GPHY403: Geographies of Reconciliation

GPHY403: Geographies of Reconciliation

← Photo Credit: Marc Calabretta

COURSE OUTLINE: Extracted from the Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: ”Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children was an education system in name only for much of its existence. These residential schools were created for the purpose of separating [Indigenous] children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture—the culture of the legally dominant Euro-Christian Canadian society, led by Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The schools were in existence for well over 100 years, and many successive generations of children from the same communities and families endured the experience of them. That experience was hidden for most of Canada’s history.” Until now.

“Ultimately, the Commission’s focus on truth determination was intended to lay the foundation for the important question of reconciliation. Now that we know about residential schools and their legacy, what do we do about it? Getting to the truth was hard, but getting to reconciliation will be harder. It requires that the paternalistic and racist foundations of the residential school system be rejected as the basis for an ongoing relationship. Reconciliation requires that a new vision, based on a commitment to mutual respect, be developed. It also requires an understanding that the most harmful impacts of residential schools have been the loss of pride and self-respect of [Indigenous] people, and the lack of respect that non-[Indigenous] people have been raised to have for their [Indigenous] neighbours. Reconciliation is not an [Indigenous] problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.” This reconsideration includes the discipline of geography.

Through a broad range of readings, dialogue, and practice, this course ponders the geographies of truth, healing, and reconciliation between Indigenous and settler peoples in Canada, post 2015 when the TRC Final Report was released. We will further consider how decolonizing, participatory, and Indigenous research approaches have the potential to confront the socio-politico-historical power relations of Indigenous and western knowledge production, studying what truth, healing, and reconciliation look like in every-day lived experiences and the structures that shape/are shaped by them.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: 1. You will develop critical reflections on your own decolonizing process. 2. You will develop critical analytic skills in recognizing different approaches to truth, healing, and reconciliation. 3. You will learn about the ways in which decolonizing geography is inherently limited. 4. You will learn about the different theories and practices of decolonizing and their shortcomings. 5. You will learn about different case studies of truth, healing, and reconciliation in action and how geographers can contribute to unsettling the discipline. 6. You will develop a rich understanding of the roles and responsibilities of geographers in the ongoing journey towards reconciling our relations with each other and the lands we live upon.

COURSE TOPICS: 1. Decolonization; 2. Unsettling Geography; 3. Truth and Reconciliation; 4. Free, Prior, and Informed Consent; 5. Indigenous resurgence; 6. Allyship

COURSE READINGS: Students will read 3-4 journal articles or book chapters each week (approximately 60-80 pages).