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University of Toronto Library hosts Taiwan Lectures on Chinese Studies Seminar on Indigenous Rights

The poster for the virtual seminar on the “National Apology and Reinvigoration of Indigenous Rights in Taiwan”

The Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library at the University of Toronto co-hosted a virtual seminar on February as part of the Taiwan Resource Centre for Chinese Studies (TRCCS) program,     which is sponsored by the National Central Library of Taiwan. 

The topic was the “National Apology and Reinvigoration of Indigenous Rights in Taiwan”. The speaker was Dr. Awi Mona (Tsai Chih-Wei), an associate professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at National Dong Hwa University and director of the Legal Aid Foundation Indigenous Branch in Taiwan.

The seminar opened with a welcome address by Hana Kim, Director of the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library. This was followed by opening remarks by Catherine Y.M. Hsu, General Director of the Taipei Economic & Culture office in Toronto. She thanked all the people who had arranged the seminar and talked about how the government of Taiwan has been working on recognizing and restoring the rights of indigenous people in Taiwan.

Dr. Tong Lam, Director of the Global Taiwan Program at the Asian Institute University of Toronto, then introduced Dr. Awi Mona and expressed his hopes that this seminar would help to give people more understanding of the issues that the indigenous peoples are facing. 

Dr. Awi Mona then gave the main presentation, beginning with where indigenous people were located and the related colonial history. The history of the interaction between the indigenous peoples and colonial regimes is an important factor. He pointed out how there are hidden stories behind different names, such as “mountain compatriots”, and today’s “indigenous peoples”. Taiwan has experienced different colonial rulers and has a diverse history and this makes Taiwan an important site to study indigeneity.

Quoting from the official apology issued by President Tsai Ing-Wen on August 1, 2016, Dr. Awi Mona then talked about different phases of the indigenous movement, showing how long the indigenous people have fought for their rights, and that they continue to do so. He concluded that multiculturalism will be achieved when the majority of people recognize Indigenous rights.