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Land acknowledgements losing power

By May 9, 2024No Comments
Tinisha Young, manager of Indigenous support services at Lakeland College, spoke about the need for heartfelt, authentic land acknowledgements at the Rotary Club of Lloydminster’s Monday lunch. Geoff Lee Meridian Source


Land acknowledgements regarding Indigenous Treaty territories are becoming meaningless statements about reconciliation without action.

That, in a nutshell sums up the theme of a talk by Tinisha Young, manager of Indigenous Support Services at Lakeland College, during the Rotary Club of Lloydminster’s Monday luncheon.

“Today at Rotary I’m going to talk about the power of being genuine and authentic and how to do a land acknowledgement from the heart,” said Young before stepping up to the podium.

She notes, however, some people truly believe they are doing a land acknowledgement. 

“We’re just trying to change what that looks like right now,” she said.

She told Rotary she’s been hearing the land acknowledgement conversation for two years. 

“Elders are saying they shouldn’t be read anymore. You should just know whose land you’re on,” said Young.

She says at Lakeland College, they asked Indigenous students what reconciliation means to them, what could they be doing and what they heard is, reconciliation is trendy.

“There’s lots of corporate people jumping on this trend of reconciliation—it’s got no power behind it anymore,” said Young.

“It’s just something corporate people do to cross off that they’re doing the 94 Calls to Action because that’s one of them.”

Young told Rotary a lot of elders say the 94 Calls to Action is the absolute bare minimum organizations should be doing.

“If you’re only crossing off two or three, you’re not actively seeking reconciliation,” she said.

Young asked all Rotarians to stand up while she led them in a visual demonstration of what a land acknowledgement means to her.

She asked everyone to imagine what this land looked like 100 years ago, 500 years ago and 1,000 years ago.

“Maybe you can see kookums (grandmothers in Cree) caring for their grandchildren, maybe you can see a teepee village and their caring for each other….” she asked as she led the group back to the present. 

“What does it look like now? Can you still hear us laughing? Can you still hear our language …”

The exercise ended with Young giving her own heartfelt land acknowledgement, having lived all of her life in Lloydminster with cultural ties to Treaty 5 people in Saskatchewan.

“I’m a Turtle Island (Earth) original and I acknowledge my urban upbringing and where my ancestors come from. My relations are from Cumberland House First Nation in Treaty 5 and I also acknowledge that I live and work in Treaty 6 and Metis Region 2,” said Young.

Young also read Lakeland’s land acknowledgement that was created by three members of the Indigenous Student Committee in 2022.

She says there are currently 339 self-declared Indigenous students at Lakeland with support services for them in academics, wellness, resources and culture.