Is Decolonization Possible in a Settler Colonial Society like Canada?
July 27, 2022
Sociology often discusses thorny topics that can make people uncomfortable, yet help us learn how to debunk received ideas and interrogate some established practices. At this key time in our history as Pope Francis extends an apology to Indigenous Peoples for the residential school system, Dr. Anisha Datta shares scholarship via a public seminar on decolonization. Her open lecture and discussion was held as a Zoom seminar on July 13, 2022 at the Maskwacis Cultural College's Open Sociology Microlearning program and is now shared publicly. The College is located on the Maskwacis territory that Pope Francis visited on July 25, 2022 to extend an apology and visit with survivors of the residential school system. The Maskwacis Cultural College is an Indigenous Peoples' Cultural College which bases its’ philosophy on Cree (nêhiyawak) Thought.
In this 90-minute open education video about decolonization, Dr. Datta examines if decolonization is possible in a settler colonial country like Canada, and she explains what a settler colony is, what is decolonization, how is decolonial different from decolonization, and how postcolonial is different from decolonial. Dr. Datta’s presentation focuses on how there is a foundational hypocrisy regarding how colonization happened in Canada. She also discusses how modern colonialism relies on systemic racism.
Dr. Datta’s seminar included an open discussion with the participants, many of whom were from Indigenous and Métis communities. Some of the questions that were discussed included:
- Is it an extension of colonizing practices to consider Indigenous ways of knowing and being as a form of literacy?
- How can we take steps to become decolonized without it being seen as tokenism?
- What’s your take on this statement: “I abhor having to disclose my trauma in scholarship and financial award applications as an Indigenous student. It is another demand for the performance of trauma to earn back what was stolen from me, my ancestors, and my descendants.”
Dr. Datta says this discussion of colonialism and decolonization is pedagogically and socially valuable. “Through this work we can hone our critical thinking skills as global citizens, who, as was envisioned by a postcolonial thinker Rabindranath Tagore, are adept at the coordination of the cultures of the world, where each will give and take from the other and not shut each other out.”
Dr. Datta sees open education programs as a way to contribute to public sociology and she says she was humbled and honoured to be invited by the Maskwacis Cultural College in Alberta.