Readings for Treaty People started in the early months of 2018, after the two of us–Jocelyn Parr and Richard Cassidy–had finished an intense six months reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report on Indian Residential Schools. Reading the TRC made us realize how little we knew—not only about residential schools, but about settler colonialism in Canada more generally. Mainstream discourse about reconciliation suddenly seemed to be skipping a step: we wanted to know more and knew others that wanted to know more too. We went to a lot of talks and kept hearing indigenous thinkers and activists call upon settlers to learn about settler colonialism and systemic racism themselves, without expecting indigenous peoples to do the explaining. Readings for Treaty People was our way to take responsibility as settlers for this learning, and to help others do the same.
We are old friends, life-long students, and life-long educators. We’re settlers on this land, and, in the context of this project, we think of ourselves as facilitators: we want to facilitate decolonization in ourselves, in our classrooms, and in our society. We grew up in a society that repeatedly voted for the Indian Act, imagined Indigenous peoples only in an antiquated, romantic, or long suffering past, and has failed and keeps failing to honour the treaty agreements that have bound us together in nation-to-nation relationships across this land. (Except, of course, when and where there are no treaties, in which case settlers should wonder in a very real sense: how did I get here?) In short: the unlearning is as much as ours as it is everyone who joins us around the table, readings spread out in front of them, pens in hand.
To learn more, or to join us in our upcoming session, please fill out the contact us form on the welcome page of the website. Click here to go there now!