June is National Indigenous Heritage Month in Canada. This month we acknowledge and honour our First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples.
I think about this a lot. Our Indigenous peoples had a part in shaping Canadian identity, and as a Canadian, that means it shapes me. I identify as first-generation Canadian – my parents came from the Philippines as immigrants to Canada. I was born here. I hold it as a privilege – not a right – to be able to call this place my home. The privilege was extended to me by my parents who came here for a better life, and the Indigenous people who helped them find one here by welcoming them onto their ancestral territories.
Let’s explore National Indigenous Heritage Month by looking at some of the data visualizations being shared that forward Indigenous dialogue. Today we’ll be diving into the Native-Land.ca interactive world map.
What is this Viz?
Interactive map created by Native Lands Digital.
What does this Viz do?
Native-land.ca visualizes Indigenous territories, language, and treaty geospatial information.
Where do I find this Viz?
You can find it a https://www.native-land.ca
What tools were used to develop this Viz?
Mapbox and WordPress. See Native Land Digital’s Technology section for more.
Why is this Viz important?
Have you ever made a territory acknowledgement? At its most basic, it’s when you explicitly state which Indigenous ancestral territory you’re currently on. When you do this, you’re acknowledging Indigenous land rights, and your relationship to those claims. In a single short statement, you’re declaring your awareness of the damage of colonialism, and a desire to move forward with reconciliation through allyship.
It’s a humbling experience, to make a territory acknowledgement. I’ve made land and territory acknowledgements ahead of presentations I’ve given. They are powerful, disruptive statements. When you tell a person where you live and your relationship to that place at the very top of an important statement, you’re creating an environment of sincerity – before anything else is said. And isn’t that the way important information should be shared?
The Native-Land.ca map and territory acknowledgements are intertwined. Both share an affinity in that they make clear your relationship to the territories of Indigenous people.
Also, this map, like a territory acknowledgement, is meant to challenge the user’s relationship to the land around them. The word “home” – it’s not an exclusive term, neither by place or time, or the person using the word. This interactive map visualizes this. The user is invited to contemplate a shared history – and future – because of the land they call home. By doing that, one can consider their own identity as it relates to land. For example, I see myself as a settler, because of this map.
I made a generic land acknowledgement at the beginning of this post but allow me to be clearer now: I am coming to you from the ancestral, unceded territory of the Musqueam people. As a settler in this land, I acknowledge the privilege I have to be able to call this place my home. I speak from a place of safety and respect.
Where can I find out more about this viz?
While you’re at it, why not give making your own territory acknowledgement a try. Use the map to look up where you are, and start from there. Post your acknowledgment as a reply!