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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)
Acknowledging Indigenous Peoples at SFU ceremonies and events
To honour and pay respect to the Indigenous Peoples whose lands SFU campuses are situated, the university community is encouraged to make acknowledgements to the host Nations and their traditional lands 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 Indigenous Cultural Expert, Knowledge Keeper or Elder (preferably a member of the SFU Elders program) is invited to provide a welcome to open the event. That individual would be the very first speaker on the program (ahead of the MC, senior members of the university and any members of government). Each individual 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 examples are to help guide you in crafting your own land acknowledgement:
Please note that this is not a script. We invite you to reflect on what reconciliation and decolonization mean to you and include that reflection following your land acknowledgement.
Questions to ask yourself: How does this affect me? How does it make me feel? What actions am I committed to moving forward?
The order in which you acknowledge the various peoples/nations/communities is up to you. Think of the acknowledgement as a circle where there is no hierarchy of importance. These peoples have all been on these lands since time immemorial and therefore we recognize all our relations accordingly.
SFU's Burnaby campus
"Let me begin by acknowledging that we are privileged to gather today on the unceded, traditional territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Kwikwetlem and Musqueam peoples."
SFU's Vancouver campus
"I want to respectfully acknowledge the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam peoples on whose sacred, unceded and ancestral territories we are gathering today."
SFU's Surrey campus
"I am grateful to be able to gather today on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen Nations."
"I want to respectfully acknowledge the [xxxx] peoples on whose [Example: sacred, unceded, ancestral, traditional territories / treaty territory / homelands] I am speaking from today.
If you know who’s territory you’re currently on, please include it in the chat box as I know we have people joining us from all over [Example: BC, across Canada and beyond our borders]… and if you don’t know who’s land you’re on, I encourage you to look it up and make yourself familiar with the Indigenous peoples whose land you occupy."
If an Elder opens the event, the MC should follow their welcoming remarks by thanking and acknowledging the Elder (and if applicaple, as a member of the SFU Elders Program)
"Thank you to Elder [xxxx] from the [xxxx] Nation and a member of the SFU Elders program, for sharing your words of welcome with us today. Let me start by acknowledging the …" (See above acknowledgements for each SFU campus).
- Katzie (KATE-zee)
- Kwantlen (KWANT-len)
- Kwikwetlem (kweh-KWET-lem)
- Musqueam (muss-KWEE-um)
- Qayqayt (keh-KITE)
- Semiahmoo (se-mi-AH-moo)
- Squamish (SQUA-mish)
- Sto:lo (STAW-low)
- Tsawwassen (tsah-WASS-en)
- Tsleil-Waututh (SLAY-wha-tuth)
Land acknowledgements on event communications
Acknowledgement of the traditional lands should also be considered for event communications on invitations, programs, screens or other printed materials. Please carefully consider the placement of your acknowledgement. If you are uncertain or have any questions, please contact Nicole Taylor-Sterritt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samples are as follows:
All SFU campuses
SFU respectfully acknowledges the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Kwantlen, q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), Qayqayt, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples on whose traditional, unceded territories our three campuses reside.
SFU's Burnaby campus
SFU respectfully acknowledges the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples on whose traditional, unceded territories the Burnaby campus resides.
SFU's Vancouver campus
SFU respectfully acknowledges the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples on whose traditional, unceded territories the Vancouver campus resides.
SFU's Surrey campus
SFU respectfully acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples, including the Semiahmoo, q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen, on whose traditional, unceded territories the Surrey campus resides.
Requesting an Elder to participate at an event or ceremony
The SFU Elders program recognizes the value and importance of Elders and Knowledge Keepers 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 through openings, land acknowledgements and other cultural ceremonies.
Please note that there are only two part-time Elders in the SFU Elders program and it's not always possible to accommodate requests for support across the university. Your faculty or department may have existing relationships with Elders or Knowledge Keepers outside of the program and we recommend reaching out to them first.
Please contact Nicole Taylor-Sterritt at email@example.com if you require additional resources or suggestions on inviting an Elder, Knowledge Keeper or Cultural Expert to participate in your event.
- Guide to Acknowledging First Nations Peoples and Traditional Territory. Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)
- Territory Acknowledgement. Native Land
- Guide Book to Indigenous Protocol by Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
- 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 23, 2020. Please note: These guidelines will be regularly reviewed and updated.