Historic Land Acknowledgement during Smiths Falls’ Committee of the Whole

Elder William Commanda
Elder William Commanda, up until his death, was the keeper of the three figure welcoming wampum belt from the 16th century. This belt inscribes the understanding of Indigenous Peoples about the sharing of their native land and their values with the newcomers: the English and the French. Photo credit: mmallmyrelations.ca/who-are-we
Posted on: September 28, 2021

During Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls, Knowledge Keeper Chuck Commanda opened the meeting with an inaugural reading of the Land Acknowledgement. This acknowledgement was recommended by the Racism and Discrimination Task Force, and penned by Mr. Commanda. 

For the past decade or so, more and more gatherings have been prefaced with a Land Acknowledgement, a statement that acknowledges the people who lived on these lands in the past, as well as their contributions and stewardship. The council of the town of Smiths Falls will open subsequent council and committee meetings with an abridged version of the Land Acknowledgement (below). 

Land Acknowledgement Statement for the Town of Smiths Falls

On [this date] we acknowledge that this sacred land on which Smiths Falls is now located has been a site of human activity for over 10,000 years and is rich in Indigenous history. This land is the ancestral and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation. We are grateful to the Algonquin ancestors who cared for the land and water in order that we might meet here today. We are also grateful to the Algonquin People for their contribution in the making of the Rideau Canal which runs through Smiths Falls.

Before settlers arrived, this territory was subject to the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Nations to peaceably share and care for resources. After settlers arrived, it became subject to the Three Figure Wampum Belt, last carried by Algonquin Elder William Commanda, which commemorates the sharing of this land with English, French and Indigenous Nations under the governance of Natural Law.

We recognize with gratitude the knowledge of Smiths Falls and contributions that the Algonquin Peoples bring to the Municipality of Smiths Falls. Today, Smiths Falls is also home to other Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island. We extend our respect to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis people for their valuable past and present Contributions.

We are mindful of broken covenants and the need to reconcile with all our relations. Together, may we care for this land and each other, drawing on the strength of our mutual history of nation

building through peace and friendship being mindful of generations to come.

Article by Janelle Labelle

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News