Legal Aid Ontario recognizes that its work, and the work of its community partners take place on traditional Indigenous territories across the province. We acknowledge that there are 46 treaties and other agreements that cover the territory now called Ontario. We are thankful to be able to work and live in these territories. We are thankful to the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people who have cared for these territories since time immemorial and who continue to contribute to the strength of Ontario and to all communities across the province. LAO is honoured to collaborate with Indigenous clients, stakeholders and communities throughout the various territories.
Legal Aid Ontario would also like to acknowledge that its Provincial office is located in Toronto and on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now the home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands.
Acknowledging traditional Indigenous territories is one way to recognize contemporary and historical Indigenous presence and land rights. It is a small step towards dismantling the continued impacts of colonialism and undoing Indigenous erasure in our everyday lives. For more information on the purpose of Land Acknowledgements check out native-land.ca.
How do I create and deliver a meaningful Land Acknowledgement?
Helpful tips on how to construct your own meaningful Land Acknowledgement:
Land Acknowledgements must be personal, heart-felt and honest. Before you deliver a land acknowledgement:
- Understand where you are on the path of learning about Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues;
- Understand the purpose and what you hope to achieve in delivering a land acknowledgement statement;
- Understand the power of a land acknowledgement to show respect and recognition for Indigenous Peoples, which are essential elements of establishing healthy, reciprocal relations;
- Understand the efforts that have been made by the organization you are representing towards real understanding, truth and reconciliation;
- Do your homework. Put in the time necessary to research the following topics:
- The Indigenous people to whom the land belongs.
- The history of the land and any related treaties.
- Names of living Indigenous people from these communities. If you’re presenting on behalf of your work in a certain field, highlight Indigenous people who currently work in that field.
- Indigenous place names and language.
- Learn how to pronounce Indigenous words and names so that others also become familiar.
- Be open to ongoing learning — and be open to changing your land acknowledgement statement as you learn more;
- Understand that acknowledging the land is an important part of Indigenous tradition and land acknowledgements are never to be treated like an obligation or an item of housekeeping before moving on to the ‘real business’; and
- Understand that land acknowledgements are not delivered to make the reader or listener feel good, but to deepen understanding of the truth and move everyone towards reconciliation.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to deliver a meaningful Land Acknowledgement:
- Briefly introduce yourself, your background and your role at the event you are opening.
- Explain why delivering a land acknowledgement is important to you/your organization and what you hope it will achieve.
- Deliver the land acknowledgement that you feel is most appropriate to the gathering based on where you are located.
- Consider including your own call to action, whether that be encouraging your listeners to educate themselves and take concrete steps towards truth and reconciliation in their own spheres, or challenging representatives of organizations present to adopt their own strategies to strengthen Indigenous relations.
- Re-affirm your own commitment to truth and reconciliation and share your next steps.
- Give thanks in whatever way feels most appropriate.