Unreserved

Redrawing the Lines

Maps have long been called a tool of colonization. They've carved out pieces of Indigenous land and replaced them with neat lines of provinces and territories. But Indigenous cartographers are drawing back their places and names, using mapmaking to tell us the true stories of what we now call Canada.
A detail of the University of Maine's map, Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada, by Dr. Margaret Wickens Pearce. (CBC)
Listen to the full episode47:15

Originally published on Jan. 20, 2019.

Maps have long been called a tool of colonization. They've carved out pieces of Indigenous land and replaced them with neat lines of provinces and territories. But Indigenous cartographers are drawing back their places and names, using mapmaking to tell us the true story of what we now call Canada.

This week on Unreserved, we take a look at maps, land, and the politics of acknowledging Indigenous territories. From the past, in the present and for the future.  

Instead of provincial borders, or territorial lines, there are names like Swampy Cree, Ojibwe, Michif, Dakota. A new giant floor map, part of the new Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, is changing the way kids — and adults — look at this country. Charlene Bearhead, an education advisor for the atlas and map, takes Rosanna on a tour

Territorial acknowledgements have become common in many spaces. You hear them at the introduction of events, in speeches, during school and even hockey games. But there's growing tension about the politics of these acknowledgements. Hayden King works at Ryerson University and is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi'm-nissing, in Huronia, Ont. King wrote the territorial acknowledgement for Ryerson, a decision he now regrets.

If you want to find out whose land you're on — and learn more about how to acknowledge it — well, there's an app for that. Mitch Holmes is Haudenosaunee, and he's one of the developers of Whose Land, an app and website that can help you find out whose territory you're on.

Steve DeRoy is "the" guy to talk to about Indigenous mapping. He's been a cartographer for more than 20 years, he founded IndigenousMaps.com, and he does mapping workshops with Indigenous communities around the world. Steve is Anishinaabe/Saulteaux and a member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation in Manitoba, and he's helped get Indigenous lands on the map — literally. 

Annita Lucchesi is creating an atlas of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from across Canada and the U.S. So far, she has helped document over 3,000 cases, some reaching as far back as 1900. The Cheyenne cartographer said we should think about maps as more than colonial tools, and that mapping can be liberating. 

This week's playlist:
Midnight Shine

 

Midnight Shine — Heart of Gold

Niska Napoleon — On My Way Again