Last year our team spent some time considering how we wanted to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We decided to close to the public and take the day for team and self-directed learning. We began our day by each sharing a personal land acknowledgment using guidance generously given to us by Trina Moyan, nehiyaw iskwew (Plains Cree) artist, writer, and producer; we took time to engage with resources put together by our team, and had opportunities for group learning and discussion. The second half of our day was spent engaging in self-directed learning. For many, this meant diving deeper into the list of resources shared internally and attending local commemorations. For our Indigenous members of staff, it meant unplugging from work and spending the day whichever way they needed to. Overall, it felt like we were honouring the intention of the 80th Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.
Publically, we shared resources with our community that were generously put together by two members of our team, Samuel Powless who worked with us as our Manager of Visitor Engagement until last month, and Erin Szikora, Greenspace Project Coordinator. That list and last year’s statement are here. Our hope was to provide a starting place – or a place to continue – your own learning.
One of the commitments we made last year was to revisit our land acknowledgment. It was written internally with support from Leila Timmins, Samuel Powless, Erin Szikora, and myself. Below, I share an annotated version of that land acknowledgement, as a way to demonstrate the learning we have collectively undertaken and to give recognition to the scholars who have helped us along the way.
As this country continues to navigate what this day means, the RMG will once again close to the public on September 30. We’ve had new members join our team and will once again take the day to learn, participate in commemorations, and continue the conversation around how we – individually and as an organization – can continue to support and advocate for the self-determination of Indigenous communities.
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is in the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. This land has been the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg since 1700; before that time, it was stewarded by various communities belonging to the Haudenosaunee and Wendat confederacies. It is covered under the Williams Treaties and the Dish with One Spoon Wampum.
This area continues to be home to many Indigenous people from across Mishiike Minisi. We recognize the sovereignty of all Indigenous nations and are grateful for the opportunity to learn, live, and work on this land.
We acknowledge that the RMG is in treaty land, and respect our collective responsibility to protect and nurture the land. We also recognize the continuing impacts of colonialism and our responsibilities to redress the ways this has helped shape our organization. We are committed to working to address structural inequities and to centering Indigenous voices in the gallery.