Why Read a Land Acknowledgement?

You may have heard at the beginning of an event, meeting, or lecture, “We acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and treaty territory…” This line is the beginning of a Land or Territorial Acknowledgement, but why are they done?

Land Acknowledgements are part of the many steps of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions’ 94 calls to action. They are a step towards mending the broken relationship between the Indigenous peoples and the Canadian Government.

They allow us to show respect and honour the kinship that many indigenous communities have with this land, and we acknowledge the colonization of the land and its people. It validates to many in the Indigenous community that they are recognized. We as non-indigenous people not only recognize the land that we are on but the tragic and also traumatic events in Canadian history, including the Residential School System.

As leaders and business owners in the community, it is important that we set the tone, lead by example and share land acknowledgments at the beginning of events, meetings and lectures as a sign of respect that we know we are gathered on sacred and stolen land.

They are not just performative statements; they are to be followed with conscientious and reflective action. When drafting a Land Acknowledgement, it is crucial to know what territories and treaties are in your area. This information can be found online or by contacting your local band office.

The next time you hear “We acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and treaty territory…” take a moment to pause and reflect on what we can do to enact meaningful change.

– Deanna Thompson (She/Her), Employer Advisor, Employment & Training Services, John Howard Society of Durham Region