I was very excited to find this course and enroll, not realizing until later that the time coincided not only with the beginning of a new term but an out-of-town trip. This means that I’m typing this in the airport, so no video (I don’t think my fellow passengers would be amused.) So while I know this is an asynchronous course, I will be perhaps more out of sync than other participants. I apologize for this, and look forward to catching up after the course officially ends, when I have more time.
I live in Alberta but travel regularly to BC for conferences, and it was there some years ago that I first heard the land acknowledgement being made at the beginning of the conference proceedings. At that time, land acknowledgements were not yet commonly used in Alberta and (I will be honest) the words seemed tokenish, perhaps a little insincere. In recent years, the land acknowledgements that I've heard have become more meaningful, often with the participation of elders and with more extensive explanations. Part of it may be that I have become more sensitive to the importance of acknowledging the land where we are situated, but I think perhaps this awareness is growing in other individuals and institutions as well.
I teach language and settlement to newcomers at NorQuest College in Edmonton. We have a significant number of Indigenous students at our college, so we have an Indigenous Student Centre, as well as Elders on campus. There are multiple projects in progress about Indigenizing the curriculum, which translates into opportunities for professional development for faculty and staff.
This term for the first time, I made a land acknowledgment in my class of adult English language learners. I didn’t go a great job, so I’m hoping that this course will help me to think more deeply about what I want to say and how I want to say it. So this is perhaps what I might say next time to my class, as we begin a new term of learning and working together. Remember that I need to use plain language as much as possible as learners in my class have a limited vocabulary.
It’s important to me and I hope to you that we all know and understand that we are on Treaty 6 territory, the traditional home of First Nations and Metis people. This is especially important to me because my family has been in Canada a long time, for over 350 years. But the Indigenous people of Canada have been here for hundreds of years before that, so I see myself as a settler on what is traditional Indigenous land.
In our class, we will be working on improving your English skills, and we will also be learning about Canada. We call this part of our course settlement, because, as newcomers, you, like me, are settlers on this land. We will be learning a little about Indigenous people and their history, including some of the bad things that settlers did to Indigenous people. When people do wrong things or make mistakes and bad things happen, it's important to try to make things right. This is called reconciliation. We will learn about reconciliation in our class. We will learn a little about treaties, which are agreements or contracts between government and Indigenous people. We will learn a little about what it means to learn, live, and work on traditional Indigenous land here in Canada. We will do some of this this by reading and hearing stories from First Nations and Metis people.
I look forward to your feedback and also to reading your land acknowledgements.