Our Shared Grief and Two Different Lived Experiences

Our Shared Grief and Two Different Lived Experiences

Date: June 2020

A Statement of Solidarity on Anti-Black Racism
Centre for Indigenous Studies
University of Toronto

We, the faculty, staff, and community of the Centre for Indigenous Studies share in the outrage and grief of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Pagnet, George Floyd, and all those harmed by anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence. The deaths of Black people by police are unbearable, inciting protests in Canada, the United States and around the world. The investigation(s), arrest(s) and prosecution(s) by law enforcement has been far too slow.

We witnessed the President of the United States stoking the flames of racism, and violence; while excusing aggression in the name of consumerism. Those who could reign in the President stood silent. We listened to the Prime Minister of Canada pause for twenty seconds when asked to comment on the actions of the President of the United States threat of military force against U. S. citizens.

Silence of anti-Blackness is not new. It is has become institutionalized in Canada and the United States, yet these countries continue to proclaim to lead the world in liberty and equality, while denying justice to BIPOC communities. The modern world is built upon the subjugation of those deemed “other” through colonization and genocide. Police who ought to protect us are the threats to Black and Brown communities.

As Indigenous peoples, we know violence by police. We have seen and felt the tear-gas. We have seen the killings of Indigenous peoples by police, including the more recent deaths of Chantel Moore, Eishia Hudson and Jason Collins. We have seen the lack of police accountability. Politicians remain silent, while white supremacy rears its ugly head. We witness the media criminalizing Black and Brown people subjugated by state-violence. This is not acceptable.

Canada and the United States are built upon anti-Black racism and Indigenous genocide. As Indigenous scholars, we teach the truth of our shared struggles and desires for freedom with compassion, integrity, and empathy. We never lose sight of the murderous colonial acts of violence. While we grieve with all, we are also outraged at injustice due to white supremacy and colonial oppression.

These abuses continue to pass down through each generation in Black and Brown communities. We demand they stop. Violence by the state has become normalized. To remain silent is unacceptable. We stand in solidarity and friendship with our Black and Black-Indigenous colleagues, students, staff and friends. We will not stand by and watch injustice occur.

We call upon our white colleagues and institutions to educate yourselves. Like our Black and Brown friends, colleagues, and communities we endure, work, and strive for a better future. We continue to build on those legacies of peace and reciprocity and advance the hard work of our ancestors. We carry forward still today the message of John Mohawk in The Warriors who Turned to Peace. Then, as now, we share in the inherited injuries Mohawk described in his essay. We may not be able to undo past injuries, but we can acknowledge the truth of them, and stand with others against further violence. Let us begin to refuse and radically transform the racist foundation of North America.

Stop treating Black, Indigenous and People of Color as criminals. Let us build a better future for our children. We call for systemic and cultural change that entitles all to justice and dignity.

Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto