Get Started Guide
Indigenous Land Acknowledgment
Indigenous land acknowledgements recognize the historic and ongoing relationship between Indigenous peoples and the land. One important way to demonstrate respect and to honour the Indigenous peoples who live on this land is with an Indigenous land acknowledgement. For consulting engineering companies in British Columbia, and all Industry proponents in Canada, a land acknowledgement may be done before meetings, on websites and social media platforms, as part of email signatures, and within presentations. Here is a suggested guide to help you get started:
Consider your intention.
Ask yourself “Why am I doing this land acknowledgment?”
Consider your impact.
What is my end goal in doing this land acknowledgement? What can I do to support reconciliation in doing this acknowledgement?
Understand the history of the territory.
Research the history of the territory on which your company operates. This can include learning about the Indigenous peoples who live on the land, their traditional territories, and their history of colonization and displacement.
Identify the appropriate Indigenous Nation(s).
Based on your research, identify the appropriate Indigenous Nation(s) who are the traditional stewards of the land on which your company operates. Remember that there are most likely overlapping or shared territories and each of those Nations should be acknowledged.
Develop the acknowledgement.
Based on your research, develop an acknowledgement that is respectful and meaningful, tailored to your personal experiences and to those of your company. This can be a short statement that is read before meetings and presentations or embedded in email signature lines.
Words carry meaning.
Take time to consider the words you are using and to thoughtfully choose words that express your understanding and intention.
Practice reading the acknowledgement before meetings and presentations. Read the Indigenous names out loud beforehand and be comfortable with making a mistake – it is more important to meaningfully try than to avoid the acknowledgment altogether.
Make it personal.
Personalization is an excellent step to enhance impact and demonstrate a true commitment to being an active participant in reconciliation.
Incorporate the acknowledgement into your company’s culture.
Make it regular practice to acknowledge the associated Nations before meetings and events.
Once a land acknowledgement is created, ensure that it is reviewed regularly to identify changes that may be required and consider how to adapt or modify it for specific events or purposes.
There is not one single format or template to use when developing a land acknowledgement. The following is an example of an ACEC-BC Land Acknowledgement, with the different elements explained to support you and your organization in developing your own unique land acknowledgement.
“We begin by acknowledging the importance of the land we each call our home, and to recognize, with respect, the Indigenous peoples whose ancestral relationships with the land continue to this day.
Opening comments to signal that a land acknowledgement and being done. This example comments on the importance of land acknowledgements and why it is included.
Tonight, we are gathered on the ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
This element is a reflection and should be specific to the organization and/or purpose of the land acknowledgement. Consider connecting to your role in reconciliation.
In the context of the projects featured this evening, recognizing the host Nations supports us to appreciate the impact we have on the people and communities in which we work and live.
Depending on the meeting/event, available time, and relevance to what else is happening at the time (such as Indigenous Peoples History Month), allow space for connection to the specific event/meeting. This does not have to be long, but there should be reflection and connection.
Please join me in a moment of reflection to consider how we are and can each in our own way contribute to reconciliation and greater connection between Nations.”
Linked below are some additional resources to help with the structure of your land acknowledgement and to provide further considerations in developing a land acknowledgement:
- To learn about the territory you are on
- A guide to territory acknowledgement from Len Pierre Consulting
- Engineers Canada guide to acknowledging First Peoples and traditional land
- A guide to land acknowledgement from Raven Trust
- First Nations Health Authority information booklet on territory acknowledgements
- EGBC guide to inclusive practices
- Guide to Indigenous land acknowledgement from the Native Governance Center
- UBC Library land acknowledgement resources