The Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) will be recognizing the history of Trent University’s land prior to each of their meetings following the establishment of a new policy at the Association’s Annual General Meeting held on January 29, 2015.
Any official TCSA function, including board, council, and general meetings, will now commence with a representative of the association recognizing the land as follows: “The Trent Central Student Association wishes to acknowledge the Anishnaabe and Mississauga peoples and their traditional territory, in which this meeting is taking place.”
The policy, which was easily voted through by membership, is now one of the many ways groups at Trent recognize the history and peoples of the region.
The establishment of the policy was the idea of TCSA President Braden Freer, who was inspired by the land acknowledgements that occurred at meetings for the Canadian Federation of Students.
“After discussions with our Indigenous commissioner and the First Peoples House of Learning, the proposed wording was introduced as an Operating Resolution to begin the formalization,” said Freer. “As this had been well received, the decision was made to present it as a Policy Resolution to make it more formal.”
The policy resolution was received favourably as well, as a vast majority of association members voted in favour of the policy at the AGM.
Freer said he had a couple reasons for the establishment of the new procedure.
“The reasoning behind my interest was twofold,” he said. “As TCSA President I was looking for ways to be more inclusive and recognize the Indigenous peoples of the area, as well as respect Trent’s history working with Indigenous peoples. The second was outside of academia. I have a personal interest in Indigenous culture and thought it appropriate that it be recognized more within the student union.”
Along with the support of the voting membership, Freer says the new policy has been received well by many.
“Have we been publicly recognized for it? No, but that was never the intent of the policy, nor does it need to be. The appreciation and warmth that has been communicated from Indigenous students, staff or faculty has been steady and I would say notable in my own opinion.”
Neither Freer nor Adam Hopkins, Acting Director of the First Peoples House of Learning, were aware of similar policies elsewhere at Trent, but both noted that while they are not necessarily mandated by policy, the university does make similar forms of acknowledgement.
“I am not aware of any policies,” said Freer, “However, that being said, I have not researched to see if there are any. The only similar practise that comes to mind immediately is the inclusion of the Honour Song in larger university affairs.”
Hopkins’ statement on the matter was very similar, “I am not aware of such a policy,” he said, “However, the university does acknowledge first peoples in other ways such as the condolence cane at convocation.
The land acknowledgement is very common now amongst all types of meetings across the university.”