TBTN Happens on Stolen Land

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We’re excited to have Take Back the Night at Hamilton’s City Hall and also recognize that this land was not given up willingly by its original peoples.

This land acknowledgement was created by Laurier Public Research Interest Group:

WHAT IS A LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT?

A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

WHY DO WE RECOGNIZE THE LAND?

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also work noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.

WHOSE LAND ARE WE ON?

In Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Brantford we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples.

  • Anishnawbe peoples: Also known as Ojibway/Chippewa/Mississauga/Algonquin, original ancestral home was located on the north shore of Lake Huron, at the mouth of the Mississaugi River. During the 17th century, the Anishnawbe split, with groups migrating east to the Bay of Quinte and South into what is now known as south-western Ontario (from Toronto to Lake Erie). During the 18th century, the Anishnawbe began losing land due to European settlement and the northern movement of the Haudenosaunee into south-western Ontario. Today, Anishnawbe in south-western Ontario include the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Aamjiwnaang, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, and the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point.
  • Haudenosaunee peoples: Also known as Six Nations and Iroquois, are various nations that formed what is known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It originally consisted of five Nations: Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Seneca, but in 1722, the Tuscarora joined to form the Six Nations. The Haudenosaunee reside in parts of Ontario and Upstate New York. The largest reserve in North America is the Six Nations of the Grand River, located near Branford, Ontario. Other communities where Haudenosaunee reside include Tyendinaga, Awkwesasne, and Oneida Nation of the Thames, to name a few.
  • Neutral peoples: Called the Neutrals due to their tendency to avoid conflict, and “Attawandaron” by the Hurons. They are made up of many distinct nations. They were decimated by colonial diseases during early colonization and any remaining members were mostly adopted into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Kitchener-Waterloo and Brantford are both located on the Haldimand Tract, which, on October 25, 1784, after the American Revolutionary War of Independence, was given to the Six Nations of the Grand River by the British as compensation for their role in the war and for the loss of their traditional lands in Upstate New York (www.sixnations.ca). Of the 950,000 acres given to the Haudenosaunee (six miles on either side of the Grand River, all the way along it’s length), only 46,000 acres (less than 5 per cent) remains Six Nations land (www.sixnations.ca).

It is important to note that Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses are both located on the Haldimand Tract.

HOW DO WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE LAND?

“We acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee and Neutral peoples” 

  • Haudenosaunee (Ho-deh-no-show-nee)
  • Anishnawbe (Ah-nish-nah-bay)
  • Neutral / Attawandaron (At-ta-won-da-ron)

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

  • The person giving the acknowledgement should be the host of the event or meeting themselves
  • Include a formal thank you to the host nation whenever making a presentation or holding a meeting, whether or not Indigenous individuals are part of the meeting or gathering
  • If you do not know the name of the Nation on whose territory or treaty land the building sits, ask around; Friendship Centers, Aboriginal Student Centers, local Band Offices are always a good source of information
  • Ask the Friendship Center or Aboriginal Student Center for help with the pronunciation.
  • If that is not possible, call the band office of the Nation after hours and listen to the recording
  • Practice saying the name is the host nation out loud
  • A land acknowledgment is not something you “just do” before an event. Rather it is a reflection process in which you build mindfulness and intention walking into whatever gathering you are having. It should be rooted in the whose land you are honoured to stand on and should guide how you move forward in both conversations and actions.

MOVING BEYOND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Although it is important to acknowledge the land, it is only a first step. We are all treaty signers, and are thus responsible and accountable for the violence that Indigenous people face. Allyship is a continuous process; it is not a designation that one can earn and hold forevermore. It is also not a label one can give themselves, but one you earn from your actions and commitment to standing in solidarity.

Allies must continually engage in self-reflection, and must consistently work at being an ally (through learning, acting in a de-colonial manner, and sustaining relationships with Indigenous Peoples, etc.)

Here are some simple ways you can begin the ongoing and continual process of acting in solidarity with Indigenous folks in Canada:

  • Learn: About oppression and privilege. About the history of colonization. About Indigenous peoples and cultures. About the land you live on. To listen. There are many books, blogs, documentaries, Independent media sites, plays, and songs that Indigenous people have written and performed that are great places to start learning.
  • Build relationships: Building relationships is a very important aspect of standing in solidarity. A great place to start on campus is going to the Aboriginal Student Center, located at 187 Albert Street. in Waterloo and 111 Darling St. in Brantford. Both campuses host a soup lunch once a week that is open to everyone. In addition, many other events take place throughout the year. Follow them on Facebook or visit in person to see what they have going on!
  • Act: By being accountable towards Indigenous people and communities by supporting what they are saying is important, aligning oneself with the struggle, and speaking up when something problematic is said.

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 ‘Until all of us have made it none of us have made it.’ – Rosemary Brown

Take Back the Night, an annual event organized by SACHA, is a powerful opportunity for survivors and their supporters to actively build connections, assertively reclaim our right to safety, and courageously stand up against violence.
TBTN centers the experiences of women and gender non-conforming folks. We invite men to cheer on the march from Gore Park.
When: Thursday, September 28th, 2017
  • 6:00pm – We Gather
  • 7:00pm – We Rally
  • 7:30pm – We March
Where: Hamilton City Hall – 71 Main Street, Hamilton ON
More info:

We will have both an HSR and a DARTS buses following the march for folks who are not able to march.

If you are not able to march the entire route there is a short cut back to City Hall at Summers Lane near the Hamilton Convention Centre. There will be a TBTN marshal waiting there to walk with folks back to City Hall.

Have worries about the event? Read more about You Can March With Us and Reasons Not To Come to TBTN.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TBTN2017.

For more information or to request ASL interpretation, contact SACHA:

905.525.4573
sacha@sacha.ca
http://www.sacha.ca

We are extremely grateful to all the folks that make Take Back the Night happen in Hamilton, especially Public Service Alliance of Canada WAWGClick here to help make TBTN thrive and to help SACHA support survivors and end sexual violence.

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Witness Blanket in Hamilton

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Gallery 4 Annex at Hamilton Public Library will be showing The Witness Blanket from July 13th to August 29th. On Friday, August 14th as part of Art Crawl the Central Library’s Gallery 4 will be open from 7-9pm with residential school survivors telling their stories at 8pm.

Check out this incredible video about how the blanket was created,

From The Witness Blanket website:

The blanket is a universal symbol of protection.
For many of us, it identifies who we are and where we’re from – we wear them in ceremony and give them as gifts. Blankets protect our young and comfort our elders.

Inspired by a woven blanket, we have created a large scale art installation, made out of hundreds of items reclaimed from Residential Schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres and universities, from across Canada. The Witness Blanket stands as a national monument to recognise the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, honour the children, and symbolize ongoing reconciliation.

Strewn in the wake of the Indian Residential Schools are an immeasurable number of broken or damaged pieces. These fragmented cultures, crumbling buildings, segments of language, and grains of diminished pride are often connected only by the common experience that created them. Imagine those pieces, symbolic and tangible, woven together in the form of a blanket. A blanket made from pieces of residential schools, churches, government buildings, and cultural structures.

A blanket where the story of each piece is as important to its construction as the wood and screws that hold it together.

A blanket with the sole purpose of standing in eternal witness to the effects of the Indian Residential School era – the system created and run by churches and the Canadian government to “take the Indian out of the child”. Left alone, these pieces may be forgotten, lost, buried, or worse – be uncomfortable reminders that leave painful impressions on the minds and hearts of those who recognize what they represent. Individually, they are paragraphs of a disappearing narrative. Together they are strong and formidable, collectively able to recount for future generations the true story of loss, strength, reconciliation and pride. — Carey Newman (Ha-yalth-kingeme), Master Carver

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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December 17 is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Check out this Rabble.ca post to find out what sex worker advocacy groups worldwide are doing to end violence and create justice.

One thing that would immediately make sex workers lives more safe would be to strike down the laws criminalizing communicating, living off the avails and maintaining a bawdy house.

On Friday the Canadian supreme court will announce its decision in the charter challenge that could lead to the decriminalization of sex work in Canada. Journalist Carly Forbes has produced and collected some documentaries with more information about the charter challenge and with some reflections from sex workers.

The Native Youth Sexual Health Network has posted a response to ongoing colonialism on December 17th and a call to end violence:

Ending violence against sex workers is also about ending the violence of colonialism from state systems such as child welfare, social services and the criminal (in)justice system that many of our communities face.For instance, criminalizing or arresting people, removing their children or access to them only removes support and puts people back into a system that often failed them in the first place. This is directly connected to the interpersonal violence that people experience, including sexual assault and domestic violence.

And lastly, if your curious, you can read why SACHA supports the decriminalization of sex work:

SACHA believes that policies and laws have often been formed to instruct women on what is right and wrong in an attempt to control their behaviour.  These social rules are decided for women by people (primarily men) in power who decide how “good girls” and “bad girls” behave.  Sex workers are a group of people more often spoken about than spoken with; they have not been consulted in forming the rules.  Policy decisions regarding sex work have been imposed on sex workers rather than in collaboration with them.  Racism, colonialism, classism, adultism and other forms of oppression have also been pivotal in policy design.

 

Hamilton Sisters in Spirit Vigil – October 4th

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In Canada, Aboriginal women are 5-7 times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to die as a result of violence. Sisters in Spirit – an initiative led by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) – researched these high incidences of violence. Their research found evidence of over 580 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Sadly, many believe that because of issues with police and government reporting, this already tragically high number is much lower than the actual number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

Here is a video of the then Native Women’s Association of Canada President, Beverly Jacobs, the speaking at the Indian Residential Schools Statement of Apology in June 2008:

The video quality is a bit poor, but there is a transcript here – https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015717/1100100015720.

Jacobs’ words were moving Native women’s lives and also had a call to action:

I want to say that I come here speaking from my heart, because two generations ago, my grandmother, being a Mohawk woman, was beaten, sexually beaten and physically beaten, for being a Mohawk woman. She did not pass that on. She did not pass it on to my mother and her siblings, and so that matriarchal system that we have was directly affected. Luckily, I was raised in a community where it has been revitalized by all of our mothers.

I want to say that as mothers, we teach our boys and our girls, our men and our women equally. That is what I am here to say, that although it may be the Native Women’s Association, we also represent men and women because that is our responsibility. It is not just about women’s issues, it is about making sure that we have strong nations again. That is what I am here to say.

…I have just one last thing to say. To all of the leaders of the Liberals, the Bloc and NDP, thank you, as well, for your words because now it is about our responsibilities today, the decisions that we make today and how they will affect seven generations from now.

My ancestors did the same seven generations ago and they tried hard to fight against you because they knew what was happening. They knew what was coming, but we have had so much impact from colonization and that is what we are dealing with today.

Women have taken the brunt of it all.

The stories of the families who have had a sister, mother, daughter, aunt or cousin murdered or gone missing are very powerful.  Here is Sue Martin speaking about the murder of her daughter Terrie:

Daily it’s a struggle for each and every one of us…It’s not easy sharing this story here, telling our stories, but if it will save one woman’s life and one family from what we’re going through then we’re doing something.

…This has to stop.  It is an epidemic.

Since 2009, communities throughout the country have gathered on October 4th to remember and honour missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The Sisters in Spirit vigils are also a space to support grieving families and communities and to call for social change.

This year, Hamilton’s Sisters in Spirit vigil will be held at Honouring the Circle (21 Rosedene Avenue) and will begin at 10am. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal folks are invited to gather and remember the Aboriginal women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered.  For more information about the Hamilton vigil, visit the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/209666729200631

To learn more about Sisters in Spirit and the October 4th Candlelight vigils, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/SistersInSpiritHamilton
www.nwac.ca/sisters-spirit
www.october4th.ca

More reading:
http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/issues/indigenous-peoples/no-more-stolen-sisters
http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/community-politics/marginalization-of-aboriginal-women.html