All Delta council and committee meetings, as well as city-run public events, will now begin with an Indigenous land acknowledgment.
Last week, council voted unanimously to adopt an Indigenous land acknowledgment written in consultation with both the Tsawwassen First Nation ant Musqueam Indian Band. The move came as a result of a unanimously endorsed motion from Coun. Dan Copeland on Feb. 8.
The acknowledgement, to be read by the chair of each meeting or the host/master of ceremonies for each City of Delta event, reads as follows:
“Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is taking place on the shared, traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the [Tsawwassen], [Musqueam] and other Coast Salish Peoples. We extend our appreciation to these First Nations for the opportunity to hold this meeting here today.”
According to a staff report to council, the language borrows from best practices elsewhere by specifically mentioning the First Nations with whom the city has active relationships and that have land in Delta, while also being inclusive of other First Nations that include parts of Delta in their traditional territory.
“Fundamentally, and thanks to input from Musqueam and Tsawwassen First Nation, the proposed language is clear, concise, and most importantly, respectful,” the report says.
“Instituting the practice of making an Indigenous land acknowledgement is one small step on the path to reconciliation.”
Council will begin using the acknowledgement at its regular meeting on Monday, April 26. Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird, Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow, Tsawwassen First Nation councillors Louise Ahlm and Valerie Cross, and Tsawwassen First Nation CAO Braden Smith are scheduled to attend the meeting to mark the occasion.
The report also states additional actions for addressing reconciliation will be brought to the recently-formed Mayor’s Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism. Council also endorsed a motion by Coun. Jeannie Kanakos to report back to council on the City of Delta’s current and planned reconciliation initiatives.
Eight municipalities in the region currently begin council meetings with an Indigenous land acknowledgment, including Vancouver, Burnaby, Langley (both city and township), White Rock, Pitt Meadows, West Vancouver and Belcarra. Metro Vancouver does the same at its meetings as well.
The report states that other municipalities in the region are also considering adopting the practice, while many public bodies including various levels of government, school districts and other agencies already make an Indigenous land acknowledgment at the beginning of meetings and events.
The Delta School District has begun every board meeting with an Indigenous land acknowledgment since January 2015, a practice it has since expanded to included school assemblies, presentations, district meetings and conferences.
Since January of this year, DeltaSD Indigenous education team member Nathan Wilson has also invited all staff and students to participate in a weekly Monday morning territorial acknowledgment via Zoom.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Braden Smith as CAO of the Musqueam Indian Band. The North Delta Reporter regrets the error.)