Land Acknowledgements-What You Need To Know
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
As With Most Things, Getting it Right Requires Humility and Good Intentions
The concept of acknowledging the territory upon which we are gathered is an Indigenous concept that goes back centuries. In recent years, Canadians have adopted the practice through land and territorial acknowledgements as a gesture of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
According to this CBC article from 2017,
"A territorial or land acknowledgement is an act of reconciliation that involves making a statement recognizing the traditional territory of the Indigenous people who called the land home before the arrival of settlers, and in many cases still do call it home".
Last November, the Grande Prairie Circle of Aboriginal Services (GPACOS) developed a land acknowledgement resource for Grande Prairie and area organizations to use as a starting place for drafting their own acknowledgements. Since then, land acknowledgements have taken off in the Grande Prairie area, with the purpose of bringing contextual awareness to our personal location and the spaces we occupy.
The Fear of Getting It Wrong
One theme I've noticed in my personal conversations is that people are really afraid of getting land acknowledgements wrong. So much so that it's made us wonder: Is this fear is stopping people from even trying?
Getting Land Acknowledgements Right
To help people overcome this fear, here are our tips for successfully delivering land acknowledgements within your organization and at the public events you organize.
1. Educate Yourself
There are many things you can do to educate yourself about Indigenous issues. For starters, the University of Alberta provides a free online course that is instructed by Indigenous scholars, Dr. Tracy Bear and Dr. Paul Gareau.
Taking part in a KAIROS Blanket Exercise is also a good way to inform yourself about Canadian history, and how that history continues to impact present day realities for Indigenous peoples living in Canada. (For more information about local Blanket Exercises send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
And of course, if you spend time in the Indigenous community you will have an opportunity to build relationships and learn more. Cultural events such as pow wows and round dances welcome people of all backgrounds. Come! Get to know people, ask questions. Plus, there's usually bannock :)
2. Practice Cultural Humility
According to First Nations Health Authority out of British Columbia, cultural humility is "a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience". This means you make a personal commitment to raise your levels of self-awareness and practice ongoing reflexivity, and it requires humility, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to building understanding intercultural relationships.
3. Intent Matters
Please don't regurgitate someone else's pre-drafted words mindlessly. Reflect on the words you are saying. What do they mean to you? Your intent will shine through your words, so get really clear on exactly what your intent is before presenting a land acknowledgement.
We hope you've found this blog post informative and helpful for the work you do. If you've got any feedback or additional contributions, please feel free to email email@example.com, and we will update this post.