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Antiracism and decolonization are interrelated in many ways. Decolonization can be understood as “taking away the colonial.” In Canada, decolonization is usually discussed in terms of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and particularly associated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report and Calls to Action. Canada’s identity as a settler colonial state complicates the task of decolonization, since the original colonizers never left and acts of colonization continue to the present. For instance, in Canada settler colonialism is evident in federal government policies such as the Indian Act and the Indian Residential Schools system, provincial government child welfare decisions, and non-Indigenous peoples’ refusal (either blatant or subtle) to give up land or acknowledge the land and treaty rights of Indigenous people. To this extent, the antiracism project is central to decolonization. It is not only through personal choices, but through policy changes that decolonization and reconciliation can occur. 

For more information on Indigenous people, culture, activism and decolonization please see the Indigenous Studies Guide 

Attas, Robin. "What is decolonization? What is Indigenization?" Queen's University Centre for Teaching and Learning.

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Selected Articles

Immediate Response: Addressing Anti-Native and Anti-Black Racism in Child Welfare

Anti-oppression emerged in the 1990s as a perspective for challenging inequalities and accommodating diversity within the field of social work, including child welfare in Canada. Using the concepts of white supremacy, anti-Black, and anti-Native racism in conjunction with the notion of the exalted national subject (Thobani, 2007), we contend that any understanding of the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Black children in the care of child welfare services must be located within the wider narrative of white supremacy that has underpinned the formation of the post-war welfare state. This overrepresentation highlights the need to shift from anti-oppression to critical race feminism and anti-colonialism perspectives in order to address more effectively anti-Black and anti-Native racism and the economy of child welfare.

Pon, et. al. "Immediate Response: Addressing Anti-Native and Anti-Black Racism in Child Welfare." International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, vol. 2, no. 3/4, 2011. 

Water (in)security in Canada: national identity and the exclusion of Indigenous peoples

With the exception of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, most Canadians enjoy water security. Indigenous people are ninety times more likely than other Canadians to lack piped water. These disparities result from and maintain the colonial relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. As displaced people with values often in opposition to neo-liberalism, Indigenous people present an existential threat to Canadian identity, this identity having been created around possession of a vast land that extends to the North Pole, and subsequent heavy resource extraction throughout this land. To maintain Canada’s national identity and the activities that support it, Indigenous people have to be pushed to the figurative and literal fringes and rendered invisible. Five short case studies of water insecurity demonstrate how neo-liberalism props up and legitimises decentralised water governance in Canada, which in turn promotes and maintains environmental inequality, Indigenous marginalisation and, ultimately, the Canadian identity.

Hanrahan, Maura. "Water (in)security in Canada: national identity and the exclusion of Indigenous peoples." British Journal of Canadian Studies, vol. 30, no. 1, 2017, pp. 69-89.

Oil Sands Extraction in Alberta, Canada: a Review of Impacts and Processes Concerning Indigenous Peoples

We review literature about Canada’s oil sands, pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. We draw on a range of recent published and unpublished sources. We find that social science research on oil sands extraction has been inadequate, even as the region has undergone transformation. Available research suggests that Indigenous communities feel resigned to further loss of their subsistence landbase. Due to the rapid pace of expansion, emergent issues and questions exist that cannot be readily synthesized. Decision-makers are not specialists in Indigenous issues or social impacts, and are not always supported by experts within their organizations. There is a need to review the qualifications of some social science consultants who work on impact assessment and consultation. The most vulnerable Indigenous people and communities face worrying health risks and evident pollution as they lose access to special places and preferred sources of food and water, entailing loss of cultural, spiritual, and familial connections.

Westman, Clinton and Joly. "Oil Sands Extraction in Alberta, Canada: A Review of Impacts and Processes Concerning Indigenous Peoples." Human Ecology, vol. 47, 2019, pp. 233-243.