My name is Sybil Anne Harrison. My parents are Robin Harrison and Maureen Drury. My father’s parents Charles and Violet left England and chose Ktunaxa and Kinbasket territory (Cranbrook) as the place they wanted to raise their family. My maternal grandfather James Drury emigrated from Ireland to England with his parents, and met my grandmother Annie Greenwood in Warrington England. My mom also chose Canada, and met my father in Cranbrook. I was born in Nelson on Sinixt, Ktunaxa and Syilx territory, lived on Shxw’owhamel territory near Hope and call White Rock on Semiahmoo territory home. As a family of wanderers we are grateful that we have always been welcomed on the territories we have chosen to live.
I’ve been living on the territories of Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ people for 12 years. With respect and gratitude, I acknowledge those who have welcomed me and my family to their beautiful and bountiful lands.
This exercise was very helpful to me to reflect on my practice of aknowleding territory. I think it's important to consider the context of the event, and who is present. Being specific about the lands and the people of where we are situated is at the core, but I always try to include something about the day, what the intention of the gathering is, why this group of people have come together. I don't want my acknowledgement to be simply a standard phrase or set of words--but an living and authentic expression of my gratitude and respect.
I really like that you said you're a family of wanderers. My family, too. When I drafted my own acknowledgement, I used the word settler to describe my ancestors, but somehow this word is not my language. I wouldn't otherwise use it. I think I have to change my language about my family to be my own language and not language prescribed by others. If the use of wanderer works for you, then I think I will use something similar for me.
Seems like we need to balance on the one hand the prescribed language usage vis a vis the language of the speaker. So I'm going to revise my draft acknowledgement. The first sentence is the formal, more ritualistic statement using more prescribe language. The second statement (about me and my family) will be more personalized and use language constructions that reflect me.
Thanks for sharing yours!
Thanks for bringing up context. I have started to think about the continuum, for example, when I tell people I have a cottage that is on Swinomish land (we don't own the land, we lease it) there is a lot of specificity and clarity through which I can situate my acknowledgement and respect.
In large meetings it is also a bit easier because in many cases there is already precedent for the practice, but it may be trivialized, so this idea of customizing makes a lot of sense. You have given me food for thought.
Hi Sybil and all,
I too appreciate the dialogue on language and context in this thread.
Like Tim, I've given a lot of thought to the use of the word settler. Personally, I'm comfortable with using it in my own acknowledgement because it was regularly used in both school and day to day conversations in my own cultural context, e.g. learning about early settlers in the 'new world' in social studies classes or hearing stories of where family ancestors settled over time. However, I've also heard reluctance from non-Indigenous colleagues to give a self-location statement if it requires this word either because they just don't relate to the term or they feel it implies they don't/can't belong to places and a country they are deeply attached to.
For me, this opens up space for generative conversations about how we perceive our cultural identities and how different cultural groups experience belonging (or not) to the same places or country. For example, in intercultural learning circles, it's well-recognized that people from dominant cultures or groups are often unaware of their own cultural values and privileges, because it just seems to be what is. So reflecting on our own culture(s) from other perspectives can be a transformative learning experience. And maybe feeling some discomfort or tension is a good thing to spark greater awareness and questions about the status quo.
I also believe people need to 'start from where they are' and be accorded time and space so they can evolve authentic acknowledgements rather than feeling resentment or coercion to use certain terms or rote statements to be politically correct.