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  • May 20, 2022 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Public Health & Migration @ DLSPH, the Centre for Global Health, and the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, in partnership with the Global Health and Social Accountability Program, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Temerty Faculty of Medicine (University of Toronto), invite you to a series of lectures on land, borders, and health. With the contribution of a group of internationally renowned scholars and activists, these lectures will explore how land and borders are relevant to human health and the health of the planet, with the intent of emphasizing the importance of academic work, across disciplinary silos, focusing on restoration, restitution, and reparation.

When we think of migrants, and migrant health, we should think of land and borders. When we think of Indigenous peoples in Canada, on Turtle Island, and around the world, and of Indigenous health, we should think of land and borders. When we think of the dominant understanding of development, so closely related to the myth of infinite economic growth, we should think of land and borders.

A severed connection to land is perhaps the primal, most fundamental experience for migrants. Colonialism has incessantly worked to sever relationships to land, community, culture, and identity through exploitation, land dispossession, displacement, confinement, and expulsions. Today, the daily functioning of the globalized economic system continues that process through the forced integration of subsistence and traditional economies into a market-based economy in constant expansion and by using borders as technologies of racial capitalism. People, Indigenous or otherwise, move from rural areas to city slums and many of them join the international migration fluxes. Migration becomes a pathological by-product of ‘development.’

Similar processes, both historical and contemporary, have dramatically impacted the relationship of Indigenous peoples with land and subjected them to border violence. Dispossession, forced relocation onto reserves, and uprooting of children and their institutionalization in residential schools, among other factors, have profoundly impacted the relationships of Indigenous peoples with land and nature, relationships that represent both a core aspect of their collective identity and a central Indigenous determinant of health.

But a severed connection to land as Mother Earth, as ‘Pachamama,’ is a universal condition. Colonial expansion, scientific and technological revolutions, and the demands imposed by the myth of infinite economic growth have turned land and nature into an assemblage of resources. The restoration of the connections to land is an urgent priority, a restoration that may be possible only by listening to and learning from alternative systems of knowledge, by breaking the epistemological and ideological cage that suffocates modern Western thinking. This is even more urgent today, as climate change has become perhaps the most significant existential threat ever faced by humanity.

Download: Land and Borders Lecture Series_Final