By Katherine Harman and Kathy Horton
Since July 2020, we have opened our Zoom Full Circle Gatherings and Meetings with “Treehouse Village is being built on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq peoples. We are grateful to be building on this land. We will live in peace and seek means of reconciliation.” We then requested that those not currently in Mi’kmaki type the territory or nation where they live into the chat box to illustrate the span of our current community.
As we planned our August 2021 Groundbreaking program, we decided to include a private gathering to honour the land and recognize our stewardship responsibilities. In the process, we realized that the opening of our public ceremony would benefit from a revised land acknowledgment that had greater depth and more detailed context.
Indigenous writers have noted that land acknowledgments are often devoid of authenticity of place or meaning. We learned that creating a unique land acknowledgment for an event can draw attention to the moment being celebrated and situate it in the truths about our history and responsibilities. We consulted indigenous leaders, other Treehouse friends, and the DesBrisay Museum. Through this we learned more about Bridgewater and its indigenous heritage. Our aim was to convey the meaning of the Peace and Friendship Treaties, our humility and witness of ongoing racism in Nova Scotia, and our commitment to care for the land we are so privileged to build our homes on. Finally, we wanted to express our desires to work towards right relations with our Mi’kmaq friends and neighbours.
Treehouse Village Ecohousing is being built in Sin So’sepe’katik, also known as Bridgewater, in the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq peoples. The Covenant Chain of Peace and Friendship Treaties between the Wabanaki Confederacy (that included the Mi’kmaq nation) and the British Crown was created throughout the eighteenth century; the first was signed in 1725, and the last in 1779. These treaties were negotiated nation to nation and, through them, the Mi’kmaq never ceded their land title nor other rights. Treaty rights were recognized and affirmed in the 1982 Constitution Act. We are, in fact, all treaty people. At Treehouse Village Ecohousing, we stand witness to the harmful and persistent acts of discrimination against Indigenous peoples and we recognize our privilege. With Mi’kmaq friends and neighbours, we will work together to understand our role in reconciling the past so we might live together in a better future. We are grateful to be building our homes on this land. We promise to be good stewards and to listen to the land wisdom of the Mi’kmaq people. We commit to living in peace and seeking means of reconciliation with all whose families have walked this land.
This land acknowledgment was researched and written by Katherine Harman and Kathy Horton for Treehouse Village Ecohousing’s groundbreaking celebration on August 21, 2021.
Photo by Shirley Robb