It's been a long week of fending off white and settler supremacy. I've been in grant mode for a while now and the whole process is an exhausting exercise in decoding, translating and submission - in all senses of the idea.
I submit I ask for grants from the government
I submit I manipulate my Indigenous self to fit into the forms and ideologies of settlerism
I submit I'm complicit in the maintenance of the white supremacist status quo
I admit this is a concession for the cause.
When I engage with systems and social constructs (canadian theatre, being one of them) none of them are built for me or for my success. None of them are built in my way of being, Indigenous way of living and knowing.
I submit to being a bullet point
I submit to being a strategic pillar
I submit to being an agenda
I wake up everyday and engage with systems that are designed to erase me. This deliberate attack is maintained by all which is a difficult admission for some because it takes vulnerability and courage. Loved ones, friend and foes are participating in systems designed to eradicate the indian, which includes some deeply colonial entrenched indians doing the erasure.
I am not free from that government operative either, I participate and maintain these systems for my survival. If we're not spending our time investing and maintaining them, these system achievements are constantly being prioritized which supports the devaluing of my people. It's also very hard for it to not feel personal because Indigenous existence is relational.
There's been a lot of flexing of settler privilege and power in the canadian theatre this past week regarding what needs to be protected and prioritized. Some conversations are frighteningly void of asking what needs to be de-centralized, dismantled and disseminated. This exclusion is evidence of the power and privilege imbalance and indoctrination of white and settler supremacy. And if we don't acknowledge these inherited power structures and nuanced ways privilege allows certain community members to maneuver within them, we've missed the opportunity to extrapolate and disseminate power in any expansive and meaningful way.
I found the discourse lacked courage because it became about "art" and "practice" and "free speech" and not about humaneness. It was a lot of settler superfluous entitlement to "be" just because you have and therefore you should or want to. And or it not so surprisingly became about othering, dividing, classifying and boringly binary in the indoctrinate
ideology that everything needs to be in opposition, hierarchal and or in a conqueral framework to achieve deliverance which is always fallacious. It became a reductive and oversimplified battle royale of the most oppressed entrenched in a scarcity mindset of fighting for the scraps of marginalization.
I suppose this separation from values and relationality is just symptomatic of white and settler systems designed to repel participants from radical empathy and understanding. These public displays of lateral and generational misunderstandings are what these systems are built on to distract, divide and conquer. Point colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism.
It is important to remember that systemic power is positioned to be readily weaponized and targeted at the marginalized in these face-offs and the power inheritably favours the privileged which are most dominantly the white systemic creators and benefactors. It's rigged before the discourse even begins due to the complexities of white supremacy and it's ideologies that rely on impenetrable ignorance.
If you don't see your participation in these as support to maintain this imbalance of power and denial of others dignity than you have been afforded more privilege than those being oppressed. Privilege is a part of the design of settler oppression that inhibits privileged members from seeing their power - another truly brilliant design of white and settler dominance.
The majority of people are unconscious of this and or deny it and that's white supremacy in action which is also a specific form of ignorance (which is a symptom of privilege) and another sophisticated component to further complicate the emancipation of Indigenous peoples. I find it takes a great deal of self-effacement to accurately reflect and recognize this active denial of sovereignty and remember - it always comes back to the land and the white's hegemony and dominion of the land.
The lives of those fighting against white supremacy is an exhaustingly complicated one. The take over requires the rebellion to participate in it which is a confusing and sometimes demoralizing act so we try to find and protect spaces that let us rest. Ending the day on the battlefield sometimes feels like that part in inception where Dicaprio has to use a totem to ground his reality, it's like this process of colonial decontamination and recalibration. Decolonization is the extraction of white systems and oppression to unearth the inherent Indigeneity that has and always will exist inside of me and on the daily there's a decompression period for that extraction process.
So respite becomes a necessary practice for these transformations and it is absolutely a part of my artistic practice. There are few constant reliefs from the settler siege, sometimes I can't even find it with the people closet to me, the beloved. Which is why sanctuaries, respite and love in public communion is a vital component to the inter-generational journey.
I will always support the action to provide relief over someones artistic entitlement
I will always support leaders recognizing the necessity of creating these spaces
I will recognize this as a political act to disseminate white, capital and patriarchal power.
This usurping is what settler systemic reform is. It's also what gives me hope. Hope distilled on a sociological level is when privileged people acknowledge their positions of power. Equity is when they disseminate it.
I think about people running marathons and just how difficult that is, mentally, spiritually, physically, and the community that they need to rally around them. Did you know that marathon runners get to eat chips on their run? Chips are carbohydrates that digest quickly which gives them energy and salt, so they get chips. Which means there is someone setting up tables with chips and sometimes people who hand them chips - these relations make me so happy.
I don't want to contribute to a sector, community or people prioritizing privilege over peoples dignity and birthright to live peacefully. I want to be in a sector that knows we gotta sometimes set up stations with chips, posted with people who know that sometimes we gotta run beside those on an endless marathon to support them with nourishment because one groups liberation cannot be at the expense of anothers dignity and continued oppression. We need a reprioritization of focus immersed in humility, truth and your power.
I submit to chips.
I submit to benevolence.
I submit to kindness.
In constant rebellion,
Kim Senklip Harvey.
A Syilx-Tsilhqot'in-Kutenai-Dakelh Matriarch.
p.s I do not submit to the continued state run initiative to eradicate the indian and I will need your help...so these are my favourite chips.