We respectfully acknowledge that The Land Between is located within Williams Treaty 20 Mississauga Anishinaabeg territory and Treaty 61 Robinson-Huron treaty territory, in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg. The Land Between respectfully acknowledges that these First Nations are the stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters in perpetuity and that they continue to maintain this responsibility to ensure their health and integrity for generations to come.
A formal land acknowledgement shows recognition of and respect for Indigenous Peoples and their lands, in the context of the past, present, and future. Including an acknowledgement shows awareness that you’re on the land of a Nation that has had a relationship since time immemorial with that land. The exercise of doing the research to find out whose land a meeting or event is taking place, is an opportunity to open your heart and mind to developing respectful relationships between settlers and Indigenous peoples. Bob Joseph, a Gwawaenuk Nation member, and author of several guides to Indigenous/settler relations provides a guide to land acknowledgements, noting that the research behind land acknowledgements is part of the process of recognition.
The Land Between is one of the first charities in Canada to honour the original treaties, by defining reconciliation as equal governance and influence. As such The Land Between operates with 50% First Nation peoples on our Council, and with one seat on Council that is delegated and not elected, to represent the First Nation of the Territory in which we operate. The Land Between also strives to incorporate Traditional Knowledge systems in all decisions, beyond just consultation. Below you can learn more about Indigenous Settler history in Canada, and why developing and maintaining relationships with First Nations and the land is a priority for The Land Between charity.
The Royal Proclamation
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 formed the basis of Treaties – which recognized Indigenous claims to lands and indicated that only the Crown could negotiate treaties. The Royal Proclamation symbolized a relationship of trust between the Crown and Indigenous peoples by stating that only the Crown could ‘purchase’ land from the Indigenous nations. In addition, The Royal Proclamation, created systems of government and provided for protection of Indigenous territories by establishing hunting grounds. The main purpose of this legislation was not to limit the growth of colonies, but rather to ensure peaceful relations between peoples. If you are a citizen, immigrant or visitor of Canada you are a treaty person. Few Canadians know much about treaties despite their foundational importance to the Canadian nation. The treaty is a living agreement between First Nations and the Crown for the benefit of all people who live in treaty territory. The Land Between charity recognizes these original agreements and works to honour these agreements by providing First Nations with equal governance and voice.
The Great Wampum
The Great Wampum represents the formation of peaceful governance and meaningful relationships. Wampum is created from the shell of a clam, cutting from the white and purple parts of the shell. The shell is thought of as a living record, giving the speaker the ability to put the words of an agreement into the wampum. Each speaker thereafter uses the wampum to remember the initial agreement and the history that has happened to date.
The two row wampum is a strong example, representing the forming relationships of Europeans and First Nations, specifically Dutch settlers and Haudenosaunee Nations. The Haudenosaunee and Dutch, upon contact, made an agreement with how they would interact and build relationships with one another when the Dutch were beginning to settle and expand into Haudenosaunee territory (1613). The belts, made out of white and purple shells, represented their agreements. The belt has two purple rows running along side each other, representing two boats. A canoe, belonging to the Haudenosaunee, and a ship, representing the settlers. The boats travel along side one another, sharing the river, but never crossing or interfering with one another. In this sense, the agreement made emphasized that each nation will respect the ways of each other and not interfere with one another. Treaties, and wampum belts are the initial agreements between settlers and Indigenous nations. The Haudenosaunee see the Two Row Wampum as a living treaty; a way that they have established for their people to live together in peace; that each nation will respect the ways of the other as they meet to discuss solutions to the issues that come before them (Onondaga Nation, 2018).
It is important for all Canadians to be aware of, and understand the initial treaties and agreements between settlers and First Nations. These initial treaties and agreements were about coexistence and mutual obligation. If you own property or plan on owning property in Canada, you are exercising a right that goes back to the very first signed treaties. In addition to the once peaceful relationships developed, the failure to uphold these initial agreements have resulted in a history of discriminatory legislation and policies that worked to found the Canadian state. To The Land Between, reconciliation is about reminding Canadians of the relationships that once existed between settlers and First Nations. A relationship of being equal. A nation to nation relationship. Reconciliation is about returning to these relationships.
Canadas Dark Past
The British North American Act of 1867 brought forth many discriminating policies and legislation that attempted to assimilate Indigenous populations into settler society. Some of these practices included residential schools, permit systems and the Sixties Scoop:
Residential Schools or Industrial Schools were government run religious schools that permitted the kidnapping of Indigenous children from their families to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian society. In addition to the trauma of being taken away from their families, many Indigenous children endured sexual, verbal and physical abuse. Disease and poor sanitation resulted in the death of an estimated 3200-6000 children. Due to incomplete historical records, the number of school-related deaths varies and remains unknown. The last residential school closed in 1997, leaving a long legacy of trauma and destruction in many families.
The Pass System was a permit system in place (1885-1940s) that denied Indigenous peoples the freedom to leave their reserves without a pass or permission slip signed by the local Indian Agent. The system kept First Nations parents from their children in residential schools, from visiting relatives, and even from hunting and fishing. Failure to adhere to the permit would often result in illegal incarceration or fines. It is important to note that enshrined in many of the treaties is hunting and fishing rights, as well as the right for Indigenous people to move freely across the landscape. The Pass System was very much an illegal practice, kept quiet by the Canadian government. A documentary by director and producer Alex Williams reveals some of Canada’s dark past through the history of “The Pass System”.
The Sixties Scoop refers to an era whereby the Canadian state abducted Indigenous children from families to be adopted by Euro-Canadians and assimilated into society. Despite the reference, the Sixties Scoop began in the 1950s and continued into the 1980s. In addition to loosing their families, children taken, lost their cultures, heritage and languages. The Sixties Scoop was another attempt by the Canadian state to assimilate Indigenous peoples into Canadian society.