(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 [Pronounced: 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 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 discrimination. In all forms of this activism, we must be working to address these issues.
Legacies of colonization, racism, and capitalism are upheld everyday of 2020 through our failure to address ongoing attacks on Trans and Two Spirit, 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 ends up in their deaths. In thinking about building societal change, 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 across 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. 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 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. 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.