West Coast LEAF’s office is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Coast Salish homelands including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, colonially identified as the City of Vancouver. Many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people from across Turtle Island reside on these lands and on lands across BC. Indigenous Peoples on these lands hold distinct ancestral ways of knowing, being and doing, including land-based practices, languages, legal orders, laws, and systems of governance and justice.
West Coast LEAF is a settler organization located and working on stolen and continuously occupied Indigenous homelands. We work to reform the colonial legal system, a system that was built to control, oppress, dispossess, and eliminate Indigenous Peoples in BC and across Turtle Island. We acknowledge the deep and ongoing harm that the colonial legal system causes to Indigenous Peoples.
The continuing story of colonization on these lands takes shape through today’s laws, policies, and actions. Ongoing implementation of colonial laws disrupt and destroy Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination, relationships to their kin, homelands, communities, and ancestral knowledge.
Many of West Coast LEAF’s staff and board members have white European settler ancestry. Others of us are migrant settlers who have come to these lands through enduring histories and legacies of colonialism. Some of us are Indigenous to these lands or to lands across Turtle Island. Collectively, we recognize our responsibility to work in solidarity toward the full realization of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the context of historic and ongoing colonial violence and injustice, we understand that fulfilling this responsibility requires a deep and continual commitment. It requires us to do the work of long-term transformation in our relationships with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples and lands.
Acknowledging and naming this context and the ways in which we benefit from colonialism alongside our responsibilities is an essential beginning step in confronting the impacts of anti-Indigenous racism, paternalism, genocide, and colonialism perpetuated through the legal system. Read more about Changing Tides Action Plan here.