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Indigenous Studies & Resources

A subject guide of Indigenous studies & resources.

Whose Land?

Why do Land Acknowledgements Matter?

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

A land acknowledgment is a formal declaration recognizing the original indigenous people of the land, which is made at the start of public events. The practice of land acknowledgments is a centuries-old tradition in many indigenous cultures.

In the article What Do Land Acknowledgements Really Mean?, Jenessa Joy Klukas talks about the importance of land acknowledgements and their significance, while drawing on their historic origins. An excerpt from the article is as follows: 

"Land acknowledgements are a practice used in some Indigenous cultures to recognize other nations’ homelands. They’ve been adapted to fit a mainstream purpose.

They have risen in popularity since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action came out in 2015. While the calls to action don’t directly address the need for land acknowledgements, they’ve become common as a show of support and as a decolonizing action in the wake of the TRC.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also found that responsibility, accountability and acknowledgement are important and necessary to promote further change in Canada.

The City of Vancouver first recognized that Vancouver was on unceded lands via land acknowledgement in 2014. Similarly, the City of Toronto began implementing land acknowledgements in 2014; the language was most recently updated in 2019, after discussion with their Aboriginal Advisory Committee."

Excerpts from Indigenous Foundations

The following excerpt related to Aboriginal title is taken from Indigenous Foundations:

What is “title?”

Aboriginal title refers to the inherent Aboriginal right to land or a territory. The Canadian legal system recognizes Aboriginal title as a sui generis, or unique collective right to the use of and jurisdiction over a group’s ancestral territories. This right is not granted from an external source but is a result of Aboriginal peoples’ own occupation of and relationship with their home territories as well as their ongoing social structures and political and legal systems.  As such, Aboriginal title and rights are separate from rights afforded to non-Aboriginal Canadian citizens under Canadian common law.

A history of the Crown & Aboriginal Title

Aboriginal peoples across what is now known as North America have maintained a strong connection to the land since time immemorial. Although there is vast cultural variation between First Nations, most groups maintained similar beliefs and principles that governed their relationship with and responsibility to the land. Most First Nations did not believe that pieces of land could or should be owned by individuals—humans, along with all other living beings, belonged to the land. The land provided for humans, and in turn, humans bore a responsibility to respect and care for it. Many Aboriginal peoples understand this as a reciprocal relationship with the land. European settlers arriving in North America brought with them concepts of private property ownership, and the notion that humans could, and should, own land as a step towards “civilization.” 

In 1763 the British Crown issued The Royal Proclamation, a document that recognized Aboriginal title during European settlement of what is now Canada. The Proclamation states that ownership over North America is issued to King George III, but that Aboriginal title exists and can only be extinguished by treaty with the Crown. The Proclamation further specifies that Aboriginal land can only be sold or ceded to the Crown, and not directly to settlers.

You can access the Indigenous Foundations resources here

Treaty: Resources

Here, you will find a list of resources that describe treaties, their history, their impact, and the legislations covering them. These resources also function as a starting point in your exploration and research.


History of Treaty making

Frameworks & Governing Bodies