Last Friday when in Ottawa for my final Bank of Canada meeting (for the #bankNOTEable initiative, details here) I finally got to go on a tour of parliament. My last time there for a tour was in 2011 for something called the Canada-Caribbean Emerging Leaders Dialogue, and at that time I didn’t have as much knowledge about which treaty territory I was on and the government was definitely not in the habit of regularly acknowledge the indigenous territory that we occupy. So flash forward to today when people, especially in Winnipeg & Manitoba and especially those in government make a habit of acknowledging that Winnipeg is Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Metis nation.
I got my tickets along with Dave Sherman earlier in the day and arrived at the legislative building for 7pm sharp. After going through the metal detectors and pat downs at security our small group of about 15 was ushered into the entry hallway. Our tour guide, a young woman recently graduated from University welcomed us and said if we had any questions before we begin to ask. I can never resist these opportunities and so I put my hand up and asked
Could you let us know which treaty territory we are on?
The guide responded by telling me that her area of expertise was governance and she didn’t know the answer to my question. We carried on. The 45 minute tour concluded with an adventure with the tour guide down to her supervisor’s office. Luckily, he knew right away:
Unceded Algonquin territory.
I am glad we got to answer the question and I took the opportunity then to ask it. I told the supervisor that it would be appropriate in this era of truth and reconciliation to ensure that people representing the Library of Parliament & the federal government to people from around the world to begin their tours by acknowledging this. And more than just acknowledging it, I would hope that the entire federal bureaucracy would pay attention to the 57th Call To Action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report
57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills- based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism
. (link: http://trctalk.ca/call-to-action-57/)
Acknowledging the indigenous territory and having an understanding of the what that actually means when you say it should be a part of how Canada welcomes people here post TRC. If you want to find out which unceded territory or treaty land you are on right now in Canada, check out this great website native-land.ca! I’d highly recommend anyone going through Ottawa stop in at the parliament and feel free to remind the tour guides in case they forget to mention the unceded Algonquin territory that the parliament building sits on.