Honouring the land

I am a settler of Ukrainian, Polish, Scottish and English descent who lives on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun first nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The place where the city of Toronto is located has been a site of human habitation and activity for 15000 years. This land is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant agreed between the Iroquois Confederacy and Confederacy of the Ojibwe and allied nations to share and care for the land surrounding the Great Lakes. This treaty, and  the many other laws and protocols negotiated between the First Peoples of these lands and other beings, have co-created, sustained and protected these lands for millennia.

I work on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishnaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples. Wilfrid Laurier University is located on the Haldimand tract, which includes 6 miles on either side of the Grand River, and which was promised to the Six Nations. Only approximately 5% of the territory promised to the Six Nations is in its control today as a result of the breaking of agreements.

My family have been uninvited settlers on lands across Turtle Island for more than 150 years. My ancestors have lived on lands spanning from the Miramichi River (Mi’kmaq territory) to Treaty 6 (Niitsitapi, Nakoda and Tusuut’ina) and Treaty 7 (Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, and Nakota Sioux) territories in Alberta;  the territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Métis peoples (Treaty one territory in Manitoba); to unceded Musqueam and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh  territory in British Columbia, where I grew up. I recognize the violence that makes my presence in these lands, and those of my ancestors possible. I also recognise my responsibility to learn to live within the laws of these lands, to confront the violence in which I am complicit and to work to dismantle the structures that perpetuate it.

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