Summer of Our Decolonial Love - 7

By Mark Solomon posted 10-13-2017 07:49


Reconcilation isn’t a Second chance at Assimilation

 This week in Toronto we saw the clash of settler and Indigenous culture at its finest.  An Indigenous chef who owns a small restaurant in Toronto started serving seal meat.  This drew the ire of some people and they started a petition to have him stop serving seal.  If you have some time please watch Angry Inuk here to understand all aspects of the seal hunt.  The seal hunt isn’t just for food although the food is important, the money made by the community selling allows them to buy bullets, gas and repair their machines to provide for their families.


We also saw a similar conflict on Canada reads 2014 when Stephen Lewis debated the torture scenes in the Orenda with Wab Kinew.  Please watch it, its only 6 minutes but you will see Liberal sensitivities being challenged by Indigenous customs.  (BTW when Wab talks about the Buffalo skulls he didn't mention that he was dragging them by multiple piercings on his back)


In post-secondary we may think that this would never happen on our campus, well I will give you one word ….. smudging.  Now not all nations practice smudging.  Smudging, simply, is a purification/centering ceremony by having people wash smoke all over their bodies.  Instantly you hear the key word smoke, smoke is the big problem in our buildings where you can’t open a window, with sensitive alarms.  I will tell you a secret…… in all of 42 years I have never heard of a smoke alarm ever being set off by smudging or pipe ceremony.  So what is the problem?  Well the real problem is the smell.


Here we have competing rights, we have people with scent sensitivities and a religious ceremony.  Do you know what always wins on our campuses?  The former.  Indigenous people simply want to perform their ceremonies not harm and so will make accomodations by moving outside, fill out forms etc.  You know why?  Cause we are tired of the conversation, I have yet to hear of an accommodation allowing Indigenous people to gather and simply light up a smudge without asking permission, filling out a form or do it in a designated spot on campus.


Want another example???  How about asking Indigenous pow wow dancers and drummers to perform during lunch, receptions etc.  Pow wow dancing and drumming are sacred acts, ceremony.  It should not happen when there is alcohol is served.  I am sure all of you can think of a time when you held a drink and watched Indigenous dancers.  I know cause I was there fuming (@Jen McMillen noticed).  So why would a dancer not simply just say no.  Well, I can’t specifically say in each case, but most likely it is an economics thing.  I drummed for years and a majority of the men on the drum as well as the dancers had no secure income and thus these gigs paid the rent.


My wife @Amy Gaukel just bought a pair of Mukluks from Manitobah, an Indigenous company that is selling high quality footwear.  She posted this picture on her facebook account. 

Almost immediately one of her friends commented “fur really???”.  The rabbit fur was harvested from a factory which only was using the meat.  This is simply using the whole animal.  I was infuriated.  I was so proud that my wife supported our community and that she was overjoyed with the product and the artists.  This person looked at this support through settler eyes.  Imposed Liberal judgements on my culture. 


Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures will clash.  And our practices might offend liberal sensitivities. And that sucks but I am not sorry for that.  I am offended every single time I see my culture being put on display as entertainment, every time I have to fill out a form/notify someone that I performing the simplest of ceremonies and reading online about liberal bullying of an Indigenous person trying to reconnect to the land through their business. 


Indigenization cannot be a second chance at assimilation.


PS If you wanna sign the counter petition it is here.  It will make your heart feel good.