Canadian Genocide 2

In 2016, a spate of teenage suicides on the remote native reserve of Attawapiskat shocked the nation and, as the news spread widely, the world. This newsworthy spate of suicides must be set within what the Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016): Findings from the 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC) describes as the “historical and ongoing impacts of colonization.” This report highlights the following act of colonization – “forced placement of Indigenous children in residential schools in the 19th and 20th centuries, removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities during the “Sixties scoop” and the forced relocation of communities” and links them causally to the resulting “breakdown of families, communities, political and economic structures; loss of language, culture and traditions; exposure to abuse; intergenerational transmission of trauma; and marginalization,” suggesting that these might indeed be linked to “the high rates of suicide.” 

At the height of the crisis in 2016, a state of emergency was declared (the 6th since 2006) and this tragic phenomenon occupied news headlines next to an equally visible celebration Canada’s generosity to Syrian immigrants as exemplified in Kareem El-Assal’s article in The Conference Board of Canada website titled 2016: A Record-Setting Year for Refugee Resettlement in Canada? As an immigrant myself, I can vouch for this nation’s generosity to and inclusion of newcomers regardless of race, religion or any other aspect of difference, still, this juxtaposition of images – the picture of indigenous damnation, on the one hand, and that of immigrant salvation, on the other, strikes me like a freight train. It brings to the surface a deep sense of unease – the sense that I have made my Canadian home by displacing someone else form theirs. This deep awareness in me rises up to the surface, along with a vivid replay an impression from my youth – the opening of the Sex Pistols’ Holidays In The Sun where, Johnny Rotten slurs out “A cheap holiday in other people’s misery!”

I wonder if this is ultimately what it means to be a Canadian, on this here Turtle Island. Are we all building our good lives “in other people’s misery.” In seeking mitigation for this horrific remembrance, I reflect on the fact that the supplanting of some people by others is the the very stuff of nation, the historical reality of all nations. There is, however, a difference, an uncomfortably contemporaneous quality to this displacive aspect of nationhood, here, in Canada (as, I imagine, there is in all other settler states). As I contemplate this presence, a deep malaise comes over me, with respect to my own life and livelihood on this land. Returning to the aforementioned tragedy of teenage indigenous suicide in my new home, I cannot but conclude that it is a continuation of a founding genocide. The contemporary nation’s failure to mitigate this endemic and often epidemic condition seems, to me, to be a recurring trope of the original genocide. All Canadians are complicit in the travesty of disproportionate indigenous teenage suicide and we are all responsible for ensuring its abatement.

Updated from a post made in April 2016

Image: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-big-stories-of-2016-photographer-julie-oliver-on-the-suicide-crisis-in-attawapiskat

https://torontosun.com/2016/04/16/five-more-suicide-attempts-in-attawapiskat

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/99-011-x/99-011-x2019001-eng.htm

https://www.conferenceboard.ca/commentaries/immigration/default/hot-topics-in-immigration/2016/02/02/2016_A_Record-Setting_Year_for_Refugee_Resettlement_in_Canada.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Canadian Genocide 1

Suicide is colonized and nothing more,
just another dead native on the floor.

Suicide is Genocide
Xhopakelxhit

Tamara Starblanket has been awarded the 2020 Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy for her book Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State. In this book, Tamara makes a legal analysis of genocide, and argues convincingly that, according to international law, Canada has committed and continues to commit genocide against Indigenous Peoples. She demands, as noted in the announcement of the award on the SFU website, that a “comprehensive dialogue on Canada’s history and present be opened recognizing its culpability for the crime of genocide.”  

As I contemplate the disturbing idea of a Canadian Genocide, in terms of my own life and times, I am convinced that as human beings have an innate tendency to demonize and destroy each other. When we act this out collectively, against other collectives, this is when the what we mean by ‘genocide’. It seems to me that we are deluded as to our own actions and motivations of the moment. This is what enables us to disregard the sanctity and the inherent worth of others as we pursue our own group interests. Ultimately, given our common human being, this behaviour is self-destructive. In this series of posts, I will reflect on the the relationship between genocide and suicide from the perspective of an immigrant to Canada, who is domiciled in British Columbia.

Updated from a post made in April 2016

Image: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-big-stories-of-2016-photographer-julie-oliver-on-the-suicide-crisis-in-attawapiskat

http://ancestralpride.ca/poem-suicide-is-genocide/

http://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2020/08/sterling-prize-2020–how-canada-changed-the-definition-of-genoci.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=2b7e2091-7b22-4b4b-ae79-cd4e51a839ef

Koboi Balik Kampung 2

1 MUDIK PULANG Koboi Balik Kampung Series, 12 Chromogenic Printed in a Limited Edition of 9, Niranjan Rajah, 2015

​I will be presenting my Koboi Balik Kampung series of the Koboi Project at Percha Art Space in Lumut over the Christmas and New Year period. The show, titled Dari Pusat Tasek, will open on 25th Dec and run for 2 weeks. Koboi Balik Kampung presents a very personal perspective on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society. It explores the notion of returning home from the diaspora, but also interrogates this idea in terms of the complex relationship between nationality and ethnicity. It was conceived in the course of my visit to Malaysia for Aliran Semasa {RearView Forward}, a series of events curated by Roopesh Sitharan in June and July, 2013. The images were gleaned from my activities in Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings. The titles delve deep into the Malay idioms and expressions. The series was mainly shot by my daughter Durga Rajah who was my constant companion on this trip.