Whiteness and Social Change: Remnant Colonialisms and White Civility in Australia and Canada
In the early hours of the Sunday 19 September 2004, two men were seen running away from McCauley's Beach towards the coastal village of Thirroul, located south of Sydney in the northern suburbs of the Illawarra region of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Moments later the nearby Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) burst into flames. The complete destruction of the embassy's structure and the life-threatening situation for the five people who were asleep inside marked a significant point in the long-running dispute over the future of the Sandon Point area. The assailants' actions provide a stark contrast to those of the broader community. Since its establishment in December 2000, the local community has supported SPATE and called for recognition of the area's cultural significance. This support had assisted in increasing the profile of SPATE, and broader awareness of a wealth of issues of concern to the local community regarding the future of the Sandon Point area. The situation at Sandon Point is not uncommon. High profile public campaigns promoting respect and recognition of First Peoples cultures are visible in many western countries. For example, substantial criticism was levelled at the hosting of the 2010 winter 0lympics on unceded lands in and around Vancouver, Canada. Across the country treaty rights continue to be an undercurrent of numerous conflicts between First Nations, the Federal and Provincial governments: a number of examples are referred to in this book, including the campaign against the Red Hill Creek Valley Parkway and the land reclamation at Caledonia, both located south-west of Toronto, Ontario. In Australia, alongside the ongoing dispute at Sandon Point, concerns have been raised about the impacts of proposed mining in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA). The extraction of gold at Lake Cowal in Central NSW, against the wishes of the Wiradjuri people, locates another example of broad community support for an Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The lack of respect and recognition shown in moving ahead with these contentious projects, and numerous other contemporary issues, are indicative of key issues that many western societies have yet to appropriately address. At the root of these controversies are what will be referred to throughout this book as remnant colonialisms. What is important to note here, is that remnant colonialisms permeate into the actions of those supporting First Peoples' calls for respect and recognition.