What is it? Why should we do it? How do we create one?
You may have heard it once or twice before, or maybe you’ve heard it often enough that you may notice a trend with the wording, or maybe the wording hasn’t changed and it sounds the same…Let’s hope that this last one isn’t the case. A land or territorial acknowledgement is an act of reconciliation. It is meant to be an expression of your personal connection and your relationship to the land, based on the knowledge that’s been shared with you about the land you occupy and those who have occupied it before you.
Land acknowledgements are not a one-size-fits-all type of deal; authenticity and sincerity is a big deal when you are creating one. To help clarify, below are a couple of excerpts from the “whose land” website: https://www.whose.land/en/whyacknowledge
As we engage in processes of reconciliation it is critical that land acknowledgements don’t become a token gesture. They are not meant to be static, scripted statements that every person must recite in exactly the same way. They are expressions of relationship, acknowledging not just the territory someone is on, but that person’s connection to that land based on knowledge that has been shared with them.
Lindsay DuPré- Metis Nation
To acknowledge this land on which we stand is to acknowledge truth. To acknowledge truth is to acknowledge connection and disconnection. To acknowledge connection and disconnection is to acknowledge the Nations who care for our mother. To acknowledge our mother is to acknowledge truth. To acknowledge truth is to acknowledge that truth is at the forefront of the conversation.
Monique Aura, Oneida Nation
Have you wrote a land acknowledgement before? Need some ideas? Below are three examples of great land acknowledgements from a few of our very own PSSD teachers:
- Co-Construction of a Land Acknowledgement with Students:
Tegan co-constructed this beautiful land acknowledgement with her grades 5/6 class, and it is an excellent example of student voice and collaboration, not to mention a great experience for students to put the writing process in action with an authentic project. Throughout the process of constructing the land acknowledgement, the students engaged in learning conversations with one another and shared what they knew about treaties, anti-racist and anti-oppressive actions, and reconciliation. I was honored to “visit” the class, albeit virtually, and we had a great conversation about medicine wheels, Indigenous peoples’ traditional territories, treaties, and reconciliation. I learned so much from them! I encourage you to contact Tegan Hermanson if you want more details about how she facilitated co-creating a land acknowledgement with students.
2. School Acknowledgement
Waldheim School’s land acknowledgement was designed by their staff, and they hired Kota Graphics to create a large graphic and to apply it to their wall. Kota Graphics used a heat gun to get the decal to stick to the cinder block wall. Waldheim VP Jesse Reis recommends Kota Graphics if you are interested in displaying your school’s land acknowledgement in this way.
3. Personalized Acknowledgement for Sharing Space with Your Students
This type of land acknowledgement is not quite the same as the other two, but it is done in a way that honors sharing space with Indigenous students on their ancestral territory and homeland. This specific type of land acknowledgement is one that affirms current relationships with people that share the same space. To me, this acknowledgement not only honors land and culture, it honors the students’ worldviews and ways of knowing. When we are vulnerable with students in ways like this, we create a learning environment that encourages authentic relationship building and trust. By being honest with our students that we may not have all the answers, that we are learning side by side with them, it offers more learning opportunities than if we assume all the power.
As always, send me an email if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or if you would like to share what you’ve done with your class: firstname.lastname@example.org