Students studying colonialism and decolonization have produced a collection of critical/creative engagements with heritage commemorations in Kelowna and beyond. The pieces in the collection use a variety of approaches, including experimental non-fiction and poetry, a graphic essay, postcards, and an academic essay. All are aimed at provoking discussion about how public histories are represented, whose voices and experiences are privileged, and how heritage projects produce belonging (and exclusion).
The projects were developed in a 3rd year Cultural Studies and English course that examined the history of colonialism as a cultural project.
Students were asked to analyze the degree to which heritage commemorations in Kelowna, or their home communities, reflect the ‘settlement myth.’
The settlement myth refers to the story people in settler colonial societies, like Canada, tend to tell. For instance, in this narrative, ‘history’ begins when the first European settlers arrived, Indigenous histories and knowledge are ignored or relegated to the past, and heritage commemorations become ways to show how a ‘wilderness’ was transformed into ‘civilization.’ As a number of the contributions illuminate, remembering Kelowna’s past requires forgetting the violence of colonialism.
The collection includes engagements with: historical narratives of the ‘settlement’ of Penticton; the narrative of progress that shapes the Okanagan Heritage Museum exhibits; the way in which streets and mountains are named for white settler men, and how this reflects ways of thinking about the land; the narrative of Father Pandosy as first settler; the Calgary Stampede, and the Last Spike heritage site at Craigellachie.
The collection also includes an Introduction written by the course instructor, David Jefferess.
This project was presented at last Friday’s Alterknowledge Discussion Series, which was the last of the 2013-14 season. The series saw more than 300 people participate in the 9 discussions, and will return in September with another series of discussions focused on issues of decolonization.
A copy of the collection can be found on the Cultural Studies webpage highlighting student work.
Click here for more information about the Cultural Studies program.