Territorial Acknowledgement

BCEdAccess would like to acknowledge that our members and volunteers live and work all over our province, on hundreds of unceded Indigenous territories.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls To Action

As a settler I am still relatively new to the practice of acknowledging territory. I am still getting used to self-identifying as a settler. There are 94 Calls to Action, but none particularly aimed at what we can do as individuals. The following two things are a very basic starting point for me personally – to learn about territorial acknowledgement protocols, and to recognize my identity as a settler.

I recently came across an excellent link from last year that has suggested individual actions you can take. Here’s that link:

150 Acts of Reconciliation

This acknowledgement is personal to me (Tracy), the writer of this post, at the moment, and may evolve for our group on this page as we discuss it within our membership. Even the language I am choosing is tentative while I try to learn appropriate terms and phrasing. Please feel free to correct and hopefully forgive any missteps.

I want to begin by recognizing the truth of the effects of colonization on Indigenous Peoples, and to look at how it has divided us. It’s my intention to work with our membership to try to find ways that BCEdAccess, as an organization, can take practical action towards reconciliation.

What does unceded mean?

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 stated that aboriginal land title in North America existed, and would continue until treaty extinguished it. The Proclamation also forbade settlers from acquiring land from aboriginals, either by purchase or by force. The Supreme Court of Canada cited this proclamation in the 1967 lawsuit brought by Frank Calder and the Nisga’a Nation Tribal Council, making it a landmark in terms of Indigenous land rights.

That’s the colonial perspective. For Indigenous Peoples, there was never any question that they did not give up their land, and they have never ceased to fight for their land. Treaties continue to be discussed, disputed, and settled. This is what I understand unceded to mean.

I personally live on the lands of the Lekwungen Nation. Indigenous groups like the Lekwungen were forced out of their seasonal village sites and displaced from even their newer, non-traditional settlements many times, often through threat of extinction. Death, disease, and dispossession is what the colonials brought to these nations.

The establishment of reserves, the banning of potlach, the 60’s scoop and residential schools…these  and other harmful decisions made by the colonial government had a devastating impact and have resulted in intergenerational trauma.

There is no doubt that the colonization of these territories was done with little to no regard for the people already living here. Learning history is important, and understanding the present is equally so. Here are some questions I invite you to examine:

Why are children in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development disproportionately Indigenous?

Why has there been a lack of investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women?

What is Jordan’s Principle? (here, I’ll give you a link for this one)

Here are the questions I am asking myself:

What can I do to be a good guest of the Lekwungen Nation?

How can I support them in their efforts?

How can we all build community together, nation to nation?

Can our group help to address the intersection of Indigenous and disability issues for children in BC?

Check out this handy app to find out where you really live in BC:

Where do you live?

I want to end by quoting the book, Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada, Emma Battell Lowman & Adam J. Barker, Fernwood Publishing, 2015

“We say Settler because it’s a place from which we can determine how we live on these lands. We say Settler to signal that we’re ready to do the work. We say Settler because we believe ethical and exciting decolonial futures are possible. We say Settler because we have seen the identification shake how people feel about themselves and their belonging, and how it has been the start of decolonizing awareness and action. We say Settler because it is who we are. We say Settler because it is not everything we could be.”

Tracy Humphreys

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