As part of the CCRC’s efforts to build relationships with Indigenous research partners and communities, on this page you will find guidance to help understand the significance of statements of acknowledgement for First Nations, Inuit and Métis and their traditional territories (also known as land or territorial acknowledgements), and tools/best practices to support the creation of a territory acknowledgement.
What is a territory acknowledgement?
Today, many organizations open meetings and events with an acknowledgement of the Indigenous Nation or Nations that have occupied the territory and cared for the land where the meeting is taking place. These territorial acknowledgements are statements that encourage everyone to recognize the Indigenous land they are on and acknowledge that First Nations, Inuit and Métis are the original peoples and Nations of these lands. An effective territory acknowledgement includes a sense of the relationship to the land and the relationship to the Indigenous peoples who have cared for it for thousands of years, as well as a commitment to learn more and act.
How to do an effective territory acknowledgement
The following information was adapted from the Indigenous Reconciliation Group’s Best Practices in Land Acknowledgements (2021).
- Use the name of the Indigenous community that they have given themselves, not the name that the federal government has used. Ask for help on how to pronounce it properly, in advance.
- Ceded or unceded? When the Indigenous community signed a treaty with the federal government, it is considered ‘ceded’ meaning there was some discussion about settlers being on the land. If there has been no treaty or agreement, it means that the Indigenous community has had no say at all if settlers could be on their land, it is ‘unceded’
- What is the culture of the Indigenous group to recognize?
- Inuit communities are culturally Inuit.
- Métis communities are culturally Métis.
- First Nations communities have many different cultures, and sometimes the culture is also in the name of the community. For example: Fort William First Nation in northern Ontario is Ojibway, Taku River Tlingit First Nation in northern BC is Tlingit.
- Are you in an urban area? Most likely the land is both a traditional land of one or two or more Indigenous groups, AND a meeting place for many Indigenous peoples. It would be appropriate to acknowledge the history of many Indigenous groups meeting here.
- Do not copy somebody else’s land acknowledgement – what’s the point if you don’t do your own research and make it your own?
- As the speaker doing the land acknowledgement, please also introduce yourself in relation to the land – answer the coded question “Where are you from?” because this goes hand in hand with doing effective land acknowledgements.
- It is the responsibility of the highest ranking executive of the non-Indigenous organization to do the acknowledgement. Don’t ask the Elder or Indigenous employee to do it, it’s not their responsibility.
- As the senior executive, consider introducing the acknowledgement, then asking an employee to complete the land acknowledgement (who has done their own research), so it is new and meaningful every time, and builds knowledge and understanding across the organization.
Tools to Situate Yourself
Start your research at either of these two mapping platforms to locate Indigenous territories, communities and Treaties.
- Native-Land.ca is a mapping platform that allows you to enter your address to see the relevant territories in a location, with links pointing to more information on the specific nation, language, or treaty.
- Whose Land is another mapping platform that includes information from Native-Land.ca as well as educational videos that will give you a better understanding of why land acknowledgements are important, and the way Indigenous people view their relationship to land.
- Canadian Association of University Teacher’s (CAUT) Guide to Acknowledging First Peoples & Traditional Territory
- Useful critiques on territory acknowledgements: