Ryerson Land Acknowledgement
In 2014, then Provost and Vice President Academic, now President Mohamed Lachemi requested the Aboriginal Education Council (AEC) to create a Land Acknowledgement Statement to be used uniformly across the university. Thus, the AEC did this work in the spring and summer of 2014. This Land Acknowledgement can be read aloud by anyone, and we recommend that this be the event host who shares this statement with the audience and/or participants.
Additionally there has been an open forum on campus about the land acknowledgement which you may view here:
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 filePDF filePDF copy of the Ryerson Land Acknowledgment statement.
A couple months ago I requested the usage of the AEC Land Acknowledgement at the beginning of each of the 6 workshops for the LGBT Educational Series. I thought the Land Acknowledgement was very well received and it sparked up some conversation throughout the entire process of implementing this series.
I spoke to management about the inclusion of the Land Acknowledgement and recommended they watch the video on "Why do we acknowledge the land?". One conversation in particular, during the "Historical Contexts: Then and Now" topic in the series, was about fighting for/ with the Aboriginal community; the speaker connected the liberation and sovereignty of the Aboriginal community to the liberation of stigma and homophobia faced by the LGBT community. Some other comments I heard were: "I've never heard that particular Land Acknowledgement before", "I like the analogy of the dish", and "It's beautiful". The first time I presented the Land Acknowledgement, I actually got some applause from the audience and a "thank you". Some of the seniors really value this Land Acknowledgement being part of the LGBT Educational Series.
The Land Acknowledgement added to the LGBT educational series and I learned so much through this whole process. I'm very thankful I had the opportunity to share this Land Acknowledgement with those who participated in the series. Thank you Cyndy and thank you to the AEC.
- Brian Lyn