Acknowledging territory is an acknowledgment of history: Yasmeen Abu-Laban, ‘Narrating Canadian Political Science: History Revisited’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 50, 4, 2017, pp. 895-919


Abstract: The 150 mark for Confederation and the founding of the modern Canadian state comes at a moment when at universities across Canada it is now routine to acknowledge traditional territory, and in so doing to recognize a longer history, dating before 1867 and the establishment of European colonies (Canadian Association of University Teachers, 2016). Territorial acknowledgements also give recognition to the Indigenous peoples who lived and continue to live on the land, as well as the ways in which land figures into Indigenous identities and ontologies in ways that are typically very different than settlers (Battell Lowman and Barker,2015: 48–68). Such acknowledgements are also happening at cultural events and even hockey games, with a Fall 2016 Heritage Classic Game on the home turf of the Winnipeg Jets believed to be the first (Lambert, 2016). As a consequence, we are living in a moment in which we are being reminded about buried and unacknowledged history, as well as about the colonial past and the colonial present. Moreover, the Canadian government devoted $500 million to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, (“Why Exactly Are We Spending?” 2017), but clashing historical narratives have also given rise to the question of whether Confederation is actually something to rejoice (Slowey, 2016). Consider here the striking name of the new book by Kiera Ladner and Myra Tait (2017) entitled Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal.

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