Land Acknowledgement – What is it?
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes the relationship and territory of the Onkwehonwe meaning the Original Peoples, formally recognized as the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. The statement consists of acknowledging the original inhabitants by mentioning Treaty Rights and/or the colonization process of settler encroachment in order to capitalized off of Indigenous lands. The reason being is to provide an understanding of positive allyship by acknowledging the land and its Original Peoples. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also work noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.
Acknowledging the Peterborough Area – Whose Land is it Exactly?
OPIRG-Peterborough recognizes that we work and are located on the traditional territory of Nogojiwanong meaning place at the end of the rapids. Nogojiwanong is the traditional territory of Curve Lake First Nation an Anishnabee community located near Lakefield, Ontario but is honoured through the Williams Treaties signed in 1923. We also would like to acknowledge the Hiawatha First Nation, Alderville First Nation and theTyendinaga Mohawk reserve.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
- The person giving the acknowledgement should be the host of the event or meeting themselves
- Include a formal thank you to the host nation whenever making a presentation or holding a meeting, whether or not Indigenous individuals are part of the meeting or gathering
- If you do not know the name of the Nation on whose territory or treaty land the building sits, ask around; Friendship Centers, Aboriginal Student Centers, local Band Offices are always a good source of information
- Ask the Friendship Center or Aboriginal Student Center for help with the pronunciation.
- If that is not possible, call the band office of the Nation after hours and listen to the recording
- Practice saying the name is the host nation out loud
- A land acknowledgment is not something you “just do” before an event. Rather it is a reflection process in which you build mindfulness and intention walking into whatever gathering you are having. It should be rooted in the whose land you are honoured to stand on and should guide how you move forward in both conversations and actions.
MOVING BEYOND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Although it is important to acknowledge the land, it is only a first step. We are all treaty signers, and are thus responsible and accountable for the violence that Indigenous people face. Allyship is a continuous process; it is not a designation that one can earn and hold forevermore. It is also not a label one can give themselves, but one you earn from your actions and commitment to standing in solidarity.
Allies must continually engage in self-reflection, and must consistently work at being an ally (through learning, acting in a de-colonial manner, and sustaining relationships with Indigenous Peoples, etc.)
Here are some simple ways you can begin the ongoing and continual process of acting in solidarity with Indigenous folks in Canada:
- Learn: About oppression and privilege. About the history of colonization. About Indigenous peoples and cultures. About the land you live on. To listen. There are many books, blogs, documentaries,
Independent media sites, plays, and songs that Indigenous people have written and performed that are great places to start learning.
- Build relationships: Building relationships is a very important aspect of standing in solidarity. A great place to start on campus is going to the Aboriginal Student Center, located at 187 Albert Street. in Waterloo and 111 Darling St. in Brantford. Both campuses host a soup lunch once a week hat is open to everyone. In addition, many other events take place throughout the year. Follow them on Facebook or visit in person to see what they have going on!
- Act: By being accountable towards Indigenous people and communities by supporting what they are saying is important, aligning oneself with the struggle, and speaking up when something problematic is said.
Additional Resources – Get to know your Treaty
Williams Treaties First Nations website describes additional information on the history and importance of the Williams Treaty of 1923. Please view link for additional information – http://www.williamstreatiesfirstnations.ca/about
See PDF for more information – Williams Treaties First Nations
Information used was based on the LSPIRG website. Miigwetch (thank you) for providing OPIRG-Ptbo with a foundation to advocate and provide readers for an in-depth description of acknowledging the land in which Peterborough resides on.
Any Questions? Concerns? Please Contact:
Room 102, Sadleir House
751 George St N.