Keynote Address by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (U Toronto), “Present Tense: Ruptures, Disruptions/ReGeneration and Reconciling the Books”

July 15, 2022 from 15:30 to 17:00

Room Number: TRS 1-067

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Over the past year the recovery of the corpses of thousands of Indigenous children at the sites of “Indian Residential Schools” shocked Canadians, who quickly moved on, while Indigenous people have continued experiencing collective grief, trauma, and out/rage, leaving us struggling to navigate the fraught and dangerous spaces of an imagin/ed/ary “commons” that not only excludes us, but has been the site of purposeful systemic violence and erasure. In this “commons” our presence is a source of constant tension. Although Indigenous inclusion is a necessary step in “reconciliation,” we remain Other, symbolic, a constant reminder of the lies of colonial capitalism, and, often, targets. As one of few Indigenous faculty, I am perceived by some as disruptive and, if not difficult and/or deficient, then at the very least, an annoyance disrupting an imagined future that did not include contending with me and all that I represent to colonial society: depressing histories better ignored, fault that is a burden to carry, threats to status quo comfort and stability. So, what does “commons” mean when Indigenous presence provokes and divides, resulting in some people lashing out, thereby ensuring that such spaces remain dangerous and fraught? What if we relocate, re-envision, and reGenerate this space not merely to include Indigenous peoples, but to ensure we retain our position at the centre?

Chair: Hyacinth Simpson (Toronto Metropolitan U)

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