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Acknowledging our Skwxwú7mesh roots at The Squamish Chief

Starting this week, you will find a land acknowledgment on our editorial page.

The profound poet Maya Angelou said: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

That oft-abbreviated quote is how we at The Squamish Chief feel this week.

We are doing better now that we know better.

There has been an internal conversation about our very name for the last several years.

When the paper started in 1991, the idea of it was to honour the rock that anchors our town, the Siy’ám’ Smánit (Stawamus Chief), as we aimed to be an anchor for news.

However, it is easy to question whether the name is problematic in a modern context.

Some of our readers questioned this, too, though none more than we examined it ourselves in recent years.

Early in the summer of 2020, we asked Squamish Nation for feedback.

If our name was offensive to its representatives, we were prepared to change it.

Checking with the Nation is arguably something, with 2021 hindsight, the paper could have done in 1991.

But we can’t go back; we can move forward.

And so we are.

This summer, we met virtually with a representative from the Nation’s Ta na wa Ns7éyxnitm ta Snew̓iyálh (Language & Cultural Affairs Department).

We listened and shared.

What came out of that back and forth was an assurance that the Nation did not have an issue with The Squamish Chief name, as it references the mountain.

What is more, a spirit of collaboration has emerged.

Starting this week, you will find a land acknowledgment in both English and the Skwxwú7mesh snichim on our editorial page.

Our Squamish Nation land acknowledgement.

This is a permanent addition to our paper and one we are very excited about and proud of.

The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action section on media includes:

“Continuing to provide dedicated news coverage and online public information resources on issues of concern to Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians...”

This land acknowledgment is a demonstration of our commitment to serve all of our readers and honour our name.

We are also working with the Nation to tell the story and importance of the Stawamus Chief in English and Skwxwú7mesh snichim — something that will live on our website.

To the Squamish people on whose land we are lucky enough to inhabit, we say Chet kw’enmantúmi ( We thank you).

*Please note, this piece has been corrected since it was first posted to reflect that Ta na wa Ns7éyxnitm ta Snew̓iyálh (Language & Cultural Affairs Department) is a department, not a committee as originally stated.

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