As a Project Partnership affiliated with York University, the Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW) Scalar Team, which is made up of diverse Canadian and international scholars, recognizes that many Indigenous Peoples have longstanding relationships with the territories upon which York University campuses are located, and that these relationships precede the establishment of York University. York University acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been care taken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat. It is now home to many First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This territory is subject of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement to peaceably share and care for the Great Lakes region. It is important to acknowledge the ancestral, unceded land of the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat, as the land on which we are currently living, learning, working, and organizing today.
The work at CSiW work focuses on transitional justice and reparations to the survivors of conjugal slavery and captivity and their children. As researchers committed to the promotion and the fight for human rights, we would like to take this opportunity to commit ourselves to the ongoing fight for survivor-centred reparations for Indigenous Peoples, and we denounce the systems of oppression that have dispossessed Indigenous Peoples from their lands and denied their rights to self-determination. Additionally, we would like to emphasize the importance of doing a land acknowledgement and its significance as a form of reparation we can all partake in. As in CSiW we have worked with displaced survivors, we have grown to understand the impacts and the significance of a land to a people and communities.
Through this project, we have learned and worked collaboratively with survivors to employ a survivor-centered approach, bring about conversations of justice and reparations, and develop community dialogues about survivors’ needs and their definitions of justice and reparations. The focus on reparations pertaining to Indigenous Peoples in Canada, a name that originates from the Mohawk (Kanyen’keha) word “Kanata”, is evermore important in the beginning of this new decade. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published its’ 94 Calls to Action. As of July 2021, 14 Calls to Action have been completed, with 10 of those actions pertaining to reconciliation and 2 to justice. However, we acknowledge that there is still much work to be done, noting the remaining 80 Calls to Action, with 41 of those relating to reconciliation measures and 15 relating to approaches to justice.
On the topics of knowledge production and education, both the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which was adopted as law in Canada on 21 June 2021, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action are relevant. TRC call 62.ii calls on federal, provincial, and municipal governments as well as Canadian institutions to “Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.” TRC call 86. Calls on “Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.” And UNDRIP Article 15 1 states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.”
With these calls, statements, and responsibilities in mind, and to work together to address the devastating effects of colonialism, forced removal, and genocide, we encourage workshop participants to engage in acts of reconciliation and to agitate to hold Canadian governments and institutions accountable for their responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples. We encourage you to have survivor-centred dialogues and conversations, to divest from settler-colonial ways of relating, and to follow the leadership of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in defining next steps in reconciliation and reparations.