Queen’s death highlights mistakes made by indigenous people

Indigenous Australian MP Lydia Thorpe raises her fist during her swearing-in ceremony in the Senate Room at Parliament House on August 1, 2022 in Canberra, Australia. AAP Image / Lucas Koch via REUTERS

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SYDNEY/TORONTO, Sep 18 (Reuters) – When newly elected Indigenous Australian MP Lydia Thorpe took the oath of office last month, she raised her fists above her head in protest and dubbed Queen Elizabeth II the “colonial queen”.

“It was like kneeling to the killer,” the Greens senator told Reuters this week. “I had to swear my allegiance to a colonial power that has caused so much harm to our people.”

Queen Elizabeth’s death prompted First Nations peoples from former colonies in Canada to Australia and the Caribbean to renew their pain and marginalization, as well as renewing calls to remove the monarchy as head of state in some countries has done.

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King Charles’ accession came amid a rise in anti-colonialism due to increased awareness of historical atrocities and greater recognition of indigenous culture and knowledge.

“There is a growing popular awareness of injustice around the world, from the exploitation of indigenous peoples to what is done in the name of their country,” said Weldon Coburn, an Indigenous Anishinaabe professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

“Almost overlapping with the reign of Queen Elizabeth from the 1950s, you see resistance movements emerging as well.”

Demands are rising in some Caribbean countries for compensation payments and an amnesty for slavery, while Canada’s indigenous leaders want the monarchy to act against historical injustices.

Australia is well on its way to giving Aboriginal people a formal voice on Indigenous matters in parliament, but Thorpe compared the government’s decision to hold a day of mourning for the Queen with the historical neglect of Indigenous Australians.

,[It] There is another nail in the coffin in terms of how we feel and how we are treated as First Nations people. “It’s like we never existed.”

The changing demographics in Commonwealth countries, and allegations of racism in the royal family following the exit of Prince Harry and Meghan, have raised more questions about the need for a distant monarch as head of state. read more

republican debate

Barbados’ decision to oust the Queen as head of state in November 2021 was seen as a boost to the Republican cause and echoed in other Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and the Bahamas. read more

Opinion polls in Australia, New Zealand, Canada have pointed to a growing view that they should end ties to the monarchy with Elizabeth’s death, even though this may not be possible anytime soon in countries such as Canada. read more

In New Zealand, indigenous Māori make up about 17% of the country’s 5 million people. They are well represented in parliament, with Māori being made the official language and the history of the British colony taught in public schools.

But Māori are over-represented in prisons and state care, and the community is among the poorest in the country.

“If we can’t address the negatives and effects of colonialism now, then when? Do we wait for Prince William or Prince William’s children?” asked co-leader Debbie Ngareva-Packer, the Māori Party, which supports the abolition of the monarchy and the head of state of New Zealand.

“Anyone playing the role of king or queen, princess or prince, is unaware of the pitfalls of colonialism as an indigenous people,” she said.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she hopes New Zealand will eventually become a republic, but certainly not soon. read more

Australia’s centre-left Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is openly in favor of a republic, has tasked a minister to do just that. But any change would require a referendum and is expected only if the government wins a second term.

Albanese has said that now is not the time to discuss the matter, but noted in a radio interview this week that King Charles’ automatic ascension was “an opportunity to reflect the system we have had over a period of time.” “

In Canada, polls show that nearly half believe the country should end ties to the monarchy with the death of Queen Elizabeth. Indigenous peoples account for less than 5% of Canada’s approximately 38 million population and they suffer from higher levels of poverty, unemployment and lower life expectancies than other Canadians.

But experts say that removing the monarchy from the Canadian Constitution will prove difficult.

message to the king

Native leaders in Canada who spoke with Reuters said her interest in breaking ties with the monarchy was less than sticking to commitments made hundreds of years ago.

When now-King Charles visited Canada earlier this year, the House of First Nations head of state, Roseanne Archibald, asked him to personally apologize for the monarchy’s role in colonization. Archibald repeated that call after the death of the Queen.

Anishinabe’s lawyer, Sarah Menville, said she did not want to see the monarchy come to an end in Canada, adding that the monarch “has a very important and special place in reconciliation.”

CookP7 (chief) in British Columbia, Judy Wilson, said she hoped the new king would act on things his mother did not do – renouncing the “Discovery of Discovery”, which justified colonizing and ousting indigenous peoples. Has, apologizes for degrading residential schools, accepts indigenous artifacts in the British. Hands on and a call to action on climate change.

“Maybe King Charles can take steps … to correct the historical wrongs that affected indigenous peoples globally,” she said.

“He has the eyes of the world right now. What tone is he going to send in his reign as king?”

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Reporting by Praveen Menon in Sydney and Anna Mehler Pepperney in Toronto; Additional reporting by Jill Grallo; Editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principals.

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