Territorial Acknowledgement and Call to Action

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I wish to acknowledge that the University of Alberta is located in Treaty 6 territory of the Papaschase Cree, and homeland of the Métis Nation. (Map of Canada's treaties). This treaty is crucial for all of us, Indigenous or not. By international law, non-Indigenous cannot live on this land except through the agency of this Treaty.

I also acknowledge that land acknowledgements—while important — are of limited effect in themselves. They can become (and all too often have become) mere boilerplate, pro forma and perfunctory, without feeling or commitment. Such token gestures are completely inadequate to address - not to mention redress - the horrific injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples of Canada since colonial conquests began many centuries ago. They are necessary but not sufficient to effect reconciliation.

We are here primarily to study music; not everyone can work full-time towards social justice. Yet, we can all do something to effect real change. Perhaps the most importantly, we can educate ourselves, and others, as a step towards decolonization.

Treaty 6, signed in 1876-78 between Indigenous peoples and the Crown, but interpreted somewhat differently by Indigenous and Crown signatories, was repeatedly violated by British and later Canadian authorities. For instance the Papaschase Cree lost their land in Edmonton, though they signed the treaty in 1877.

I encourage you all to read a powerful essay by Dr. Sharon Venne, an internationally known Cree lawyer and activist for Indigenous rights, in Canada and globally.

Venne, Sharon. 2008. “Understanding Treaty 6: An Indigenous Perspective.” In Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equality, and Respect for Difference, edited by Michael Asch. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Also read through this Story Map about the Papaschase Cree, who lost their Edmonton land and First Nations status.

This map provides some broader coverage of indigenous lands across the globe (but in practice mainly in recent settler areas: Americas, and Australasia).