Generous Space & Territorial Acknowledgments

This past month, the Generous Space staff team created a territorial acknowledgement to be placed on the website and began including territorial acknowledgements in our email signatures. Thanks to amazing resources such as, finding out whose traditional territory you live on is easier than ever, so you may be surprised to hear that it took the staff team several months to move from idea to reality.

A photo of Howe Sound, BC at dusk - islands scattered in the calm ocean with a ferry moving between two of them.
Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

If I’m being honest, I know that part of the reason why this process took as long as it did was because of two reasons: we were protected by the status quo which did not urge us to do this work, and we were afraid of getting things wrong. So often the pursuit of justice is not about whether or not a tyrant can be dethroned, but whether or not we as individuals are ready to step up and do the work. As a staff team, we had to ask ourselves some tough questions:

  • What harm might be caused by territorial acknowledgements which come across as performative?

  • What if the reaction we receive for this work is that it is not enough?

  • Do we, as a staff team, know enough about the history of the land we live on to authentically acknowledge the land? Are our relationships to land and Indigenous nations strong enough?

I am sure none of you are surprised that we did not find answers to these questions, but we did commit ourselves to research, education, and community building. We leaned into our core Generous Space values and acknowledged that this work was too important to shy away from vulnerability and humility.

In far northern Canada, pulses of freshwater flow down rivers after inland ice and snow melts. These pulses, known as a freshet, carry huge amounts of sediment. The sediment seen in this image flowed into the Beaufort Sea from the Mackenzie River, the longest northward-flowing river in North America.
Photo by USGS on Unsplash

Our hope and prayer is that every time a territorial acknowledgement is offered, it disrupts any erasure or denial of the ongoing colonization happening throughout Canada and calls all settlers who are listening to be accountable for living into a new way of being.

A territorial acknowledgement is only one small part of the work becoming embodied into the organization and informing the ongoing transformation of Generous Space. In the spirit of transparency, we would like to share the ways we are ensuring that we remain committed and accountable to the work of Indigenous justice and decolonization as part of our vision of intersectional justice.

  1. We commit to including territorial acknowledgements at the beginning of all community gatherings (virtual and in-person).

  2. We commit to providing members of our community, especially those in positions of leadership, with information and training so that they may provide territorial acknowledgements which reflect the spirit of our commitment to Indigenous justice.

  3. We commit to using our platforms on social media to raise awareness about current events impacting Indigenous people and to highlight the work of Indigenous peoples as it relates to the mission of Generous Space

  4. As staff, we commit to incorporating training and education about Indigenous justice into our meetings on a regular basis.

  5. As an organization, we commit to ensuring that funds and sponsorships are available to support Indigenous participation in programming such as retreats.

  6. We commit to setting a timeline for ongoing review every 6 months to hold us accountable to this work and to intentionally maintain focus as an organization and a staff team in doing the work of decolonization.

Located on the Ambleside Park, Beach Groyne in West Vancouver, BC, the Welcome Figure was a gift from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) First Nation. The artist Sequiliem (Stan Joseph) says of the work, "This Squamish Nation figure was carved to represent our grandmother’s strength, to carry on our traditions and teachings that were told to us and so that we may respect the land, animals and all people who come to these shores of our home." Artist: Sequiliem (Stan Joseph) Head Carver: Chiaxsten (Wes Nahanee) Date of Construction: July 2001
Photo by Vince Lee on Unsplash

We invite all who are part of the Generous Space community to hold us accountable to these commitments and we look forward to many ways in which this necessary work of decolonization and Indigenous justice will be a blessing to the organization.

As I share this work with the wider Generous Space community, I find myself appreciating the wisdom of Maya Angelou, who said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

To read the full Generous Space Territorial Acknowledgement, click here.