Staff at the City of Fernie have been honing their pronunciation and ensuring their land acknowledgements are as accurate, respectful and educated as possible thanks to input from local First Nations.
Nasu?kin(Chief) Heidi Gravelle of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it said that the land acknowledgement gifted to the City of Fernie and organisations in the Elk Valley area had not been so much changed, as made more precise.
“Now it’s digging deeper and just being more precise, and giving honour back to who we are,” she said.
“We are ʔakanuxunik̓ people,” said Gravelle, adding that having a one-size-fits-all acknowledgement that was easier for others to understand “waters down who we are.”
“Land acknowledgement is really important in that it ties us to our identity, to who we are, being ʔakanuxunik̓, and what that means.
“There’s meaning behind it that has a deeper identity connection, which is important for our young people to foster that positive identity, and know where they come from.”
The land acknowledgement now used by the City of Fernie (and able to be gifted to other organisations in the area), is:
“We acknowledge that the City of Fernie is located within Qukin ʔamakʔis, the unceded traditional territory of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it. We recognize that we live and work within their vast lands. ʔakanuxunik̓ are from Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi‘it and are members of the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) speaking peoples of British Columbia, Idaho and Montana.”
The acknowledgement is also used by schools in the area.
Speaking after the flag raising ceremony in Fernie on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Fernie Mayor Ange Qualizza said it was important to build bridges through education.
“The land acknowledgement we were gifted, and the process of learning and using it, represents very real commitment to building a relationship with the Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it,” she said.
“It is important that we continue to deepen how we build traditional language and cultural respect into the work we do every day.”
“The ceremony today (September 30) helps reinforce that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it.
“It was powerful to bear witness to, and I am proud of our community for participating today. We thank Nasu?kin Heidi Gravelle, her Council and Nation for coming together today on this important day.”
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