Land Acknowledgement

thames river


At Western, we encourage Land Acknowledgements that strive to rise above mere words and instead seek to inspire action and commitment towards Reconciliation and building relationships with Indigenous communities.

Across the country, territorial or land acknowledgments have become a common practice. They are often spoken at the beginning of a public gathering, like Convocation, or written in various publications, websites, social media and course syllabi – all in an effort to pay respect to the Original Peoples of the territory upon which we physically sit. 

The three versions of Land Acknowledgements below have been in practice for many years. It was first officially read at Convocation in Spring 2016. Since the approval of the Indigenous Strategic Plan in October 2016, these formal institutional Land Acknowledgement has been used widely across the University. 

Despite its widespread use, however, Land Acknowledgements at Western are not always fully understood. Why are these words necessary? What words do we use? When and how do we use them? When spoken, how can they be most respectfully and properly presented? Are they mere checkboxes, or redundant? After feedback from students and community members, we recognize that repeating the same words over and over can cause further harm and alienate Indigenous people in the room. Indigenous people have diverse opinions on the practice. Read Chippewas of the Thames First Nation's Statement on Land Acknowledgements here.

To further that understanding, we have prepared More Than Words: A Guide to Land Acknowledgements at Western Universityin hopes of allowing the Western community to shed any uncertainty toward offering its clear voice to these important words. This Guide provides a lot of background information about the meaning behind the words in Land Acknowledgements and embeds reflection questions for readers to consider when writing their own Land Acknowledgement. When treated like a learning module, it could take anywhere between 30 minutes and upwards of six hours to explore. The Guide is not comprehensive or wholly inclusive and we are currently welcoming feedback from Indigenous community members, students, faculty and staff, as well as feedback from non-Indigenous people on how helpful they found the Guide, and its navigation. Contact Sara Mai with your feedback. 

Below you will find some quick FAQs about Land Acknowledgements at Western University. 

Why do we offer Land Acknowledgements?

Land Acknowledgements pay respect to the Original Peoples of the territory upon which the university is physically located, as well as recognizes the ongoing presence of Indigenous Peoples in educational settings. It is one way we declare the University’s commitment to building on its relationships with and responsibilities to Indigenous communities. Land Acknowledgements in this territory mention Treaties, which are the foundations upon which Indigenous-settler relations exist in this area, and while acknowledging Treaties is not honouring them in and of themself, it serves as an important reminder of our responsibilities to each other.

What is Western's Land Acknowledgement?

Western’s Land Acknowledgement comes in three versions, each appropriate to use in a written setting. If you are verbally delivering the Land Acknowledgement, we recommend writing your own according to your positionality, field and/or disicipline. A pronunciation guide is provided in each version for speakers and should be removed when used in a written format. This is not a script; this is guidance. You are encouraged to bring your personal story or meaning to the words in the environment they are delivered in. Please note that the current audio files reflect the Attawandaron pronunciation and will be updated soon.

Who should deliver Land Acknowledgements at Western?

Anyone living and working in this territory should offer a Land Acknowledgement in contexts such as, courses, events and meetings. How you deliver a Land Acknowledgement and what is said will change according to your positionality. Indigenous people should not be, by default, asked to deliver Land Acknowledgements at Western by virtue of being Indigenous. Sometimes you may wish to invite an Indigenous Elder or Knowledge Keeper to deliver a traditional opening, such as the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Addresss. Consider how to engage Indigenous people in your events, workshops and meetings beyond giving openings and Land Acknowledgements. If you would like to book an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for your event, contact OII's Community Relations and Space Coordinator, Paula Hedgepeth.

How do I write my own Land Acknowledgement?

To understand more context around the meaning of and writing your own Land Acknowledgements, we have created More Than Words: A Guide to Land Acknowledgements at Western. The Guide, the following template versions and/or this list of reflection questions can aid in developing your own Land Acknowledgement. You are encouraged to bring your personal experiences and stories into Land Acknowledgements in ways that do not re-centre settler-colonialism. Reflecting on your positionality will influence how you deliver Land Acknowledgements.

Land Acknowledgement. Version 1

Spoken version: We/I acknowledge the Anishinaabek (Ah-nish-in-a-bek), Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-no-show-nee), Lūnaapéewak (Len-ahpay- wuk) and Chonnonton (Chun-ongk-ton) Nations, whose traditional lands we are gathered upon today.

Listen to the audio:

Written version: We/I acknowledge the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Chonnonton Nations, whose traditional territories are where this publication/resource/paper/etc was produced. 

Land Acknowledgement. Version 2

We/I acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabek (Ah-nish-in-a-bek), Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-no-show-nee), Lūnaapéewak (Len-ahpay- wuk) and Chonnonton (Chun-ongk-ton) Nations, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. This land continues to be home to diverse Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) whom we recognize as contemporary stewards of the land and vital contributors of our society.

This version is frequently used in email signatures.

Listen to the audio:

 

Land Acknowledgement. Version 3

We/I acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek (Ah-nish-in-a-bek), Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-no-show-nee), Lūnaapéewak (Len-ahpay- wuk) and Chonnonton (Chun-ongk-ton) Nations, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum.

With this, we/I respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service.

Listen to the audio:

Pronunciation Guide

Word Normal Speed Slow Speed

Anishinaabek

Chonnonton

 Update coming soon!  Update coming soon!

Lūnaapéewak

Haudenosaunee


When do we use Western’s Land Acknowledgement?

While there is no official policy governing the Land Acknowledgement’s use, Western considers it an important statement of the institution’s priorities and commitments and, as such, endorses its reading before any meeting or event held on campus, or printing within a publication or on a website. Some people opt to include a Land Acknowledgement in their email signature as well.

Do I need to follow it word-by-word?

Approaches to the Land Acknowledgement can differ based on peoples’ differing positionalities. For example, non- Indigenous members of the community may acknowledge Indigenous Peoples presence and connections to lands, whereas Indigenous Peoples from the local territory may welcome peoples to the land. It is not a script; It is a guide. You are encouraged to bring your personal story or meaning to the words in the environment they are delivered in.

What else can I do?

There are a number ways to make the Land Acknowledgement part of your professional and personal skillset, including learning how to pronounce local Indigenous Nations names in their original languages; locating yourself in relation to Indigenous land and identity; learning about local Indigenous communities; speaking from the heart about what relationships with and responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action mean to you.