Decolonizing & Desettlering Conversations in Practice

Emily Coon, Scott Kouri, Nicole Land, & Jeff Smith

     Contemporary helping practices are rooted in settler colonialism and as practitioners, both settler and Indigenous, our approaches unfold our histories and identities. Decolonization and desettlering are intertwined projects that brought us together for this conversational workshop, facilitated by Dr. Cathy Richardson, to explore how our early childhood and counselling practices are both complicit in and resistant toward settler colonialism. We will submit our varied experiences to a response-based decolonizing critique, foregrounding issues of cultural sharing and appropriation and gender-based violence. We hope to engage with workshop participants through drum, conversation, art, image and music –exploring how decolonization and/or desettlering can take place through sensation and affect.

     Decolonization, as an Indigenous politic of resisting settler colonialism embodies transformative practices of resurgent nation building and land repatriation. The current proliferation of decolonization discourses, many of which reference a metaphoric decolonization, often serve to further settler desires to stay settled on unceded territories (Tuck & Yang, 2012). Decolonization is contiguous but largely incommensurable with desettlering, which we define as a process of divesting settler subjectivities of their conceit and doing away with a colonial code of relations and psycholonization (Todd & Wade, 1994). Desettlering demands that those of us who have benefitted from ongoing colonization critically explore our own practices, both personal and professional, and resist how colonial processes, expectations, and social structures infiltrate and support our privileged positions. As professionals who have been trained in developmental, social, and postmodern human service practice, we describe our individual and collective resistance to the proliferation of colonial processes in therapeutic, childcare and educational contexts by interweaving practices of music, embodiment, allyship, and resurgence.