Beginning Within: Exploring a White Settler Emerging Practice for Justice-Doing




Laliberte, Julie

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There is an increase of White settler Child and Youth Care (CYC) practitioners who are questioning how to be useful in their attempts at solidarity and justice-doing amidst precarious ethics and tensions. Meanwhile, Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit people are being murdered and taken (MMIWGT2S+) at genocidal rates with little action from Canadian government and RCMP. Drawing from critical race theory, intersectional feminism, and anti-oppressive praxis, this research traces my own path to justice-doing and solidarity exploring the concept of witnessing as a White settler. With a critical examination of self, Whiteness, and White supremacy, I attempt to answer the research questions: In what ways can witnessing function as a useful practice framework for White settler solidarity? Secondarily, how can art act as witness or co-conspirator? Using an arts-based critical autoethnography, this study combines personal narratives with arts-based reflections on researcher’s experience as White settler facilitator of the program Youth for Dignity on unceded Kaska territory in Watson Lake, Yukon. The research focuses on the creation of a collaborative art piece on MMIWGT2S+ to explore witnessing as one pathway for White settlers committed to social change. Building on the work of Vikki Reynolds (2010a, 2010b, 2012) and other literature on solidarity and witnessing, seven witnessing intentions that inform my White Settler Emerging Solidarity Practice surfaced from this research: (a) critical examination of self; (b) reciprocal and respectful relationships; (c) intersectionality; (d) embodied listening; (e) honouring resistance; (f) action; and (g) accountability. This research has the potential to provide a possible pathway for other CYC practitioners to engage with the complexities and tensions of White settler solidarity practice.



Critical Autoethnography, Resistance, Witnessing, Solidarity, Justice-Doing, Arts-Based