As many of you know, the American Men’s Studies Association began our annual conference today at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. This was preceded by a two-day retreat among the Board of Directors. Brandon University exists on the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Assiniboine, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. During this retreat, and in preparation for the conference, the Board was guided by Community Elders to construct a tipi, which would later be joined by an additional five tipis constructed by conference attendees and remain on campus for the duration of the conference. Upon arriving on campus this morning, our conference attendees, Community Elders, the AMSA Board, and the Brandon University community were confronted with the realization that overnight the tipi we had built in partnership with our Community Elders had been burnt to the ground.
This act is not only tragic in its own right, it is directly connected to historical atrocities and acts of hate perpetrated against our First Nation communities and indigenous peoples around the world, including those articulated in the recently released report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls from the Canadian government. It is also connected to growing global hostilities targeted at indigenous peoples. We at AMSA condemn this act in no uncertain terms. These acts are in direct opposition to the mission and values of our organization. In the face of such acts of hate, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to living into those values, including our commitment to social justice struggles in partnership with historically oppressed groups.
Through the compassionate leadership of our Community Elders, we entered into a pipe ceremony to both open the conference and begin a process of healing in relation to the destruction of the tipi. During the ceremony, we were reminded of the generosity of First Nations peoples, who on this day welcomed us to their land. Our goal for this conference continues to be the examination of how de- and/or post-colonial lenses and ways of thinking may transform critical studies of men, masculinities, and our world. During the ceremony, our Community Elder urged us to reflect on current and historical traumas through the lens of forgiveness and healing, a direct and important challenge to men’s gendered socialization. We echo this encouragement and also invite conference participants and the broader AMSA community to take time to reflect on and seek help when experiencing trauma.
We ask that AMSA members support and follow the example set by our First Nations partners as they demonstrate continued resilience in the face of acts of hate and historical oppression.