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Acknowledging the Land: Finding Common Ground

Guides require a sophisticated level of technical, judgement as well as Interpersonal skills to work people in mountainous areas. Interpersonal skills allow us to work effortlessly with our clients and those around us.

A critical aspect that will determine how our communication, teamwork, decision making, and teaching are embraced by our managers, fellow guides and clients is our self-awareness and empathy.  A component of self-awareness is our understand of our abilities, limitations, apprehensions, motives, and most of all our biases.

The ability to recognise our predispositions towards situations and people require us to be honest, identify and work towards common ground and most of all remain positive. These elements are muted if we don’t also understand our feelings. Our feeling towards cultural difference is highly impacted on the amount of exposure we have to other cultures.

Today, Canada is working towards truth about our indigenous past and how we reconcile systematic injustices to Indigenous individuals’ families and communities.

How do we as guides bump up against such an overwhelming task? For the most part the ACMG and its guides have not done much because we did not know our part in this - leaving it up to companies and individual guides to navigate indigenous interactions on their own.

We want to change! We want to do better!

The tool that most guides and company have used is that of Land Acknowledgement. This customary statement has profound issues and is often misunderstood and misused.

Here are some guidelines that may assist you in developing your own Land Acknowledgement:

  1. It’s about land! Specifically, the cumulative layers of knowledge, experience, stories, and practices that cultures of the past and present have laid through movement across the land

  1. It’s not about people! Too often we get drawn into Indigenous claims of territory, Because of contact and know fights over land use, our understanding of indigenous use of the land is highly problematic. That said, Indigenous people have deep layers of knowledge, experience, and practice on the land, to ensure we do not get into political situations we suggest you focus on the aspect of recognising the layers of knowledge, experiences, stories and practices.  

  1. Make it personal! How will you be respectful, responsible on the land and what type of layers of knowledge, experiences, stories, and practices are we as ACMG guides laying of the cultural landscape?

  1. Make it seamless! Our intentions are to develop and maintain trust, relations, and partnerships with Indigenous peoples. Find out how you, your company and your interpretative messages about Indigenous knowledge, experiences, stories, and practices can improve.

There are many publications and websites about Indigenous cultures, however they are limited and often partial to historical and personal forces therefore the ACMG strongly encourages members to learn through personal interactions, company partnerships and research about how best to work with Indigenous knowledge, historical events, contemporary issues, and people. 

By Tim W. Patterson All rights reserved 2005-2024

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