WE ARE NOT RE-WRITING HISTORY. WE ARE RIGHTING HISTORY.
Authors: Heather Li, Christina Di Carlo, and Manvi Bhalla
For too long, the narratives surrounding historical events (i.e., how we got to where we are today, what took place and what its impact was) have been pervaded to suit hegemonic narratives. That is to say, the dominant groups in our society (namely white, Anglo-European and usually cis men) have chosen what we commonly accept as our country’s history as we know it today. This indoctrination of “fact” is only reinforced by western-centric curricula that predominates in both formal and informal educational settings. As a result, the stories of the land and its peoples within what is currently Canada, from time immemorial to the present day, have been erased and/or replaced with tales that suit the desired narrative of those in power and those afforded the privileges of proximity to power. These narratives often err on the side of framing events in a manner that often minimizes the true impact of instances and often policies, upon communities; predominantly racialized and Indigenous communities who continue to experience pervasive systemic oppression and inequities in all dimensions of life.
As is the case with all storytelling, education and research work, decisions for what is to be included in our narratives and how it is framed/ said, are heavily influenced by the values and perspectives of its writers. This is why we have made an active effort to include the positionalities of all contributors to pieces of work on this website, so you are able to make a personal informed decision about how you navigate the opinions, lived experiences and general evidence-informed content we house here.
To fill the gaps of these unwritten or incorrect historical takes - which we believe play a large role in shaping the necessary context for the progress of our movements - Shake Up the Establishment (SUTE) created Righting History. For us, what is most important is to acknowledge that our role is not to speak on behalf of communities affected by historical erasure, but to uplift and increase the reach of under/misrepresented voices and stories. Our role at SUTE is to take on the brunt labour associated with maintaining this project, by providing volunteers, applying for funding, and hosting events, with the goal of maximizing public engagement with the project and to give those whose histories have been stolen a platform to speak their truth. Importantly, given that our goal with this initiative is to put in the organizational and emotional labour to develop a functional platform to serve these purposes, we are actively seeking partners and collaborators with lived experiences to join in this initiative to help shape the narratives that inform our activism. We humbly recognize that this initiative will not succeed without fruitful, co-designed collaborative efforts with community and grassroots initiatives, and thus we are committed to dedicating substantial resources towards relationship building as part of this work. If you are interested in joining this collaborative effort, we encourage you to email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are urgently and actively seeking funding as well, to continue to enhance this platform and provide paid opportunities to continue this work. As a youth-led organization, we operate primarily on a volunteer basis, so we ask that those interested in helping to connect us with funding opportunities please email email@example.com.
Having said all this, it is important for us to clearly express our gratitude to the land defenders (both on our team, and those in the larger communities!) who continue to protect the people and the lands and oceans from which life springs from, even in the harshest and most oppressive of conditions. We acknowledge that while Shake Up The Establishment is a national organization which aims to inclusively operate across what is currently Canada, our address refers to Treaty 3 land, which is the present, traditional and ancestral territory of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas Peoples. We are thankful to be able to live, work and thrive on this land while striving to centre community voices in the stories that we tell. We are committed to constantly improving and evaluating our practices to ensure we maintain both the authenticity of the stories whilst maintaining the safety of those who share their stories with us.