Indigenous leaders are calling on the Commonwealth’s new king and Canada to back off a controversial colonial policy as British Columbians of mixed descent face conflicting emotions over the Queen’s death.
The First Nations Leadership Council released a statement offering condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, but also called on King Charles III to abandon the ‘doctrine of discovery’, which justified colonial acquisition of land and is now widely denounced.
“As the now reigning monarch, King Charles is in a position to immediately right these historic wrongs,” Kukpi7 Judy Wilson said in an interview with CTV News. “He could do whatever it takes to revoke it…to have a full relationship with the Indigenous peoples as the proper title holders to this land.”
While Canada officially dismissed the doctrine last year as “racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally wrong and socially unjust,” many Indigenous leaders want to see this recognition from the royal family, which has benefited from exploitation of colonies around the world.
CONFLICT TIME FOR THOSE WITH DUAL HERITAGE
While many expressed sadness at the passing of the long-reigning Queen, Indigenous activists across Canada and around the world were quick to highlight the cruel history of the British Empire. and the injustices of residential schools and land grabs in Canada as reasons not to mourn his passing.
Increasingly, people like Candace Crockford talk about being stuck “between two worlds” as they watch the discussion unfold: born and raised on the Katzie reserve in the Fraser Valley and raising the children as cultural facilitator, she also has a deep compassion for the Queen’s family.
“An elder has passed away and she deserves this time, this honor and this respect,” she said, explaining that her mother was Aboriginal and her father had left Britain to settle in Canada at the time. 12 years old.
Crockford, who was named Caxcexem in a traditional ceremony after graduating from high school, describes a whirlwind of emotions as she sees social media discussions about the dark side of colonialism and affection for Queen Elizabeth II.
“It’s hard to really balance and merge those two feelings,” she said. “There’s no real middle ground – you’ll feel one way the second, then you’ll move on to another.”
A RECOGNITION BUT NOT AN APOLOGY
During his last visit to Canada in May, then-Prince Charles stopped short of the apology many had hoped for, despite speaking out about the horrors faced by residential school survivors.
“I want to acknowledge their pain and say how much our hearts go out to them and their families,” he told a crowd in Yellowknife.
In a country increasingly confronted with the horrific realities of our colonial past, some will feel conflicting emotions and allegiances as all eyes are on Charles to see what further steps he might take as he assumes the crown at the following the death of his mother.
“I totally understand why Indigenous people all over Turtle Island have this sense of anger and anguish at the thought of it being celebrated,” Crockford said. “But at the same time, I wish I could sit down with my dad and have a cup of tea and watch this story unfold.”