Skip to main content

Indigene-Settler-Migrant Relations in Canada and Aotearoa, New Zealand

March 31, 2011

Hine Waitere, New Zealand, Director of Indigenous Leadership Centre, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Tribal University of Awanuiarangi, Whakatane, NZ, in deep conversation with Dr. Jenny Lawn, Massey University, NZ and Dr. Sue Abel, University of Aukland, NZ.

By Dian Million, American Indian Studies

I had the honor this February 21-24 to attend an International Research Linkage Workshop – Living Together Differently: Indigene-Settler-Migrant Relations in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand – to generate comparative interdisciplinary research programs and publications. A goal of our intensive two-day workshop was to further cement an emerging interdisciplinary research network between teams of scholars working on issues of redress, reconciliation, and national futures in Canada and Aotearoa, New Zealand. The workshop enhanced comparative discussions and put plans in order to lay the groundwork for a more extensive, permanent, research network. More specifically, we focused was on the types of sociality and ethics of care imagined as the basis for future relationships between particular communities within settler nations.

Both Canada and Aotearoa, New Zealand are “settler nations” in which national governments, in recent decades, have engaged in a politics of apology and redress. Such redress politics aim to repair past injustices in order to heal conflict-ridden relationships with indigenous peoples and former immigrant communities, aiming to build more peaceful futures and to manage and celebrate diversity within nations. Apologies and reparations are always Janus-faced in that they simultaneously look backwards to the past as well as forward toward a “reconciled” future. The question of the limits and possibilities of the future intercultural relationships that such “reconciliation” processes generate is pivotal for settler nations such as Canada and Aotearoa, New Zealand that are deemed to be global exemplars of pluralist nation-states.

As an American Indian Studies scholar I was interested in discussing and critiquing the initiative Canada has taken in using Human Rights resolution models such as Truth and Reconciliation and reparations to bring Canadian Aboriginal peoples into conversation with the state for historical injustices. The Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, New Zealand – the Maori – have also been involved with such a model for building new more aware decolonized political and social relations with that state for over two decades.

I was excited to participate in this research network for a number of reasons but most importantly to strengthen the UW relationship with such an endeavor and to expand the strength of Canadian research on our campus. Participation enabled me to update my materials for my classes on American Indian and Canadian Aboriginal family and child histories.

Dian Million (Athabascan), Assistant Professor, American Indian Studies, explores the politics of knowledge and intellectual production for Native and Indigenous peoples. Her book manuscript is Therapeutic Nations: State violence, Indigenous community healing in a Neoliberal World Order.

Travel for participation and research was supported, in part, by funding from a Canadian Studies Center Program Enhancement Grant, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Government of Canada.