Land Acknowledgement – CAPCON 2023

As in years past, we acknowledge that CAPCON takes place on the unceded and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) NationsAt this year’s conference, you’ll hear papers tackling international affairs, but you’ll also hear from many students who are wrestling with questions of land and place in so-called Vancouver and in the Pacific Northwest. This year’s CAP students have spent a lot of time thinking about community engagement: how we can link the research that we do here at UBC to questions of land use, ongoing conditions of dispossession experienced by Indigenous peoples, and patterns of colonial domination that persist in the present and affect us all.

Over the course of this same year, departments across campus have been working on what UBC calls the ISP, or the Indigenous Strategic Plan. The goal of the ISP is to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call for academic institutions to actively work toward advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples. That means that since 2020, there have been working groups all over this campus meeting, confronting the forms of colonial reason embedded in our departments and programs, and trying to develop and implement practices that respect Indigenous intelligence and create spaces of welcome and safety for Indigenous students, staff, and faculty. This sounds impressive, but as many departments complete self-assessment and move into implementing ISP goals, we need to listen to the wisdom of our students as well. We create change when we change our relationship to land, and that includes the ground beneath our feet as well as our classrooms, dorms, food and housing security, and this institution’s investment policies, particularly as these play a direct role in extractive industries and the current climate emergency.

As some of the papers you’ll hear today suggest, these are all part and parcel of the ways that we relate to land as a settler-colonial institution, and these are all relations that need to change dramatically for the ISP to be anything other than an administrative make-work project that dissolved into empty gesture. In the spirit of this conference’s focus on community engagement, we hope to practice and grow a respectful relationship with the land and our host nation, the Musqueam, but we also acknowledge the ongoing structural conditions surrounding us that continue to perpetuate the complicity of settler scholarship in ongoing forms of colonial injustice, violence, and unknowing, lived and felt through this land.