Panel 7

Ruth Lapp
Exploring the functional indigeneity in soil and its relationship to sustainable human communities

Soil is in the realm of material evolution that is both linked to and engaged in holistic replenishment cycles. Depending on factors such as climate, topography, water and nutrient cycles, biotic and nonbiotic relationships: soil is a complex living system that can be described as expressing indigenous qualities. Soil is not only the living matrix for complex indigenous biological communities, but forms a symbiosis of interlinked and interdependent communal activities, connecting the sacred element of earth with air and water. As such, soil is at once a worthy metaphor and real source for understanding the form, function and development of indigenous systems and relationships. In my presentation I will explore these concepts in relation to food production, human communal relationships, and land restoration, by documenting the activities and findings of a land-based studies course that I took as part of my doctoral studies at Queens University. I will utilize projected photographs (power point) taken during the soil course in concert with the narrative of my presentation.

Ruth Lapp has grown food and gathered medicinal plants on her small farm in the fertile district of Sipekne’katik (the area of the wild potato) Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia) for nearly 20 years. For Ruth, caring for the soil and the land, while providing food for herself and her community has been a key component of the creative process in farming. This aspect of creativity, which is really about respect of nature, is foundational to her current work as a doctoral student at Queen’s University. Whether through farming or academic pursuits, Ruth seeks to bring to light the connections between the indigenous wisdom and natural processes of soil and land, and the imperative of re-indigenized human communities.

 

Zoya Islam
Reworking Canada’s Understanding of Transnational Labour Exploitation

The multicultural Canadian state is imagined to promote equality, but through a transnational analysis, it becomes evident that many Canadians are directly implicated in the transnational exploitation of women. Broadly, this paper traces the movement of a pair of designer jeans, which were manufactured in a garments factory in Bangladesh and later purchased in a thrift shop in Kingston, Ontario. However, as this process unfolds, this paper also explores the linkages between Canadian women and Bangladeshi women in poverty. This paper is broken down into three components: Firstly, this paper discusses how Canadian women in poverty, as the consumers of these jeans, are directly implicated in the transnational exploitation of women in Bangladesh. It analyzes how as a vulnerable population with limited means of consumption, low-income Canadian women are partaking in a process that amplifies the exploitative conditions of poor, migrant women in Bangladesh, who are working within the Bangladeshi garments industry. Interestingly, these women in Canada are often racialized, migrant women themselves. Secondly, this paper examines the garments industry in Bangladesh and the women workers who this profitable industry depends on and exploits. These women are often poor women who have migrated from smaller villages to the capital and EPZs to find work and provide for their families. Thirdly, I problematize and address the gaps in the transnational solidarity work that has emerged from these exploitative conditions. I posit that the solidarity work that currently exists in Canada is ineffective in dealing with the complex conditions of women in poverty and globalization. This paper explores the possibility of practicing better solidarity and resistance with women in Bangladesh. This paper draws strength from its critique of neoliberalism, capitalism, and consumerism. Additionally, this paper illuminates the linkages between migration, poverty, racialization and global development policies.

I am a graduate student at Queen’s University, working towards achieving my Masters degree in Gender Studies. I am currently in the research and writing phase of my master’s thesis. My thesis project will inquire into how the garment industry in Bangladesh is understood within the borders of Canada. In my spare time, I act as moderator and content curator for Guerrilla Feminism Canada’s social media platforms. I have previously conducted freelance and contract research and writing for the following organizations: Canadian Women’s Foundation; YWCA

Toronto; Outburst Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic; and the Institute for Educational Development at BRAC University.

 

Natalia Equihua
“Strictly Residents Only” a Project of Immigration, Objects and ‘Belongings’

In 2014 I interviewed and photographed eleven migrant men and women from Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East who had moved to Scotland, UK for study, work, to reunite with a loved one, or for a change. They were asked to show, using one object, what to them represented their home and/or their roots. The resulting project, “Strictly Residents Only,” documents how in carrying “belongings” across spaces, places, and countries, our idea of belonging becomes fluid and malleable. For this presentation, I will explain how the “inbetweeness” that accompanies the process of becoming a resident inspired the project. I will then introduce four of the eleven stories collected, which comprise various immigration experiences: from those who have “freedom of movement” within the European Union, to those who had to face long processes to acquire a residency or who cannot stay after their work or study period is over. These stories show how a space, a moment, a smell, and even the spiritual define our understanding of origin. More importantly, they exemplify how home is not always a place and how roots grow even for those who have been uprooted or feel rootless. As opposed to the idea that “roots” fix and to some degree restrict the movement of our identities, I argue that our roots exist not only in our origins but in the relations that we create throughout our lives. In this way, the belongings that we take when we move carry and reveal some of these relations. What’s more, they become markers along the way that help us orient ourselves and negotiate the experience of entering a new cultural/national/geographic space.

Natalia holds a BA in English Literature and, after spending 5 years outside of the academia, she has now embarked in the Cultural Studies MA program here at Queen’s. During her time away from school she worked as a translator, writer, arts festival reviewer, and copy editor. More recently, she has worked at the University of Edinburgh helping to develop the Open Access initiative in the UK. Her experience of moving from Mexico to California, and later on to Scotland ignited her interest in researching stories of migration, human mobility and diaspora. Her roots are in Mexico but she has found her home is now in every place she’s lived in.