UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

George does not exist : strategic silencing and methodical colonialism Beier, Deanne Nicole


In this thesis, I investigate the silenced histories of Indigenous peoples who have been written out of collective memory, official documents and, in some cases, their own family histories. I show how the actions of colonists can be explained through a colonial-Marxist lens of historical materialism and how this methodologically creates space for colonialism which, consequently, strategically silences and erases Indigenous lives. I focus my research on a family who has searched for answers for over sixty years, the Beier family, to aid them in the search for the life story of George Ralph McKenzie, an Indigenous man who served in the Canadian military and who was erased from his family’s history. I gathered data, including but not limited to, birth and death certificates, photographs and documents to compile a probable or possible record of McKenzie’s existence. I exhausted available archival, historical, religious, genealogical, public, private, professional and governmental databases and resources. Knowledge and interactions of Indigenous presences in areas coveted by European governments, during first-contact, provoked a need to design strategies to be used during interactions with Indigenous peoples. The Church has also been an integral part of many European governments and the alterations of interpretations and editing of religious texts have been used as a tool for maintaining public control for millenniums. Silencing Indigenous peoples through education was a deliberate and methodical form of colonization used to dominate Indigenous societies. During the wars in which Canada participated Indigenous peoples were, often, not accurately recorded. This is due to a systemic and structural type of diversion and Indigenous peoples were still considered to be dispensable at the time. Erasure cultivates within families, due to systemic and systematic racism and oppression of cultures and heritages. In 2017, Canada is oppressing and silencing Indigenous voices. Canada is using terms such as multiculturalism and diversity to boast about its acceptance and compassion for others while ignoring the needs of Indigenous peoples. Reconciliation will involve the decolonization or dismantling of an entire system of colonialism that is entrenched in the relationships, personal lives, politics, laws, and governments in Canada.

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