Sunday November 27, 2016

Chelsea Vowel takes on Indigenous misconceptions with new book

Indigenous Writes is the latest book by lawyer and author Chelsea Vowel.

Indigenous Writes is the latest book by lawyer and author Chelsea Vowel. (CBC)

Are you familiar with the terms Delgamuukw, Sixties Scoop, Bill C-31 or blood quantum? A new book is intended to act as a guide to these concepts and offer insight into the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada.

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada is a collection of essays by Chelsea Vowel. She is a writer, lawyer and intellectual whose blog is called âpihtawikosisân.

"There's a whole section dealing with myths," Vowel explained.

Chelsea Vowel

Chelsea Vowel's blog has become a go-to media resource for a diverse collection of Indigenous issues. (Chelsea Vowel)

"There's the taxation one. This idea that there's this really broad tax exemption that applies to every person who identifies as Indigenous. It's seen as this unfair benefit that people have ... the exemption is actually very narrow."

Another myth that Vowel tackles is that if you live on reserve, you get a free house if you just wait. She says this is completely false, adding that everyone getting free post-secondary education doesn't translate into reality either. 

"These are ideas that have been around for a really long time that have become so part of the public consciousness that they are seen as common sense."

Vowel said the media has a large role to play in these misconceptions, citing another book, Seeing Red, that charts news portrayals of Indigenous people in English media in the past 100 years or so. She added there has been very little improvement in the way the narrative has been told.

"It's this idea that Indigenous people are in the way of progress ... I think that these misconceptions are justifications for the treatment that Indigenous Peoples face."