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Territorial acknowledgements as a can of worms

There are "easy-case" examples on a university campus where territorial acknowledgement has to happen, but it rapidly gets tricky, especially if you're like me and want to understand what it is you're saying and how it might be received. I've done the straight up and down pro forma kind, and the more earnest teachable moment kind, depending on circumstance. I learned a lot from reading Beyond Territorial Acknowledgements by Chelsea Vowel, a Metis writer and educator, who reminds us just how much unpacking there is to do. (She is on #twitter as @apihtawikosisan as is a fab person to follow not least because she just tweets about life on top of everything else).


I'm leading a research team in a conference presentation at Langara in May and sat down this morning to work on how I might kick off that one, as a guest (invader) on another campus on #Musqueam territory. Our panel is presenting on counter-terrorism as a form of structural violence perpetrated by the Canadian national security state; the territorial acknowledgement - which #apihtawikosisan says is a potential site of disruption and transformation if we make people confront what it actually means - is an opportunity to draw attention to structural violence perpetrated by the Canadian #colonial state.


I've spent a couple of precious hours already angsting about the "hello" part of my paper, and there's still a whole paper left to write. It's tempting to just mutter the usual or even bypass it - the panel facilitator will probably "do #protocol" anyway.


Coincidentally (because I have so much free time) I'm also working through a #UBC #MOOC entitled "Reconciliation through Indigenous Education," which led me to a new resource - Making Coast #Salish Territorial Acknowledgements Matter, a discussion facilitated by the Coast Salish Cultural Network in November 2016.


I groaned when I realized it was an hour-long video. I should be watching that, not blogging this. It begins by further problematizing #territorial acknowledgements - seems the discussion has moved way beyond the pro forma, and the earnest attempts to not be pro forma, and into a whole lot more things to think about. Apihtawikosisan, in her piece, warned that things are gnarlier the further west we go, because acknowledgement has been going on here longer, and also that it has been going on more in cities, where perhaps the issues "underfoot" are less visible, and the people more progressive - the above video is aimed at community groups working on #Vancouver's downtown eastside. Both good resources, anyway. Still no idea of what I'm going to say....

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ann rogers
ann rogers
2019年4月15日

Frustrating story, I think we just have to embrace that too, reflect on it and move on, taking from it what we can (as you have). I mainly listen and learn, like and RT on many of the indigenous sites I follow, and I very seldom say... Sometimes Chelsea's threads explicitly tell us to back off and shut up, and just thinking on that has sometimes helped put me in my (new) place. I honour those demands, feel pissed off, but accept they are entirely reasonable and I'm lucky to be able to listen. That so many indigenous peeps are so generous with us surprises me. I would not be like that if shoe were on other foot. A…


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Su-san Koch
Su-san Koch
2019年4月15日

Thanks Ann for this post. Territory acknowledgment is a problematic issue indeed! I am familiar with the author, Chelsea Vowel, and her blog to which you link to her article where she does an in depth analysis of this matter.


I was following her on Twitter when I launched @CAKarmicDebt and read her posts and blogs regularly up until she BLOCKED me. I have no idea why she did this -- but she is not the only indigenous person who has blocked me, hence my starting a new account for @2RowFlow that is less about "what I think" then simply sharing "what is going on". Some people were unnerved by the idea that they did not know WHO is the…


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