Last Saturday’s symposium on the Misrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples was attended by a diverse crowd of over 40 people, including Kelowna community members as well as UBCO students and faculty.
The event, facilitated by Greg Younging (Indigenous Studies, UBC Okanagan) and Kelly Mitton (English MA student in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies), was the second in this year’s AlterKnowledge Series—a discussion series co-organized by Allison Hargreaves and David Jefferess of Critical Studies. The series is designed to foster critical public dialogue about the way colonialism shapes relationships in both local and global contexts.
The symposium explored the role played by harmful and inaccurate representations of Indigenous peoples in perpetuating colonization–whether through film, television, literature, or even in Halloween costumes.
“The violence of colonization that takes place in policy and legislation would not be possible without the colonization of minds, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and negative representations of Indigenous peoples play a crucial part in this process” says Hargreaves.
The symposium was an important opportunity to explore the very real and lived effects of harmful representations, and to imagine solutions. As one participant remarked, the event was “empowering and inspirational.”
The day included a film screening of the documentary Reel Injun, as well as presentations by visiting scholars Lisa Monchalin and Jena McLaurin, and Critical Studies professor Allison Hargreaves.
McLaurin, a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, researches how Indigenous peoples are portrayed in modern popular media, and has developed a Native film course at her institution.
Monchalin, the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to hold a PhD in Criminology, teaches criminology at Kwantlen University. Her research on Aboriginal peoples and justice in Canada analyzes misrepresentations as contributing to the alarmingly high rates of violence against Indigenous women.
The next event in the series which will focus on the issue of Aboriginal Health in the Okanagan, is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 22nd – 7-8:30 pm at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, 421 Cawston Ave.
Visit the Alterknowledge series website for more information.