I watched a fun video today, courtesy of my mom, about a man who built an adorable house in 3 months for only a few thousand dollars.
One of the comments on the video was that if we could only support land ownership (something like that), we could house so many more people. This idea really made me think.
I want to own land. I don’t know if it is possible. I live in the Okanagan, an area with large amounts of unceded land. In other words, land that was used (owned, if you will) by the people who lived in this area before Europeans came and was never sold or signed over to anyone else. This means that everyone who lives on this land, buys it, sells it, is illegally occupying the land. The university I work at is on unceded territory. And yet we continue on as if the truth doesn’t exist: that we are buying, selling and living on stolen land. Stolen even more fully than it has been in other cases where at a minimum treaties were signed.
Then there is the bigger question of what it means to lay personal claim to a plot of land. Does that mean you can do whatever you want with it? Does it deny others access to your land? What if you destroy your land? What if it plays a key role in the ecosystem in your area – can you still own it?
And why do we – do I – want to own land? There is something so magical about the thought that a beautiful piece of property, acres with trees and a stream, could belong to my family. That we could build a lovely home there, grow vegetables, care for the land and have it as OURS for generations. But why, why does ownership matter? Isn’t it enough that this land is the earth, our planet, and it needs to be respected and cared for?
I believe that in most studies of land ownership and land quality, ownership leads to better care of the land. People have roots, they have a commitment to being in a place for years or generations, so they invest in protecting the land. I wonder if, in different cultural settings, a concept of belonging to the land or being a guardian of the land might perform the same function as ownership does in western societies.
So, I still want to own land. I question why I want this. I am not sure if it is even a legal or moral possibility. But I do dream of having land for my family that we can care for and be nurtured by, and share with others.