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Recognizing Aboriginal People and their Traditional Lands is one of the most important acts of reconciliation; is a way to honour Aboriginal People; and is something that the SFU Community can consciously, collectively and individually practice.
(Walk This Path With Us, Report of the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council, 2017, p. 81)
Guidelines on acknowledging Aboriginal Peoples at SFU ceremonies and events
To honour and pay respect to the Indigenous Peoples whose lands that SFU is situated, the university community is encouraged to acknowledge Aboriginal Peoples and their traditional lands whenever possible at the beginning of ceremonies and events. These guidelines have been compiled by SFU Ceremonies and Events in collaboration with SFU’s Office for Aboriginal Peoples.
General guidelines on acknowledgements at ceremonies and events
Acknowledgement of the traditional lands is typically made by the very first speaker at the beginning of a ceremony or event program (if subsequent speakers also wish to make this acknowledgement, this would be appropriate, but is not required).
At ceremonies and larger events, it is recommended that an aboriginal elder, preferably a member of SFU’s Elders Program is invited to provide a welcome to open the event. The Elder would be the very first speaker on the program (ahead of the MC, senior members of the university and any members of government). Each Elder will have their own preference on what they would like to say to welcome guests. So, if the following speakers note that the traditional lands were not recognized, they should include the acknowledgement at the beginning of their remarks.
The following are the acknowledgements for each of the SFU campuses:
Pronunciation guide: Squamish (squa-mish), Tsleil-Waututh (tslay-wa-tooth), Musqueam (mus-kwee-um), Katzie (kate-zee), Kwantlen (kwant-len), Kwikwetlem (kwee-kwet-lum), Qayqayt (kee-kite), and Stó:lō (staw-low).
"Let me begin by acknowledging that we are privileged to gather this afternoon/evening, on the unceded traditional territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Kwikwetlem Peoples."
"Let me begin by acknowledging that we are privileged to gather this afternoon/evening, on the unceded traditional territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Peoples."
"Let me begin by acknowledging that we are privileged to gather this morning/evening on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples including the Semiahmoo First Nation, the Kwantlen First Nation, the Katzie First Nation, the Kwikwetlem First Nation, the Qayqayt First Nation and the Tsawwassen First Nations."
If an SFU Elder provides the “welcome”, following their remarks, the MC will typically thank and acknowledge the Elder as a member of SFU’s Elder program:
"Thank you to Elder xxxx, a member of SFU’s Aboriginal Elder Program, who shared some words of welcome for us here today. Let me start by acknowledging the … (see acknowledgements for each SFU campus)."
Requesting an Elder to participate at an event or ceremony
The SFU Elders program recognizes the value and importance of Elders in the Indigenous and university communities. Elders have a unique position at SFU, offering a variety of support to students and performing in different capacities throughout the university, including supporting special events and ceremonies.
More information about the SFU Elders program.
Land acknowledgements on invitations, programs, screens or other printed materials
Acknowledgement of the traditional lands should also be considered for any of the above event communications.
Samples are as follows:
SFU acknowledges the surrounding unceded traditional territories of all of Coast Salish peoples where our three campuses are located. For this ceremony at SFU Burnaby, SFU acknowledges the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and kʷikʷəƛ ̓ əm (Kwikwetlem) nations.
We acknowledge that this work is taking place on the unceded traditional territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples who call this region home.
We acknowledge that this work is taking place on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples including the Semiahmoo First Nation, the Kwantlen First Nation, the Katzie First Nation, Kwikwetlem First Nation, the Qayqayt First Nation and the Tsawwassen First Nations
- Guide to Acknowledging First Nations Peoples and Traditional Territory. Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)
- Territory Acknowledgement. Native Land
- Acknowledging Traditional Territory. Laura Tait, Board of Education Burnaby School District 41
- Walk this Path with Us, Report of the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council, 2017 (More information about Ceremonies and Events in Appendix E, pages 81 – 85)
- Aboriginal Protocol Documents, prepared by the Office for Aboriginal Peoples.
Updated December 16, 2019. Please note: These guidelines will be regularly reviewed and updated.