A Settler Survey

9 thoughts on “A Settler Survey”

  1. My copy of the book is waiting for me at Oxford Books. I’m forcing myself to respond to this questionnaire before I go pick it up. Because I know my answers (or my inability to answer) will be humiliating. I know about the Northwest rebellion, and Riel, and Garbriel Dumont. I’ve been to the play about Riel’s trial that runs continuous summers in Regina. And I’m familiar with the controversy about his statue. I know about Big Bear from reading Rudy Wiebe. Don’t know about my own treaty territory now, although the local first nation were the Attonawandarons. ( I won’t even allow myself to google the correct spelling. The spell check doesn’t like the way I’ve done it, although they’d probably object to the correct version too. They don’t like “Wiebe,” after all.) A subsection of the Neutrals, I believe, but I’m not sure. Native name for London was Antler River (to describe the forks of the Thames). “Antler River” also the name of James Reaney’s play about London. This local stuff I know from working with Jamie. Thomson Highway was in a year-long drama workshop led by Jamie, that was working on his play “Wacousta!” Highway taught us how to play lacrosse, and taught us several Cree words. I think there was a residential school in Brantford, don’t know about any others. When I was a kid, in Vancouver, our school owned two filmstrips, which were shown to us monthly (I may be exaggerating). One about Haida carving, and the other about tooth decay. Emily Carr was one of my mother’s heroes. We frequently stopped to admire the totem poles at Prospect Point in Stanley Park. This is all anecdotal rambling, and skimming the surface. I don’t think any of it really qualifies as “knowledge.”

    I understand where you’re coming from with these questions. When we heard Madeleine Thien talk about her book Dogs at the Perimeter at Western yesterday, her short analysis of the situation in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime was incredibly helpful.

  2. Laurie, excellent idea. I can answer most of the those questions except, of course, until very recently I did not know who lived where my unsettler ancestral home was. And this is perhaps the most significant unknown since it belied my own inability to grasp the nature of the unsettlement or, perhaps more appropriately, to ungrasp the nature of settlement.

  3. I come up pretty empty with the first 3 questions, though since grade 4 the name Louis Riel rings in my mind like a bell. I live in unceded Okanagan Territory. The nearest residential school to me was the school in Kamloops. To the south, in the vicinity of Vernon is the Okanagan Reserve. To the north, toward Enderby is the Secwepemc Reserve in unceded Shuswap territory.

      1. I am from Ontario and still live here, first in Toronto and now in Kingston. I know nothing about the Northwest Resistance or the Frog Lake Massacre”, and most of the names in the third question are unknown to me. Louis Riel and his fight are my part of my mother’s paternal ancestors’ story. My great-grandfather was Metis, surname Gosselin, first name Felix ,and abandoned his family in Ottawa to take up the cause of Riel. He seems to have disappeared after he left them, and I can find no trace of him. The treaty territory I live in now is Ojibway. As I read this the closet reserve is in Deseronto.

  4. Laurie and I have covered a lot of the same story – she as a poet and I as a prose writer – not only as descendants of homesteaders in Alberta but also as conscious artists shocked into recognition of the “other” who were residents of the plains millennia before our immigrant forebears. So I’ve been in a long period of self-education ever since I had my big epiphany – that the mass hangings at Battleford of Cree warriors occurred only 15 years before my paternal grandfather took out homestead title not so far from Frog Lake. Of course, the Ukrainian-Canadian community has never acknowledged the proximity of these two events. For us it’s all about “empty” and “free” land we cultivated and brought into “civilization.” I’ve been trying to make up for this oblivion ever since. (With not much success: go visit for yourself the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village at Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton.) So you can imagine how grateful I am for Laurie’s Settler Education coming from the generation after mine. I’ve written The Frog Lake Reader and the Seven Oaks Reader as well as essays and a play; and co-hosted with Metis community activist Sharon Pasula a Ceremonial Exchange of Gifts we called Zemlya/Nanaskomun = Land/We give thanks, in Ukrainian and Cree, respectively. Check it all out on my website. As for residential schools near where I grew up and still live – Edmonton – I only became aware of those far way on reserves NE of Edmonton in the 1970s. Edmonton is on Treaty 6 territory and I’ve managed to get my Ukrainian-Orthodox parish to acknowledge same. But now I understand that the correct formulation is “The parish of St Elia Ukrainian-Orthodox parish acknowledges it was founded on traditional Indigenous territory.” Referencing the Treaties is now considered too rooted in colonial relations.

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