Unsettling Revitalization in Toronto: The Fantasy and Apology of the Settler City
Halpin, Bryony Jane
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At a time when social movements for Indigenous resurgence in Canada are as powerful as ever, and are coupled with state-sponsored reconciliation and recognition efforts (focused primarily on residential schools), it is crucial to examine the ongoing systemic processes unique to the settler colony that continue to dispossess, enact violence, and deny Indigenous sovereignty. Also, it is pertinent to ask driven by Jordan Stanger-Rosss assertion that cities have played a strategic role in the settlement process how these processes play out in urban spaces. Specifically, what is the role of urban planning and urban revitalization in the ongoing settler project? In this dissertation, I examine the large-scale revitalization project underway on Torontos waterfront and argue that settler colonialism is a structure revealed through what I define as the fantasies and apologies that manifest in the revitalizing of settler cities. I contend that revitalization projects reveal the fantasy that the settlement dispossession / violence is long over now, and that there is a pastness to the injustices of settler colonialism. Therefore, the fantasy that informs how we plan and envision our urban spaces positions settlers legitimately and unquestionably on the land in perpetuity. This fantasy is related to, and in tension with, the apology, which I argue is also revealed in urban revitalization and works to foreshadow the search for state-sponsored reconciliation in the present day. The apology represents the way in which urban revitalization makes insincere attempts to address the violent dispossession of Indigenous peoples and to apparently facilitate Indigenous agency in the present day. As a result, the apology ends up marking the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty in urban space. Threaded throughout the fantasy and the apology, however, is transformative resistance in settler urban spaces which present ways to authentically address settler state violence.