Land Acknowledgement

As we work towards reconciliation, striving to fulfill the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it is important to recognize our shared history and responsibilities. In doing so, we gain an understanding of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

An authentic commitment to reconciliation requires understanding and respect to reflect and learn how we can acknowledge the past as we look to the future.

Why do a Land Acknowledgement?

Used in written materials and speeches, Land Acknowledgements are a way to express an individual’s or institution’s commitment to Indigenous Peoples and should:

  • Name the specific land on which we reside;
  • Identify the treaty of which we are members;
  • Describe the power and privilege held; and
  • Recognize past and present relationships with Indigenous communities.

Acknowledging the land, a historical practice rich in gratitude, bound by relationality to the land, the people and all of creation, is now a responsibility that rests with settlers, guests and displaced persons. Indigenous peoples and communities do not separate themselves from the land, and have long understood that the land represents both where we came from (ancestors) and where we are going (future ancestors). The land is so vitally important as it provides everything that we require to live a good life. The land supplies shelter, food and clothing without hesitation or request. It is also understood that to live a good life we must remain in good relationship with the land. We have a responsibility to care for Her, express our gratitude, and ensure that we respect Her, so that we may continue to reap the benefits of Her bounty. We must take care of Her, so that she can continue to take care of us.

When to do a Land Acknowledgement

A Land Acknowledgement should be done at the start of any gathering, to begin in a good way, with a good mind and a good heart. Examples of such gatherings are meetings, conferences, webinars, professional development sessions, sporting and special events.

Creating a Land Acknowledgement

When creating a Land Acknowledgement, consider the following:

  1. Why?
    It is important to begin with an understanding of why you are doing the Land Acknowledgement. Ask yourself: what is your purpose? Is it to elicit action and propel the listeners to learn more about our shared history, or act as an ally and amplify Indigenous voices? A Land Acknowledgement is an opportunity to form and strengthen connections, which can be further enriched through deeper knowledge and understanding.
  1. Context and application
    Verbal Land Acknowledgements should demonstrate an understanding of the significance of acknowledging the land as a personal and unique statement of the speaker’s responsibility.
  1. Other considerations
    Part of the treaty responsibility is that we each take the time to acknowledge whose land we are on and what actions we will personally take to ensure better relations with all treaty people. This is done out of mutual respect to develop greater connections and an understanding of the collective work required to ensure the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are realized. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating Land Acknowledgements; it should be as diverse as the people who create and share them. It is ever-evolving and should be created from the heart.

The following guidelines and questions provide a good starting point and offer a way for the campus community to create, share and revise Land Acknowledgements. They also provide insight and highlight our responsibilities and actions to create stronger connections:

  • Determine your positionality in relation to occupying the land. Are you Indigenous, Settler or new Canadian?
  • Ask yourself whose land you are on? Learn the history of the treaty and treaties of the area on which you reside.
  • Identify and name the original caretakers of the territory you are situated on and use the terminology that the original inhabitants would like you to use. For example, the Mississaugas, Anishinaabeg or Haudenosaunee.
  • Use the correct pronunciation for the names of the Nations, places and individuals that you're including.
  • Consider the ways you benefit from the treaty relationship.
  • Explore the experience of the original inhabitants as a result of the treaty relationship.
  • Outline your commitment to improving the relationship with Indigenous communities and the land itself.
  • Include contemporary portraits of Indigenous communities. Those peoples and communities are still here, thriving and making amazing contributions to the society included in your Land Acknowledgement so please make sure that they are highlighted.
  • You should also include yourself and your commitment to reconciliation in your Land Acknowledgement, outlining how you can support Indigenous communities and the land. This can include:

Additional Resources

To purposefully engage in action, education, meaningful dialogue and change, Durham College encourages everyone to learn more about Canada's shared history with Indigenous Peoples through the following resources:

Students and employees are also invited to participate in a seven-part learning module entitled Indigenous Histories and Reconciliation, located under the self-registration tab on DC Connect.