A Brilliant (Indigenous) Author to Read: Alicia Elliott

“The book I’m talking about is Alicia Elliott’s A Mind Spread Out on The Ground, which combines the author’s personal experience with broader issues of politics, colonialism, and history. Elliott’s essays cover a wide range of topics: racism, poverty, sexual assault, abuse, mental health, headlice, photography, etc. And I love the way she handles these topics almost simultaneously, making connections that I never would have thought of myself.” By Sofia Watt Sjöström

Land Acknowledgements: What’s the Point?

“When they’re done right, I think land acknowledgements are a bit like historical plaques. They force us to confront history – rather than brushing over it or tearing it down. For many, they are an opportunity to learn. Land acknowledgements are not only historical, either, but also emphasize the land’s relevance to Indigenous communities today. For Indigenous listeners, they can be a form of affirmation – a reminder that Indigenous peoples are recognized and ‘welcome here'”. By Sofia Watt Sjöström

Zero Tax, Free University and Free Homes: Do Indigenous People Really Get These Perks? 

“Indigenous peoples do not have an inherently easier time than non-Indigenous people in Canada. If they have Indian status and live on reserve (two conditions which many do not fill), they might be eligible for certain benefits. There are plenty of legal and historical reasons for this, but, no, it’s not perfectly fair. I don’t think that anyone believes that this situation is ideal. Not only are these benefits not available to all, but Indigenous communities are also subject to plenty of other injustices.” By Sofia Watt Sjöström

Reconciling the School System

“How do we reconcile Education with Reconciliation? First, we must challenge our own Eurocentric, colonial, racist, etc. biases, at every step along the way. Today’s education system is not, in fact, value neutral. Historically, it was designed to allow for the domination of a particular discourse, whether explicitly, or subtly through what is emphasized and omitted. Schooling allowed for European languages and traditions to dominate at the expense of Indigenous ones – and continues to do so today. Even now, Indigenous perspectives are foreign, extracurricular, add-on, or untested material. Just as women’s voices have so long been kept out of the ranks of “great” literature, so, too, Indigenous voices are marginalized. In both cases, of course, it is beginning to change – but the change is far from systemic.” By Sofia Watt Sjöström

Getting Beyond Residential Schools: Reclaiming Education

“This has been happening for decades. Already in 1970, brave Indigenous parents occupied the Blue Quills residential school in Alberta, and successfully made it their own. And in the years that followed, several more residential schools were taken over across Saskatchewan. Sadly, we don’t always hear these stories. But it’s important to remember that Indigenous people fought back against the residential school system. They were not merely passive victims.” By Sofia Watt Sjöström

What is Reconciliation? And What Can I Do?

“I learnt about Reconciliation on a personal level when I participated in a Circle for Reconciliation. Almost exclusively volunteer-led, this organization brings six Indigenous and six non-Indigenous individuals together, during an hour each week, for ten weeks. Its goal, more than anything, is to create mutually respectful relationships – the small-scale manifestation of Reconciliation. To take this even further, the organization itself is owned and led by Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders. They attempt to embody “full and equal partnership” in every decision they make.” By: Sofia Watt Sjöström

“Why Don’t They Just Get Over It?” – The Long-term Impact of Residential Schools

“The legacy of the residential schools extends well beyond survivors’ lives. For instance, Indigenous communities have disproportionately high rates of infant mortality, diabetes, suicide, and substance-induced deaths. Indigenous people are 58% more likely than non-Indigenous ones to be the victims of crimes. 1079 Indigenous women were killed from 1980 to 2012, and still, they continue to go missing. Also, Indigenous people are overrepresented as the perpetrators of crimes. Although they only represent 4% of the general population, they make up 28% of those in custody.” By Sofia Watt Sjöström

Evil, in the name of ‘Education’: An Overview of the Residential Schools

“In total, about 150’000 children were subjected to an ‘education’ in the residential schools. The net effect was a loss of culture, language and identity that was often multigenerational. Many survivors could not, or did not want to teach their mother tongues to their own children. Some became almost permanently estranged from their families and communities” By Sofia Watt Sjöström

Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce: The Doctor Who Sounded the Alarm about Residential Schools

“In 1907, Dr. Bryce showed that residential schoolchildren were dying at a rate of 24% or more, across Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. He had no doubts about the cause: widespread tuberculosis. Even before the children entered residential schools, many of them were exposed to this disease, shortening their life expectancy. Shockingly, death rates in Indigenous communities were sometimes eight times as high as those in the predominantly non-Indigenous cities. Hence, although the white population grew at a steady rate of 1.5%, the Indigenous population decreased.” By Sofia Watt Sjöström