I have a special mid-week blog post for you today, written by Lianne Charlie. Lianne posted this on her Facebook feed yesterday in response to the visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Whitehorse, Yukon, and was kind enough to allow me to post it here on Unwritten Histories. This blog post is intended as the beginning of a conversation about larger issues around colonialism, the environment, and reconciliation. Thank you, Lianne!
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in Whitehorse today, and half the town is out to see them. My facebook feed is full of photos posted by media outlets reporting on their visit. When I drove by Main Street on my way to work, I saw lots of people lining the streets, waving flags, and holding red and white balloons – all hoping for a glimpse. It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype—there is just so much energy and excitement surrounding their visit—but I’m not excited at all.
Their visit is being hyped as an act of reconciliation. We’re being invited by local government(s) and the media to see their visit as an opportunity to forge new ground, to bring Indigenous issues to the forefront of canadian consciousness, and to continue to build a foundation for a “new relationship” between Indigenous Peoples and Canada. Sounds nice, but I’m wary. The Duke and Duchess are a colonial institution. They represent a family, genealogy, and worldview that historically has done nothing good for Indigenous People, our lands, and our lifeways. Their ancestors are responsible for colonial expansion across Turtle Island, Africa, and the Pacific. Their ancestors are responsible for the death, dispossession, and enslavement of millions of Indigenous Peoples.
And it continues today, but in a new, more palatable form. The royals were in unceded Heiltsuk territory earlier this week building hype around future projects that will protect the Great Bear Rainforest in BC. Less than 24 hours later, Trudeau (another colonial institution) announced the approval of LNG—“a $36-billion liquefied natural gas development by the Malaysian-based multinational corporation Petronas, which would see natural gas moved by pipeline from the province’s northeast to a terminal on the coast, where it would then be exported to Asia” (https://ricochet.media/…/justin-trudeau-approves-36-billion…) – despite Indigenous resistance and unprecedented future environmental impacts.
It’s all related.
I’m a deeply concerned about the well-being of our people and the future of our ancestral lands/waterways. I understand our current circumstances and the struggles we face as Indigenous peoples to survive, and to protect ourselves and our homelands to be directly related to continued colonialism. I can’t ignore the link between the royals and colonialism. I can’t show up to greet them, when they represent a way of life, mentality and force that I actively resist and work hard to dismantle.