Letter: Righting a 450-year-old wrong


I wish to thank archeologist Joanne Hammond for her insightful, important, and informative column of Feb. 22 (“Dig It: The inconvenient truth of Indigenous archaeology’).

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The column reveals some shocking, ongoing government policies that need to be addressed.

I refer to the doctrine of terra nullius, which essentially negates the prior occupation and rights of non-Christian Indigenous peoples.

Hammond states that this policy is four centuries old and is still foundational to Canada’s national historical narrative.

Why are we not teaching this in our school system? Recent curriculum changes attempt to include First Nations ways of being and learning, but do not go far enough.

We have spent a great deal of time and money lionizing the admittedly extraordinary feats of European pioneers, but have barely begun to reveal the enormous cost of such endeavours to Indigenous cultures, some of which disappeared, as a result of the doctrine of discovery.

In casual conversations with non-Indigenous people, I have been saddened by the continuing notion that First Nations peoples (not to mention other victims of systematized suppression) should just “get over it.”

I try to explain that the issues need to be reconciled and the wounds are deep.

Truth and reconciliation are not just catchwords. They are an incredibly important first step in healing a 450-year-old wrong that was perpetrated on Indigenous peoples who were here first and never ceded their traditional territories.

When Europeans invaded, rather than Turtle Island being an unoccupied wilderness, ripe for the taking, it was home to diverse, autonomous peoples with rich cultures, lores and religions of their own.

Thanks, again, to scholars like Hammond, who strive to shed light on these issues via KTW’s biweekly Dig It column.

Desiree Maher-Schley


© Kamloops This Week


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