Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Territorial acknowledgement

What options are there for the settler academic who's looking to open the term with an acknowledgement of First Nations and/or Indigenous prior claim on the lands on which one's university stands?

I've always used something quite close to one or the other official University of Victoria versions of its own territorial acknowledgement, and it's a good start. Here's the version from the current draft of UVic's Indigenous Academic Plan, for example:
We acknowledge and respect the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples on whose traditional territories the university stands and whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.
But the more I've thought about it, the more I've felt a need to personalize and extend my acknowledgement, especially to address my settler family history in British Columbia. The acknowledgement I'm using this term (feedback welcome, especially negative feedback!) reaches back to the arrival in BC of my great-grandparents' separate families before 1900, and specifies the separate First Nations on whose lands I've lived since I was born. It reads like this:
I acknowledge my family's and my own long-standing and ongoing settlement in BC on the traditional lands of several First Nations, whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day: the Qu'wut'sun; the Snuneymuxw; the Kwagu'l; the Snaw-naw-as; the Skwlax; and the Lekwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees) and the Wsanec.
If you want to adapt this, please feel free to do so. If you want to object, worry, complain, or attack, please feel free to do that as well. The comments area will work fine, but there are of course other ways to reach me as well.

Let the semester begin!