Queen’s death shines spotlight on wrongs suffered by Indigenous people

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SYDNEY/TORONTO — When newly elected Indigenous Australian parliamentarian Lidia Thorpe took her oath to workplace final month, she raised her fist above her head in protest and labeled Queen Elizabeth II a “colonizing queen.”

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“It was like kneeling to the assassin,” the Greens senator informed Reuters this week. “I needed to swear my allegiance to a colonizing energy that has induced a lot hurt to our individuals.”

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The demise of Queen Elizabeth has led First Nations individuals from Canada to Australia and former colonies within the Caribbean to talk about their ache and marginalization, in addition to renewing requires the elimination of the monarchy as head of state in some international locations.

The accession of King Charles comes amid an increase in anti-colonialism fueled by a rising consciousness of historic atrocities and a better recognition of Indigenous tradition and data.

“There’s rising standard consciousness round injustices around the globe, what’s carried out within the title of 1’s personal nation for the exploitation of Indigenous peoples,” mentioned Veldon Coburn, an Indigenous Anishinaabe professor on the College of Ottawa.

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Indigenous Australian parliamentarian Lidia Thorpe raises her fist during her swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Aug. 1, 2022.
Indigenous Australian parliamentarian Lidia Thorpe raises her fist throughout her swearing-in ceremony within the Senate chamber at Parliament Home in Canberra, Australia, Aug. 1, 2022. Photograph by AAP Picture /Lukas Coch by way of REUTERS

“Virtually overlapping with Queen Elizabeth’s reign, from the Fifties, you additionally see resistance actions rising.”

Calls are rising in some Caribbean international locations for reparation funds and an apology for slavery, whereas Canadian Indigenous leaders need the monarchy to behave on a swathe of historic injustices.

Australia is on a path to provide Aboriginal individuals a proper voice on Indigenous issues in parliament, however Thorpe contrasted the federal government’s choice to carry a day of mourning for the Queen with the historic neglect of Indigenous Australians.

” is simply one other nail within the coffin by way of how we really feel and the way we’re handled as First Nations individuals,” she mentioned. “It’s like we by no means existed.”

The altering demographic in Commonwealth nations, and accusations of racism within the royal household following the exit of Prince Harry and Meghan, has led to extra questions concerning the want for a distant monarch as head of state.

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A choice by Barbados to ditch the queen as head of state in November, 2021 was seen as a lift for the republican trigger and has been echoed in different Caribbean nations like Jamaica and Bahamas.

Opinion polls in Australia, New Zealand, Canada have all pointed to a rising view that they need to finish ties to the monarchy with the demise of Elizabeth, although that is unlikely anytime quickly in international locations like Canada.

In New Zealand, Indigenous Maori account for about 17% of the nation’s 5 million individuals. They’re effectively represented in parliament, Maori has been made an official language and the historical past of British colonization is taught in public faculties.

However Maori are over-represented in prisons and state care, and the group stays the nation’s poorest.

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“If we are able to’t tackle the negativity and impacts of colonization now, then when? Will we anticipate Prince William, or Prince William’s youngsters?” requested Maori Occasion, co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who helps abolishing the monarchy and a New Zealand head of state.

“Nobody taking that position, king or queen, princess or prince, is unaware of the harm of colonization to us as Indigenous peoples,” she mentioned.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has mentioned she expects New Zealand to change into a republic ultimately, however actually not quickly.

Australia’s centre-left Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who overtly favours a republic, has tasked a minister with making this occur. However any change would require a referendum and is simply anticipated if the federal government wins a second time period.

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Albanese has mentioned now will not be the time to debate the matter, however did observe in a radio interview this week that the automated ascension of King Charles was an opportunity “to mirror on the system that we’ve got over a time frame.”

In Canada, polls counsel about half of all individuals consider the nation ought to finish ties to the monarchy with the demise of Queen Elizabeth. Indigenous individuals account for lower than 5% of Canada’s inhabitants of about 38 million and so they undergo from increased ranges of poverty, unemployment and a decrease life expectancy than different Canadians.

However specialists say eradicating the monarchy from the Canadian structure would show tough.


Indigenous leaders in Canada who spoke with Reuters had been much less interested by severing ties with the monarchy than holding it to commitments it made a whole lot of years in the past.

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When now-King Charles visited Canada earlier this 12 months, Meeting of First Nations Nationwide Chief RoseAnne Archibald requested him in particular person to apologize for the monarchy’s position in colonization. Archibald reiterated that decision after the queen’s demise.

Anishinaabe lawyer Sara Mainville mentioned she doesn’t wish to see the monarchy abolished in Canada, saying the king “has an important and particular place in reconciliation.”

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson in British Columbia mentioned she hopes the brand new king will act on issues his mom didn’t – renouncing the “Doctrine of Discovery” that justified colonizing and dispossessing Indigenous individuals, apologizing for abusive residential faculties, acknowledging Indigenous artifacts in British palms and calling for motion on local weather change.

“Perhaps King Charles may step up … to appropriate these historic wrongs that impacted Indigenous individuals globally,” she mentioned.

“He has the world’s eyes proper now. What tone is he going to ship out in his reign as king?”

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