As part of its Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Action Plan, Ryerson University established a University Advisory Council on Aboriginal Issues and Education (Aboriginal Education Council) in 2010. Aboriginal people include First Nations (status and non-status); Métis, and Inuit.
The vision of the Aboriginal Education Council is to ensure that the next seven generations of Aboriginal people will have greater opportunities and success in education at Ryerson University through initiatives that are driven by Aboriginal needs and values.
The goal of the Council is to participate in the process of developing a new relationship of truth and reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people at Ryerson and in the community at large, based on knowledge and respect.
Work of the Council
The Council’s work includes a focus on the following:
- Implementation of the Ryerson University Postsecondary Education and Training Action Plan
- Student recruitment, retention and engagement
- Imbedding Aboriginal knowledges and other content throughout the University, campus, curriculum and community
- Staff and faculty recruitment, retention and engagement/support, including research support for faculty
In 2014, then Provost and Vice President Academic Mohamed Lachemi requested the Aboriginal Education Council (AEC) to create a Land Acknowledge Statement to be used uniformly across the university. Thus, the AEC did this work in the spring and summer of 2014.
Additionally there has been an open forum on campus about the land acknowledgement which you may view here: Why do we Acknowledge the Land?"
The following statement is Ryersons Land Acknowledgement:
"Toronto is in the 'Dish With One Spoon Territory’. The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect."
The "Dish", or sometimes it is called the "Bowl", represents what is now southern Ontario, from the Great Lakes to Quebec and from Lake Simcoe into the United States. *We all eat out of the Dish, all of us that share this territory, with only one spoon. That means we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the dish is never empty, which includes taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with. Importantly, there are no knives at the table, representing that we must keep the peace. The dish is graphically represented by the wampum pictured above.
This was a treaty made between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee after the French and Indian War. Newcomers were then incorporated into it over the years, notably in 1764 with The Royal Proclamation/The Treaty of Niagara.
The land acknowledgement started in British Columbia, where there are no treaties at all. Its popularity has spread as an acknowledgment of Indigenous presence and assertion of sovereignty. It is used in a variety of ways, such as at opening events and meetings.
Burrows, John. 1997. “Wampum at Niagara: The Royal Proclamation, Canadian Legal History and Self-Government” in Asche, Michael, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equity, and Respect for Difference. Vancouver: University of British Columibia Press.
Hall, Anthony. 2003.The American Empire and the Fourth World: The Bowl With One Spoon, Part One. Montreal: McGill-Queens.
Johnson, Darlene. 2005. Connecting People to Place: Great Lakes Aboriginal History in Cultural Context. Prepared for the Ipperwash Inquiry.
Simpson, Leanne. 2008. “Looking after Gdoo-naaganinaa: Precolonial Nishnaabeg Diplomatic and Treaty Relationships.” Wicazo Sa Review 23 (2): 29-42.
Hyperlink to Download a PDF copy of the Ryerson Land Acknowledgment statement.