natalia ilyniak on relocation and the question of genocide in canada


Natalia Ilyniak, ‘Colonialism and Relocation: An Exploration of Genocide and the Relocation of Animist Aboriginal Groups in Canada’, Journal of Religion and Culture: Conference Proceedings. 17th Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, Concordia University. Montreal, QC (March 2012).

This exploratory paper looks at the potentially genocidal effects of community relocation and the imposition of capitalist time upon animist Aboriginal groups in Canada. Contemporary sociological and historical approaches to genocide define it as the violent interruption or destruction of relations that create and sustain a group, and maintain their collective lives and identities. Relocation has been used by the Canadian government and major corporations throughout history to destroy Aboriginal ties to the land, securing Aboriginal land and labour for capitalist expansion. Colonizers forced communities into a serial spatiality consistent with capitalist relations of production. Significant changes in temporal orientation, caused by the implementation of wage labour onto Aboriginal communities living on reserves, disrupt social and economic relational processes that are necessary for maintaining the group as a whole. This re-arranging of spatial and temporal perceptions violently disrupts the relational processes- involving both humans and the environment- that create and sustain animist communities’ group life and identity.

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