Presented by the Equity & Inclusion Office and supported by alumni UBC.
With the rise of populism in the U.S. and Europe, the time is right for a frank discussion on the realities of racism and critical reflection on white privilege in Canada. Recent events make it clear that it can and does happen here.
Join experts from UBC and the University of Alberta for this provocative panel discussion. This event is held in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in March.
Examining Whiteness: What’s at stake for Canada
Monday, March 20, 2017
Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre
6163 University Boulevard, Jack Poole Hall, 2nd floor
Can’t make it in person? Watch the session via webcast.
Tea, coffee, and cookies will be served. Please note that registration opens at 6.00pm, and the event starts at 6.30pm. Please contact Bonnie Lee, Alumni Relations Coordinator at email@example.com or 604.827.2374 for inquiries.
Adjunct Professor, UBC Graduate School of Journalism;
Rogers Visiting Journalist, Ryerson School of Journalism.
He has been recognized by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association with an Innovation Award for developing curriculum on Indigenous issues. In 2011, he was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, where he created an online guide for journalists called Reporting in Indigenous Communities . Before becoming a journalist, McCue studied English at the University of King’s College, then Law at UBC. He was called to the bar in British Columbia in 1998. McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario.
Professor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta.
Malinda S. Smith is a Full Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. Her research and engaged scholarship draw on critical theoretical perspectives in political science and the humanities to explore questions of equity, social justice, decolonization and social change. Her published research engages critical African political economy, the temporality and spatiality of terrorism, political economy of development, genealogy of poverty and inequality, and critical race and intersectionality.
In addition to scholarly articles and chapters, Dr. Smith is the editor of three books, including Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism (Ashgate, 2010); ‘Beyond the African Tragedy’: Discourses on Development and the Global Economy (Ashgate, 2006); and Globalizing Africa (Africa World Press, 2003). She is also the co-editor of two books, including Critical Concepts: An Introduction to Politics (2013, with Janine Brodie and Sandra Rein); and States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (2010, with Sherene Razack and Sunera Thobani). A recent Social Science and Humanities Research Council-funded project examined the representation and status of racialized and Indigenous scholars in the Canadian academy (with Frances Henry (PI), Ena Dua, Carl James, Audrey Kobayashi, Peter Li, and Howard Ramos), and the coauthored book, The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities, is forthcoming with the University of British Columbia Press.
For her engagement and community outreach to advance equity and social justice, Dr. Smith has been honored with several awards, including: CRAC’s Anti-Racism Award (2010), Academic Women’s Association’s ‘Academic Woman of the Year’ Award (2011), the Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights inaugural ‘Human Rights Education Recognition Award’ (2013), and the national ‘Equity Award’ from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (2015), and the HSBC Community Contributor of the Year Award (2016) from the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion.
“Ensuring every voice is heard: Malinda S. Smith is trying to reframe how we look at issues of equity,” by Caroline Barlott, Work of Arts (May 12, 2016).
Associate Professor, English and First Nations and Indigenous Studies;
Director, First Nations House of Learning;
Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs
Linc Kesler is an associate professor of First Nations and Indigenous Studies and English and currently the Director of the University of the First Nations House of Learning, a strategic planning and coordinating unit for Indigenous initiatives across UB. He is also Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs. Linc came to UBC after twenty years of teaching and working on American minority issues in the US to be the initial Director of the First Nations Studies Program (now First Nations and Indigenous Studies) in the Arts Faculty. He established the initial curriculum for the program, and was Director and then Chair until 2012. While in Oregon, he led initiatives founding an American Indian and three other minority education offices and the first Ethnic Studies department in Oregon.
At UBC, he was co-chair of a succession of committees resulting in the formation of the 2009 UBC Aboriginal Strategic Plan. Currently, he is working on the establishment of UBC’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, now under construction, and on the development of initiatives that network Aboriginal programs across sectors. Linc’s personal work is on the relationship of communications technology to conceptions of knowledge in the contexts of both Indigenous and early modern studies. In the 2008-2009 academic year, Linc was the recipient the UBC Dean of Arts Award, and in 2013 was the recipient of the Henry Roe Cloud Native Alumni Achievement Award at Yale University. His Indigenous ancestry is Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
Professor; Director of Centre for Culture, Identity & Education, University of British Columbia
Handel Kashope Wright has been variously Canada Research Chair of Comparative Cultural Studies, David Lam Chair of Multicultural Education and co-editor of the journal International Education and editorial board member of Cultural Studies. He is currently Full Professor and Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education, University of British Columbia
He is co-editor of the book series African and Diasporic Cultural Studies (University of Toronto Press), associate editor of Critical Arts and serves on the editorial board of several cultural studies and education journals including the International Journal of Cultural Studies; the European Journal of Cultural Studies; the Canadian Journal of Education and Postcolonial Studies in Education. Professor Wright is Senior Research Associate, Department of Communication Studies, University of Johannesburg, South Africa and has published extensively on continental African cultural studies, cultural studies of education, critical multiculturalism, anti-racist education, qualitative research and post-reconceptualization curriculum theorizing.
Post-Event Q & A with Linc Kesler
Due to the overwhelming amount of questions the audience asked at this event, we sat down with Linc Kesler after the event to ensure that some which went unanswered were addressed.
How do you respond to those who claim there is no racism in Canada or that its not as bad as in the United States?
People in Canada have been very aware of the history of slavery and the struggle for civil rights in the US, but until very recently have had very little awareness of Canadian policy towards Indigenous people and other groups. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the Indian residential schools and the inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls have begun to change that, but there is still a long way to go in facing the realities, not just of Canada’s history, but of the contemporary circumstances of many people. Those brash Americans (and I started life as one) are just sometimes a lot more open and unapologetic about some of the things they do and have done.
What are your thoughts on instances where an ethnic minority person is racist towards another of a different ethnic minority?
People often argue that those who are subject to racism from others cannot be racist themselves, but intergroup prejudice certainly does happen. Part of that is just the reality that we are all humans, and the desire to separate ourselves from others is widely shared, but another aspect is what theorists term “lateral violence,” the violence that occurs when people deflect the violence they are experiencing onto others in similar or weaker circumstances when they feel powerless to retaliate against their oppressors. The struggle for scarce resources in oppressed groups is also sometimes a factor. When I was working in the states, a young Latino student observed that he was happy to be sharing Latino and African American experiences in a class where he could talk with African Americans. He concluded by saying that “back in LA, we’d just be shooting each other.” It’s a good example—but also a convincing rationale for why universities matter.
Handel, can you speak to the pitfalls and dangers of well-meaning whiteness?
I’ll add that there are quite a few very funny, but pointed, jokes shared in Indigenous groups about people who come “to save the Indians.” It is really important for people who become interested (and I hope that is everyone) to really take the time to learn about other people’s history and circumstances and to think about entering an informed conversation when the opportunity arises, always keeping in mind that a bilateral exchange is more important than their own need to do something.
What are some ways to decolonize in our everyday life?
Learn the history, and examine the assumptions. It may be more useful to think about those things and work towards a more thoughtful approach to things than have a list of actions. What constitutes an improvement in the circumstances you see and how do you work for it? Even small opportunities for change matter.
Linc re: visibility – does visibility ever become performative for the consumption of white people rather than a celebration of culture?
The ways in which Indigenous culture used to be regarded in Vancouver, and even at UBC, often was exactly that—culture on display, but in a way that often encouraged people to think of it as a past relic. Visibility is most meaningful if it is a pathway to further thought. That’s why we work hard to take advantage of things that create visibility, such as the “Victory Through Honour” pole by Brock Hall, by relating aspects of its history, because they open the way to some deeper realizations. Nominalization is always a danger, even with things such as territorial acknowledgements at events, but we can all work to give those things the reality that makes them do more. A lot of recent developments, including all the Indigenous art at YVR, manages to be beautiful and evoke a sense of place, but in a way that is contemporary, respectful, and, I think quite functional.
Why do we so closely link Christianity to whiteness Is it justified to do so today with an ethnically diverse community?
Historically, in the introduction of Christianity to North America, it has that connection, but Christianity is widely practiced all over the world by non-white people, and, for instance, in Canada, many Indigenous people are Christian. However one feels about Christianity and its effects, it is worth sorting out issues of present faith and belief from an assessment of the historical effects, and from actions, such as the residential schools, taken in the name of Christianity in the past, for which some churches really do want to atone.
Does the panel have any thoughts on engaging immigrant communities in Canada with notions of hybridization. Specifically would encouraging an interest in each others histories be beneficial to bridge the gap?
I am personally quite averse to the application of terms from biology and animal husbandry to thinking about human relations—perhaps because in my own life I have found terms such as “half-breed” so problematic. Given that, I am not a fan of “hybridization” though I am very familiar with its many applications in cultural theory. There are, however, many useful ways of thinking about interrelation between groups, both in ancestry and in culture. There are now quite a few people recognizing, for instance, the historical interactions and familial relations between Indigenous and Chinese people in the lower mainland. Many of us have ancestry from more than one group, and many of us are more willing to talk about it than our ancestors were, who may have had less freedom to do so. I think it is a truly promising area of thought and action.
Given comments on apartheid in South Africa can you discuss pass system that applied to indigenous people in Canada?
I have not personally done the research, but my understanding is that those who put together the apartheid system in South Africa took a real interest in the construction of the reserve system in Canada, just as those who constructed the residential school system in Canada studied the American model. In both good and bad ways, people do tend to follow examples of others. There are many aspects of Canadian policy, and the pass system is one of them, that most people do not yet know about. There’s plenty more to think about there.