Truth & Reconciliation Day: Statement & Reading List

Today, September 30th, 2021, is Orange Shirt Day, a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project, envisioned in 2013 by Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins. This day serves to commemorate the residential school experience, to honour the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. As of this year, the day has been declared as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

In honour of this day, alongside the programming organized by the university and other departments, we, as geographers and planners, offer a reflection on truth and reconciliation specific to our field:

Land and place are central to the study of geography and planning.
Land and place are central to reconciliation.

As geographers and planners, we must contend with the reality that our disciplines have their roots in colonialism; that the acts of mapping, surveying, dividing land, and defining place were all used, and continue to be used, as tools of violence against Indigenous people. Still, Indigenous geographies have and always will exist, in refusal and resistance to these colonial practices. Furthermore these tools can be dismantled and better methods and approaches can bring to light the geographies that sought to be hidden (see, for example the native land mapping project).

To reflect on this – to act to reconcile, repair, and return what was taken – is not something that can be done in one day, but rather must become a part of everyday knowledge and practice. This is ongoing work. To encourage it, we share the following writing by Indigenous scholars (some in collaboration with settler scholars) who expose colonial violence and center Indigenous geographies: