Letter: Thank you, Gabriola Fire Board Trustees

Wednesday, November 18 2020

I would like to thank Gabriola Fire Board Trustees for voting in favour of a motion to include a land acknowledgement at the start of each Trustee Board meeting. I would like to especially acknowledge Trustee Penelope Bahr for putting forth the motion and actively seeking to work towards respecting the land on which the GFPID operates, and the Snuneymuxw First Nation and Coast Salish Hul’qumi’num -speaking peoples as our hosts.

Land acknowledgements are common in public spaces, such as at meetings held by all levels of government, school boards, libraries, universities, organizations and many other public forums. This is done to recognize the historical and present-day Indigenous peoples who have lived on the land since time immemorial. It is also done to draw attention to our own history as settlers living on Indigenous land. It provides the first step in recognizing the long history of the land and the people who have lived here since time immemorial. A land acknowledgement is certainly not enough to redress the settler-colonial history and present-day relations in Canada, but a step in the right direction towards a decolonizing, learning journey.

Personally, I find that land acknowledgements and recognizing my own colonial family history have led to valuable conversations with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. One question that sticks with me all the time is: How am I benefiting by living on this land (Canada, BC, Vancouver Island, Gabriola Island)? A difficult question for me as my son and grandson are Snuneymuxw First Nation, but nonetheless a question that has brought forth many more questions and contributed immensely to my own learning process over the last 28-something years. In part, I attribute my own questioning and learning to the first time I heard a land acknowledgement spoken at VIU in 1999/2000.

Wanda Nanibush writes: “Land acknowledgements have one goal, regardless of format: they commemorate Indigenous peoples’ principal kinship to the land—and the fact that we have not and cannot be erased from her, our collective first mother. They’re a starting place to a change in how the land is seen and talked about and help redefine how people place themselves in relation to First Peoples.”

 Hay ce:p’qa’ Trustees of the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District.

~ April Vannini