Abstract

Abstract:

Local and national contexts shape the way people commemorate the Jewish Holocaust. In settler-colonial contexts, Holocaust memory has a tendency to marginalize Indigenous peoples and obscure histories of colonial violence. In 2017 Canada unveiled its first national site dedicated exclusively to the Holocaust—the National Holocaust Monument (NHM)—several blocks away from the federal Parliament buildings in downtown Ottawa. I contend that while the monument ostensibly commemorates the genocide of European Jewry, it also reflects Canada’s ongoing history as a settler state founded on the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their lands. Proponents of the NHM—monument designers, spokespersons, and political supporters—engage with themes that are central to Canada’s national myth. They frame civilizational progress as the overarching narrative of both human and national history and identify contemporary Canada as the culmination of this history. This narrative marginalizes Indigenous peoples in mutually reinforcing ways: it erases Indigenous peoples from the landscape while at the same time constructing settler society as newly “indigenized” inhabitants. In this way, the Canadian state uses the NHM to legitimize the theft of land while also suppressing Indigenous claims to land.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1828
Print ISSN
0095-182X
Pages
pp. 379-407
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-19
Open Access
No
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