I include these land acknowledgements with respect for this land that I am on today, and for the Indigenous people who have and continue to reside here. I also seek to call myself and other settlers into a deeper understanding of the 94 actions of truth, healing and reconciliation that we are being called into, toward reparation.
The city known as Guelph is situated on treaty land, currently occupying the ancestral lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Anishinaabek and the Haudenosaunee Peoples, within the Between the Lakes Purchase (Treaty 3). This area is steeped in rich indigenous history and home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people today.
The city referred to as Hamilton is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas of the Credit Peoples. Today, Hamilton is home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island (North America).
Both of these areas are covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. They are also covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek Peoples to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. It consists of three basic rules (Hill in Maracle, C. 2015):
- Take only what you need
- Leave some for everybody else
- Keep it clean
I am personally reflecting daily on these three practices, with the intention to look for ways to consider these in my thoughts, words and actions.
In stating this, I acknowledge that as a settler, I have been raised with colonized mindsets, in systems designed to exclude, which continues to be the lived experience of Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. As a white descendant of European settlers (with some distant Métis lineage), I acknowledge my responsibility for the care of the land on which I live and work. I recognize the significance of the Dish with One Spoon Covenant to this land, the wisdom of Indigenous folks, and offer my respect and gratitude to all of the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island who have stewarded, loved & defended this land for centuries.
Beyond naming whose land we reside on, is the process of reflection, education and shared responsibility for the harm of historical choices and the ongoing injustices that Indigenous people are still experiencing today. Our current participation in ongoing ways of being and living in systems designed to exclude is contributing to on-going harm caused to our Indigenous neighbours. Acknowledging the land and the people whose land we are on is only a small part of the process and meaningless if we are not willing to challenge our own fears, bias, influences, oppressive ways of being in relationship, assumptions and conditioning.
As someone who cares deeply about social and environmental justice, and who experiences personally how our current systems are designed to exclude, I commit to work actively towards growing my understanding of the deep wisdom held by indigenous folks. To listen with deep respect to how this wisdom could guide us now to care for our land, ourselves and one another in healing ways. To make and hold space for one another in the beauty and power of both our differences and common humanity and to be a protector of both. To better understand and put into practice, what it means to be a neighbour, partner, and caretaker.
I stand in solidarity with murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, transgender, queer and two-spirit people.
Sources: City of Guelph, U of G, Opirg Guelph,. Hamilton Justice