free anthropology in downtown victoria brings knowledge to interested masses

01Mar11

This is very intriguing, called the ‘Free Knowledge Project’. The words of Marc Pinkoski, founder:

The linked concepts of “reconciliation” and “decolonization” are taking leading roles in conversations about the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state. In particular, they have become a central focus of recent interpretations of Constitution Act, 1982 and Indigenous and non-Indigenous jurists conclude that if significant progress towards reconciliation is to be made, it will require work beyond the courtroom and particularly within the public at large. The importance of such a focus is articulated specifically, for example, in the recent Aboriginal title case Tsilhqot’in Nation where Justice Vickers of the BCSC recognizes in his judgment that “Tsilhqot’in people have survived despite centuries of colonization. The central question is whether Canadians can meet the challenges of decolonization.”

The necessity of a process of reconciliation connected to wider projects of decolonization is further underscored in the work of Indigenous political scientist Kiera Ladner, who notes that there is much the general public needs to address in preparation for a robust form of reconciliation. She states:

While many Canadians may not be cognizant of their history and may choose to ignore the realities of the present, reconciliation is necessary. It is a necessity for Indigenous peoples as they seek to realize their goals of self-determination, cultural renewal, and economic independence; it is also a necessity for Canadians as they grapple with the demands for a new, or renewed, relationship between Indians peoples and settler nation(s).

At a minimum, true reconciliation and decolonization will require new approaches to conveying information to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. In order to foster these new methods, a small group of us has formed the Cheechacko Partnership* with an eye to offering existing courses and developing and delivering teaching materials about the Canadian state, including representations of Indigenous peoples , law, policy, research and options. It is important to note that the materials are intended to inform Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences about the actions and attitudes of the Canadian state and its approaches to the issues being raised, not to offer information about Indigenous cultures per se.

Our first venture began in May 2010 when I taught a five-week series of lectures on the topic of Anthropology and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Offered for free in a downtown Victoria café to a diverse audience comprising Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, I drew on courses I had been teaching at the University of Victoria over the past decade. I offered this class in this way to answer calls from students to make the information from the classes more widely available. In the class I addressed topics including anthropological representations of Indigenous peoples, anthropological science, the role of these representations and methods have in Aboriginal rights litigation, and the history of the Canadian state’s and BC’s engagement with Indigenous peoples. In October 2010 I offered the class again, but expanded it to six classes.

Presently, we are very fortunate to have Dr. Michael Asch offering a free class entitled Indigenous-State Relations – a six week class being framed as “Canadian Studies.” These lectures are based on a number of experiences, but in particular Michael’s many years of teaching and his voluminous research at the University of Alberta and UVic. And, next up is Dr. Rob Hancock, who will be offering a five week series of lectures on Aboriginal Rights, Anthropology, and Development in the North slated for the end of March 2011. He will focus on the emergence of Aboriginal rights law in the context of Indigenous resistances to resource development in their homelands, and examine the role played by anthropologists in this process. Rob is currently teaching in Indigenous Studies at UVic and has recently returned home from the University of Western Ontario, where he completed a post-doctoral fellowship teaching and writing on anthropology and Indigenous political history.

Seems a very good initiative; if I were in victoria again, I’d be checking it out.

A big hat-tip to marc, and we wish him all the best.

(my apologies for an earlier post in which I made a few errors — ed)



3 Responses to “free anthropology in downtown victoria brings knowledge to interested masses”

  1. 1 tim smith

    You might be interested in my own review of the Free Knowledge Project. http://www.smithpolitics.com/. I strongly support the move to make settler-colonial studies a field of study.

  2. 2 Norman Dale

    I am very interested in the Cheechacko Partnership referred to in this entry but can’t seem to dig up more information on who to contact. If anyone has this and can email me about, that would be lovely!

  3. 3 tim

    There is an e-mail address on the Freeknowledge site.

    http://freeknowledgeproject.wordpress.com/about/ Scroll to the bottom.
    The contact e-mail is freeanthropology@gmail.com.

    Free Knowledge Project and the Cheechako Partnership are overlapping projects.



%d bloggers like this: