Welcome to the rebuilt kostyn.ca. As part of raising my blog from the dead, I am committing to posting land acknowledgments as part of an on-going, anti-colonial writing practice. This practice is inspired by the on-going anti-racism work we do on the OPIRG Brock Board where each member is asked to write/re-write/recite/re-recite their own land acknowledgment on a rotating basis for our meetings and other gatherings. I hope for this to be the first of many Land Acknowledgments to come, and acts as a part of my contribution to the polishing of the Covenant Chain.
My name is Kostyn, my pronouns are he/they. Where I’m writing from today in so-called St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada is traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Wendat and Chonnonton peoples. I was born in this city and raised between here, and the countryside to the East. All of this territory is covered by Upper Canada Treaties, particularly, the “Between the Lakes Purchase,” also known as, “Treaty 3,” (but not that “Treaty 3”) the “Niagara Purchase,” known as “Treaty 381,” and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement. I encourage you to read the surprisingly accessible treaties for this land if you’re here, or finding out Whose.land you’re on with this wildly useful resource.
I want to use this acknowledgment to talk about my ancestral relationship to settler colonialism and this region (Niagara, Ontario), and to encourage you all to do the same wherever you find yourself.
Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis – though they are more recent) have lived, loved, rejoiced, and made community in Niagara long before, all throughout, and hopefully will continue to do so well after my life. Via the global (though not all-powerful) systems of colonialism, white supremacy, capitalism, and extractivism – which ancestors of mine helped to usher in (including a colonizer-poet who advocated for a Canadian nation-state with genocidal fervor years before Confederation) – this land was made appealing to and safe for people like my immigrant Great Grandfather. In the early 20th century, he fled Bukovina to work in a coalmine in Alberta, before moving to Niagara.
By the end of my great grandfather’s life, Canadian society’s perception of his identity shifted from seeing him as a poor immigrant-settler “Uke,” to a white man, a mythical racial category through which the ruling classes opportunistically expand and reduce who is and isn’t considered to be, like them, supreme and most human. His son, my grandfather, then became wealthy thanks to his willingness to work against (or shocking ignorance towards) working class solidarity, and his inherited designation as “white.” From contributing to the white supremacist mythology of Canada, to literally taking coal out of the land, and buying an education thanks to substantial inter-generational wealth, my ancestors and I both benefit from and contribute to on-going settler colonialism.
The complicated story of how each of us got to be where we are today, must simultaneously ground and unsettle our lives. As an advocate for environmental justice, and one who is dedicated therefore to the struggles against colonialism, capitalism, extractivism, and all other forms of oppression, I want to emphasize that to do good environmental justice work requires a careful balance of loving the land, lakes, sandy soil, plants, fungi, fellow animals, and countless other creatures, taking care of ourselves, as well as pushing ourselves to be accountable, changeable, yet steadfast in our material commitment to anti-colonial, anti-racist, and antifascist work.
Those of you who have access to the material resources to do so, I encourage you to donate to the Niikinaaganaa Foundation at payyourrent.ca which builds and helps to sustain sustain Indigenous communities and flourishing.