Why do we acknowledge territory?
We acknowledge the traditional territory of the local Indigenous people (First Nation, Métis or Inuit) who have occupied this land since time immemorial. Territorial acknowledgments honour our relationship with the land, increase awareness of Indigenous land rights, and . By observing this practice, teachers are takin the first step towards incorporating the First Peoples Principles of Learning into educational practice.
How do we acknowledge Territory?
Any school district student or staff can acknowledge the traditional territory. Typically, it would be done by the host of the event. The acknowledgement does not need to be done by a person of ancestry.
For formal events, it is proper protocol to have an Elder or representative from the local Nation perform an Opening or a Welcome if possible. In this case, the host would acknowledge the territory and the Elder or representative would welcome the guests. Only the Indigenous people who live on that territory or are originally from the territory would welcome people.
I would like to acknowledge that we are on the shared, traditional, and unceded territory of the Katzie First Nation and Kwantlen First Nation. I would also like to acknowledge all of our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit relatives that reside on the land on which we live and learn today.
Land acknowledgements need to be part of all gatherings, including virtual meetings.
Depending on the location of your participants, you may acknowledge all Indigenous groups, or research the First Peoples of the land you are on.
Here is the approved land acknowledgement you can use and personalize:
“While we meet today on a virtual platform, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of the land, which we each call home. I am hosting this meeting from the [shared], traditional and unceded territory of the _________ Nation. I would also like to acknowledge all of our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit relatives that reside on the land on which we live and learn today. We do this to reaffirm our commitment and responsibility in improving relationships between nations and to improving our own understanding of local Indigenous peoples and their cultures.”
Where do I go to learn about the traditional territory?
There are a number of maps that can help you:
Native Land – This map does not represent or intend to represent official or legal boundaries of any Indigenous nations. To learn about definitive boundaries, contact the nations in question. However, it is a good starting point.
Whose Land – Whose Land is both an app and a website maps that identifies traditional territories across Canada, treaties and agreements as outlined by the government, and Indigenous communities. The maps don’t include any provincial or territorial borders.
“We thought that it was important to show that these boundaries of traditional territories overlapped on top of what the government has enstated as provinces and territories.”
When would we acknowledge territory?
- Board Meetings
- Important meetings or presentations
- Awards nights
- Opening new facilities
- Meeting with a new committee or classroom
What is the proper order of acknowledging territory and people?
1. Acknowledgement or Welcome is the first item on the agenda.
2. Order of introductions by level of government: Indigenous Chief or designate Mayor or designateTrustees and/or other elected officials Superintendent
3. Elders and other honoured guests
What are our next steps?
You may find it helpful to reflect on and research questions such as:
- Why is this acknowledgement happening?
- How does this acknowledgement relate to the event or work you are doing?
- What is the history of this territory? What are the impacts of colonialism here?
- What is your relationship to this territory? How did you come to be here?
- What intentions do you have to disrupt and dismantle colonialism beyond this territory acknowledgement?
While acknowledging territory is very welcome, it is only a small part of cultivating strong relationships with the local nations. It should be viewed as the first step in a larger context of deepening our understanding of the history and culture of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities and part of the ongoing work to challenge the legacies of colonialism.