Below is the text of the title card preceding each chapter of the dance film, New Monuments. This document is to enhance the Described Video experience created by Rebecca Singh for New Monuments, available on CBC Gem starting Friday, October 15 at 8pm EST.
Many Indigenous peoples believe in the idea of a Creator, Great Spirit or Great Mystery; a power or being that has created the world and everything in it. Great spiritual power is also found in the spirits of all living things, natural phenomena and ritually significant places.
Indigenous Peoples (or Aboriginal peoples) referring to First Nations, Métis and Inuit who are the original inhabitantsof the land that is now Canada had farming, medicine, education, complex social systems and treaties with shared values that also showed respect for differences. Demonstrating a strong reverence for the planet and resources is exemplified in the area of T’karanto by the Dish With One Spoon ****agreement made between the various nations inhabiting the land which reminds us we only have one dish which is the one mother earth we can take from. We should take only what we need, leave something for others, and keep the dish clean.
In the late 15th century, English, French**,** and Portuguese navigators arrived on Canada’s Atlantic coast ****making contact with ****Indigenous ****people of the land. The settlers struggled with sickness and the harsh climate making assistance from the Indigenous crucial to their survival. The introduction of European liquor brought addiction and death to Indigenous communities. The settlers’ forgein diseases decimated large numbers of Indigenous people. During the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763) smallpox was weaponized by the settlers and spread through the Indigenous population through the gifting of contaminated blankets.
Over the centuries, through colonization and settlement, traditional Indigenous ways of life were forever altered. Colonial practices and policies such as the Indian Act constituted in 1867; was created to assign legislative jurisdiction to Parliament over "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians." The pass system, reserves and residential schools enforced by law, sought to control and assimilate Indigenous peoples. These have had historic and ongoing impacts throughout generations.
The Doctrine of Discovery issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1493, was pronounced and authorized by ****Pope Alexander VIallowing for dispossession, adverse possession, conquest and displacement of the land’s first inhabitants through force. The Doctrine ****of ****Discovery was the framework Spain, Portugal, and England used for the colonization of many lands, including North America. These doctrines imply that Canada was legally empty when Europeans arrived. “Discovering” nations claimed Indigenous peoples’ lands by the sheer power of their words; through the force of “law” alone. The Court concluded that the Crown had sovereignty and underlying title in Canada because Indigenous peoples had inferior legal status.
A notable amount of Canada’s wealth has been built by the transatlantic slave trade.
From 1501 until 1866, it ****is estimated that the ****transatlantic slave trade saw more than 12.5 million African peopleforcefully put on slave ****ships and transported to the Americas.
Of these 12.5 million, an estimated 2 million people did not survive the journey known as the Middle Passage. It is estimated that there were approximately 4,200 enslaved Africans ****in the area of New France, which is now Canadabetween 1671 and 1831. Canada’s first documented enslaved person was a seven old child from Madagascar, renamed Olivier Le Jeune.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) British supporters in the colonies issued proclamations that ****anyenslaved ****or ****indentured ****person would be given their freedom if ****they took up arms with ****the British against ****the rebels. When the rebels won the war British forces and their supporters had to leave the new United States. Approximately 3000 Black Loyalists departed New York in 1781 in ships to Nova Scotia.
The name of any Black person on board a vessel was recorded in a document called the Book ****of Negroes. Some Black Loyalists arrived as hired workers, indentured workers, apprenticed workers, or as free persons; some travelled on their own accord, some arrived with their White Loyalist enslavers. The difficulty of supporting themselves in the face of widespread discrimination convinced many Black Loyalists that they would never find true freedom and equality in Nova Scotia.
Resistance always existed in the institution of slavery. Out of fear of revolt similar to that in Haiti beginning in 1791 and the prominent abolitionist movement; Great Britain ****abolished ****slavery in its empire ****in ****1834. Between 30-40,000 thousand ****African Americans escaped to Canada led by abolitionists like Harriet Tubman through support systems like the underground railroad. The migration was further spurred in 1850 with the passage of the Fugitive ****Slave ****Act that permitted the capture and return of escaped enslaved people anywhere in the United States.