Vowel (2016). The Terminology of Relationships. (Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit issues in Canada)

Vowel, C. (2016). The Terminology of Relationships. In Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit issues in Canada (pp. 5–22). Winnipeg, Canada: Portage & Main Press.

[Chapter 1: “Just Don’t Call Us Late for Supper — Names for Indigenous Peoples” (p 7) …]

“I mean, it would be a bit off to deliberately keep calling someone ‘Susie’ when she’s asked you to call her ‘Susan,’ right?” (p 8)

“Aboriginal (never aborigine) is a term of fairly recent origin, being adopted officially in the Constitution Act, 1982, to refer generally to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.6 … not a proper noun. Do not, for example, refer to people as Aboriginals, but rather as Aboriginal peoples.” (p 10)

“Indigenous tends to have international connotations, referring to Indigenous peoples throughout the world rather than being country-specific.7” (p 10)

” … Indigenous peoples … It speaks to the incredible diversity of Indigenous peoples as hundreds of culturally and linguistically distinct groups, rather than one homogenous whole.” (p 10)

“Many Indigenous peoples do not identify as Canadian because, at no point, did they or their ancestors consent to becoming Canadian.” (p 11)

[Chapter 2: “Settling on a Name — Names for Non-Indigenous Canadians” (p 7) …]

“The social and political systems that currently exist in Canada are a direct result of the European-based cultures that first arrived in the Americas all those centuries ago.” (p 16)

“For the most part, when I do need to refer specifically to ‘the non-Indigenous peoples living in Canada who form the European-descended sociopolitical majority,’ I’ve decided on the term _settler_.” (p 16)

“For me, it is a shortened version of _settler colonials_. Settler colonialism is a concept that has recently begun to be explored in-depth,4 and it essentially refers to the deliberate occupation of land as a method of asserting ownership over land and resources.5 … This does not refer only to those European people with sociopolitical power, but also to those of lower classes who settled here to seek economic opportunity.” (p 16)

“Like European-descended peoples of the lower classes, who were more pawns than power-brokers in the early years of colonization in Canada and the United States, non-European peoples displaced by colonization in their own lands are folded into the settlement process when they arrive here — even as they are often denied equal social privileges.” (p 17)

“I want to be very clear that the term _settler_ does not, and can never, refer to the descendants of Africans who were kidnapped and sold into chattel slavery.6 Black people, removed and cut off from their own indigenous lands — literally stripped of their humanity and redefined legally as property — could not be agents of settlement.” (p 17)

“Frank Wilderson III points out that it is too simplistic to think of oppression in binaries: settler versus Indigenous, settler versus Black, or settler versus everyone else.8” (p 18)

Selected Notes

Chapter 1

“2. … I used a standardized written Cree and, within this system, words are never capitalized.” (p 13)

Chapter 2

“4. If you are interested in exploring academic discussions of settler colonialism, you should check out the journal Settler Colonial Studies: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rset20.” (p 21)

Selected References

Chapter 1

  • 6. Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act, 1982 (UK), c 11, s 35.
  • 7. UN General Assembly (2007). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, A/RES/61/295.

Chapter 2

  • 5. Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society, 1(1), 4-7.
  • 6. King, T. J. (2013). In the clearing: Black female bodies, space and settler colonial landscapes (Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park).
  • 8. Wilderson III, F. B. (2010). Red, white & black: Cinema and the structure of US antagonisms. Duke University Press.
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