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The Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies' (CCMS) Statement on Truth and Reconciliation
While the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity to reflect on the unspeakable tragedies visited upon Indigenous communities across this country since the arrival of the first settlers until our current day, the process of decolonization cannot hardly be reduced to commemoration or remembrance for a single day in the calendar year.
This year, the discoveries of bodies of hundreds of children on the grounds of Residential Schools across the country has placed in the national limelight the insidious impunity of settler colonialism and the complicity of state, church and society. At this moment of reckoning, we are urgently called upon to reconsider our collective histories and to radically reconfigure our relationship to these.
At the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies (CCMS), which humbly operates on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples, we have been on a several-year journey of decolonization that acknowledges and educates about the plight of Indigenous communities in the Lower Mainland and the history of colonialism globally. We have forged relationships with Indigenous communities built on recognition, compassion, solidarity, and collective action.
As a Centre whose work is focused on Muslim communities, societies, and cultures, building these bridges between different faith and Indigenous communities has become a top priority. This comes with the difficult but vital recognition of our legacy of collective responsibility for, and at times complicity in, reinforcing and upholding colonial structures and the extractive exploitation of land and peoples. Muslims around the world, in varying contexts and entangled histories, have themselves been both the vanquished subjects of colonialism and the beneficiaries of colonial privilege. Some of these important and difficult, yet uplifting, conversations were centrepiece in our most recent workshop “Muslims on Turtle Island.” In the wise words of Justice Murray Sinclair, the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; "Education is what got us here, education is what will get us out."
Understanding the shifting frames and dynamics of subjugation is necessary to move confidently towards justice for and the empowerment of Indigenous communities (locally and globally). This commitment is brought to light by the Quranic verse from sūrat l-raḥmān (chapter 55): "So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance." As such, our calling is to right past wrongs.
Today and every day henceforth, we invite you all to join us in lifting our Indigenous communities and comrades.