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dr. linda manyguns is the associate vice-president of Indigenization and decolonization at mount royal university. Christina Ryan © Postmedia Network Inc.

Nadia Moharib © Postmedia Network Inc.

EDITOR’S NOTE: mount royal university’s office of Indigenization and decolonization uses lower case text as Indigenous ‘eventing’ to support resistance. they join leaders such as e.e. cummings, bell hooks and peter kulchyski who reject symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found and do not use capital letters except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition.

there was a time when dr. linda manyguns was so ashamed of her roots that she hid everything that identified her as Indigenous.

“you deny your culture, the whole idea of being attached to Indian-ness. you pretend to be anything else, you try to be as white as possible,” she says.

“i would say i was polynesian or from south america.”

that so-called cultural cringe is long gone for the Blackfoot woman. as mount royal university’s associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization, manyguns plays her part in a national push for Indigenous pride in the wake of the discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at residential schools that underscore canada’s dark history.

to go forward as a country that respects Indigenous culture, canada must go backward to revisit the rotten roots of colonization, she says.

while some are tired of truth and reconciliation talk and can, perhaps, rationalize horrors adults faced — manyguns says revelations of children being slain by a system prompted outrage across cultures.

“it was genocide, and the adults were dying at just as high of a rate as the children at residential schools. our reserves should be filled with graveyards and there are none,” she says.

as history is on the cusp, perhaps, of being rewritten to reflect the facts, manyguns is grateful for her role at mru. only a few months into the new position, she is bringing in a Traditional Thinkers Circle, planning a garden with traditional Indigenous plants and bringing traditional languages to some studies.

“this isn’t about beads and feathers and putting up pictures on the wall. they are expecting me to make some pretty fundamental changes to the system … not just curriculum,” she says.

“if you are going to take away the notions of colonization, then you have created a vacuum and you have to fill it with something. that’s what I intend to do.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development. 

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