Sakej Ward – Decolonizing the Colonizer
In this speech, Sakej Ward talks about decolonization in relationship to the original people of the land you are living in. He argues that a central aspect of any process of change requires the correct identification of the terms we use to describe ourselves. Ward seeks to dispel the illusions and resulting mistaken relationships that arise from using common labels of Canadians such as “guests”, “newcomers”, “brothers”, or “settlers” that suggest a passivity or undeserved level of innocence. Incorrect labels lead to incorrect relationships.
Ward argues that all of these labels mask the true nature of Canadians; they are occupiers upon indigenous homelands. The labels guests, partners, brothers and newcomers are all pacifist revisionist ways of incorretly re-constructing the relationship. It starts by ignoring 500 years of genocidal autrocities and refuses to hold Canadians to account for their injustices. The label settler is too historically and politically sterile. Canadians are truly occupiers on our homelands. They need to acknowledge and take responsibility for the colonial crimes that they inherited, they benefit from and continue to impose today if any kind of reconciliation is to occur.
Ward concludes by arguing that European descendants need to trace back their own roots in their own homelands and overcome the trauma and destruction caused by the imperial Roman system that colonized them.
Sakej (James Ward) belongs to the wolf clan. He is Mi’kmaw (Mi’kmaq Nation) from the community of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick). He is the father of nine children, four grandchildren and a caregiver for one. He resides in Shxw’owhamel First Nation with his wife Melody Andrews and their children.