As the world watches Canada and its citizens celebrate today with street festivals, fireworks and various events in the midst of summer holidays; many including Canadians themselves either do not realize or are wilfully blind to what this day represents to indigenous peoples of the land- a celebration of Settler Colonialism. Settler Colonialism has five logics embedded in the structural psyche of the State-building apparatus; the logic of elimination, the logic of expansionism, the logic of denial, the logic of racialization and the logic of exceptionalism.
Canada Day: Al Nakba and the implementation of Settler Colonialism
Focusing on the logic of elimination as the main logic supported and justified by the latter four logics, today was the official founding of Canada as a settler colonial state with the uniting of the colonies via the British North America Act, 1867. The founding process was aided by a sequence of events that facilitated the logic of elimination needed for the Canadian State to come into being mainly, the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous peoples via law and policy particularly in the Plains to clear the lands for settlers to immigrate. The indigenous peoples who survived the ethnic cleansing process were to inhabit enclave and reservation territories- lands from which the indigenous children were then forcibly removed from their parents and families to attend Residential Schools justified through the Gradual Civilization Act, 1857 thereby creating a legacy of cultural and spiritual genocide that lasted for over a century due to the past and continuous systemic attempts to "kill the Indian in the child." Setting aside the missing children and mass graves resulting from the legacy and the status of which continues to be unknown, the legacy consisted of systemic raping of children by the clergy running the schools.
The same can be said about the Palestinian experience with Zionist settler colonialism; the planning of which started in 1799 during Napoleons presence in the region but was sharpened after the British took interest in supporting this initiative. The provisions within the Basle Program during the First Zionist Congress in 1897 clearly outlined and stated how the colonization of the land of Palestine was the crucial element needed to establish the settler colonial aspirations of the Zionist movement. After World War I and the splitting of the Middle East region into colonies between the British and French through the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the historic land of Palestine became a British mandate to be protected and given to the Zionist movement as promised through the Balfour Declaration soon after. After political strife between the British and the Zionist movement the issue was then handed over to the United Nations by the British to resolve after their withdrawal from the land of Palestine whereby the United Nations Partition Plan, 1947 came into place splitting the land into two separate entities-indirectly giving legitimacy for a settler colonial state to be founded in the face of resistance. Given the lack of coherence and consultation with the indigenous peoples of the land and the disagreement over the political developments that were taking place, the ethnic cleansing process began to surface and be implemented as was planned in advance. The ethnic cleansing process resulted in the displacement and Diaspora of the Palestinians; a great deal of whom are on to reservation and enclave territories as well known today as the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The ethnic cleansing process implemented against the Palestinians came to be known as the Nakba or 'the Catastrophe'- an incremental genocidal process that continues to this day through bureaucratic means to facilitate the logic of elimination through various laws and policies such as the State of Israel's Basic Laws, the law of the right of return and many more- the issues of which are reflected and reinforced in the final report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur. Most importantly, both settler colonial states have and continue to target the cultural and spiritual relationship the indigenous peoples have with the land, an experience known to the Palestinians as memoricide which is precisely the same consequential and situational circumstances for indigenous peoples in Canada in relation to the Residential School legacy due to the forced learning of the English language and the Catholic religion while being alienated from their land and communities.
The Internationalization of Al Nakba: Transitional Justice and the Politics of Reconciliation
Last month, closing events were held in relation to the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada; a Commission created as part of the Transitional Justice Process known as the Residential School Settlement Agreement. The Residential School Settlement Agreement was the legal process of monetary compensation created for the indigenous peoples of Canada that survived the Residential School legacy that lasted for over a century but yet continues in bureaucratic, judicial and institutional forms such as the Child and Family Services. The end of the Commission included the release of their final report on the legacy in relation to the Transitional Justice Process. Based on the findings of the latest report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur as well as those within the final report of the Commission, it is clear that much work needs to be done and to continue in a sustainable manner for any form of justice to adequately transcend and elevate society to a better place in the Canadian context.
The same can be said about the Palestinian context. Although Transitional Justice initiatives are slowly starting to surface and ideas are taking place with organizations such as Zochrot leading the way in the case of the Palestinians, there is much work to do to officially reach to a Transitional Justice Process with adequate and proper compensation and restitution that would be sustainable and just for a better transcendence of the overall society. However, the United Nations reports of the Special Rapporteur demonstrate that there is much work to do and that includes the recognition of the Nakba process in both cases for indigenous peoples as the starting point since recognition, provides understanding, awareness and realization which are the breaking points towards transformation. As in the final words of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada- "It is time for reconciliation", meaning it's time we stop celebrating settler colonialism.