Sakej Ward on Terrorism


Sakej Ward

I spoke last night, at UFV, on the subject of terrorism. It was an “interesting” situation. I was one of 11 presenters on a panel. Most of the other panelist were addressing the terrorism topic from the standpoint that Islamic groups (ISIL and AQ) are the threat to Canada. I got up to speak and turned the tables. I started by presenting Canada as engaging in state terrorism.

That never goes over well with Canadians or anyone in political science. It is not really known but nation-states don’t include themselves in the definition of terrorism because they believe that as “legitimate” governing institutions they make decisons from a legal standing so they are incapable of committing terrorism. I proceeeded to desribe historical examples of state terrorism, such as France’s “Reign of terror” as proof of state terrorism.

Once establishing that, I moved on to the connection between genocide and state terrorism. Genocide is one of the states expression of terrorist strategies. Then I demonstarted several examples of Canadian colonial terrorist acts on Sto:lo territory, although any of our nations could present proof of the same in their territories. I then moved on to the psychological outcome of an effective terrorist campaign and linked it to Dr. Martin’s Seligmen’s work on “learned helplessness” to describe the psychological condition many of our people are in now.

The Q&A afterwards was quite interesting, as most of the audience and panelist still tried to understand “why” terrorist behave as they do. I had a fun addressing those questions. Watching a few Canadian colonizers squirm and get uncomfortable in their self righteous smugness was great. A couple of them were visibly upset and bothered by all the “guilt” my presentation and answers dumped on them.

I would have liked to have had my kids there because I speak of Indigenous people having a responsibility to speak out and put power to truth even when you are the only one in a room that has to say something very unpopular. Witnessing someone’s courage to put power to truth is more inspiring than just talking about it, it could have been a good lesson for them.



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