Travel Grant Series: Indigeneous Politics and Governance Studies in Canada

2011 Summer Travel Grant Summary
by Megumi Chibana
EWC Degree Fellow (Obuchi)
MA student in Political Science

I would like to express my gratitude to EWCA Hawaii Alumni Chapter and the East-West Center Alumni Association for their support that allowed me to participate in summer course at University of Victoria, Canada. With the Travel Grant, I was able to join in the collaborative seminar course offered by UHM Indigenous Politics program and University of Victoria Indigenous Governance program (IGOV).

megumi chibana obuchi scholar

(EWC Degree Fellow Megumi Chibana (standing: first from left) with community members from the Cheam First Nation.)

During the first half of the course, we learned indigenous land and water-based practices in Hawaii. With classmates from various backgrounds and knowledge, we engaged in discussing the major social and economic impacts on indigenous community in Hawaii.

Two weeks course at IGOV provided highly-experiential learning opportunities to examine indigenous resurgence through revitalization of land-based and water-based cultural practices. IGOV has committed to local indigenous communities in British Columbia and through active involvement with the communities I have learned their protocols, cultural practices and impacts of colonial forces on indigenous peoples. A collaborative seminar with IGOV faculty and students broadened my perspective on indigenous political thoughts and actions. I also enjoyed activities with indigenous community, Coast Salish and Strait Salish peoples on Vancouver Island and the Fraser River. We visited local Wsanec artist Charles Elliott and learned the ancient art; made a traditional Salish pit cook and listened to the stories of Elders; and also went Fish camping in the Cheam First Nation as we home-stayed with the community people there.

Obuchi student scholar Megumi Chibana

(Megumi Chibana (front lower left) with participants of the IGOV during visit with Coast Salish Master Carver Charles Elliot.)

This course provided me deeper understandings of indigenous way of being, thinking, teaching and learning in contemporary political setting. Comparing decolonizing strategies through reclaiming of lands and governance and revitalizing place-based cultural practices of indigenous peoples in Hawaii and British Columbia, the course experience broadened my understanding of colonization and indigeneity. This program also offered me a space to dialog and network with indigenous peoples worldwide.  Thank you very much for the support.