In small towns and cities across Canada, for the most part, Indigenous presence is absent from the land, the downtown streets and absent from the murals splayed across old brick walls on banks and old hotels. In fact, to further this point, you can essentially drive across Canada on the Trans-Canada highway and never even know who’s Indigenous territory you are entering into or leaving.
The reserve system ensured that the physical Indigenous presence was far out of eyes reach of emerging towns and cities. Reserves were a simple way for the Settler to clear the conscience. It allowed the concept of “terra nullius” or empty land to take roots in the minds of the newcomers to Canada – it permits the entitlement over Indigenous lands, bodies and lives.
There is a photoshop project on the internet that is trying to flip the script on all of this.
Joanne Hammond is a settler archaeologist and anthropologist working in British Columbia. Her project #rewriteBC tells alternative stories and histories at “Stops of Interest” in BC. Although she maintains that these are not Indigenous stories, per se, (that’s “best left to Indigenous people” she reminds us), they are important reminders that what gets counted as history is seldom the full story.
THE “#rewriteBC” PROJECT
Joanne Hammond is an archaeologist and anthropologist in BC, where she lives and works in the unceded territories of the Secwepemc, Syilx and Nlaka’pamux nations. Her field and policy work supports communities regaining control over the research, preservation and governance of their cultural heritage. She’s a program advisor with Simon Fraser University’s graduate professional program in heritage management, and serves on the Kamloops Heritage Commission. Joanne is a vocal advocate for decolonization and works hard to foster public awareness of Indigenous and Canadian histories, an understanding she believes is a crucial prerequisite to reconciliation. Joanne is active in outreach with schools, community groups, professional organizations and governments to educate learners of all ages about Indigenous archaeological heritage and the history of Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state. She believes that we can craft socially responsible and morally defensible approaches to heritage research and interpretation that can produce outstanding human stories.