For the Long Haul What We Can Learn from Long-Term Indigenous-Settler Alliances

Conference Highlights, Panels and Plenary
Indigenous Settler Relations and Decolonization

This invited panel examines how long-term Indigenous-settler alliances emerge and unfold in particular spatial and historical contexts in Canada. Using a case study approach informed by Indigenous and anticolonial research methodologies, and privileging the voices, experiences, and analyses of alliance participants, the panelists consider how such relationships of support and solidarity surface, shift, and develop, at times dissipating and resurfacing in new ways, all in response to changing social and political conditions, shifting needs, knowledges, and capacities, evolving relationships, and struggles for decolonization.

The three specific contexts of alliance-building considered here include 1) alliances initiated by Indigenous women and their organizations in support of their decades-long challenges to gender-based discrimination and membership restrictions enforced through the Indian Act 2) strategic alliances forged by the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation in its Freedom Road campaign to end more than twenty years of boil-water advisories and a century of state-imposed geographic isolation and 3) over four decades of alliance-building and solidarity efforts by ecumenical church coalitions now housed under the umbrella of KAIROS Canada. Each case study has been designed in partnership with relevant Indigenous communities, organizations, or parties, and employs a blend of story-sharing circles, one-on-one interviews, and archival research.

In each case, the panelists will attend to shifts in the types of alliances fostered, the terms and conditions of their initiation and development, the principles that guide them, the discourses, knowledges, and strategies they mobilize, how they negotiate questions of power and difference, challenges faced, and lessons learned by alliance participants. After presenting highlights from each case, the panelists will offer preliminary observations on cross-case similarities and differences and on implications for new and ongoing Indigenous-settler alliances in the post-TRC era.

Panelists include:

Lynne Davis, Trent University

Jeff Denis, McMaster University

Chris Hiller, University of Waterloo-Renison College

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Trent University

Nahanne Schuitemaker, Trent University

Organizers: Jeffrey Denis, McMaster University, Lynne Davis, Trent University, Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Trent University, Chris Hiller, University of Waterloo