On October 1, 2017 as I listened to Jagmeet Singh make his acceptance speech as the newly crowned leader of the National Democratic Party I was struck by how far Canada has come. He was the first visible minority to lead a national party, and pretty much the first words of his acceptance were to acknowledge “that we are on the traditional land of the Haudenosaunee, Wendat, Anishinaabe and the territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.” Wow.
Yes, there are a great many issues that need addressing but every so often it’s good to stop and take stock of how far Indigenous relations have come on the part of governments, organizations and individuals. Every day I meet multiples of people who want to learn, improve, and contribute. In fact at the time of publishing this article there have been over 574,000 visitors to the blog this year.
As an Indigenous person it’s part of my culture when visiting the land of another person to acknowledge it as such. It’s tradition. In 1994 I began encouraging participants in my training to open their meetings by acknowledging the traditional or treaty lands on which they stood. It was a relatively new concept back then for non-Indigenous people and organizations. Not so much anymore though. The movement has gained significant ground of late, has spread from sporting events to film festivals, and, despite the claims of some that acknowledgment is not enough, it is one of many critical components of reconciliation. It’s all part of the awareness and change continuum. Indigenous acknowledgment shows your recognition of and respect for Indigenous Peoples and their lands, in the context of the past and the present. Don’t get me wrong, I am not assuming responsibility for the growth of this movement but I do like to think the work we do at Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. is contributing to it.
It is sometimes not easy to determine on whose territory or traditional land you are standing and we receive frequent requests to provide the information. While we wholeheartedly endorse and encourage the formal recognition of traditional and/or treaty lands, we also believe that doing the research necessary to find the answer is part of the awareness continuum. Learning about the Indigenous Peoples in your area of interest will enhance your understanding. If we were to provide the answer then the action of acknowledgment would be degraded to mere lip service, or something done for appearances sake.
But, we want to support your research so have done some ourselves in order to provide some resources to help you with your Indigenous protocol research.
We suggest you find the nearest Friendship Centre and ask them. Here’s the link to the National Association of Friendship Centres which links 118 Friendship Centres plus seven provincial and territorial associations.
The Canadian University Teachers Association has developed a comprehensive and useful 28 page Guide to Acknowledging First Peoples & Traditional Territory.
Unfortunately, at this point not much has been done in Canada in terms of developing a national map showing the traditional and treaty lands. Maps are challenging because they demark a current definition of a People’s land and don’t take into account the historical traditional boundaries.
Native-Land.ca is a good resource; it’s a big map so takes a bit of time to open.
On June 21, 2017 (National Indigenous Peoples Day) Google announced a project that would add 3,000 Canadian indigenous reserves and settlement lands to Google Maps and Google Earth platforms.
On this interactive site you can learn general information on First Nations such as the official name of the Nation, the province they are located in, the population, election system, name of the chief, the mailing address as well as links to the Nation’s website, if they have one.
So, keep up the good work Canada.
If you are interested in learning when to use Aboriginal as opposed to Indigenous, download your free copy our ebook: Indigenous Peoples: A Guide to Terminology
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