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Canadian academic won't use capital letters – except to acknowledge Indigenous people's struggle

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A Canadian academic is joining the “lowercase movement,” according to a Calgary, Alberta, university. 

dr. linda manyguns, associate vice-president of Indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University, said she was joining local leaders to reject symbols of hierarchy “wherever they are found,” and will not use capital letters “except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition.” 

She noted it was the start of efforts to describe the use of lowercase letters on the website of the office of indigenization and decolonization. 

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“We resist acknowledging the power structures that oppress and join the movement that does not capitalize,” manyguns wrote in a “perspective” story published this week on the university’s website.

Dr. Linda Many Guns (Mount Royal University)

Dr. Linda Many Guns (Mount Royal University)

manyguns made her comments following the discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at residential schools, which underscored Canada’s dark history, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported. 

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) estimates about 4,100 children died at residential schools in Canada. A large number of Indigenous children were forcibly sent to residential schools and never returned home, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“it was genocide, and the adults were dying at just as high of a rate as the children at residential schools. our reserves should be filled with graveyards and there are none,” manyguns told the Calgary Herald. 

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Back in May, the CBC quoted an Alberta government resource guide regarding residential schools. 

“These schools were established to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Underfunded, located in remote places far away from children’s home communities, and lacking proper oversight, the schools were plagued by disease, dubious educational outcomes, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse,” read the resource guide on the schools’ history.

manyguns previously said that to go forward as a country that respects Indigenous culture, Canada must go backward to revisit the rotten roots of colonization, according to the Herald. 

“Indigenous people have been actively engaged in a multidimensional struggle for equality, since time immemorial. we strive for historical-cultural recognition and acknowledgment of colonial oppression that persistently devalues the diversity of our unique cultural heritages,” she wrote Monday. “these sites of struggle are generally found at blockades, where demonstrations against racism occur, where racialization and cultural domination, and discrimination leave the mark of imbalance and abuses of power. Sometimes these sites generate media interest but interest is generally fickle.”

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“the explicit demonstration and practice of aboriginal culture in everyday life or at places of resistance is called by academics ‘eventing,’” manyguns added. 

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