people are blindly holding, and even kissing, colonialism’s hand in the process.

So many of our people are willingly playing the lead role in the now colonial-skewed process of “decolonization” and “indigenization.”

They are becoming the pets to the university deans, the star-pupils to the healthcare executive directors, the celebrities to the city’s mayor, and the champion students to the prime minister – ultimately, they are allowing themselves to become, and are complying to, roles of tokenism so heavily steeped in colonialism that they are becoming the tokenized version of the Indian that colonialism is so deeply infatuated with.

The Indian that allows themselves to be a child to the toxic, authoritative parent that is colonialism.

The Indian that needs to be rescued from their savage ways.

Because the only good indian, is a colonized indian.

And today that looks like an Indian who thinks they are decolonizing and indigenizing colonial systems, when really they are colonizing themselves in the process.

Colonialism’s version of decolonization and indigenization is an Indian operating and agreeing to colonialism but wearing buckskin and eagle feathers to show their indigeneity.

As our people commit to “decolonizing” and “indigenizing” within colonial confines, what is underneath all of this is a process of “decolonization,” and “indigenization” that is so surface deep that colonialism is seeping and pouring through the land acknowledgements and name changes from Indian to indigenous in these institutions.

The reigns of “decolonization” and “indigenization” are being guided by colonialism. It has been co-opted so heavily that it is no longer an indigenous movement- but a colonial one.

And we are acting like we have all forgotten how to lead, as we sit in the back-seat, nodding our heads and shaking hands with whichever white leader will send a smile in our direction.

All in the name of decolonization and indigenization.

Because now the university deans can say they “respect” indigenous peoples because they acknowledged the land and treaty territory that the institution stands on, yet yesterday, they committed intellectual violence against an indigenous student in their office as they told them their Master’s thesis on racism within the university leadership is too risky.

The healthcare executive directors can say they “appreciate” indigenous peoples because they have a smudging room at their hospitals one day, but continue to ignore the complaints of racism and discrimination against their nurses and doctors each and every day made by the very same indigenous peoples they “appreciate.”

The city’s mayor can say they hold indigenous peoples in “high regard” as they speak at the National Aboriginal Day event one day, but can claim ownership and control over stolen indigenous lands in “their” cities and towns every. single. day.

The prime minister can say he has a “deep appreciation” for indigenous peoples for his whole campaign, he can even visit numerous indigenous communities and take photos shaking their hands and kissing their babies, but can force pipelines through their territories the next that will ultimately kill future generations of those same families he shook hands with.

And they can all say “we are moving forward in the process of decolonization and efforts in indigenization” as they take photos with young indigenous peoples that they have severely tokenized.

And those young people? They feel it deep down that something is off, something does not make sense, yet they’re constantly told “you have a great future ahead of you,” and “you are so resilient,” and “you are going to make a change for your people.”

The future they’re talking about? A colonial one.

If we, as indigenous peoples, really wanted to regain self-determination over our own processes of decolonization and indigenization, we would not be allowing colonial institutions to “lead” the efforts.

We would not allow colonial leaders to control the direction it is going in.

We would not allow ourselves to be subjugated to the extent where one indigenous person who agrees to pipelines, represents all indigenous peoples.

We would not allow colonial systems to complete the process of pairing efforts of decolonization and indigenization in the same box as reconciliation.

If we, as indigenous peoples, really wanted to regain self-determination over our own processes of decolonization and indigenization, we would not even allow colonialism to lay a finger on, or have a say on, what indigenization and decolonization looks like.

Indigenization and decolonization would be such a deeply motivated indigenous effort that we would only begin to see if weaving its way through ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Efforts of Indigenization and decolonization would not be arrogantly sliding out of the mouths of white, patriarchal males at institutions that are still killing our young people through suicide daily.

Indigenization and decolonization needs to become what it was intended to for indigenous peoples.

A process and space where indigenous peoples can individually reclaim their mother tongues and learn how to forgive mothers and fathers to restore families. Where indigenous families can revitalize kinship systems so heavily infused with familial reciprocity, cooperation, and shared responsibility of care-taking of children that generations of familial cut-offs are easily restored, and where indigenous communities can remember indigenous leadership to the point where Indian Act chief and councils completely, and miraculously, dissolve, because colonial leadership values will never work for our people.

Indigenization and decolonization was formerly meant for our children. It was a movement intended to remind ourselves, as indigenous kokums, moshums, mothers and fathers, aunties, uncles, sisters, brother, and cousins how to raise our nations with practices ingrained in intergenerational knowledge, intergenerational truth, and intergenerational love. Free of colonial dictatorship, patriarchy, misogyny, and white supremacy.

It was intended for indigenous, by indigenous peoples.

It came from a place of “change needs to happens, and here’s how it will happen,” by our people.

Decolonization and indigenization is the new reconciliation.

And I, for one, will not allow colonialism to, yet again, continue to steal something that is rightfully ours as Indigenous peoples.

And how do we change it?

By no longer recognizing it as decolonization and indigenization.

By recognizing it as another branch of colonization when colonial systems are skewing it to fit their toxic, and racially motivated, agendas.

By doing us. Ourselves. Without decolonization and indigenization.

By ultimately, becoming living examples of indigenous resurgence, revitalization through the recovery of our mother-tongues, kinship systems, healthy lifestyles, land-based practices, forgiveness processes, and traditional diets.

Because indigenization and decolonization is the new reconciliation.

And practicing indigenous systems, is the new resurgence.

And we need this. For our own survival.

Artwork by: Aura.

Inspired by: Mackenzie Anderson

Ig: @auralast

This Reconciliation is for the Colonizer

This reconciliation is for the colonizer. 

This settler-colonial reconciliation branded by the government is artificially sweetened with handshake photo-ops and small pockets of money buying out silence on real issues.

The fad and conversation of reconciliation that our people are playing a role in is immobilizing “leadership” and converting indigenous peoples into colonially operated marionettes.

This type of reconciliation is a distraction. 

Instead of being idle no more, we are “reconciling some more” with present day Indian act agents whose hands are choking out our voices for land, water, and our children’s minds. 

This type of reconciliation is for the ones who want to be “friends” with the Indians for land commodification reasoning, for the ones who whisper the words “im sorry” as they watched the priests and nuns rape our children, for the ones who shut their eyes and turned away when genocide was bleeding into their forts, for the ones who defy Treaty daily- without remorse, and it’s for the ones who beat you, apologize, and beat your daughter and their daughters in the coming years.

This type of reconciliation is for the professors at universities who are pro-Trudeau and believe “decolonizing” universities looks like mandatory Indigenous studies classes yet those very same professors still belittle, marginalize, and see themselves better than, smarter than, and superior to every indigenous student in their classes, shaming them for their brown skin and indigenous minds.

This type of reconciliation is for the professionals in work-spaces who want to aid in repairing the settler-Indigenous relationship in their work places but when an Indigenous women brings her children into that space because her sitter didn’t show up that morning, the mother will be told that her children need to leave because they’re laughter doesn’t line up with colonial workplace standards.

This type of reconciliation helps elderly white woman carry their groceries to their vehicle, but later follows a single indigenous woman with 3 children in the store, aisle after aisle, under the suspicion that she will shoplift.

This type of reconciliation will have dollars for moccasin making and small “cultural” events, but those accounts will be “out of money” the moment those events begin to engage in conversations and action around indigenous liberation, sovereignty, and nationhood.

This type of reconciliation sponsors powwows through companies like Potash and Shell, hoping the 1000 first place special will buy out a few hundred acres of indigenous land more easily.

This type of reconciliation claims residential schools are over but maintains a superior and oppressive power dynamic between settler adults and indigenous children at its own convenience.

This type of reconciliation declares “no foul play” to the bodies of young indigenous youth found in the riverbanks in this country’s most racist cities but later claims they celebrate the lives of indigenous peoples.

This type of reconciliation organizes a national inquiry for missing and murdered indigenous women but neglects to do any actual work by configuring the timeframe to benefit the colonizer and showing that bringing justice to murdered indigenous women is something that can go on summer vacation.

This type of reconciliation invents a “new nation to nation relationship” and teaches our people that the only way we can access our treaty rights is if we have a status card, completely negating from the truth that we, as indigenous peoples, do not need a new “nation to nation relationship,” as ours is with the crown “as long as the sun shines, grass grows, and water flows,” and those status cards have nothing to do with our treaty rights.

This type of reconciliation was born by the colonizer’s TRC and will die on the very same shelves as those documents in the halls and walls of colonial buildings. For their benefit.

This type of reconciliation claims they are not racist but makes degrading comments about the braids on your sons and the skin of your daughters in public spaces.

This type of reconciliation will say it wants to bring justice to our women but is raping the very land our mothers were birthed on for generations. 

This type of reconciliation will say there are no funds for following through with Jordan’s principle, none for the lack of clean drinking water in communities, zero for decreasing the price of food in northern communities, and nothing for the mouldy housing and schools that indigenous children must learn in everyday, but will spend half a billion dollars on Canada 150 – a birthday party founded and based upon genocide.

This type of reconciliation claims to “love” indigenous peoples but expects your indigenous child to sing “oh Canada” in their classroom every morning, standing up.

This type of reconciliation is “making space” for indigenous peoples in writing and editorials but later compiles money together to create an appropriation prize.

This type of reconciliation is “putting an end” to indigenous young people killing themselves but only provides enough money for communities to bring in guest speakers and concerts rather than full time therapists equipped with all the tools needed to aid young people in full-blown crisis. 

This type of reconciliation “seeks” to decrease the numbers of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system but will place a young indigenous male in solitary confinement for 4 years for no real reason other than being an Indian in “Canada.” 

This type of reconciliation wants to build better relationships with indigenous peoples but is building better ways to commit treason, genocide, colonization, and prejudice with nice hair and a smile of lies.

This reconciliation is for the colonizers. 

This is a time of pseudo-reconciliation for continued colonization.

This reconciliation is colonization, disguised with dollar signs and white-skinned handshakes. 

This reconciliation is not our reconciliation. 

Because.

The only reconciliation that exists for us, as Indigenous nations, is the reconciliation we need to find within ourselves and our communities, for agreeing and complying to this madness for so long. 

The only reconciliation that exists for us, is the reconciliation needed to forgive our families, our loved ones, for acting like the colonizer.

The only reconciliation we need. Is a reconciliation that doesn’t involve white skinned handshakes and five dollar handouts for our lands.

The only reconciliation we need is indigenous reconciliation. Free of money. Handshakes. Photo-ops. Inquiries with summer vacations. The continued rape of our women, our girls, our lands, and our babies. Highway of tears and roadways of fears. The continued murder of our women, our girls, our lands, and our babies. Free of shaming our boys out for being indigenous boys with indigenous hair. Free of shaming our girls for being indigenous girls with indigenous skin. Free of support for the colonizer’s version of indigenous “culture,” yet no support money for liberation. Free of supremacy. Trickery. Fake it til you make it syndrome. Indian agents. Sir John A Macdonald governments disguised as Trudeau. Colonial chiefs. Free of the continued manipulation, colonization, degradation, and humiliation of Indigenous people. Free of colonially written documents claiming to “save” us, viewing us always, as victims. Free of the lyrics of Oh Canada for breakfast for our children. 

Instead of us living in times of reconciliation, we are living in times of recolonization. 

And it will only happen if we allow it.

This reconciliation is for the colonizer. And we need to leave this conversation. 

We need to reconcile with ourselves. With our families. With our nations.

For our babies. 

Because I want our children to to learn about our own liberation, rather than the colonizer’s reconciliation. 

And I want our children to know that 
Indigenous liberation will always overthrow colonial reconciliation. 

Because having our homelands is more important to me than a photo-op and handshake with government officials named Trudeau. 

Artwork by: Votan Henriquez