Living in the Margins, Even in Stone: Dominant Narratives in the Nation’s Capital and the Cost to Indigenous Nations and Canada

by Pitseolak Pfeifer

Living in the Margins Even in Stone

ABSTRACT

The construction of a national identity relies on Nation-States to build narratives, which shape societal values, beliefs, attitudes and norms. Canada has a Euro-colonial history shaped out of the relationships originally built in partnership with the Indigenous peoples.  However, Canadian historiography presents the dominant position of English-speaking settler-colonists as the nation builders, while the contributions and realities of Indigenous Nations remained in the margins. Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their value in Canada’s history. However, they have experienced a significant lack of inclusion in Canada’s historical narratives. The philosophical notion of Othering illustrates itself within public spaces in the national capital city of Ottawa, as demonstrated by the Anishnawbe Scout, the Joseph Brant statue and the Aboriginal War Veterans Monument. On the surface, these monuments attempt to illustrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada’s nation building. This poster presentation introduces a critical analysis of these monuments with the help of public documents, media reports and the recent academic work, at the crossroad of the fields of Canadian Studies, Indigenous Studies and Media Studies. I will argue that the continued marginalization and misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples finds a particularly strong example with these sites, as they are perpetuating myths only to keep Indigenous peoples within Canada to live in the margins.

KEYWORDS

Nation building, Canada, myth making, marginalization, Public Art, Indigenous Representation.

BIOGRAPHY

Pitseolak Pfeifer is a mature student at Carleton who was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut. He is fluent in Inuktitut and has a strong connection to the Inuit culture and ties to his homelands. Pitseolak is interested in studying the cultural differences between Northern and Southern Canadians as well as the contemporary social, political and economic challenges that Inuit are facing today.

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