Tyler Bruce

Year: 2020
Location: Papaschase territory (Edmonton)
Profile: Born in Amiskwasciwaskahegan, Edmonton of Indigenous parents, Tyler Bruce spent most of his early years in group homes (foster care) which he considered a natural progression from Residential School, and its entrenched practices of institutionalized racism and violence.  Bruce states that these institutions do not prepare their Indigenous captors to participate productively in Canadian society.  This was the experience of his father in Saskatchewan who was constantly surrounded by drugs and violence.
        While Bruce worked for Local 720, Alberta North Ironworkers Union after many years of temporary employment, he describes his path to trade employment and union responsibility as one that was constantly threatened and challenged because of his First Nations background and presence.  His temporary workplaces often produced competitive environments where fights in defence of his masculinity were always possible, and he felt that “it was illegal to be Native”. Very often the only visible person on his work site, Bruce felt more solidarity in the presence of other minorities, as they have more common workplace attitudes.
        Tyler Bruce was also an active Sundancer and Rapper who expressed his experiences with cultural and social exploitation on the cultural stage.  He is devastated by the majority culture’s treatment towards Indigenous people, particularly those living close to remote work camps/sites, the forced systemic changes to their food systems, the constant abuse and victimization of missing and murdered Indigenous women, the historical abuse encouraged by opportunist Band Chiefs, and the plight and tragic conditions of many Indigenous communities.  “The criminalization of us still happens today”.
        Bruce is currently studying Indigenous social work in preparation for mental health counselling.  He plans to help reverse the institutionalized and traumatizing effects of Residential School and colonization.
Keywords: Foster Care; Indigenous Communities; Indigenous Cultural Artists; Indigenous Reserves; Kinship; North Ironworkers Union; Residential School; Union Consciousness; Union Solidarity
Transcript: Download PDF

See also: Indigenous Labour History Project; Systemic Racism