Solidarité Milton-Parc’s Current Approach to Decolonization
This photo was taken in mid-2015 on the corner of Milton and deBleury. People in the Inuit community told us that they would construct these Inuksuit and daily people would knock them down, and the community would then rebuild them once again. This photo is posted here with the gracious permission of those who built it.
Please note: As we continue to listen, learn, reflect and act, we realize that decolonization is a huge, constantly changing process that happens on many different levels. In order to help facilitate our current process, we are exploring the following values, and definition which may change and be added to as we continue to learn, connect, reflect and act.
Solidarité Milton-Parc acknowledges that we are human and have our own individual patterns of conflict within ourselves and with each other. Recognizing this, we strive to practice the following values when coming together to work on decolonization:
Humility: This is the process of ‘unknowing’. That is, to suspend what we think we know about colonization and it’s effects; and focus on listening to Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour, reading materials written by Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour, and watching video, theatre and art made by Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour. This includes making space for connection, exchange and change by hosting open dialogues/speakers/events in which we take a critical look at our own individual ideas/beliefs about our own colonization; and how that shapes our views about people we are different from. This includes making space for workshops, presentations, speakers and events by and for Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour, and we intend to do this with our monthly Decolonization Space.
Honouring: This is the practice of being mindful and respectful of how we inhabit spaces and dominate discussion and problem solving strategies. This means checking how we individually take up space, and ensuring that when we are in Indigenous and/or People of Colour spaces, we are mindful not to dominate that space or the people in it in any way. It means giving right of way to Elders, women and children in and out of that space. This is also a practice of honouring each other as human beings, approaching each other with care, and where possible, asking the question: how can I contribute to your learning, growth and healing?
Honesty: Colonization is based on a foundation of lies, manipulation and incomplete public education, in addition to continuing broken promises on all political levels. For us, decolonization starts with doing our best to practice being honest with each other – without this foundation for trust, a decolonization process is disingenuous at best. Given most of us are accustomed to colonial ways of meeting where people often don’t feel safe to be honest, honesty is not nearly as easy as it might seem, and could also be considered a ‘practice’.
Healing: Lee Maracle, a First Nations writer and member of the Stoh:lo Nation, says grieve and connect. In order for decolonization to happen, it has to start with each one of us as individuals; with profound reflection about how settlers continue to benefit from colonial oppression and ongoing genocide, which is still happening right here in Milton-Parc. As settlers work out enough of their own grief, this allows reaching out and connecting with people to act together. Settlers can then become supporters and advocates of Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour’s counsel and wisdom regarding relationships; and when it comes to the protection of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
“Colonization is the dismantling of relationships.”
[with the land, each other, and all living beings that inhabit it]
~ Nicole Penak
For SMP, this simple definition resonates deeply. If colonization is the dismantling of relationships, then for us, decolonization is the constructing of honest, honouring relationships; including settler’s relationships with each other, and most importantly with Indigenous Peoples and Peoples of Colour. Since June 2015, and officially in November 2015, Solidarité Milton-Parc has been connecting and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, Peoples of Colour, and fellow settlers; to address how we come together to decolonize and take respectful, mindful action in relationship to each other and the land. Our goal is to launch and build ‘micro-communities’ of people who care for each other, to learn, support and take action together.
Our initiative’s process is very different from most others in that we are exploring how to work on decolonizing how we organize, learn and act. SMP members strive to take care of the needs of the initiative; and the initiative takes care of the needs of its members. We use a Popular Education learning model that recognizes that all members have equal importance regardless of ‘expertise’.
Nurturing honest relationships come first, along with a commitment to learning and dialoguing outside of the work we do together. We ask that people who join us do so in the spirit of critical open-mindedness and open-heartedness. Everyone working with us on decolonization understands that it is a life-long process of self-reflection and examining our own racism, sexism and other discriminations. We are prepared to deal with our own (sometimes very intense) feelings of discomfort, and we recognize that as part of the decolonization process.
If some of this resonates with you, you are welcome to join us in experimenting in how to think and behave differently towards each other, through a process of personal and interpersonal decolonization work.
Connect with Su at email@example.com for more information.