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Feb 5 2020 - 5:00pm

201 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

Green College Cross-Sectoral Series: Indigenous/Science Partnerships - Exploring Histories and Environments

Seminars hosted at the Green College Coach House

Dr. Lucy Allais, UC-San Diego and Witswatersrand, Philosophy
Dr. Glen Coulthard, UBC, Critical Indigenous Studies
Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn, SFU, First Nations Studies

What does “reconciliation” mean in a Canadian context, for non-Indigenous Canadians and for the Indigenous communities with whom they hope reconcile? Critics and advocates alike acknowledge that the call for “truth and reconciliation” embodies a deeply conflicted bundle of hopes and aspirations. In the ideal it signals a commitment to right historic wrongs and address structural conditions that perpetuate the injustices of a settler-colonial state. But the goal of building a positive future together is, at best, an empty platitude if it doesn’t translate into clear action. At worst, when Indigenous peoples are called on to “harmonize” their demands for self-governance and territorial control with the sovereignty of the Canadian state, it risks re-entrenching the very inequities it was meant to address.

The panelists will address the difficult question of how to enact reconciliation and, indeed, whether reconciliation is the right framework for making positive change in a Canadian context. Glen Coulthard (Yellowknives Dene) is an incisive critic of the rhetoric of reconciliation when it makes the recognition of injustice an end in itself, an empty gesture that dissociates past harms from present injustices and changes little of substance. Eldon Yellowhorn (Piikani Nation) is engaged in a process of seeking restorative justice for Indigenous communities by locating and repatriating children who died as students in Indian Residential School. And Lucy Allais, a philosopher who hails from South Africa, will provide an analysis of different conceptions of restorative justice informed by an appraisal of the successes and failures of the South African Truth and Reconciliation process.

Dr. Lucy Allais, UC-San Diego and Witswatersrand, Philosophy

Lucy Allais is the Henry Allison Chair of the History of Philosophy at UC-San Diego. She is a well respected Kant scholar who also publishes widely on forgiveness, compassion and punishment, including essays on restorative justice informed by reflection on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She asks, for example, whether retributive justice can be served by restorative processes (Allais 2012) and, in “Wiping the Slate Clean” (2008), interrogates tensions between judgments of moral culpability, understanding, forgiveness, and resentment in the case of unjustifiable, inexcusable wrongdoing.

Abstract: My presentation will outline the workings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, in terms of the Amnesty process, the Victims’ hearings and the Reparations committee. I will sketch different conceptions of restorative justice that have been considered in relation to it, and will look at successes and criticisms of the TRC at the time, as well as the impact on the process of subsequent government failures.

Dr. Glen Coulthard, UBC, Critical Indigenous Studies

Glen Coulthard is Yellowknives Dene and an associate professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Departments of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Frantz Fanon Award for Outstanding Book, the Canadian Political Science Association’s C.B. Macpherson Award for Best Book in Political Theory in 2014/2015, and the Rik Davidson Studies in Political Economy Award for Best Book in 2016. He is also a co-founder of Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a decolonial, Indigenous land-based post-secondary program operating on his traditional territories in Denendeh (Northwest Territories).

Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn, SFU, First Nations Studies

Eldon Yellowhorn’s Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn is from the Piikani Nation. He received degrees in geography (BSc ‘83) and archaeology (BA ‘86) at the University of Calgary. He attended graduate school at Simon Fraser University, where he studied archaeology (MA ‘93). He completed his student career at McGill University (PhD ‘02). He began is academic career at Simon Fraser University in 2002. He established the Department of First Nations Studies on the Burnaby campus in 2012 and was Chair until 2017. He is a long-time member of the Canadian Archaeological Association and served on its executive committee as President (2010–12). Dr. Yellowhorn is a native speaker of Blackfoot and has worked on preserving the language using modern media such as animation and videography.

Abstract: Strewn across the country are missing children lying in unmarked graves in abandoned cemeteries. They represent the most egregious harm inflicted on children who died as students in residential schools. This injustice continues so long as the nation avoids a remedy. Calls to Action 71–76 focus attention on Missing Children and Burial Information. Seeking results for the words and sentiments contained in those clauses is possible within the modern research milieu of forensic anthropology. The Brandon Indian Residential School Project is a partnership between the Dakota Valley Sioux Nation, and the First Nations Studies and Archaeology departments at SFU. Our archaeological project will begin the process of excavating historic graves and we will use DNA and other methods of analysis to reclaim the identities of students. Our goal is to conduct collaborative research focusing on the cultural, social, legal, political, and forensic dimensions of unmarked graves at the Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba. Our intent is to repatriate their remains to their home communities. We hope this project will assist with the process of establishing formal jurisdictional protection for all IRS cemeteries across the country as well as a foundation for developing protocols and procedures that are based on forensic criteria and community engagement. Further, this project will demonstrate that university-based researchers and students can not only take the lead on addressing social justice issues and human rights violations cases, but also to work towards reconciliation by restoring justice through the repatriation of missing Indigenous children.