Image: Michelle Campos Castillo

Contributors

Image: spending time with the plants at x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》, Valeen Jules, 2021.

This Land Acknowledgement was offered before an online conversation with Stephanie Wakefield on April 5, 2021.

Nicole Kelly Westman:

Hi everyone. I’m going to open up this talk today with a land acknowledgement. Then I’ll pass the metaphorical mic over to Jesse McKee to do some introductions for the lovely guests we have with us today. My name is Nicole Kelly Westman, and I’m the Education and Learning Programmer with 221A, and I’ve been here for just over a year.

221A is based on the Unceded Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. The organization is made of individuals that are respectful but uninvited guests; some of us were born here, some of us come from lands of tall prairie grasses, some of us come from opposing shorelines, and some of us from far-off distances. As a collective of individuals, we work collaboratively to forge new paths and look back to ensure those carrying along with us have the means to navigate at their own paces. Consistently we look with deep inspiration to the rhizomatic work of x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》to slow ourselves to a pacing resemblant of trust building as we continue to realize the potentials within interconnectedness.

this is a place where salty waves meet the shore
where the red cedars and douglas firs are so thick you need many arms to embrace them
where the boulders and pebbles remind us of the mountains they broke away from
where the rivers have currents that oscillate in both directions
where the buds turn to blossoms in saturated gradients
where the clouds hang low and make the softest light
where the snow only kisses the highest peaks
where the sunsets have exquisite seasons
where the leaves intertwine as canopies

We commit ourselves as individuals within an organization to reconceive definitions of labour. To remind ourselves of the ones who came before us and to be diligent in the ways we tenderly hold space for those to come, for those to rise up, for those fatigued, and for those determined by the rigour of resistance and softness of resilience.

We welcome with us today some folks from further away. Christina Battle is joining us from Treaty 6 territory; a land occupied, travelled, and cared for by Indigenous Peoples since time immemorial called amiskwacîwâskahikan which has always been a traditional meeting ground, gathering place, and travelling route of the Nêhiyawak (Cree), Anishinaabe (Saulteaux), Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Métis, Dene, and Nakota Sioux.

this is a place colonially referred to as Edmonton
but this is also a place known for the might of its river
for its tall prairie grasses adorned with backdrops of Aspens
for its dramatic shift of season and its spontaneous weather
for its Tamaracks, a coniferous that fades to orange in autumn
for its surrounding muskegs and the ways these stagnant waters are purifiers
for its large mammals that continue to occupy the corridors running in congruence with the river

We are also pleased to be in the company of Stephanie Wakefield who is joining us from the traditional lands of the Muscogee (Creek) people. The Muscogee lived in autonomous villages in river valleys throughout present-day Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, speaking several related Muskogean languages. Hitchiti was the most widely spoken in language in what is colonially referred to as Georgia. Muscogee people were forcibly relocated under the Indian Removal Act of 1830 to what is currently known as Oklahoma. The place Stephanie is joining us from is known for its:

hot and humid summers
that follow its gently mild winters
with high mountain ridges outlying on the horizon
and its flatwoods filled with scrawny pines
and meadowy grasses dotted with pretty flowers
and swamps