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o kanata! resurgence, revitalization, and restorying the myth of the true north

July 1, 2021

Today, Métis student Sam Howden shares their thoughts. To learn more about the work Sam and other Indigenous students are doing to fight for social justice and human rights at X University, check out Wreckonciliation X University.

Content Warning: Residential schools

Photo of the head of the Egerton Ryerson statue at 1492 Land Back Lane by J.P. Antonacci

As we approach the national day of this country’s celebration, I wonder why the whole nation is not cloaking themselves in orange instead of red and white. I am grieving. Along with so many of my kin who do not know how to belong in a place which was stolen from under their feet and made into profit for settlers who do not respect Mother Earth. The insatiable Windigo economy
(La Duke, 2018) that spawned Rupert’s Land through the overharvesting of our relatives such as the beaver eventually led to the forcible removal and dispossession of Indigenous people from their land (Yellowhead, 2021). The ongoing discovery of the remains of countless innocents must give all persons a moment to pause and reflect upon the roots this genocide.

At this moment, we stand between the sacred and the profane. We gaze in bewilderment as the Windigo continues to haunt us through displacing our blockades and land defenders while we unearth our relatives land by land. How can we celebrate at a time like this? Where do we place our attention when the media continues to trigger and traumatize us through the mention of unmarked graves, numbers, and nations who have been murdered by the Canadian state? They tried to ‘Kill the Indian in the Child’ as per Duncan Campbell Scott (McDougall, 2018), but now the children are speaking up. We all are speaking up, we are rising, and we are still resisting.

Regardless of where you are on this day, and how you identify, I am asking you to consider what legacy and history you are celebrating? I am asking you to re-story the myth of the True North and think of the freedom Indigenous people ought to have. Think of the sovereignty, rights, and appropriate living conditions Indigenous people deserve as they continue to subsidize your lifestyle and those around you. I am asking you to join us by condemning Canada and holding it accountable for its crimes against Indigenous people. You must become a co-conspirator and embrace the complexities of our time as we must move forward together in order to tell the truth. We are far from reconciling, but we are closer to resurgence and revitalization so speak the truth. Join us in speaking our truths in our traditional tongues and wake up our ancestors to the sound of their musical ways. Let us grieve. Let us be in the ceremony and let us find a new reason and way forward to celebrate.

As I write this from my apartment in downtown T’karonto in the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg nation (Williams, 2018), I long for wild game and land back. I am surrounded by concrete in the place of trees. By streets instead of wild rice and by highways instead of streams, rivers, and Atlantic salmon (Williams, 2018). I long for an economy of abundance (Kimmerer, 2020) I long for the True North to find its moral compass.

Miigwetch & Ekosi,
Sam Howden of X University

Sam Howden (they/them) is a fourth year Métis undergraduate Social Work student and is currently completing their placement at Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services focusing on Indigenous wellness. They are also an Indigenous Field Assistant at the Ryerson Urban Farm. Sam is an active member of their community. They co-chaired the student committee at the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. Sam has a particular interest in anti-colonialism, anti-racism, critical disability, queer theory, harm reduction, and how these topics intersect with people’s lived experiences. Sam will be pursuing their Master’s Degree in Social Work at Ryerson University in September 2021. They are a Reiki Master, tarot card reader and spiritual energy practitioner. They also sew and create art.

Header photo by Brian Morris