Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Ye’yumnuts is a sacred ancestral place of the Cowichan people, located on Vancouver Island, British-Colombia. Uamashtakan, for its part, is an old portage of the Innu people, located along the Manicouagan river in Quebec. Even though those two cultural sites fall within very specific local histories and haven’t been affected by colonialism in the same way (urban development versus hydroelectricity), they have something in common: both are subject to a community-based commemorative project, aiming to give the Indigenous cultures they witness a greater visibility within unceded lands. Through a comparative perspective, putting forward points of similarity and distinction between those two place-based initiatives, I want to focus on the role of cultural heritage as a space of resistance and self-determination, where subaltern voices may fight to be heard. Drawing upon anthropological and geographical perspectives on “place” and “landscape”, I will discuss how sociocultural tensions are reflected and revealed as people interact with these commemorative materials at curated Indigenous places. I thus want to question the scope of such a renewed visibility towards recognition, decolonization and reconciliation in Canada. To what extend commemorative practices, in offering an opportunity to shift the public gaze towards (post)colonial landscapes, may be part of and support Indigenous cultural continuity? Being rooted in an oral-based cultural memory, how do they lead to a better understanding and recognition of Indigenous territorialities?