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I challenge you to identify at least one invasive plant species in your Community or region. If you can, remove some of it responsibly and share with us on social media what you’re doing to decolonize the landscapes where you live!
About This Challenge
We know that colonialism and colonization didn’t end when the last Residential School was forced to close its doors in 1996. We know that colonialism and colonization didn’t end in 2008 when Canada officially apologized for Residential Schools and past assimilation tactics, or when the TRC released its 94 Calls to Action. We know that colonialism and colonization are ongoing processes and that the steps to ‘decolonize’ (however you want to define that) are complicated, personal, and at the same time national.
Some the impacts of colonization are measurable. For example, we can measure disparities in health outcomes and educational attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. But it can be difficult to wrap your head around these measured impacts - they’re spread out over generations and through families, and there are personal narratives along with national narratives that are an important part of these impacts. Other impacts of colonization are not only measurable - they’re visible. They’re observable every time you look out a window to the lands and waters upon which everyone in Canada depends.
It’s possible that no impact of colonization is as visible as the physical colonization of our landscapes. I challenge you to disrupt this colonization process in one small way today: learn about the invasive or introduced plant species in your community or region and if you can, remove it responsibly. If you don’t know how to identify an invasive species or if you need information on how you can responsibly remove it, we’ve put together a lot of great resources below. I encourage you to reach out to any local Nations, ecology groups, or community gardens in your area to find people working towards this goal and to add your energy to their projects. Make sure to share with us on social media, how you’re planning to increase your efforts to decolonize the landscapes where you live.
Introduced species are those that were brought to a place from which they did not originate; invasive species are a type of introduced species - so all invasives were introduced, but not all introduced species are invasive. The difference between the two is that invasive species cause harm to existing ecosystems and damage the balance inherent to the local ecology. For example, an invasive species might be introduced into an ecosystem in which it has no natural predators; in this case the introduced species might take thrive and take more than its share of resources, disrupting the balance that is required for a healthy ecosystem (making it invasive). Essentially, an invasive species might take over an ecosystem and damage all of the organisms that take part in that ecosystem. This can lead wide ranging issues like ecological damage (loss of biodiversity, reduced resistance to natural storms etc.), economic damage (loss of tourism or access to keystone species), and it can lead to social and cultural damage where Indigenous Communities can no longer access traditional foods, traditional lands or medicines that should grow in their territories.
Indigenous Peoples are the rightful stewards of their lands; we have been stewards of and relations with the lands and waters of Turtle Island since Time Immemorial but in many, plainly visible ways, colonization has damaged these relationships and has physically transformed the lands and waters that form our society with us. Colonization is ongoing in the disruption of traditional ecosystems. Disruptors like invasive and introduced species, and even climate change, alter our abilities as stewards of our territories to build strong relationships with the land and water - relationships to which all Indigenous Peoples have rights.
In order to assert our rights, Indigenous people can forge relationships with our own territories and we can be respectful guests in the territories of our friends and relations by spending time on the land. Allies too, can be respectful guests and can learn to care for traditional ecosystems in meaningful ways. Though colonization has altered our traditional ecosystems and food systems, there is so much we can do to improve our relationships with the land and that means starting where you are. Start or continue your learning today by learning about the introduced or invasive species in your area and learn how they have come to colonize the landscapes where you live. Spend time on the land with Knowledge Keepers if you can to learn more about the traditional ecosystems and how those ecosystems work with Indigenous Communities. Learn about important cultural species and about how those species are impacted by introduced and invasive species. Colonization is ongoing, but together we can work to disrupt the disruptors.
There are invasive species in every province and territory in Canada, check out the resources below to learn about the invasives in your region!
- Government of Canada: Invasive Alien Plants in Canada Summary Report
- Nature Conservancy of Canada: Invasive Species
- Matthew Stephen Pudovskis: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Environmental Governance in Canada
- Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network: Invading Species (Resources)
- Invasive Species Centre: Invasive Species Education
- Invasive Species Council of BC
- CBC Radio Unreserved: Colonial Reality Tour brings Indigenous land and history into focus
- Focus Magazine: Restoring Camas and Culture to Lekwungen and Victoria: An interview with Lekwungen Cheryl Bryce
- Lewkungen Food Systems
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Cheryl Bryce is the Director of Local Services for Songhees Nation and a nation member. Her family roles includes taking care of the Kwetlal (camas) Food System and knowledge keeper. Her knowledge has been passed down through her grandmother and family.
"I challenge you to identify at least one invasive plant species in your Community or region. If you can, remove some of it responsibly and share with us on social media what you’re doing to decolonize the landscapes where you live!"Read More