(all subject to feedback & change)
Indigenous Lands & Peoples
It is still rare for those of us who study and work in the Niagara region to acknowledge that we meet on Indigenous lands, over which Indigenous people still hold jurisdiction. Here in St. Catharines we are meeting on the shared lands of the Onkwehonwe. (Pronounced: Own – gway- hone- way).
This shared territory is held by Haudenosaunee [HO-DE-NO-SHO-NEE], Anishinaabeg [A-NISH-I-NAA-BEY], Huron-Wendat, and Neutral peoples. All of us, both Indigenous and newcomers are ‘treaty people’ responsible to uphold the treaty’s first made here.
A key treaty governing this territory is the “Dish with One Spoon” agreement. This treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee binds them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous nations and peoples, settlers and all newcomers, have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.
In particular, this treaty signifies that all of us that share this territory – the ‘Dish’ and its resources are to be eaten with only one spoon. That means we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the dish is never empty; which includes, taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with. Importantly, there are no knives at the table, representing that we must keep the peace.
In talking about the various forms of harm reduction activism, organizing, and supports, it is essential that we root our discussion in the fact that historically and currently, Indigenous people are disproportionately targeted, stereotyped, and stigmatized. We see similar targeting happen to racialized communities, perpetuating long standing ideas of Anti-Black racism and a wide range of structural discrimiation. In all forms of this activism, we must be working to address these issues.
We also strive to acknowledge the work that often goes unacknowledged.
Throughout the city and region we see everything services like Positive Living Niagara to personal relationships supporting the work of harm reduction. As people with the ability and privileges to be able to gather today, we also want to acknowledge the people not present in this room. And with this reflect upon the realities and
identities not reflected in the space.
Furthermore, when we think of universities, we think teachers and students. We would also like to acknowledge the support staff and janitorial staff who keep spaces like these going. Positions like these are often precarious and without support systems like unions but workers at a higher risk of poverty. We ask that you please keep the space as clean as you found it and make mental space and consideration for the essential roles of these positions. We would also like to acknowledge the CUPE 4207 union who are fighting for labour rights and improved conditions. In all of our work, we call for solidarity with their efforts
We’d also like to acknowledge all of you. We know all people in the room are coming from their own range of experiences and passions and thank you for coming to this event.
Meeting Accessibility Notes
In all of our work, we cover a wide range of topics that can be triggering. We encourage people for both their mental and physical needs to take breaks, stand up, and move around as needed. However, in doing this, we ask that you keep in mind this can be distracting and come in-conflict with other people’s needs, and to be as respectful of this as possible.