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Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies is an interdisciplinary field grounded in the languages, histories, geographies, and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples

Go to What is a territorial acknowledgement sectionGo to Components sectionGo to Creating informed and intentional territorial acknowledgements sectionGo to Do Your Research sectionGo to Videos sectionGo to Territorial Acknowledgements at KPU

What is a territory acknowledgement?

A territorial acknowledgement is a written or verbal statement meant to recognize the Indigenous lands where an event takes place and the Indigenous peoples who have and currently reside there.  Generally speaking, the intent is meant as one of respect, to acknowledge and re-center Indigenous rights and peoples, and was originally meant to disrupt colonial narratives by acknowledging Indigenous ties to the land, both historically and in present times. Many organizations adopt territorial acknowledgements as an act of reconciliation.

Whether land acknowledgements successfully achieve these goals is debated. There is some critique that territorial acknowledgements can be tokenistic.

To keep territorial acknowledgement meaningful, it is important to understand the history, intent, and your reasons for providing a territorial acknowledgement. Understanding your role, the role of the acknowledgement, and its place in reconciliation can help you craft a thoughtful and authentic acknowledgement.

The resources in this guide are provided to help you craft your own acknowledgement, as well as to present the differing viewpoints on its use. 

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Components of territorial acknowledgements

While there is no prescribed, set structure to a territorial acknowledgement, nor is there a "best" way to create one, there are some components and general pieces in a territorial acknowledgement that are commonly seen. Please consider the following and this guide not a prescription, but merely suggestions to some of the resources and components that may occur.

  • Situating yourself
  • Name Indigenous territories you are on and the Indigenous nations and communities who live there
  • Express gratitude to a host nation if you have been invited
  • Name meaningful connections
  • Highlight resources, learning, reflection
  • Acknowledge the ongoing experience of colonialism and other tools of erasure
  • Calls to action

Depending on your intent, your territorial acknowledgment may include some or all of these components. We encourage you to do further reading using your own research or resources named below so the decisions you make while crafting your acknowledgement is intentional and informed.

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Creating informed and intentional territorial acknowledgements

The following resources are provided as a way for you to start your self-education. We encourage you to do your own research, which might include seeking guidance from your host nations and their websites.

Do Your Research

Understanding the Indigenous nations and lands, their histories and present day experiences, is one important way towards to crafting a meaningful acknowledgement. Going through the process of doing your own research, learning about the land you are on, learning about Indigenous peoples and their territories, is an essential step.

Doing your own research can take different forms.  

  • Find out about the Indigenous land and territories you reside on
  • Explore Nation websites
  • Attend open-to-the-public Indigenous events, learning opportunities, and other educational opportunities
  • Read/listen to Indigenous voices

You can also explore this libguide for resources to help you on your learning journey. Our Traditional Territories page has links to the websites from the Nations whose land KPU resides on. Tools such as Native Land Digital could help you understand the Indigenous communities in your area. KPU's campuses reside on the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), SEMYOME (Semiahmoo),sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ (Tsawwassen), qiqéyt (Qayqayt), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), and the qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) nations. Indigenous Studies Liaison Librarian Rachel Chong has also written an open educational resource called Indigenous Information Literacy, which discusses topics such as respectful research, finding Indigenous voices, and Elder and Knowledge Keeper citations. 

KPU Library also has developed our χʷəχʷéy̓əm Indigenous Collection, with physical spaces and collections featuring Indigenous authors and works at Langley, Richmond, Surrey and Tech campus libraries. Learning, reading, and listening to Indigenous voices can help disrupt colonial narratives. The χʷəχʷéy̓əm Indigenous Collection can be browsed online through our catalogue by searching 'χʷəχʷéy̓əm Indigenous Collection.'

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Accessibility note: The following videos have auto-generated transcription when viewed on YouTube. 

How to Create an Effective and Personal Land Acknowledgement by Zhaawnong Webb (7:52mins)

Video by Indigenous content and video creator, Zhaawnong Webb. Webb covers the basics of territorial acknowledgments and his recommendations on what to include. 

Transformative Territory Acknowledgements by Len Pierre Consulting (59:12mins)

A video recording of a lunch and learn by Len Pierre Consulting. Pierre is a Coast Salish Indigenous speaker and is the CEO and owner of Len Pierre Consulting. This video covers the basics of territorial acknowledgements and also delves deeper into the intricacies questions surrounding their use. The main presentation portion of the session ends at timestamp 42:14; the remaining part of the video is Q&A and discussion.

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Territorial Acknowledgement at KPU

KPU's territorial acknowledgement (as of February 2023) is as follows:

We at Kwantlen Polytechnic University respectfully acknowledge that we live, work and study in a region that overlaps with the unceded traditional and ancestral First Nations territories of the Musqueam, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem; and with the lands of the Kwantlen First Nation, which gifted its name to this university.  
In the cause of reconciliation, we recognize our commitment to address and reduce ongoing systemic colonialism, oppression and racism that Indigenous Peoples continue to experience. 

This version was announced in KPU President Alan Davis' 'President's Update' on February 6, 2023, which is available as a video on Video Messages, Office of the President

In this video, President Davis stresses that this version is a guideline; he acknowledges and encourages the use of one's own voice to create statements.   

You may hear or see variations of this acknowledgement across the organization, from email signatures to the start of events or at meetings. 

In addition to gaining understanding of the Nations whose land you are on, understanding the supports, programs, and initiatives towards decolonization at KPU can help you gain a better understanding of the University's and your own role towards decolonization efforts. The following links are intended as a starting point for you to understand the Indigenous supports and initiatives at KPU. It is not a comprehensive list. If you wish to have a link added to this list, please contact the Indigenous Studies Liaison Librarian.