Meeting My Treaty Kin
A Journey toward Reconciliation
Can Indigenous and non-Indigenous people live in a treaty relationship despite over 200 years of social, cultural, and political alienation? This is the challenge of reconciliation – and its beautiful promise.
Twenty-five years after the Ipperwash crisis, writer and activist Heather Menzies paid a visit to Nishnaabe territory in Southwestern Ontario, near where her forebears settled on treaty land. She knocked on Cully George’s door to offer condolences for the 1995 police-shooting death of her brother, Dudley George, which occurred when the Nishnaabeg reclaimed their homeland at Stoney Point.
As tentative relationships formed, she was invited to help the Elders and other community members tell their story of the broken treaty. But she soon realized that even the most sincere intentions can be steeped in a colonial mindset that hinders understanding, reconciliation, and healing.
In this thoughtful, sensitive, nuanced account, Heather Menzies shares how she learned to open her mind and her heart so she could genuinely listen and be changed.
Meeting My Treaty Kin shows the kind of personal groundwork that reconciliation requires, and the promise that listening with respect holds for healing our relations with one another.
Meeting My Treaty Kin is for readers who want to know what a journey of reconciliation might look like, and what changes they will need to make in their own lives and their institutions for genuine reconciliation to happen.
Heather Menzies’s account of having to confront and unlearn the taken-for-granted knowledge, assumptions, and unequal power dynamics of her own white settler privilege is told with candour, critical self-reflection, and a willingness to change.
Heather Menzies courageously and humbly chronicles her personal journey of disrupting the colonial legacy through unlearning and deep listening to her treaty kin. Her story offers wisdom for going beyond words of apology to rebuild respectful relations with First Peoples. There is hard work in this journey, but there is also hope.
Through stories of her own personal journey of decolonization as a settler Canadian, Heather Menzies’s brave and honest memoir illuminates promising possibilities for all of us to revitalize our foundational treaty relationships.
If we are to succeed as a nation and as a world, there are lessons to be learned from Heather Menzies quest to decolonize herself. There are protocols for everything from birth to death, the fixed narrative of storytelling, the one story of every living thing that we need to discover. They do not come from random selection, but from wisdom.
Heather Menzies is an award-winning author, activist, and adjunct research professor in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University. In 2013, she was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to public discourse. Most recently, she collaborated with the Nishnaabeg at Stoney Point to produce Our Long Struggle for Home: The Ipperwash Story. She is also the author of ten books, including Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good, No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life, and the memoir Enter Mourning: Death, Dementia and Coming Home. She has won two book awards and one magazine award, and two of her books appeared on the Globe and Mail’s top 100 books of the year list. She lives on unceded Snuneymuxw territory in British Columbia.
1 At the Fence
2 Showing Up
3 First Doubts
4 A Chance to Really Engage
5 Who Do You Think You Are?
6 Showing Up Again
7 Dwelling in Discomfort
9 Challenging Myself
10 Conversations Deepen
11 Witnessing Denial
12 Learning to Listen
13 Witnessing Denial – and Possibility
14 Surrendering Personally
15 Living a Land Claim
16 Connective Cadences
17 Colonialism Ongoing
18 Preparing to Leave
19 The Poignant Blessings of Relationship Building
20 Surrendering Professionally
21 Helping Prepare a Spirit Plate
22 Continuing the Journey: Toward a Possible Settler Counter-Narrative
Epilogue: Lighting the Eighth Fire?
Unsettling the Settler Within
Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada
Our Long Struggle for Home
The Ipperwash Story
By Aazhoodenaang Enjibaajig
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