Preface and Acknowledgments

(The following is an excerpt from the Preface and Acknowledgments of Fighting for A Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada)

The bulk of this book was written over the summer of 2019. The copy-editing process occurred in the early months of 2020, around the time that major disruptions were happening across the country in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defence against TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic that exposed and worsened the faultlines of social injustices on a global scale. I received the typeset manuscript to proofread just around the time that George Floyd was brutally murdered by police in the US, sparking uprisings (including against systemic racism) in many countries. At a Black Lives Matter protest, an observation by Floyd’s six-year-old daughter went viral: “Daddy changed the world.” It was not possible to include the many issues raised by these three major events in the book, but they underscore the urgency with which we, as a society, have to build a new world if we want humanity to survive and if we want to live lives with meaning. A new world where being empathetic, emphasizing cooperation, mutual aid, and solidarity, respecting human dignity, and living in harmony with the environment are core values. Decolonization efforts here in Canada are a necessary path toward that world.

Land acknowledgments to recognize occupied, unceded, and/or Traditional Territories of Indigenous Peoples have gained more mainstream acceptance today than even a decade ago. However, all too often, they end up being empty rituals at the beginning of an event, or a few cut-and- pasted lines in a footnote at the bottom of a page. We would like to believe that taking a few seconds to acknowledge historical colonial injustices makes us accountable and responsible for our actions today. But, in order to engage meaningfully with the politics of decolonization, we must position ourselves more explicitly and transparently. In writing this book, I have strived for intellectual rigour rooted in a commitment to decolonization and social justice.

My research and writing occurred mostly in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal), but it’s important for me to acknowledge that I spent chunks of time working on the manuscript in other places (southern Quebec, southern Ontario, northeastern United States), including the Traditional Territories of several Indigenous Nations: Abenaki, Anishnaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, Métis, Mississaugas of the Credit, Ramapough Lenape, Wendat. Such acknowledgments must go beyond where we live and work, however, to include Indigenous Lands where resources are exploited, and from which we benefit. For example, the electricity distributed throughout the province by Hydro-Québec powered the electronic devices, library databases, and internet access that I used to write this book. Yet, as I explain in Chapter 14, well over 80 per cent of the province’s hydroelectricity is generated on the territories of the Eeyou, Innu, Inuit, and Naskapi Nations. My land acknowledgments are made in full recognition of this reality.

I would also like to highlight the courage of the caregivers and parents […] who spoke out during the #aHand2Hold campaign to denounce the government’s non-accompaniment practice and its impacts on their children. They did so not to erase the trauma they’d experienced, but rather to put an end to forced family separation so that future generations would not suffer. To honour their spirit of solidarity, all royalties from sales of this book have been redirected to groups and initiatives that support Indigenous self-determination and are concerned with the health and wellness of Indigenous children and youth. […]