If you're looking for meaningful ways to become an ally to Indigenous peoples but are unsure of where to start on your learning journey, a crucial initial step is engaging in land acknowledgement. 

This practice serves as a simple yet significant means of recognizing both your personal understanding and your organization's comprehension of colonialism and Canadian colonial policies, as well as the history of the land.

It also emphasizes the ongoing presence of these policies in our current reality and underscores the need for change.

While territorial acknowledgement is increasingly adopted as a standard practice by many organizations, it is crucial to ensure that it goes beyond being a mere token gesture and instead retains its meaningful nature. 

To shed light on the importance and intricacies of land acknowledgement, Randstad Canada's Indigenous Allyship group sought guidance from Bianca Launière. 

Bianca, a member of the Mashteuitash Innu Nation, brings valuable insights as she completes her graduate diploma in Indigenous storytelling and media, and actively contributes to educational projects focused on decolonization and cultural security. 

She will help us navigate the ‘how's’ and ‘why's’ of land acknowledgement, fostering a deeper understanding of this practice.


why acknowledge the land?

When conducting a land acknowledgement, it is crucial to grasp the significance of traditional territories and the Indigenous nations that have inhabited them for thousands of years through the lens of the Indigenous perspective.

In contrast to the predominant Western viewpoint, which tends to perceive land primarily as a source of resources and abundance, Indigenous peoples recognize it as a living entity.

Recognizing the deep connections Indigenous peoples have maintained with the land throughout history is vital in providing the appropriate context for such acknowledgement.

By openly acknowledging that you reside and operate on the ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, you demonstrate respect for the diverse Indigenous communities and reaffirm your commitment to addressing historical injustices that have been perpetrated.

Understanding the historical context enables a more meaningful and respectful recognition of the presence and resilience of Indigenous communities on their ancestral lands.

create safe spaces and build relationships

When preparing your territorial acknowledgement, you create a quick but meaningful research on our collective history. 

You discover communities, languages, and 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 significant impact. You can acknowledge the territory you’re on at the beginning of a presentation, a meeting or a training session. Still, it can also be something as simple as an email signature or a phrase in your LinkedIn bio.

how to create your land acknowledgement

First, you must know which Indigenous lands you’re on. To find out which territory you’re on, Native-Land.ca and Whose.land. Look up your city or town to find the land information.

prepare your acknowledgement

Here are some ideas for acknowledging the traditional land you live and work 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 want to acknowledge that I am on Treaty ___ territory, the 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 result from colonization and are committed to working together toward 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 toward reconciliation.

Remember, a land acknowledgment is the first step. A land acknowledgment can increase the visibility of silenced populations. 

However, we encourage you to find ways to uplift and truly empower the people you acknowledge.

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 acknowledge are sacred to indigenous peoples and must be treated with respect.

Ensure you are pronouncing the territory and community names correctly. Don’t guess or assume. Put the time and patience into practice to get it right.

One final thought: reconciliation with Indigenous People is a long journey, and you will learn a lot.

With new knowledge and experience, review your acknowledgment statement once a year to ensure it continues to reflect the values and relationships you aspire to.

Interested in more content on diversity and making your workplace more inclusive?

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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.

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