This video is the first part in a four part webinar series featuring Jasmine Wong in conversation with Lorrie Gallant.
This series of blog posts explores stories and teachings that Lorrie Gallant shares about the purpose and importance of territorial acknowledgments and treaties. They are based on a recorded webinar from March 18 2020. Lorrie is a writer, illustrator, storyteller, visual artist, educator, Expressive Arts Practitioner, born and raised on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario.
These posts and activities have been written for students to explore as part of a virtual learning community.
The opening text to "Words, Places and Belonging," from Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Residential Schools begins, "Most ethnic groups and nations associate themselves with their historical birthplace - an area, a country, even a continent - which is central to their identity. The things that make such places so important to ethnic and national groups are traditions, memories, myths and history. These elements not only connect past and future generations but also [connects] land and identity. But what happens when those links are broken, unintentionally or intentionally?"
Once it is recognized that those links are broken, how might an acknowledgement of what's broken play a role in justice and restoration of broken links? In the video and activities below, you will explore why territorial acknowledgements are important, and how to make a territorial acknowledgement that is meaningful.
1. Before you watch the video, respond to the following questions in your journal:
- Picture a place where you experience a sense of belonging. What is this place called? When that name place is spoken what are all of the smells, sounds, sights, feelings, stories, memories and experiences that surface for you?
- Australian scholar Ken Taylor writes that “one our deepest needs is for a sense of identity and belonging and… a common denominator in this is human attachment to landscape and how we find identity in landscape and place.”1
- How do you connect to this quote?
- What happens when the links between a place and a person or group of people are broken, intentionally or unintentionally?
- If you are comfortable, share your chosen place with a partner and discuss your response to the questions above.
2. As you watch the video below, take notes on why and how you can create a meaningful territorial acknowledgement using the three prompts as a guide:
- Build Understanding
- Acknowledging the History
- Take Action
In this video, Lorrie Gallant teaches about the necessary steps to creating a meaningful, personal, and responsible land acknowledgement. Lorrie is a writer, illustrator, storyteller, visual artist, educator, Expressive Arts Practitioner, born and raised on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario.
3. After you view the video, follow the 3 phase approach that Lorrie outlined to create a personal and meaningful territorial acknowledgement.
These activities can be done individually or in small groups.
- Research and Build Your Understanding
Build your understanding of the history, stories and teachings from the land, treaties and people on whose ancestral lands your school sits. Consider the questions Lorrie raises in the video to guide your research. Be sure to acknowledge, honour and respect the source of your learning.
- If you have relationships with Elders, Senators or Knowledge holders in your community, respectfully seek teachings about the land, peoples and relationships.
- Your teacher may have a list of resources, social media posts and websites recommended by your district or board’s Indigenous Education Consultant that you can consult; Many First Nations Education Authorities or Band Offices will also have information.
- You can use reputable sources that have engaged in community consultation to learn and raise further inquiry questions:
- Native-Land.ca Map
- Territorial Acknowledgement Information
- Driftscape App (Greater Toronto Area)
- “Coming Home to Indigenous Place Names in Canada” Map (Canadian American Centre at the University of Maine).
B. Acknowledge the History
- If your school is on your community or nation's ancestral territory, what stories, knowledge and teachings do you want to honour, highlight, and celebrate and share with those who might be unfamiliar? If your relationship to the land is as a guest, what have you learned that has stuck with you?
- For ideas that might inspire your acknowledgement, explore ways that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples have created meaningful and personal territorial and land acknowledgment:
- Your acknowledgement should not be a script but rather a sincere way to express and move this important information forward. How will you breathe life into your acknowledgment?
- How will your acknowledgement honour the history and celebrate the rich cultures today?
C. Take Action
The Native Governance Centre asks settlers to consider “How am I leaving Indigenous people in a stronger, more empowered place because of this land acknowledgment?”
- What next steps can and will you take to move forward justice?
4. Practice your acknowledgement until you can clearly and comfortably make a statement without using notes. Your acknowledgement may be different each time you state it.
5. Share your acknowledgement with your class by writing or submitting a voice recording or video.
Though often used interchangeably, some Indigenous teachers explain that territorial and land acknowledgements are not the same thing. Lorrie defines these terms here:
- Territorial acknowledgment- Is knowing where you are and whose land you are on. Knowing that you have benefited from the people that once lived here, hunted here, traveled here, and once felt the earth beneath their moccasins. Know the history, acknowledge that you know and are aware that you have benefitted and are now taking actions to reconcile with this history.
- Land acknowledgement- As Indigenous people we have been called to be caretakers of the land. The earth beneath our feet is our life connection and we are aware of a sense of belonging. We acknowledge this connection and give thanks to all that the earth provides.
This blog is co-written with Erez Zobary, Jasmine Wong and Lorrie Gallant.
1 Ken Taylor, “Landscape and Memory: Cultural Landscapes, Intangible Values and Some Thoughts on Asia,” a paper delivered at the UNESCO third international conference, accessed September 19 2014, http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/mow/mow_3rd_international_conference_ken_taylor_en.pdf. As quoted in Stolen Lives Reading 3: Words, Places and Belonging, page 80.