ALS, BCLS, CLS, SLS, P. Surv.
June 5, 2019
I attended, as a director of PSC, the National Surveyor’s Conference in Halifax in early May. It was jointly presented by Professional Surveyors Canada and the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors. PSC presented a workshop titled “Responding to Change – the Evolving Boundaries of Practice”, consisting, in the morning, of guest speakers including this year’s Champlain Award recipient Peter Sullivan, PSC chairman Hal Janes, Surveyor General Jean Gagnon and others, each of whom spoke on one of three aspects influencing our profession: technology, government and policy, and society. In the afternoon the audience was divided into four groups and contemplated a series of questions devised by the presenters, the meat of each discussion recorded for eventual compilation and distribution to the attendees. Isaak de Rijcke opened the discussions, setting the tone for broad-minded, imaginative participation. We were from every corner of our Canada and the enthusiasm was palpable, the ideas fresh and from a very earnest place in each of the Surveyors there. I hope to be able to offer you more about the outcome of the discussions once the summation is distributed. It is intended that the discourse started there will continue at future National Surveyors’ Conferences, and everywhere Surveyor is spoken.
The first ever in-person AGM of Professional Surveyors Canada was convened at the Conference. Members attended physically and virtually. Chairman Hal Janes reviewed the board’s activities, including the results of the advertising campaigns and, most notably, the board’s success advocating for public safety before the Senate Committee Hearing regarding the amendments PSC has proposed to Bill C-69.
“Any time a Professional surveyor gets an opportunity to stand before a Senate Committee and talk about how our work benefits the public is more than merely significant” (sic).
I had a free day and spent it walking around downtown Halifax feasting on the history so proudly displayed there. It was almost exclusively white-man history, and with a largely military bent. I suppose most of our race’s history on this continent has to do with conquest and colonization, so, upon reflection, that was not surprising. But the lack of stories about the indigenous people’s history in that part of the continent was conspicuous to me.
The NSC awards banquet was opened, in part, by an elder from the Mi’kmaq Nation. She reminded us that we were on unceded Mi’kmaq land. Their “Peace and Friendship Treaties” of the 18th century differ considerably from what we in the west know as treaties; they did not deal with the surrender of land and resources. Here in the west, the numbered treaties provide a more comprehensive and constructive framework in which our relationship with indigenous Nations can be nurtured. Unfortunately, early versions of the Indian Act undermined much of the trust upon which those treaties rely. Reconciliation is about rebuilding that trust.
I feel that, as a Land Surveyor, and knowing that the indigenous people have at the centre of their beliefs a special connection to the land, I have more opportunity and even responsibility to contribute to the reconciliation movement. Lately, I’ve been reading about and listening more closely to the concerns of the original Canadians and to their stories of humiliation and disrespect. I’m hoping that, by being more informed, my effort will have a positive influence on our nation’s future.
It’s the least I can do. I encourage each of our members to consider his or her role in reconciliation. I believe it starts with awareness, compassion and an open mind.