Understanding land acknowledgements, their history, and their importance

Our path to reconciliation includes listening, learning, and creating opportunities for education and participation within GSU. On the last Tuesday of each month we will be sharing information that we hope will contribute to a shared future of reconciliation.

Understanding land acknowledgements, their history, and their importance

TMM – Oct. 26, 2021

To kickstart the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s 65th Annual Convention, the Saskatchewan vice-president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Dodie Ferguson, hosted a workshop called “Making Land Acknowledgements Matter”. It was an impressive workshop that helped all participants better understand land acknowledgements, their history, and their importance.

If you have never participated in a land acknowledgement, they are formal statements made at the beginning of events taking place on land originally inhabited by or belonging to indigenous peoples. For example, a common one-breath land acknowledgement could be something like:

“As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.”

Land acknowledgements are meant to recognize and respect indigenous peoples as the original stewards of the lands on which we now live. These acknowledgements are not meant to place blame or make anyone feel guilty.

Though the statement is short, it serves an important purpose: it is a recognition of an intimate relationship between the place and people, and demonstrates an awareness of Canada’s history with and treatment towards Indigenous people. What we learned growing up or in school might contradict what is being taught today. As we uncover new information and learn more about an issue, the issue evolves. The challenging part is evolving with it.

Learn more about land acknowledgements here:

GSU is building a truth and reconciliation lending library. If you have resources you would recommend for our library or are interested in borrowing a book, contact staff rep Mason Van Luven at Mason@gsu.ca.

WE’RE WORKING ON IT: Our first National Truth and Reconciliation Day and our plans going forward

Sept. 30 was historic as we recognized our first Day for Truth and Reconciliation in our province and across Canada. It was a day for somber reflection as we honoured the victims and survivors of residential schools and considered how that legacy has affected Indigenous communities.

As part of our Sept. 30 reflections, GSU staff considered how GSU has participated in the truth and reconciliation process, and what we can do going forward.

Some of our plans for 2021 – such as holding the blanket exercise at the March 2021 GSU biennial policy convention and distributing orange shirts at the Sept. 24 Joint Executive Council meeting – were thwarted by COVID and the cancellation of scheduled in-person gatherings. We have been successful in beginning to incorporate land acknowledgements into GSU gatherings and we have encouraged member participation in the Truth and Reconciliation process by sharing information and links in several of our Tuesday Members’ Memo communications. GSU has also encouraged members and officers to attend training at the Canadian Labour Congress/Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s annual Spring School, where a course on Turtle Island is a popular option.

We will continue working toward increased participation and education in the remainder of the year and the coming new year.

If you have suggestions or would like to be considered for GSU or labour-sponsored training opportunities that include truth and reconciliation education, contact Steve Torgerson at GSU’s Regina office.

If you need some advice about how to approach management with a problem, don’t hesitate to call your GSU staff rep. No problem is too small and sometimes a brief comment, email, or meeting is all that’s needed to address a situation. Call us when you think there is a problem to be fixed.