Audio Description[*one section in Chinese that I don’t know how to spell out with roman letters]
Welcome. I’d like to, to begin by expressing my appreciation for the opportunity and privilege to live in this community on Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in traditional territory. I would like to thank the Elders who have guided us in this process; there have been many. Like to thank all of the people whose hands and hearts have contributed to this project. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for coming here today, for your willingness to consider the impacts of our coming to this country and what that has meant for the indigenous people of this land.
I would like to acknowledge that I am honored to be living on traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and that what you’re carrying right now is willow. Why we’re all carrying this? We’re carrying this for courage, we’re carrying this to remind ourself that this is ancestral roots that have been grounded here before the impacts, the layers of the buildings and gravel this was a hunting ground. There was willow all over here where animals such as ptarmigan and grouse, rabbits, roam. And under these layers the roots are still here, and right now we’re holding this through, when we weave from this town to remember and keep that in mind that we’re connecting this back to what it originally would be.
I wanted to acknowledge that I am the daughter of, on my maternal lineage, of people who arrived on the Eastern shores of Turtle Island in the middle of the sixteenth century. And they arrived and settled in a place called Indiana which in English translates as Indian Land. It is likely that they arrived, with the belief that they were entitled to that land, likely arrived with the belief in the superiority of their race, the white race. They likely arrived with the belief in the righteousness of a Christian God and feared all others and rejected all other forms of spirituality as the work of the devil.
My great-grandfather moved across now Southern Alberta at the turn of the century, and took advantage of the, the generous invitation of the Canadian government of the day to free land. And he was gifted 50 hectares of land, early in 1906. He would have been then neighbour to the Sik, Siksika Blackfoot Nation who at that time would have been reduced to a very small parcel of land, a neighbouring reserve. It is likely that they never took time to have a meal together or share a laugh. It is likely that there were few if any opportunities for him to enjoy any of the richness of the Plains Blackfoot culture, and I think that is a common thread for people who arrived in Canada at that time, was the lost opportunity to build healthy relationships because we arrived with preconceptions.
I am a first-generation, born in China, [*need transcription/phonetic writing here]. I came here when I was, in 1995. When I was 18, I was a, became a Canadian citizen and there’s lots of colonialism you learn, taking the quiz, as some may know, but I have the privilege of getting an education. I had a privilege of affording to think critically and ask question whereas some people of colour cannot afford to afford to do that. I want to acknowledge that there are certain privileges that people of colour don’t have in white settler privileges. So I ask people of colour today to stand and hold up indigenous people in this country to fight against anti-racism.
Fight against racism.
Fight against racism. Edit that please, okay!
I also wanted just to add that I, those privileges have come at the expense of indigenous people of Turtle Island. That was the “and” thought that I wanted to finish.
And we’re passing the tour to our gracious co-partners in this event which is Parks Canada. I also wanted to off the top acknowledge, the role of Dawson City Museum in, in this, interpretive walk, and a couple other, community members who have put some good thought and heart into this project and we appreciate the collaboration and the effort and, we’ll pass the mic over to you.
First off I want to say thank you, I’m, I’m honored to be part of this, day and this walk that we’re having here. And, my name is Justin. Bo and Chris are working with Landmarks, which invites people “To creatively explore and deepen connection to the land through a series of contemporary art projects in and around Canada’s national parks and historic sites.” That’s where I come in right now, dressed in Parks Canada costume, a uniform. But this is a lot more than me just being here in a uniform.
I have been working with Parks Canada for the last five years. I enjoy my job. But I must say I had a lot of difficulties when I first, first got this position. I was spouting, colonialism right from, right from my spout. Yea. It seemed like every single tour I gave started with 1898, and, nothing before that, not acknowledge anything before that or, or so it just was this, settler experience which, right now is a perfect opportunity to go beyond that. We are at Canada 150, wow how exciting is that. but Canada is more than 150, this land is more than 150, we have a lot to hold in that way.
so I’m really excited to stand here in this uniform and, share with you the lesser-known truths of this land. So many of our colonial policies and practices have brought much harm to the indigenous people of this here mountain valley. Well today will bring those truths to light. Truth-telling is a fundamental step towards reconciliation. And this is our story, it’s not their story, it is our story, everyone in this community, everyone in this land, this is our story to tell.
Dawson City isn’t the most, how to say it, easy place to maneuver your little bodies, so, let’s, mind the boardwalks. There’s lots of gravel roads. We ask that you walk with respect and have an open mind and an open heart. I’ll be checking in with you along the way, and remember we are all in this together.
Our first stop will be at the SS Keno, so that big old sternwheeler, steamboat, to talk to Faye Chamberlain. And she will speak to what those steamboats brought in, literally and figuratively. So, I must everyone to step up and please follow me, we’re going to be heading right now. Thanks.