Contribution by Settler: K. Grant, participant in Settler UX Research, Spring-Summer 2019 (03/25/2019)
From Xwelítem Ways Towards Practices of Ethical Being. As mentioned in previous posts- part of my identity is made up of settler, academic, educator and student labels. I am a novice educator and researcher in a Western university, a Criminology MA student in a Western university, and a settler Canadian. These mixed roles have ended up being spaces of contention as I try to learn how to ethically co-resist, teach, and research with and for Indigenous peoples. Research on Indigenous peoples serves the researcher who designs a project, goes into the community and uses them as a passive data source (Koster, Baccar, Lemelin, 2012, p.200). Research with #Indigenous peoples is a mutually beneficial partnership between the community and the researcher from start to finish of the project (Koster et al., 2012, p.200). #Research with Indigenous #community serves the community and occurs when a #community reaches out to a researcher for assistance (Koster et al., 2012, p.200).
(Note: below I give a few stats/facts and am well aware they are barley scratching the surface but I use them in a sense of this may be things students hear but may hear out of context, not enough of, or have not yet had the dots connected)
The field of criminology has the responsibility through its relationship to Western academic institutions and to the criminal justice system to enter into #decolonizing #realtionships with Indigenous peoples. Both relationships have played fundamental historical and contemporary roles in the #colonization of Indigenous peoples. Western #education is linked to the Indian Residential schools, which between 1879 and 1996 forcibly removed 150,000 Indigenous children from their homes and families and subjected them to a curriculum that belittled their culture (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2014, p.4; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, pp.3, 45, 72). University #curriculum, teaching methodologies, and research endeavours have been used to suppress and subordinate Indigenous knowledges, #worldviews, and peoples through a paradigm that benefited only the white researcher. And, Indigenous peoples are over-represented in every stage of the #criminal #justice system. For example, Indigenous girls make up 43% of all female youths admitted to correctional facilities, while Indigenous women comprise 38% of the provincial/territorial correction populations, and 31% of the federal correctional populations (Malakeih, 2017, p. 5; Retiano, 2017, p.5). Moreover, despite representing only 2% of the Canadian population the RCMP acknowledge 1,181 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls between 1980 and 2014 (Gilchrist, 2010, p.373).
Indigenous peoples are one of the most researched groups on earth, which has generated (FOUNDED!) #mistrust and #resistance on the part of Indigenous communities (Martin & Mirraboopa, 2009, p. 203). Moreover, ineffective research relationships and experiences have resulted in research fatigue caused by various researchers examining the same topic with no solution to the problem being given back to the community, despite the burdens and drain placed on the community (Brunger & Wall, 2016, p.1868). This burden comes not just from being research participants. It manifests in the unfortunate necessity of Indigenous peoples (most especially those deemed knowledge holders in the community) to mentor and educate non-Indigenous researchers. It is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual labor that takes away from directing “their energies towards their own families and community healing and resurgence” (Heaslip, p.84). Indigenous peoples are tired of researchers coming in and documenting all the things wrong with their communities (Strega & Brown, 2015, p.5). As Ball (2005) states, the research focuses on “youth suicide, child neglect, alcohol abuse, family violence, poor nutrition, [and] embezzlement…You[‘d] think people would want to figure out how we survive White people for so many hundreds of years…How about some research on what’s right about us? About what makes us #resilient” (as cited in Strega & Brown, 2015, p.5).
The academy needs to see the importance and dire need to work in #partnership with Indigenous peoples. And, I believe I am seeing this more often. Moreover, it needs to adapt to the demands of this form of research and perhaps help prepare students to undertake this role in an ethical and respectful manner rather than resort to telling non-Indigenous researchers there is no space for them or try to push them into the new ‘hot topic’ for research. This is the response I had from the academy and it had me take my own moments to “retreat and look in the mirror” because I questioned if there was a space for me in this work and at times if this topic was important enough (Land, 2015, p.2). It was not until I read Heaslip’s (2017) doctoral thesis that I felt secure in my decision that there is a space for a white occupier researcher if I remain attuned to whether I am creating or taking space from Indigenous peoples (among many other lessons!).
Indigenous peoples in many different ways and places are offering us —as non-Indigenous people “who have come to live on and occupy Indigenous lands—a new path, a new relationship…they are asking us to come into this ethical space of engagement…[but] we—settlers—are, for the most part, not listening…we must be open to changing ourselves” (Heaslip, 2017, p.18) Instead, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are engaged “not in a dialogue but in two monologues” talking past each other (Reagan, 2010, p.115). White settlers remain locked in the ways of interacting with Indigenous peoples from only a colonizer/colonized and perpetrator/victim #relationship (Reagan, 2010, p.115). It does not need to be this way, and in fact it cannot remain this way unless we as Canadians have decided to accept that #cultural #genocide will continue to be woven into our fabric as a nation. White settlers need to recognize that Indigenous peoples are offering us a space that we as Canadians can co-resist ongoing contemporary colonialism, take responsibility and make reparations for historical injustices, and enter into the possibility of existing on these lands in peaceful ways (Heaslip, 2017, p.18).
I first began to take serious steps in reconciliation in 2014 when I viewed the film Finding Dawn (I highly highly highly recommend a watch). This led to my ongoing research into the #MMIWG and transformative learning and teaching. Despite the years between 2014 and 2017, the first real piece of advice I found for beginning ethical research as a settler came from Robyn Heaslip’s 2017 PhD thesis. In her Guidance for Decolonizing White Settler Research and Act #Heaslip names: 1. Recognizing and accepting that settler colonialism is an ongoing contemporary reality shaping the daily lives of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. 2. Choosing to intervene and co-resist contemporary colonialism and work towards #reparations and #restitution for historical injustices Indigenous people have endured 3. Learning to See; respect and situate ourselves within Indigenous homelands, including respecting #Indigenous_Laws. This includes rooting research and actions in place, particular colonial histories and present-day realities, and the resurgence of the Indigenous Nations whose lands we are occupying 4. Accepting and acting on the recognition that settler colonialism will not be deeply challenged, nor will justice for Indigenous people be found without a profound #transformation of the White Settler problems. We must turn the lens on ourselves and recognize the depth of conditioning that maintains the unjust colonial relationship (pp.30, 50, 77).
Brunger, F., & Wall, D. (2016). “What Do They Really Mean by Partnerships?” Questioning the Unquestionable God Ethics in Guidelines Promoting Community Engagement in Indigenous Health Research. Qualitative Health Research, 26(13), 1862- 1877. doi10.1177/1049732316649158
Gilchrist, K. (2010). “Newsworthy” Victims?: Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White women. Feminist Media Studies, 10(4), 373–390. doi:10.1080/14680777.2010.514110
Heaslip, R. (2017). From Xwelítem Ways Towards Practices of Ethical Being in Stó:lō Téméxw: A Narrative Approach to Transforming Intergenerational White Settler Subjectivities. (Unpublished Doctorate Dissertation) University of Victoria, Victoria, BC
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (2014). Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada. Retrieved from http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/indigenous-women-bc-canada-en.pdf
Koster, R., Baccar, K., & Lemelin, R. (2012). Moving from research ON to research WITH and FOR Indigenous communities: A critical reflection on community-based participatory research. The Canadian Geographer, 56(2), 195-210. doi 10.1111/j.1541-0064.2012.00428.x
Malakieh, J. (March 1, 2017). Youth correctional statistics in Canada, 2015/16, Juristat, ISSN 1209-6393. Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/14702-eng.pdf
Martin, K., & Mirraboopa, B. (2003). Ways of knowing, being and doing: A theoretical Framework and methods for indigenous and Indigenist re-search. Journal of Australian Studies, 27(76), 203-214. doi 10.1080/14443050309387838
Regan, P. (2010). Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada. UBC Press: Vancouver, Canada