PIRS Land Acknowledgement and Commitment to Decolonization
We respectfully acknowledge that Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) operates on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Halkomelem)-speaking peoples, Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish), se’mya’me (Semiahmoo) and qiqéyt (Qayqayt) First Nations.
As an organization dedicated to supporting immigrant and refugee women and children, we recognize that many of the people we serve have experienced displacement and forced migration due to colonization, war, and other forms of violence and oppression. We acknowledge the unique and devastating impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples, including the legacy of residential schools, which has had profound effects on Indigenous communities and their cultures. We recognize that the ongoing impacts of colonialism continue to manifest in many forms of violence against Indigenous peoples, and that it is our responsibility to work towards decolonization and justice for all communities impacted by colonialism.
Decolonization requires us to critically examine the ways in which colonialism has shaped our social, political, and economic structures, and to work towards transforming these structures to be more just and equitable for all.
What have we done to date?
We actively engage in critical discussions with our program participants regarding Indigenous history and the far-reaching consequences of colonization.
In 2021, when the news broke about the devastating discovery of a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children at a Kamloops residential school, the participants of our women’s leadership and development programs expressed their solidarity by composing an open letter to the Indigenous community in Canada.
Our Community English classes have incorporated lessons on Indigenous history and worldview. Our children’s programs include a range of traditional activities, taught to us by Indigenous knowledge keepers and facilitators, including the exploration of songs, arts, and crafts. We also organize land-based field trips, providing participants with the opportunity to deepen their connection with the land and its original peoples. These experiences not only foster a sense of belonging but also cultivate a greater understanding of the participants’ role as responsible stewards of the land.
As an organization, we strive to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into our work, and to center and amplify the voices and perspectives of Indigenous knowledge keepers.
What are the next steps?
As we support newcomers in building a life in Canada, we are committed to working in solidarity and collaboration with Indigenous communities and to learning from their wisdom and knowledge. We recognize that learning is ongoing and we will continue educating ourselves and our community about perspectives and realities of the Indigenous community, while continuing to take action.
We believe that by working together with Indigenous peoples, immigrant and refugee communities, and other marginalized groups, we can create a future that is grounded in respect, dignity, and justice for all.
We offer our respect and gratitude to the Indigenous peoples of this land, and to their elders, past, present, and emerging.