Land Acknowledgements: A New Step for Richardson

Something new has come to J. Clarke Richardson.  Our school community is comprised of many different individuals, cultures, and religions. Every morning, the students and staff rise for the playing of O ’Canada.  Now, you may not only be hearing the national anthem of Canada at the beginning of the school day. Students Without Borders, has worked to add land acknowledgements to our morning routine at J. Clarke Richardson.

Students Without Borders is a club that promotes social justice and raises awareness of local and global issues and causes. The club is run by student co-leaders Liaba and Preyanka with the guidance of Mr. Lezetc, Mr. Beatty and Ms. Baker.

A land acknowledgement is a way of giving thanks to the indigenous community for letting us use the traditional land of the Mississaugas of Scugog Islands First Nations. ‘’This shows as a community, we are finally taking responsibility for what we have done to the indigenous people,’’ says Liaba.

We will not be the first school in Ontario or the Durham District School Board to implement land acknowledgements. Several schools in the Toronto District School Board as well as the University of Toronto already have.  Many students felt it was time that we started to follow the examples of these other schools.

The initiative has the support of Principal Woodward and former J. Clarke Richardson teacher Ms. Evans who works in the First Nation, Métis & Inuit Department of the board. Ms. Evans visited our school to talk to the students of Students Without Borders about land acknowledgements and issues within the First Nation community.

‘’I think what matters is that students like this group are learning about the true history of this land and are acting,’’ says Ms. Evans.  ‘’It is time to do our part.’’

Students Without Borders is hoping the land acknowledgements are just a first step and that beyond this tribute, a wider education about indigenous issues is born.

‘’We would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and in the territory covered by the Williams Treaty,’’ reads a document approved by Durham District School Board and the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. A medicine wheel will soon be displayed in board schools region wide.

A big change has come to our school and it is up to the students to figure out what the next steps will be.

‘’This may sound trite but that is truly for the students to decide,’’  Ms. Evans says.