To support members of Can-SOLVE CKD in understanding the importance of land acknowledgments, a working group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members came together to create a new, four-part webinar series. After several months of busy planning, the webinar series is set to launch this summer.
The first webinar includes a panel of Can-SOLVE CKD members (including a researcher, patient partner and member of the Operations team) and cultural safety educator Harley Eagle of the Dakota/Ojibway First Nations, enrolled in the Whitecap Dakota First Nations Reserve. Mila Tang is a Project Manager with Can-SOLVE CKD who participated on the panel. She says that while it was an honour to participate, she knew the process would also challenge her. “I came into this project knowing that I had to be vulnerable to discomfort for personal growth to happen,” she explains.
Some key themes that she highlights after working on this project include reflecting on the meaning behind “unceded territory,” the history behind the land on which she stands, and how the land was in its natural state before colonization. She also notes that this was a chance to explore her own personal ties to the land, and reflect on the ways in which it nourishes and sustains life. “Without acknowledging the importance of how land plays such a big part in our human experience, we take it for granted,” she says.
The second webinar includes teachings from two Knowledge Keepers, who discuss important topics such as traditional protocols for visiting the land of a neighbouring First Nation, as well as historical land dispossession experienced by Indigenous people. In the third webinar, Indigenous scholars dig deeper into land disposition issues, including how resource extraction affects Indigenous people. As well, they discuss the impact of treaties and the importance of water in land acknowledgments.
The final webinar is hosted by IPERC Coordinator Craig Settee, who is Cree/Anishinaabe and a registered member of Fisher River Cree Nation (Treaty 5 Territory), Manitoba, Canada. He provides a general overview of the webinar series and encourages people to take land acknowledgments one step further – by taking action on Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
“Land acknowledgments are a first step of many,” he emphasizes, noting that there are a number of Indigenous communities that are calling for actions to return land. “Part of allyship can be supporting Indigenous movements of returning land back to Indigenous people.”
To further support people in this process, the Land Acknowledgment working group is putting together a guidebook, which will summarize some key aspects of the webinars, include reflection questions, and direct people to resources for additional information and learning. All Can-SOLVE CKD members are encouraged to participate in the webinar series and explore their own thoughts and actions related to land acknowledgments.
Notably, this series was created out of a learning opportunity. Beaucage facilitated a land acknowledgment exercise with a group of non-Indigenous researchers and noticed some fumbling and awkwardness. She took the opportunity to write a letter to the group, many of whom had little exposure to acknowledging the Indigenous land they were living on. She wanted to educate people on the importance of land acknowledgements and how to do them respectfully. The letter served as a catalyst for the new webinar series and became the narration of the series’ introductory video.
“We don’t tell people that it’s prescriptive or in a certain format, because there has to be part of your heart in there as well,” explains Beaucage. “But it was more so to give people understanding and confidence in feeling that they can do this and they can do it well.”
Tang notes that land acknowledgments are an important opportunity to explore truth and awareness. She says, “If done authentically, it is an act of humility and gratitude, being curious of what we don’t know, a reminder of our dependence on the land, and inspiring others to do the same.”