Land Acknowledgement: A Statement of Gratitude
Indigenous Peoples foster unique and enduring relationships with territories in which we reside, since time immemorial. We acknowledge that will be gathering and hosting our conference on the traditional territories of the Attawandaron or Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. We are also occupying land promised to the peoples of the Six Nations in the Haldimand Tract, six miles on either side of the Grand River.
A land acknowledgement is a personal experience. We encourage you to think about who you are, where you come from, and how you benefit from the land on which you live, work, learn, and play.
Also, it is imperative that you honour and respect Indigenous Peoples with proper pronounciation when you recite and reflect upon this statement: Attawandaron (AT-TA-WON-DA-RON), Anishinaabeg (AH-NISH-NAH-BAY), and Haudenosaunee (HO-DEH-NO-SHOW-NEE).
Why do we acknowledge the land?
A land acknowledgement is an honest and historically-accurate statement to recognize the traditional territories of the Indigenous People who currently call this land home and who lived here before the arrival of settlers (i.e., settler colonialism).
We are grateful to be visitors here. The conference organizing committee makes a land acknowledgement to express gratitude and appreciation to the Indigenous Peoples who live in the territories and have done so since time immemorial. It is an intentional space to reflect on the ongoing colonial legacies of Canada and the ways in which we, as settlers, continue to perpetuate and benefit from this colonial violence.
Learning about the land where you live is an important first step in decolonizing and unlearning the erasure of colonial legacies in Canada.
This acknowledgement is also a small step in a larger commitment to take responsibility in the task of unsettling and decolonizing, though we are at very early, humble stages in this process. It holds us accountable to our relationships with Indigenous Peoples and the land.
Though land acknowledgements are becoming more prevalent in settler-spaces in recent years, acknowledging the land is a traditional and lasting protocol for many Indigenous Peoples.
Many of the members of the organizing committee live and work on these territories. The University of Waterloo is also situated on the traditional territories of the Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples and the land promised in Treaty 4 (Haldimand Tract).
Native Land is an online tool to assist settlers in Canada and across Turtle Island learning about the land on which they reside.
“To think about land activation and land acknowledgement is to remember that there are these rich Indigenous governances that still exist, that are ongoing and that will go into the future”
Karyn Recollet, an urban Cree woman and a professor at the University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute
Please take some time to learn about the Indigenous Peoples on whose land we have the privilege of meeting for CANSEE 2019
In the land acknowledgement, we name three groups of Indigenous or First Peoples. However, the plurality of peoples is also important to remember. There is diversity within each Peoples.
Attawandaron (AT-TA-WON-DA-RON): Also called Neutral Peoples by the French in the 1600s due to their neutral political positions, this word refers to a large and diverse confederacy from the North shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. While there existed a population of 30,000 people, the majority died due to diseases from the European settlers. Today, there are no Attawandaron First Nations, but small communities live on as part of the Six Nations or in other territories.
Anishinaabe (AH-NISH-NAH-BAY): This word is used to describe a diversity of Indigenous Peoples including but not limited to the Ojibway, Mississauga, Chippewa, and Algonquin peoples. There are many different ways to spell and pronounce this word, reflecting the diversity of Peoples and their languages or dialects. Anishinabek Nation, previously the Union of Ontario Indians, represents the traditional territories of 40 First Nations and the oldest political organization in Ontario. Read more here.
Haudenosaunee (HO-DEH-NO-SHOW-NEE): This group is also known as Iroquoi and Six Nations, which include Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy explains that the joining of nations by the Peacemaker dates to time immemorial, rendering the lasting agreement one of the earliest participatory democracies in the world. Read more here.
The Haldimand Tract (Treaty 4) is land promised to the peoples of Six Nations, covering six miles (approximately ten kilometers) on either side of the Grand River from the head of the river (in Dundalk Township) to Lake Erie. Treaty 4 was issued on January 14, 1793, under a Great Seal patent by the order of Lieutenant Governor Simcoe, and the land was promised earlier on October 25, 1784 by Frederick Haldimand Captain General and Governor in Chief. However, Non-Six Nations settlers began trespassing and living on the land as early as 1798. The agreement originally covered 950,000 acres, but today only 5% or 48,000 acres remain. For more information on the Haldimand, visit Six Nations, Six Nations Global Solution, Government of Ontario, Canadian Encyclopedia, or Smith’s Canadian Gazetteer (1846, pp. 67-71).
There is a large urban Indigenous population of 10,000 people in Kitchener-Waterloo.
At the University of Waterloo, there are approximately 135 self-declared First Nations, Inuit, or Métis (FNIM) students and 38 employees, including some faculty. There is also a thriving community at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.
We are also near to diverse communities of First Peoples in Southern Ontario. There are 18 First Nations within 2.5 hours drive:
We express gratitude for leaders in education about Indigenous Peoples, colonial histories in Canada and other settler states, and decolonization. We are thankful for the emotional labour of those educating settlers and offering guidance on the way forward for decolonizing, unsettling, and reconciliation.
The content for this webpage and the resources informing the broader efforts for decolonization and awareness of Indigenous issues are produced by Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, the Indigenous Student Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, Six Nations, Anishinabek Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, 4Rs Youth Movement, Working Centre, LSPIRG, The Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network (Réseau pour la stratégie urbaine de la communauté autochtone à Montréal), and many others. Please visit their websites for more extensive resources.
If there are any errors in content of this page or if there is anything that perpetuates colonial violence and ignorance, please do not hesitate to get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking to learn.