Belonging in Unceded Territory by Antje Ellermann

“Vancouver is situated on the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Indigenous peoples have belonged to these lands since times immemorial. Vancouver also is home to close to 1 million immigrants who account for 40 percent of the metropolitan area’s population. Yet, narratives of social belonging in public and academic debates have long conceived of Vancouver society only in multicultural, rather than in settler colonial, terms. While popular understandings of multiculturalism can indeed provide a positive framework for immigrant inclusion, they stand in the way of decolonization as they fail to grapple with the past and present realities of settler colonialism.

This project brings settler colonialism into the center of debates on social belonging in Vancouver. What does it mean for today’s settlers – those among us who have lived here for generations, and those who have just arrived – to acknowledge our own position in relation to Indigenous presence in these lands? How can we develop place-based narratives of belonging that do not shy away from confronting the ugly truths of ongoing settler colonialism and that are mindful that we live, work, and play in unceded lands? How can the answers of these questions inform the creation of socially inclusive communities in this superdiverse city? Engagement with these questions is critical if we are to be responsive to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls for action.

Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, this project explores these questions through mixed methods, including text analysis, interviews, focus and dialogue groups, and survey research.

The project brings together faculty from the Centre for Migration Studies with Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA), and the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC). The UBC team (PI Antje Ellermann) includes 8 faculty members from political science, sociology, and literary studies who bring a multidisciplinary knowledge base and a mixed methods skill set that includes text analysis, in-depth interviewing, survey research, and focus group research. Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House is a place-based community organization brings experience with organizational and Indigenous capacity-building in the area of decolonization. ISSofBC is a government-funded immigrant and refugee serving organization that brings expertise in working with newcomers, immigrants, and refugees in Vancouver. AMSSA is specialized in convening dialogue among newcomers, newcomer organizations, and Indigenous communities.”

Research Partners
From UBC
Antje Ellermann (PI), Political Science; Director of Centre for Migration Studies
Markus Hallensleben, CENES
Richard Johnston, Political Science
Sean Lauer, Sociology
Rima Wilkes, Sociology
Matthew Wright, Political Science
Yang-Yang Zhou, Political Science

From Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House
Susan Liu Woronko
Jessie Seegerts
Gloria Tsui
Ancel Zhu

From AMSSA
Katie Crocker

From ISSofBC
Kathy Sherrell, PhD

Click here to access the Decolonizing Initiatives Map.