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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

Bearing Witness to Indigenous Love

For me, a big part of creating stories of Indigenous love is asserting our birthright to share the experience of our love in all ways and at all stages. Indigenous peoples have had almost no space to experience Indigenous love in open inter-Nation capacities.

When is the last time you watched a movie or seen a play that captures Indigenous love? Especially one that revolves around joy and is not exclusively a response to colonial violence? And my alive understanding of Indigenous love centres our cosmic relational bond(s) between Indigenous peoples that exist from an Indigenous paradigm.

When have you seen this?

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one?! I have seen hundreds of white love stories and or BIPOC love stories led and or framed in imperial hegemonic notions of love, which is more white supremacist beliefs of what BIPOC erotic and intimate love should be.

I’m finding with my work in Kamloopa and Break, colonists try to deny our dignified right to share and sovereignly create and exist in Indigenous love. So many are unconsciously conditioned to aggressively try and oppress white notions of love and white historical experiences of love, on present day Indigenous relations.

So please hold the “that’s cliche” or “overdone”, which I’ve heard from many colonists.

Hold the oppression and double check yourself because I did not order a big ole greasy bag of colonial love with a side of colonial comparative analysis.

The idea that you’ve “seen this before” or heard this idea, is false and contributing to an erasure of an entire group of peoples.

Today on twitter, after a full week's work of institutional work, I tweeted this.

I slapped it on facebook and wrote, “Well (insert canadian play) falls into the colonial oppressionisms of the 1990’s era. Where white men were produced at an overly saturated and violent rate which supported the colonial supremacist ideology, that cis white men were the only occupants of planet Earth.”

Colonial oppressionism can be applied to art practices of all disciplines that centre and perpetuates euro-colonial hegemony. Oppressionism attempts to erase and reduce the existence of BIPOC lives and impede our cultural evolution. I use attempt because I think it's a colonial tactic to get us to accept that there were periods where our peoples lives and cultures were entirely "gone".

I refuse that state perpetuated myth because when our cultures were made illegal by the state and went underground, they were being practiced privately and internally and they were and always will be, alive within us. It is another state tactic of genocide to apply a colonial metricization to try and quantify and qualify the presence of Indigenous culture completely by state surveillance and recognition.

Colonial oppressionisms impacts are far reaching and continue today. Oppressionistic work positions BIPOC peoples to have to relentless defend an equitable existence.

I strongly believe that to truly decolonize and then Indigenize ideologies, we need more terms to clarify and understand what was and is a colonial experience and what is an Indigenous one. That way we can be accountable to our peoples legacies and respectful to our present experiences.

I make the offer of the concept of colonial oppressionism to Indigenous students, practitioners, creators and community members to refuse colonial oppression and have the language to specify how a lot of settler-centric peoples, practices and art have and continue to contribute to the attempted erasure of BIPOC peoples and culture.

To say that you've seen something via a white experience feeds white supremacy and supports the notion that all experiences are through a white paradigm and ontological understanding - which is false and attempt to omit Indigenous world-views.

We deserve these clarifications.

It is our brith right to be given the time and distinct space for our experiences.

I’m carving that time and space because I believe our shared humanity depends on non-Indigenous peoples bearing witness to the full scope and experience of what Indigenous love is. So hold the comparative analysis to euro-settler white love and give me all the INDIGENOUS LOVE!!!

They are new and fresh and unseen and the foundation for creating joy and nourishing our spirits. I believe these Indigenous love stories are in the heart of how we will give energy and support the cultural evolution for the new equitable relationship, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

With energy to those working on all forms and experiences of Indigenous love,


p.s authors to look into about non-colonial love:

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Gwen Benaway

Tenille Campbell

Joshua Whitehead

Billy-Ray Belcourt

And if you know of more examples and want to share post in the comment section!

and congrats to Gwen Benaway on your recent GG nomination for Holy Wild.

#IndigenousLove #IndigenousTheatre #TheIndigenousCulturalEvolutionist

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