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A Landmark Celebration: Canada 150, Settler-Colonialism, and the Politics of Diversity & Reconciliation
- Author / Creator
- Raphael, Daisy M.
My dissertation analyzes the politics of settler-colonial national celebrations through an analysis of Canada 150, marking the sesquicentennial of Confederation. Landmark celebrations like Canada 150 are milestones marking intervals along a journey of supposed national progress. Yet, landmark celebrations, I argue, are also land celebrations – events aimed at storying Canadian state sovereignty claims and producing and reproducing settler attachments to Indigenous land. Land is simultaneously central to landmark celebrations and fundamentally obscured as contested territory over which the nation-state requires control in order maintain its legitimacy. ‘Feel good’ discourses of diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation underwrite the re- narration of ‘Canada’ as a happy project, worthy of celebration.
Drawing upon critical-race feminist, settler-colonial studies, and Indigenous theory and scholarship, I unmap Canada 150 in three stages. First, I analyze former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “Road to 2017”, which begins with the commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Canadian Political Science (CPS) scholars tend to read the 1812 commemoration as one component of Harper’s effort to “rebrand” Canada as a white, British Warrior Nation. I complicate this understanding by highlighting the ways the commemoration emphasizes discourses of diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation. The 1812 monument, “Triumph Through Diversity”, for example, portrays 1812 as a project of mutual cooperation amongst diverse peoples. By starting with Harper’s “Road to 2017” narrative, I demonstrate that Conservatives and Liberals alike mobilize diversity as Canada’s strength.
From Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory on whose land British, French, American, and Indigenous peoples fought the War of 1812, this dissertation travels north of the tree line to examine Canada C3, a reconciliatory expedition through the Northwest Passage marking Canada’s sesquicentennial. The C3 Expedition, I argue, is a project of storying
Canadian sovereignty that obscures Inuit sovereignty by positioning them as diverse Canadian people. In fact, narratives of reconciliation and diversity slide together in southerners’ stories of the C3 Expedition, as if encounters between diverse peoples are themselves a form of reconciliatory work. This slippage signals a need to critique the emergence of diversity and reconciliation as interrelated discourses that support Canadian state-making.
Finally, my dissertation travels to the heart of the settler-colonial imagination and the centre of Canada Day celebrations – Parliament Hill – on Algonquin territory in Ottawa. This chapter compares Indigenous and non-Indigenous occupations of urban public space during Canada 150 celebrations. On one hand, the City of Ottawa turned city parks and parking lots into campgrounds to manage the anticipated influx of visitors to Ottawa during the celebrations, inviting settlers to occupy public space. On the other hand, the settler-colonial state identified Algonquin water protectors as public safety threats for raising a tipi on Parliament Hill in a reoccupation of traditional, unceded Algonquin territory. Comparing these two examples side- by-side demonstrates the ways settler-colonial national celebrations such as Canada 150 rely upon and reinforce settler relations to land, at the same time as Indigenous resistance successfully undermines the Canadian nation-state’s claims to territory and legitimacy.
- Graduation date
- Fall 2021
- Type of Item
- Doctor of Philosophy
- This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.