August 9th was the International Day of the World's Indigenous People, and September 30th will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. If you’re looking for meaningful ways to become an ally to Indigenous peoples, but don’t know where to start on your learning journey, land acknowledgement is a simple first step in recognizing your and your organization’s understanding of colonialism and Canadian colonial policies (that are still part of our present-day reality), as well as the need for change. 

As territorial acknowledgement becomes common practice for a growing number of organizations, they can easily become a token gesture rather than a meaningful practice. That’s why Randstad Canada’s Indigenous Allyship group asked Bianca Launière, a member of the Mashteuitash Innu Nation, who is finishing her graduate diploma in Indigenous storytelling and media and working on educational projects for decolonization and cultural security, to walk us through  the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of land acknowledgement.


why acknowledge the land?

Whereas most of the Western world has been taught to view the land as a provider of resources and abundance, the Indigenous peoples see ‘mother Earth’ as a living being who connects them with their identity, tradition, language, lifestyle and family. Since they have been denied this sacred relationship for centuries, recognizing that you are living and working on traditional ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples is a sign of respect for various Indigenous communities and acknowledgement of your willingness to repair the wrongdoings of the past.

create safe spaces and build relationships

When you’re preparing your territorial acknowledgement, you’re doing a quick but meaningful research of our collective history, you discover communities, languages, cultures. In doing so, you’re sending a message of equity and creating a safe space for members of Indigenous  communities. “If you acknowledge the land you’re on before an interview with an Indigenous person,” says Bianca, “you’re communicating safety, recognition and respect.”

impactful doesn’t mean long or complicated 

The acknowledgement doesn’t have to be long to create a big impact. You can acknowledge the territory you’re on at the beginning of a presentation, a meeting or a training session, but it can also be something as simple as an email signature or a phrase in your LinkedIn bio.

how to create your land acknowledgement

find out which land you’re on and - interactive map of traditional Indigenous lands. Look up your city or town to find the land information.

prepare your acknowledgement

Here are some ideas of how you can acknowledge the traditional land you’re living and working on. Remember that this is not meant to be a script! Copying and reading a script makes your gesture just that, a gesture. 

  • I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of _______. 
  • I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am on the traditional land of Treaty ___ and home of the _______. 
  • I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that I am on Treaty ___ territory, traditional land of the _______ peoples, and that other members of this {call/meeting} are working and living in the traditional land of many other Indigenous peoples.

commit to the journey

Using your own words, commit to continue on the journey towards reconciliation.

  • {We/I/Company Name} recognize{s} the systemic inequities that are present as a result of colonization and are committed to working together towards reconciliation.
  • As a company, we recognize the systemic inequities that stem directly from past wrong-doings, and we commit to respecting and working towards reconciling this history of injustice.
  • {We/I/company name} {are/am/is} committed to uplifting indigenous voices, respecting traditional lands, and working with communities towards reconciliation.

things to avoid in a land acknowledgement

Land acknowledgements are not a token gesture, avoid sensationalizing your message or using empty promises to increase the impact of your statement. The traditional lands you are acknowledging are sacred to indigenous peoples and need to be treated with respect. Ensure you are pronouncing the territory and community names properly. Don’t guess, or assume. Put the time and patience into practicing so that you can get it right.

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tatiana romanova

strategic diversity consultant, on behalf of Indigenous allyship resource group

Over the past 7 years, Tatiana has been actively involved in diversity & inclusion: she volunteered as a mentor, trainer and consultant with organizations, universities and NGOs such as WUSC (World University Service of Canada) and VSO Voluntary Service Overseas) to provide employment opportunities to a diversity of communities. Tatiana has lived, studied and/or worked in 5 countries, fluently speaks 3 languages and is a life-long learner.