(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. As an organization primarily led by settlers on Turtle Island, land acknowledgements are one step in our ongoing efforts to position our work in a place of in solidarity that respects and supports the histories and protocols of this territory and Indigenous movements like Land Back and Idle No More.
The activism OPIRG Brock engages in and supports primarily takes place on the shared lands of the Onkwehonwe [OWN-GWAY-HONE-WAY]. This shared territory is held by Haudenosaunee [HO-DE-NO-SHO-NEE], Anishinaabeg [A-NISH-I-NAA-BEY], Wendat, and the Chonnonton peoples. This territory is also home to many Metis and Inuit people and 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 exists between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee and binds them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous people, settlers, and newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect. In learning about treaties Over the past few months I have been enrolled in the Indigenous Canada course offered for free from the University of Alberta which has been a more in-depth understanding of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and the Treaty of Niagara as an agreement foundational to the relationship between Indigenous peoples and settlers in our region.
In talking about our relationships to activism and how to be accountable to treaties the first made here, 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 discrimination. These power dynamics and acts of violence enforce further issues of ableism, sanism, transphobia, classism, and increased incarceration, to name a few.
Legacies of colonization, racism, and capitalism are upheld everyday of 2021 through our failure to address ongoing attacks on Trans and Two Spirit people, Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Colour, who have always been at the forefront of calling for essential societal change; calls and activism that far too often end up in their deaths. We must be prioritizing these discussions and supporting the creative and political work of Indigenous and Black people and communities within Niagara, across this country and the world.
We also strive to acknowledge the work that often goes unacknowledged. Throughout the city and region we see everything from more formal bodies like the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee to social media accounts like @BlackOwned905 to personal relationships supporting our collective liberation. 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.
Through our activism, discussions of labour are integral to bring into our spaces; continually thinking about the precarious and poor working conditions, at Brock and throughout Niagara.
In Niagara, we live in a region that prospers off the continued exploitation of migrant labour through our grape & wine and agriculture industries. Faced with continued violence and job precarity, we call on everyone in this meeting and your extended networks to work in solidarity with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and the Migrant Rights Network to demand permanent resident status for all.
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. Within Brock, we call for solidarity with non-unionized and unionized workers who are continually fighter for improved working conditions. If you would like to call attention to the Decent Work at Brock campaign that is calling for 2 weeks paid sick leave for all employees at Brock!
Accessibility & Mental Health
We also like to acknowledge all of you, and the knowledge, experiences, and backgrounds you come to the meeting with today. The work of OPIRG Brock would be nothing without the community around it. While only in its beginning phases, we always strive to support more perspectives and more space for collective and intersectional liberation and justice. Thank you! e’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. In going through our site, we encourage people for both their mental and physical needs to take breaks, stand up, and move around as needed.