Acknowledging the Land, its People,
and My Relational Responsibilities
Currently, I live in Kitigan Zibi, the territory of the Omamiwininiwag, Algonquin Nation. As an uninvited guest in this place, I understand that it is upon me to know, respect, and embody the responsibilities of my treaty relationships. I honour the Algonquin and Anishinaabeg nations in whose Lands I have lived my entire life and I recognize the inherent rights of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples across their homelands. This Land is not my own, and yet it is the only home I have ever known. My ancestors came from Ireland two and four generations ago, fleeing genocide, colonial abuse, and enforced poverty only to become complicit in the same violence here in Turtle Island. Today, I am choosing a different way of relating here. I am committed to dismantling systems of oppression - to listening, learning, and taking accountable action towards building relationships of respect, peace, and friendship with and within the places I call home.
Gaawiin aapiji ninitaa-ojibwemosii
Aleyah Erin Lennon nindizhinikaaz
Ndoo-demag kenjigazgazook giw-gaa-n-taawbiinchejigejig
Nogojowanong, Michi Saagiig Anishinaabegogamig migwe dodaa
“In my journey as a language learner, that’s one thing that I’ve come to understand...everything is in the language. Go back to a language, everything that you need in order to connect to that way is embedded in the language. You have to engage with it.”
Anishinaabekwe, Friend, Research Supporter
Is mise Aleyah Erin Lennon
Is de bhunadh na hÉireann mé.
Thuig mo shinsir go bhfuil an talamh naofa agus go raibh orthu meas a thabhairt don saol ar fad.
Ba óna gcuid scéalta a d’fhoghlaim mé go bhfuil orm, agus mé i mo bhean, labhairt thar ceann an uisce.
Rugadh agus tógadh mé i gcríocha Aninishinaabeg.
Tá mé i mo chónaí i gcríoch Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg.
Go raibh maith agaibh uilig, a ghaolta.
Who I am in relation to my work
I introduce myself in the language of the place where I live as a sign of my respect for the Anishinaabeg nations in whose lands I am living, working, playing, and dreaming. I am committed to learning how to live in a good way and to supporting the resurgence of Indigenous sovereignty, cultures, lifeways, and languages. I learn Anishinaabemowin because it contains the melody and wisdom of this place I call home. Gchi-miigwech to Dr. Elder Shirley Williams and Liz Osawamick, both generous Knowledge Holders and language teachers, for their friendship and sharing, including help with the spelling and pronunciation of the above Anishinaabemowin introduction.
I also introduce myself in my ancestral language of an Ghaeilge (Irish), with deep thanks to Dr. Sharon Blackie and her husband David Knowles who generously invited me to send them what I wanted to say, and who assisted me with this translation.
As I have been learning, language contains the culture of a people and shapes how we conceive and perceive of the world around us. The place-based wisdom encoded within Indigenous languages contains the heart and soul of a people, which is why colonial powers made speaking one’s Indigenous languages illegal. This happened here in Canada, and it happened under the English in Ireland.
I am on a journey of (re)learning an Ghaeilge and Anishinaabemowin and of allowing the melody and wisdom contained within each of these languages to continue to shape my ability to think, feel, and make sense of my place in creation. These languages must be protected and allowed to flourish. They have the power to inform and transform our relationship with the Land and Waters, that are the ground of all Life.
Where I am Coming From
I completed my Masters in Sustainability Studies at Trent University, and both my Bachelor of Education and Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Tourism with specializations in Indigenous Studies at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Throughout the past 10 years, it has been a profound privilege to work with and for Indigenous communities in service of their research agendas and ecological and educational mandates.
I served as a member of instructional teams at the post-secondary level for seven years, first with the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Lakehead University, then with the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Environmental Sciences and Studies. It has also been one of my deepest honours to have become an active member of the Sacred Water Circle and Nibi Emosaawdamajig since moving to Nogojiwanong in 2016.
I currently live and work in Kitigan Zibi, the unceded territory of the Omamiwininiwag, Algonquin Nation, where I first met Grandfather William Commanda-ba at the Circle of All Nations back in 2008.
In addition to my work in research and policy supporting the MMIWG2S Calls for Justice, I continue to conspire with my collaborators to develop training in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), Trauma-informed Leadership and Recovery, Sustainability, as well as Indigenous-Settler Relationship Renewal.