Aboriginal protocol

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.

Please note: These guidelines will be regularly reviewed and updated.

General guidelines on acknowledgements 

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).

Burnaby Campus:

"Let me begin by acknowledging the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Kwikwetlem Peoples on whose traditional territory we are privileged to gather this morning/evening."

Vancouver Campus:

"Let me begin by acknowledging the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Peoples on whose traditional territory we are privileged to gather this morning/evening."

Surrey Campus:

"Let me begin by acknowledging that we are privileged to gather this morning/evening on the shared traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples including the Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen and numerous Stó:lō 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.

Reference materials

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.

For more information

Gloria Chu, Director of Ceremonies and Events
778-782-4643 | gloria_s_chu@sfu.ca

Ron Johnston, Director, Office of Indigenous Education
778-782-8924 | ronald_johnston@sfu.ca