Acknowledging the Land_On Becoming - O34ME 7Mar22 Council Meeting
Good afternoon, Everyone.
With humility and gratitude for the experiences that First Peoples across Canada have been sharing and continue to share--that we may devote ourselves to moving forward in the spirit of partnership, collaboration, and reconciliation--I would like to share a quotation and an example from the late Fred Saskamoose (of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Treaty 6 of 1889)--Band Chief, hockey legend, speaker, and author of the book, Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treaty Indigenous Player.
Towards the end of the book, Fred writes, “I had always wanted to come back to Chicago (where Fred spent some time playing in the NHL). But I now knew what was really important. It wasn’t coming back as a Black Hawk. It was coming back as…A proud Cree man (p255).” This statement was made by Fred in his early 70’s--nearly 60 years from the time he was taken and forced to stay at St. Michael’s Residential School in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan)--really a lifetime had been spent getting to a place where he finally knew his life’s purpose.
Friends, I know that many of the privileges--benefits and successes--I have experienced, as well as knowing that I am loved and that I belong are, in part, borne of the tragic experiences like those of Fred and so many other First Peoples across Canada.
As a settler-colonizer--one, who has benefited greatly from living on Turtle Island--I know I have much work to do to decolonize my own approach to the ways in which I live, teach and learn, and to share this with my colleagues. Much of this work will need to be rooted in listening, in feeling, in honoring the land and its people, and co-creating welcoming and safe spaces, with our Indigenous partners over time.
Today, I am privileged to be facilitating our Council’s meeting from the small rural village of Chesterville in the Township of North Dundas, and through this village flows the South Nation River.
For as much enjoyment the river provides, I am only able to do so because of the treaty agreement between the Indigenous peoples of this land and the Crown. This Treaty region is commonly known as “Crawford’s Purchases” of 1783, which “...were designed to
provide land to Loyalists who fought on behalf of the British during the American
Revolution, including Indigenous allies and United Empire Loyalists” (ontario.ca).
I recognize that the lands in this region of the Treaty are those of the Algonquin (unceded, Ottawa) , the Anishinabewaki, the Haudensonee, the Mississauga, the Mohawk, and the Wendake-Nionwentsïo (nee-yon-wan-gee-oh). It is my responsibility to understand and live up to this Treaty--to see myself as a Treaty person.
Please take these next few moments to acknowledge the land you’re on, its people and
connections to the land.
<Pause to Reflect>
In closing, let’s give thanks for the examples of Indigenous stewardship--that is, of the land and of relationships within and across peoples--that we have this opportunity to learn and work as a Council, and to provide leadership for our colleagues in math education.
Niá:wen (Nee-aw-wah, Mohawk), Miigwech (Ojibwe), Nakurmiik (Na-koor-meek, Inuktitut), Thank you.