A Lunenburg County Settler’s Account of Her Role and Responsibility in Decolonization

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Knickle, Margaret J. A.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The goal of this study was to contribute to decolonization through an examination of a settler's recent decolonizing initiatives. This study examines the role of the author and her responsibility in decolonization, truth and reconciliation, and ways to practise Indigenous allyship authentically. The focus of this study is on the Mi'kmaw Peoples of Atlantic Canada and their traditional Mi'kmaw territory known as Mi'kma'ki. The work for this thesis involved particular attention to Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, where the author and her family have lived since European settlers arrived in 1753. The project required the personal exploration of the biases and prejudices of the author that stemmed from her upbringing, which the European Canadian white supremacist patriarchal colonial ideology heavily influenced. An additional feature was an examination of the mechanisms that supported the invention of the settler identity, such as myths and stereotypes and the erasure of the Mi'kmaw’s longstanding existence in Lunenburg County. Another aspect of this dissertation is the documentation of the Mahone Bay Museum's decolonizing initiatives and what the author learned as a volunteer on the museum's decolonizing committee. During the short time of working together, the committee was able to highlight the plethora of Mi'kmaw history in Lunenburg County. Honouring the Mi'kmaw perspective of local history is an essential piece of this work because it disrupts and challenges local colonial discourse. This Mi'kmaw-settler way of understanding shared history also supports the transformation of personal, local/community, regional, and decolonial initiatives. The crux of this study lies in following an Indigenous research paradigm that emphasizes a holistic learning process and the importance of emotional learning, a perspective that traditional western objective approaches to research generally overshadow. An Indigenous research paradigm also held the author and all aspects of this work accountable to Indigenous ways of knowing. The types of Indigenous methodology that guided this study included practising relationships from an Indigenous perspective and incorporating Jo-ann Archibald's Storywork Principles to build and maintain Indigenous-Settler relationships, to name a few.Part of this work was an examination of the relationship between the European colonialization of Canada, the colonial narrative and settler identity, on the one hand, and their juxtaposition with white supremacy and racism, and how these discriminatory norms continue to play out across every aspect of Canadian society today, on the other. Integral to understanding these contemporary connections is also the role and responsibility of the author in combattingracism today. Lastly, the author believes this work can facilitate strengthened peace and friendly relations between the Mi'kmaq and settlers as well as promote their shared responsibility to represent the history of Canada in a way that supports reconciliation. The intention is the development of transformative education that produces constructive social change and applies to other educational institutions, such as public schools and universities.
Mi'kmaw, decolonization, Atlantic Canada, Mi'kma'ki