“Any act of decentering Euro-Western cognitive imperialism is an act of decolonization, and an act of hope.” – Michelle Scott
Stemming from the work of a long line of anti-racism scholars, the development the four-part series entitled Coming to the Fire: Embodying Anti-Racist Culture and Practice began when Michelle Scott was a student of anti-racism scholar, Dr.Verna St. Denis in 2015. After a profound experience in a talking circle, Michelle felt the urgent call to take on the responsibility of investing her academic influence and study into the development of anti-racism course offerings for St. Mary’s University.
For Michelle, this act of decolonization is about centering ways of knowing that are not from a colonial perspective. This involves putting each individual at the centre of the narrative based on complex notions of position and privilege. This act also requires a mind open to decolonization in a very literal sense, as well as an awareness that collective hope is what steers partnerships and ally relationships. These elements, along with critical theory, will empower attendees to practice embodying this necessary work.
In the four-part series, Michelle wants students to centre themselves in the story of all treaty people (or everyone on this land- Mohkinstsis). Everyone has their own history and experiences that have brought them to where they are now, and all steps moving forward rely on one’s investment in decolonization and anti-racism conversations.
This course is not a passive listening course, but a conversation-based program intended to allow individuals to explore their place in this story while learning how to build relationships and allyships with other individuals who are also a part of this story. Michelle says this course encourages people to “lean into discomfort” in a safe, inquiry-based space.
The intended outcome of this course is for individuals to commit to change and accept their responsibility in the narrative of decolonization. Michelle reminds us that while she doesn’t identify as an expert on how we, as a community or as individuals, can go about these steps of hope, but she is creating a space for conversations that will begin with situating participants in relationship with Land and history. Everyone is welcome to this place of growth and as Michelle says, “let’s figure this out… together.”