My practice as a scholar is entirely shaped by relationships: with my students and colleagues, with my family, my neighbours, and with the land. This short introduction describes some of those relations.
I live with my wife and twin teenage sons in Hamilton, Ontario, on the traditional territory of Haudenosonee and Anishnaabe nations. I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, also the traditional territory of Anishnaabe nations. My relationship to the land cannot be separated from my relationship to my ancestors. My several-greats-grandfather on my mother’s side was Jakob Treitz, who travelled from what is now Germany and arrived on Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq land in 1766. The house that Jakob Treitz built still stands today in Moncton, New Brunswick. It is a museum that bears his name. My several-greats-grandfather on my father’s side was Alexander MacDonald, who travelled from Scotland and arrived on the land governed by the Wabanaki Confederacy in 1783. The house that Alexander MacDonald built still stands today in Lower Newcastle, New Brunswick. It is a museum that bears his name.
To my knowledge, there are no museums bearing the names of those on whose land my grandfathers built their houses, yet my family and I continue to benefit from the actions of my settler ancestors. I therefore make the following commitments:
- I will strive for a healthy, just relationship with the land, by eating locally and choosing human-powered transport and renewable energy.
- I will strive for a healthy, just relationship with my local community, contributing to grassroots organizations and buying from small, local businesses.
- I will teach my children and my students about the ongoing effects of colonization in Canada and the world. I will teach my Linguistics students about the ways that linguists can support Indigenous people in sustaining and reclaiming their languages.
- I will continue to learn from Indigenous scholars, artists, activists and community members.
I still have a great deal to learn to undo my colonial ways of thinking and being. I am grateful for my relations with colleagues and students, from whom and with whom I learn every day.