KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – My family now spans over seven generations of settlers who live on the unceded territory Mi’kma’ki. On our way to school one day I asked Flo, “How do I reconcile that on some level my family’s arrival to Mi’kma’ki is in part responsible for the displacement of the Mi’kmaq.”
Her answer per usual was to the point “Hun, you have no control over the colonial past, you cannot change what happened. However, you sure as heck can take responsibility for the future! There are so many ways that you can do this. First check your privilege. I mean really check your privilege. By that I mean check you unearned access to resources that you easily have because of the colour of your skin and that other people can’t access because they aren’t white. Ask yourself, why is your privilege so hard to see?
“Privilege doesn’t mean you have not had a hard life, or you haven’t worked hard. Heck you are doing a PhD and you are tackling social justice issues in Mi’kma’ki, we both know that is hard work. What it means is that compared to someone else, like me for example, you have not experienced the same types of oppression, injustices that I have. In fact, it is your invisible benefits that allow you to have a very different life experience than me.”
“What is something you take for granted because of privilege? How are your life experiences different from mine because of your position of privilege? Heck why does this even matter? Once you start waking up to some of the answers you find, how are you going to use our position of power and influence and be an active agent in decolonization?”
Flo then said “Let me ask you some questions with simple yes and no answers. Keep in mind that whatever your answer will be the opposite from me.”
“When your daughter’s left the house and went out with friends in Halifax, did you worry that they could be kidnapped and sold in the sex trafficking market?”
“Do you have a family member that attended residential school?”
“Do you feel like the HRM police and RCMP officers are here for your protection?”
“Has anyone ever treated you in a negative way because of the colour of your skin?”
“Are you afraid to go to the dentist because they make extremely uncomfortable racist statements and make you feel uncomfortable and not safe?”
“Do you understand what it means to live and share space on the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq?”
With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.
Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!