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Dr. John Baptiste article in SMDM Newsletter Print Page
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Dr. John Baptiste article in SMDM Newsletter

Dreamers, Nightmares and Reveille

by Ava John-Baptiste, PhD; Assistant Professor, Western University. Reprinted from SMDM Fall 2017 Newsletter.

The land on which Western University exists is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron (Neutral), and Wendat peoples.

Talk of travel bans and amnesty for “dreamers” have been a part of public discourse in the United States through much of 2017. These young people, brought to the United States by their parents as children, have recently had their precarious immigration status threatened by President Trump. In the midst of this discussion on the sovereign rights of nations to protect their borders, my thoughts turn to the original residents of North America. For indigenous people, who inhabited these lands long before the arrival of Europeans, before the enslavement and forced migration of Africans, and before successive waves of immigration brought people from around the world, the irony of protecting borders must be stark.

In a way, we are, almost all of us, dreamers.

As I observe the inflammatory debate over “dreamers” I occupy a complex space in Canada. My parents immigrated to Montreal, from Trinidad in the 1960s. On the first day my mother walked into high school, in the suburb of Lachine, Anglophone schoolmates spit on her face. The sentiment was, “Blacks get out.” In the ensuing decades, hostility arising from French Canadian nationalism caused these very same Anglophones to quit Montreal in large numbers and resettle for the most part in Toronto. My parents went with them. The sentiment was, “Anglos get out.”

Despite the challenges and complexities, I am proud to be Canadian. This year, Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary. The country has been built on territory effectually owned by First Nations and Inuit peoples.[1] In a way, those of us who are not indigenous to these lands are all dreamers. We descend, if you will, from illegal occupants of North America. What should our sentiment be? [...]

Read a full article in SMDM Fall 2017 Newsletter.

Posted on Oct 11, 2017

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