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Xwi7xwa - Distance Research

This guide supports researchers working with Indigenous topics. It also supports faculty who are teaching remotely.

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

A land acknowledgement (or territorial acknowledgement) is considered a respectful, yet political, statement that acknowledges the colonial context of the Indigenous territory/territories where a gathering is taking place. It recognizes relationships between land and people, and in particular Indigenous peoples' continued presence on the lands being acknowledged.

Land acknowledgements are formal statements usually performed at the beginning of a gathering by the host of the gathering, to insert awareness of history of land into daily life. When doing a land acknowledgement, some individuals may also situate themselves in relation to the land by mentioning their ancestry or the nation or community they belong to. Over the past decade, land acknowledgements have become more mainstream as awareness of reconciliation and Indigenous issues has grown.  

Some individuals also choose to do personal, informal land acknowledgements unaffiliated with an organization or institution, to situate themselves in relation to where they live. You may see these in someone's personal email signature or social media bio, for example. 

Land acknowledgements are done verbally and visually in many different ways. Some common spaces where land acknowledgements are performed include:

  • meetings
  • presentations
  • schools and classrooms
  • lectures
  • on an institution's or organization's website
  • on an institution's or organization's email signature
  • cultural events
  • press conferences
  • place signs
  • any type of gathering

Why do we acknowledge territory and why does this matter for our research? See X̱wi7x̱wa's Locating Ourselves: Geographically and Socially to find out why! 

Virtual Land Acknowledgements

Doing a land acknowledgement for a virtual gathering is a bit more challenging than when everyone is in the same room. In this case, people may be joining your gathering from anywhere in the world. Here are a few tips to help you when creating a land acknowledgement for a virtual gathering:

  • As the host, give recognition to the land that you, individually, are on
  • Acknowledge that many others may be on different territory
  • If possible, invite others to offer their own land acknowledgements

Creating a Land Acknowledgement

There are no true "best practices" for creating a land acknowledgement, as they are all unique to the place, Nations, communities and relationships being acknowledged. However, the general consensus is that they should be intentional, meaningful and accurate. The following resources provide templates, tools and critical suggestions for creating land acknowledgements.

Métis Land Acknowledgements

Doing land acknowledgements for the Métis Nation can be difficult. This is because traditional Métis settlements are dispersed across Canada, and there are debates about the locations and boundaries of traditional Métis settlements. 

Métis chartered communities are formal, regional communities established by provincial or territorial Métis Nation leadership. Typically chartered communities are self-governed by an executive elected by Métis Citizens who live within the community's boundaries. Métis chartered communities are similar in structure to the system of Canadian provincial and municipal governments. 

The Métis Nations of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario all have chartered communities. Often if you are at a Métis Nation event, such as an annual general meeting, there will be a land acknowledgement to indicate the community that you are in.

The resources featured below shed some light on these issue and offer suggestions for how to include the Métis Nation in a land acknowledgement.

Métis Settlements

Alberta is the only province to recognize Métis title to the land.

"Métis Settlements located across the northern part of Alberta are comprised of the Paddle Prairie, Peavine, Gift Lake, East Prairie, Buffalo Lake, Kikino, Elizabeth and Fishing Lake settlements. These eight settlements form a constitutionally protected Métis land base in Canada. They comprise 505 102 ha, much of it covered by forest, pasture and farmland. [...]

In 1985 the Alberta government passed what was known as Motion 18, a resolution committing the province to transfer title of the settlements to the Métis people and to provide constitutional protection of the lands by means of an amendment to the Alberta Act.

This paved the way for the historic 1989 Alberta Settlements Accord, which passed into legislation with the 1990 Métis Settlement Act. Replacing the previous Métis Betterment Acts, the Métis Settlements Act provides for the legal transfer of land title to the Métis people, local municipal and traditional style self-government, and establishes eight settlement corporations and the Métis Settlements General Council as legal entities." (From The Canadian Encyclopedia).

Image: Maps of Métis Settlements in Alberta created by Hwy43 (Creative Commons License).