Here, in 2020, it is customary to begin a meeting or an event with what is called a “territorial acknowledgement” of our presence on traditional Indigenous lands. Sometimes the traditional territory is covered by Treaty (as is the case across the Prairies and in much of the rest of Canada) or not (as is the case across most of British Columbia), in which case the term “unceded” is sometimes used. ‘Treaty,’ however, does not equal ‘ceded’ in every case. What’s more, some lands – such as Sen̓áḵw (aka sən̓aʔqʷ, Kitsilano Point, False Creek Indian Reserve No.6) – are ceded but not covered by treaty. It’s complicated. But in every instance, the acknowledgement makes visible the historic and ongoing colonial reality and relationship.

Chelsea Vowel (aka âpihtawikosisân) – a Métis writer and lawyer – provides us with some thoughts and guidelines respecting the use of territorial acknowledgements here. She argues that acknowledgements can shake us where we need a bit of shaking:

If we think of territorial acknowledgments as sites of potential disruption, they can be transformative acts that to some extent undo Indigenous erasure. I believe this is true as long as these acknowledgments discomfit both those speaking and hearing the words. The fact of Indigenous presence should force non-Indigenous peoples to confront their own place on these lands.

With this in mind, we – the three authors of this work – acknowledge the territories on which we live, work, and enjoy our lives. These are the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples (specifically, the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh, and Snaw-Naw-As Nations) and Treaty 6 territory – the Homeland of the Cree and Métis nations as well as the traditional homelands of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Dene, and Saulteaux. Thompson Rivers University – Open Learning is located in Tk’emlúps in Secwépemc territory and this is a part of the world with which several of the people involved in this project have a deep personal and intellectual connection. None of the lands of the Secwépemc peoples were ceded through treaty; we are guests. We hope that our efforts reflect favourably our desire to be worthy guests.

In addition to these heartfelt acknowledgements we would like to express gratitude for the significant support and resources contributed to this project by Thompson Rivers University – Open Learning. Specifically, thanks go out to Dr. Michelle Harrison who got this off the ground and Melissa Jakubec who ensured a safe landing. Cory Stumpf handled the lion’s share of editing and production, for which we are thankful and Brenda Smith gamely and without complaint handled library and copyright queries. BCcampus – and specifically Mary Burgess and Amanda Coolidge – continues to provide support and build legitimacy to Open Educational Resource projects of this kind. Of course, we have also been urged along by various family and friends who see in this project something of importance and value. To all of these individuals we offer our sincerest thanks.

This book is the culmination of years of collaborative reading, writing, editing, talking, rewriting, rethinking, reflecting, and growth. It could not have been done by any one of us; it could only be done by all three.

This is a book about the past, but all books of history are inevitably about the future. People in the past made decisions and choices based on the kind of future they imagined they might have. Sometimes that future looked promising, sometimes far less so. But this is the curious thing about humans: every choice they make, every turn they choose to take, every time they set off in whatever direction … it is about the future. Choosing to write a book about Indigenous histories is also about an imagined future. And we would like that future to be one in which Indigenous histories are visible, celebrated, told, respected, valued, and even marvelled at. And we’d like that to be the experience shared by the coming generation that includes the tiny person who was born to one of our number in the course of writing this book, and to whom it is dedicated.


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Histories of Indigenous Peoples and Canada Copyright © by John Douglas Belshaw; Sarah Nickel; and Dr. Chelsea Horton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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