Land Acknowledgements

Why

In many Indigenous protocols, it is a sign of respect to share who you are, who you are connected to and the land that you come from while offering gratitude to the land and people of the territory you are visiting.

The current practice of acknowledgements on university campuses are an attempt to recognize and show respect for the historical and current realities of the land and its Indigenous stewards.

Land acknowledgements are a time to consider our individual and collective roles in building relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and our responsibilities to the land.

When

A land acknowledgement can be said at formal and casual gatherings of any size and should come at the start of the agenda, before all else to ensure that the event begins in a good way. This includes at meetings, workshops, events and in classes. A land acknowledgement may also occur in print in a course outline, report, publication, event schedule or on a website.

Strive to make land acknowledgements a standard part of your openings and introductions. Don't make it an action item on a meeting agenda.

When contemplating the inclusion of a land acknowledgement for on-going gatherings, consider the appropriateness of having regular acknowledgements to ensure that the action doesn't become stale and lessen the meaning and impact.

Who

A land acknowledgement can be presented by anyone - students, staff and faculty - including the host, organizer, master of ceremonies, chair, facilitator or instructor. For on-going gatherings, a land acknowledgement can be presented by different individuals to bring about new perspectives, knowledge and understanding.

An Indigenous person does not need to be present for a land acknowledgement to take place. Before inviting and Indigenous person to any gathering, please consider the reason for the event and the goals of having Indigenous representation.

How

Preparing a land acknowledgement is a reflective process and should include:

  • Your positionality, as an individual, group or organization
  • Recognition of and gratitude for the land the the Indigenous communities (e.g. historic, contemporary, future)
  • Reasoning for including a land acknowledgement (e.g. commitments to relationship building and action, reconciliation, education, grounding the work you are about to do)

Take ownership and be creative to make it engaging and give it some personal style.

Reflecting on our Position

To deliver meaningful land acknowledgements, we need to explore our relationship with the land and its Indigenous stewards by recognizing the living history of the place and our connections to it. An understanding of our relationships contributes to a positive sense of culture and identity for those from Indigenous and settler nations as well as newcomers and visitors to these lands.

Identification of Territories

It is important to recognize that all of Canada resides on traditional, unceded and/or treaty lands of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Guelph

  • Dish with One Spoon territory
  • Treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit
  • Between the Lakes Purchase (Treaty 3)

Guelph-Humber

  • Dish with One Spoon territory
  • Treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit
  • Toronto Purchase (Treaty 13)

Ridgetown

  • Dish with One Spoon territory
  • McKee Purchase (Treaty 2)

As students, faculty and staff who may travel for work, study and research, it is also important to recognize the lands of Indigenous peoples locally, across Turtle Island and around the world. When in doubt, explore community resources to learn more about how they refer to themselves and their lands.

Things to Consider

  1. There are many terms associated with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
    • It is a best practice to refer to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and nations with the term that most closely identifies with their ancestors and how they wish to be identified.
    • Some people identify more closely with their nation or linguistic group, while others prefer the use of their specific community.
    • Recognize the fluidity of language and that certain terms are preferred or contested by different Indigenous people and communities.
  2. First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures, knowledges and worldviews are distinct and diverse. Their concepts of land and territory are included in this variation.
  3. A land acknowledgement should be a recognition of Indigenous presence in the past, the present and the future.

Beyond Acknowledgements

Recognizing Indigenous lands and reflecting on our relationship to the land is significant, however, it is important to not stop there. We need to stive to educate ourselves and build respectful relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and communities to learn how we can have an active role in reconciliation.

The Aboriginal Resource Centre is able to provide support to faculty, staff and students by reviewing draft acknowledgements. Please contact the Aboriginal Resource Centre at arc@uoguelph.ca.

Local Community Information

Mississaugas of the Credit: www.mncfn.ca

Six Nations of the Grand River: www.sixnations.ca

Grand River Métis Council: www.grandrivermetiscouncil.com

Toronto Inuit Association: www.torontoinuit.com