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What does Decolonization & Reconciliation mean to a Millennial

Updated: May 12

Written by Nicolaus Waddell


Decolonization is never a light talking subject. As a Canadian, we learned about the colonization of Canada but through a colonial lens, often grazing over injustices to indigenous peoples. Textbooks focused on the amazing things found and explored throughout Canada but failed to describe experiences of Indigenous people that happened as a result of exploration or colonization of the new world.


When I went to university I decided I would go to journalism school. I mostly did it because I was following a high school friend, but I also liked photography and had a passion for social justice. I am LGBT and I hadn’t come out yet but, that had started to fuel an interest in using platforms and your voice to spread awareness and provide education. I took a course on Canadian history, as suggested by the J-School prerequisites for admission, but through a more Indigenous or realistic lens. My professor Tina was passionate and did a great job and making this history interesting and relevant.


As I continued through J-School I was also coming to terms with being an Indigenous person. I had known I was Indigenous since I was in high school but because of my negative interactions with people whenever I brought it up, usually just did not tell people much about it. I went to TRU which has a large international population and it wasn’t till then through exploring and meeting people from new cultures that I began to become more interested in my own culture and identity as an Indigenous person.


I am Michif or Metis, a mixed-identity nation, that have often been referred to as half breeds or some other blood quantum mixture. Because I have euro-centric features, I was often ridiculed because I mostly likely was only about 1/64th native making me have no claim to my culture. It was a really confusing time for me but ultimately I learned about my family history, background, and culture and found empowerment and stability in that identity. I know embrace it as much as I can.


I recently did a workshop on reconciliation. I hadn’t really thought about anything relating to it for many years but while researching the topic again, I was thrown down the rabbit whole. Unearthing so many injustices and oppression going on today and learning how it has effected my identity has re-lit the fire for social justice.


Decolonization has meant the struggle I’ve went through to be able to claim my identity as an Indigenous person. Through residential schools most of my culture had disintegrated away from family tradition. I had to reunite with it by own means, along with help from my mother.

Reconciliation is about awareness and movement and I would like to be a part of that in any way. It’s about continuing a dialogue with colonial governments and to be self-governing in the rights we do have. It’s about every Indigenous person reclaiming their culture and feeling a strong connection with it.


Colonization has created hierarchy’s of oppression which many millennial's feel the impacts from today. Sometimes Indigenous rights get forgot about in the mass media mix but it’s an important topic that needs attention daily. Through education and working to indigenize colonial systems and institutions we can achieve a more equal society to begin to repair what has been done to Indigenous peoples cultures and lands. I think it’s our job as millennial's to acknowledge this and speed up the process.




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