Dumelang, my name is Lyndsay Chapman and I just finished my second year of Global Development Studies at Queen's University. After months of preparation and a couple days of traveling all across the world I'm finally here at Ditshwanelo in Kasane, Botswana. Ditshwanelo is a NGO, and the Botswana centre for Human rights. I'm going to be working with my partner Chloe here for the next three months on their land rights project .
While we were waiting for our work permits to be completed by our boss we had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of our colleagues, Susan, a fellow volunteer from a law institute in Gaborone who has been volunteering with Ditshwanelo since January. We got to talking about the differences between our countries and she mentioned to us that she had always wanted to visit Canada. From my studies in Canada I have, of course, been subject to some of the ways in which people are taught to conceive of Canada and its position in the world. You know the notion that Canada is some benevolent peacekeeper, a bastion of human rights, could never do any harm. One that with any research becomes increasingly ridiculous and manufactured.
While we were talking I mentioned where the name Canada came from, Kanata, meaning village in Iroquois which in turn led to a discussion about our indigenous populations. We mentioned our reserve system and some of the colonial and modern injustices the aboriginal peoples of Canada are subject to. Having taken some courses this year on these subjects I learned a lot of new and frankly appalling, things that are not mentioned usually about how the government treats aboriginal peoples. Susan was rather surprised that these sort of things happen in Canada. I always just assumed that the insanely contrived notion of what it meant to be Canadian or what Canada stood for only really affected us but it doesn't. How have we managed to create this false notion that we are so good, so perfect when we are not? How can we engage in meaningful collaboration if there is this idea that we are above them, as false as it is? I feel like we need people to work as opposite representatives, traveling around and telling people all the bad things about Canada breaking down those ideas, that privilege. Maybe once all that privilege has been broken down than we can start working on building real relationships with people around the world.
Until next time, Sala Sentle.
note:due to some technical difficulties I'm posting under Chloe's name but rest assured it is fact me who wrote this.