Forest Lawn Carey

Empathy. Clarity. Honesty.

A Just Transition to Sustainable Development

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Giving Thanks for the Land

This Acknowledgment is divided into five parts:

truth and reconciliation; me; you; us; and them.

Truth & Reconciliation
Notice that Land Acknowledgements were recommended in the T & R Report, and that Truth suggests recognizing responsibility, and Reconciliation is not about shame but acceptance.

This Acknowledgement won’t use the standard script describing the different groups that lived here originally, without meaning any disrespect either to those groups nor to the earlier Acknowledgments that many people have heard.

As was mentioned to me recently, the wrote repetition of things without internalization is not of much use: many would agree that there has to be a personal understanding of the words you use for others to accept them.

Also, I rarely do what’s expected of me.

A friend asked me if I could explain what the land acknowledgements were about: she’s Quebecois, so her family’s been here a lot longer than mine has, many generations in fact.

I’ve met one of the first people to come to this continent in my family, my Mom‘s mother. This matters, because those who go before us indicate who we are: she and my grandfather met in Toronto after they both came here from England. I also met my Dad’s father, whose family came here a hundred-some years ago from Scotland, but my Dad’s mother is German and I know nothing about her ancestry.

So I really am a newcomer. Even my friend‘s family, with centuries ahead of me, is a relative newcomer. First nations groups say they’ve been here ‘since time immemorial’, and western science says at least 20,000 years, though i’ve read reports regarding human habitations 50 to 70,000 years old in South America. If they are confirmed that obviously changes our sense of timespans.

In any event, somebody really has been here since time immemorial!

That’s T & R and Me and Them: what about You?

Are you the first person in your family on this continent? If so where were you born and when did you arrive? A Vietnamese friend took extensive Immigration Consultant training, and he’s been advising me on the hoops our government makes newcomers jump through: temporary admission, visas, applications, and the demands on a new citizen.

If it wasn’t you, try to reflect on the person in your family that came here first: did they show respect? Did they heed local warnings? Did they adopt habits to keep the local gods happy, and themselves safe? In comparison, Australia’s Indigenous have a ‘Welcome to Country’ event, which we call a ritual, which is intended to recognize the locals and inform the newcomers, and ensure safety and hospitality is 2 way. The racist record there is no better than here, but the reason to mention Oz in our land acknowledgement, in case you missed that part, is the continual imprecation that we are ALL joined, through each other and the land and our spiritual consensus.

Us is the last part because part of acknowledging where we are is acknowledging and accepting our family’s house rules.

‘Sorry about the mess and the rude behaviour, but we promise to do better.’ That’s what we’re saying. But that’s not enough.

The only way to prove we’ve learned to our Treaty 7 brothers and sisters, the

Nakoda,
Kainai,
Piikani,
Siksika,
Tsuut’ina, and
Metis,

and to thank them for treating us with greater respect than we gave them, is to show it through our ongoing behaviour: you and I. And our recognition of these Truths.

There is of course another view, suggested by one of my First Nations consultants: give us our f**king land back!