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Blog: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Guest Blog: Acknowledging the traditional territory

By Abbotsford School District

Acknowledging the traditional territory in which we currently reside

This post comes from Perry Smith, our District Principal, Aboriginal Education.
~ Kevin Godden


It is important to acknowledge the traditional territory of the First Nation communities that we reside. In Abbotsford, we have two First Nations communities: Matsqui First Nation and Sumas First Nation. These two nations are a part of the Sto:lo Nation. The Sto:lo Nation covers territory from Yale in the Fraser Canyon to Fort Langley. In Halq’emeylem, the language of the Sto:lo, “Sto:lo” translates as “river”. The Sto:lo people are called the “people of the river”.

The Sto:lo people have lived in the Fraser Valley for at least 9,000 years. We know that the Sto:lo have lived in the Fraser Valley that long in a couple of ways; first, through indigenous knowledge. The traditional stories of Sto:lo elders is how Sto:lo people understand the world. This indigenous knowledge is an oral tradition. This means that Sto:lo history, culture, teachings, and spirituality are passed down orally. There was not a written tradition in Sto:lo culture. Traditional stories of the Sto:lo people tell us of a time prior to 10,000 years ago. Many elders refer to this as ‘since time immemorial’.  Secondly, archeological evidence at Hatzic Rock (or Xa:ytem)  in Mission, carbon dates artifacts at that site to be 9,000 years old.

As a community that resides on the traditional territory of Matsqui First Nation and Sumas First Nation, it is important that we acknowledge the indigenous community. Doing so does much to increase the sense of belonging and cultural pride of our Aboriginal students and families in our schools.

We encourage you to recognize the traditional territory in which we currently reside each time you are addressing students, staff, and the public. If you are recognizing the indigenous community outside of the Abbotsford area, substitute the name(s) of the First Nation(s) in which you are gathering.

The following is an appropriate way to acknowledge the traditional territory:

“We would like to acknowledge the shared traditional ancestral territory of the Sumas First Nation and Matsqui First Nation. These two First Nations are a part of the Sto:lo Nation. The Sto:lo people are “the people of the river”. The Sto:lo people have lived in the Fraser Valley for 10,000 years. It is for this reason that we acknowledge the traditional territory in which we reside.”
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