Unsettling the Settler Within – part 5

Every Sunday, for the duration of the traveling community art exhibition Reconciliation: What does it mean to you? – from August 13 to December 2, 2017 – to honour the complexity of the task, I will publish a post about my process of decolonization.

Community listening circles

April 30 & May 28, 2017 – La Ruche d’Art St-Henri



At least. An answer to my prayers. A where, a how, a with whom to decolonize myself.

The Art Hives Network recognizes that we carry out our work on unceded indigenous territories across Canada. As our country commemorates the 150th anniversary of its Confederation, the Art Hives Network acknowledges the struggle of native peoples caused by colonization and believe that settlers have a responsibility to understand this shared history and how we may be continuing and perpetuating colonialism in our personal and professional lives. Our hope is that storytelling, and art making and sharing will help ignite the necessary conversations to support our work together towards repair and reconciliation.

Community listening circles will be held at La Ruche d’Art St-Henri. We will use a variety of methodologies, including storytelling, art making, as well as written resources, such as Paulette Regan’s Unsettling the Settler Within, Margaret Kovach’s work on Indigenous methodology, as well as novels written by Indigenous writers.

A toolkit will be created from methods developed during the Community listening circles, and shared with other Art Hives to use and adapt.

The Circles are free of charge and open to all, and will take place on 5 Sundays, from 12:30 to 3pm: April 30th, May 28th, June 11th, July 9th, August 13th.

Even though the process constituted of learning about the Indigenous situation, past and present, it was mainly focused on building a self-critical reflexivity as settlers, as descendant of settlers, to better understand how we have been perpetrators as a white privilege society. It was offering us a time to question our collective denial, dissociation, as in celebrating Canada 150, or Montreal 375, like if there where nobody here before, like if this land was terra nullius (1) (2).

To go through this difficult task, the Community listening circles were offering everyone present the uninterrupted space to share from her/his own experience, comprehension, feelings. A space, not to argue about the book at the center of the process Unsettling the Settler Within, but to develop a compassionate self awareness about our own toughs and actions, values and prejudices in regard to this fundamental aspect of our collective being and becoming.

A necessary path to uncover the multiple versions of how colonialism had invaded our minds and lives, how we were actively or passively perpetuating it, in the form of racism, violence or lies, a necessity before being able to create any traction for the transfiguration of our common story.

Even though during and between those two first circles I was challenged by the pain that was awakened, as I discovered the perpetrator’s side of the story, as I struggled with the guilt, the deep sadness, the unbearable facts, it is obvious now that it was viscerally necessary to deconstruct the old beliefs around my ancestry.

But because the Community listening circles had established a caring space to engage and commit, to be vulnerable and resilient, I was able to plunge deeper and deeper in this chaotic dismantling, as the desire to reconfigure myself within a more collective stellar narrative was growing.


(1) Nobody’s land

(2) Canada, located in the northern hemisphere and a large part of the North American continent, has been inhabited for more than 40,000 years by Indigenous peoples. Extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans and northward to the Arctic Ocean and covering almost 10 million square kilometres, Canada is the second largest country, by area, in the world. Credible estimates of the population of Canada and the United States prior to sustained European contact suggest the total population was in the range of 2 million people (Thornton 2005; also see Daniels 1992). – Indigenous Canada, University of Alberta




Typo or mistake, let me know, I will be very grateful

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