The Leap Manifesto invites you to approach Canada Day differently

Here’s the email that landed in my in-box. I’ve borrowed this book from the library. I’m interested in decolonizing my mind. I’m also interested in knowing what you think.

Dear XXX,

Like many settlers to this land, I’ve taken Canada’s 150th birthday bash as an opportunity to reflect on the longer history of this place we call home.  You may have heard by now that for Indigenous peoples and their allies, July 1st is not a day to celebrate.


Why?  It’s pretty simple, when you dig into the history. Indigenous peoples have inhabited this land for hundreds of generations.  Colonial settlers arrived on this land about twenty generations ago — a blink of an eye by comparison [1].  But over that short time, the government of the country that would become Canada has taken 99.8% of this land from its original inhabitants [2].

Indigenous rights activist Arthur Manuel summed up the 150th bluntly: “I do not wish to celebrate Canada stealing our land” [3].

It’s a difficult truth.  This country was born through aggression, broken treaties, forced relocation and assimilation. That’s not an easy thing to reckon with, let alone square with the cheery official celebrations.

At The Leap, we’re striving to be part of a better history for our next 150 years on this land. We are all treaty people – and those treaties need to be honoured [4].  That’s why we’re standing with Idle No More and Defenders of the Land as part of “Unsettling Canada 150”.

Unsettling Canada 150 is a defiant, hopeful call to action for education and collective action on Indigenous rights.  The project is inspired by the legacy of Arthur Manuel, who passed away earlier this year. “It is fitting that we celebrate [his] life and work this year,” says Defenders of the Land spokesperson Russell Diabo. “Arthur was a leading force in the decolonial struggle as both a visionary and a strategic thinker.” [5 ]

There are lots of ways to get involved with Unsettling Canada 150:

* Want to gather on July 1st for a community counter-celebration of the 150th? Find an Unsettling 150 event near you here.

* Have two hours and want an historical, political & social movement education of this land, taught by legends? Check out this webinar featuring land defenders Ellen Gabriel, Russell Diabo,  and Beatrice Hunter, moderated by Kanahus Manuel.

* Ready to read and learn more about our living history? Pick up a copy of Arthur Manuel’s brilliant book Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call.  Other suggested readings include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action.  You can find excerpts and other reading ideas on the Unsettling Canada 150 website.

Let’s do this, Canada.  The truth about this country’s history has to come before the reconciliation begins.  Let’s get unsettled, and build a better future together.

Katie

On behalf of The Leap team


[1] Check out a nice Twitter summary on perspectives of historical time by archeologist Joanne Hammond: https://twitter.com/KamloopsArchaeo/status/877967893530464258

[2] “Until Canada gives Indigenous people their land back, there can never be reconciliation”Arthur Manuel.  Rabble.ca January 18, 2017

[3]Learn more about Arthur Manuel’s teachings and legacy at the Unsettling 150 website:

[4] “Know Your Rights: A treaty primer for non-natives.” The Media Co-Op. Dru Jay. January 14, 2013.  http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/dru/15600

[5] Russell Diabo quoted in the press release for Canada Must Read: Unsettling 150 edition: http://unsettling150.ca/canada-must-read/

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