In this radio interview, Justice Frank Iacobucci shares his insights into the legal, political, and ethical forces behind The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (2007) and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2007–2015). These initiatives were designed to address the many serious issues and injustices that have long impacted Indigenous peoples and continue to radically reshape First Nation communities in Canada.
This article explores the history of the Italian diaspora in British Columbia through the lens of the New Ethnohistory, focusing on the tensions between the perceived continuity of tradition and cultural change. It argues that Italians have actively participated in three different types of colonialism in the Pacific region. First, even though Italian newcomers were almost absent in the early-nineteenth-century “exploitation” era associated with the fur trade and the salmon fisheries, they were later the backbone of the local extractive industries in the second part of the century. Second, the earliest consistent wave of Italians arrived during the “extraction” colonial era (1858–64), associated with gold mining, which also continued in certain areas long afterwards. Third, Italians benefitted from the ongoing structures of “settler colonialism” since the 1860s. This latter type of colonialism is associated with displacing Indigenous peoples and reshaping the landscape through the imposition of European-style agriculture. Indeed, this essay examines some British Columbian case studies of Italian-Indigenous peoples’ interactions as hermeneutical examples that problematize some historiographical tropes. Moreover, it presents the New Ethnohistory, particularly the Community Engaged-Scholarship (CES), as a methodology that could provide Italian Canadians with new historiographical perspectives. Finally, this article invites newcomers to engage in a meaningful reconciliation/conciliation with Indigenous peoples and their flourishing cultures to better comprehend their shared past.
To Indigenous Nations, place is fundamental to one’s identity, language, and worldview. More than a geographical location, place reflects a sacred relationship that grounds them in their worldview of inclusivity, equity, and gratitude, and acts as a central role in the formation of identity. Eurocentric ideology is diametrically opposite to Indigenous values and beliefs. This is clearly evident in the Indian Act, a law designed to annihilate Indigenous languages and identity/culture and one that reflects the colonizer’s paternalistic and racist ideology. Both Italian Canadians and Indigenous Nations have experienced assimilation and acculturation. Both peoples have confronted the challenges of displacement. Yet, to fully live on this land and solidify our sense of belonging here, Italian Canadians have an obligation to be knowledgeable of Turtle Island’s colonial past and in doing so support Indigenous efforts to decolonize.
This case study documents the ancestral oral knowledge of Italian peasant culture and the Haudenosaunee people in informing an ecologically sustainable land ethic. In preserving the knowledge of their oral traditions and comparing the two oral cultures, humanity gains a deeper understanding into the insight and wisdom of oral stories. These two oral cultures point towards a sustainable and interdependent way of knowing and living on the land that will ensure a healthy and nurturing Earth for future generations.
Long before the formation of the first Italian communities in Canada, notable Italian navigators played a key role in the so-called “discovery of the Americas.” Suffice it to think of names like Cristoforo Colombo and Giovanni Caboto, who sailed to North America in 1492 and 1497 as part of European exploration journeys to the “new world.” The history of colonization in Canada and North America in general is therefore inextricably linked to these names, although Italian responsibilities in the occupation of Canada are not always acknowledged as such. On the contrary, celebratory traces of this history are still visible in the names of streets, squares, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., as well as in public holidays and commemorative monuments. The present article aims at addressing the power of names in the creation of cultural memory. More specifically, the article explores the role that place-names and other commemorative practices linked to the Italian presence in Canada play in the commemoration of the colonial past and in the production of a narrative that celebrates the Italian contribution to its colonial occupation. Naming places, people, or holidays is not just a matter of choosing one name over another, but it reveals ideological stances and narratives. Similarly, the presence of celebratory monuments turning Caboto and Colombo into national myths and symbols of Italian Canadians ends up affecting the relationships between local Italian-Canadian communities and Indigenous peoples. Possible alternatives may change attitudes towards Indigenous peoples, thus promoting a new solidarity with the Italian-Canadian communities across the country.
In addition to presenting a general appreciation of the lives and artistic contributions of Luigi Nasato and Giovanni Gerometta, this article, which is based on live interviews, photographic and written documents, and the artists’ sketches and maquettes, discusses four original mosaic murals designed and executed by the two Italian Canadians in the 1960s, 1980s, and 1990s for public buildings in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. The works treat themes of Indigenous life, multiculturalism, communication, and marine transportation. All depict Indigenous figures and demonstrate how the traditional art form of mosaic became a vehicle for Canadian content, even if no profound knowledge of Native Canadians or their culture is demonstrated or could have been, given the political and social landscape of Canada then and even now.