Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Challenge Trying to Teach about the Occupy Movement

I haven't brought up the Occupy movement much in any of my classes. That is not to say we haven't had any discussion about it, just not a lot of it. This is something that I should rectify, I just haven't figured out the best way to approach it. I am not opposed to the reasons behind the movement, but I am unsure how to present it, particularly in light of my own feelings towards the phenomenon.

I am ambivalent towards the occupy movement, truth be told. As a First Nations person, I find it interesting that the movement appears to be protesting and fighting over issues that we have struggled over for years, decades. I have been concerned that this movement may be one that is a white, middle-class protest that wasn't interested in these struggles faced by the First Nations and other oppressed minority groups until those issues started to affect this group directly. I am aware that this is most likely an unfair generalization, I do not claim to know, or understand, what is in the hearts of other people. I am merely pointing out my feelings toward it. I am attempting to better educate myself on it, to learn more about it so that I can present a fair understanding to my students. Not easy to do, unfortunately as I am finding the movement is very different in different areas and the media coverage has not been consistent in presenting the message that needs to get out.

So, I can say that the term Occupy is not a nice one, particularly for someone like me, living on a reserve, with the knowledge that the surrounding territory is unceded land, some would argue, that is occupied by Canada. As you might recall, I once lamented the fact that groups using the language of the oppressor to fight for Indigenous rights usually lost me as a supporter. "Occupying" Native land to protest the current economic climate and corporate greed, is concerning when the perception I have is that the oppressed, in this situation, have been the bystanders when First Nations have tried to protest or stand up to government and corporate greed.

So... How do I teach about this? Any advice appreciated.


  1. I wish more educators were publicly struggling over engaging the Now. But I suspect many may feel similarly hesitant over how to step over some invisible 'line'.

    Anyway, re. how to engage the Occupy Movement, are you familiar with Zinn's 'A people's history of the United States'?

    Secondly, one really powerful angle would be the mediatization of the Occupy Movement. Lots of excellent resources available via Democracy Now!, RT (Russia Today), Al Jazeera.

    Stepping back from that and leading into the entire debacle that is capitalism, how about 'The story of stuff' and 'The story of debt'?

  2. BC is occupied territory. I knew that so why do the settlers have to rub it in my face with their signage? Lol, I am joking, sort of. I won't participate in the occupy movement because the wording of it makes the issue of land theft invisible and secondary to the relative material comfort of setters on stolen land. I know that makes me an a**, but I've stopped caring :D