Research and consultation has been key to creating a meaningful and intentional land acknowledgement, and we welcome further dialogue.
In January 2018, Ryerson University published the Building a New Foundation for Generations to Come: Community Consultation Summary Report, a document that reflects on Ryerson’s ongoing and future commitment to advancing Truth and Reconciliation across Ryerson University. Ryerson has committed to respond to the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada, and, in doing so, we are creating our own pathway to reconciliation. As part of our commitment to truth and reconciliation at Ryerson, the Future Skills Centre acknowledges that Toronto is situated upon traditional and current Indigenous territories that include the Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
Land acknowledgement has become an important acknowledgement of Indigenous presence and assertion of sovereignty. Originally started in British Columbia, where there are few treaties, the land acknowledgement is stated at the openings of events, ceremonies and meetings. Ryerson’s Land Acknowledgement statement was created in 2014 by the Aboriginal Education Council and is used uniformly across the university.
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.
This treaty was 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 territory it refers to – the Dish or, as it is sometimes called, the Bowl – represents what is now southern Ontario, from the Great Lakes to Quebec and from Lake Simcoe to the United States.
We all eat out of the Dish, all of us that share this territory, with only one spoon.
In other words, 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 proportion of Turtle Island (North America) we now call Canada has been home since time immemorial to the ancestors of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples. We recognize that in this territory, Indigenous rights holders have endured historical oppression and continue to endure inequalities that have largely resulted from the widespread failure of non-Indigenous treaty people to hold up their responsibilities within the Dish With One Spoon Covenant. In our role as a research center governed by a consortium of partners, the Future Skills Centre is committed to raising awareness of our shared commitments to taking care of this land, and to rebuilding and renewing respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We aim to support and advance progress towards the Calls to Action outlined in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). In particular we are working with partners to close the significant educational, employment, and health outcome gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. We are committed to building and maintaining equitable, respectful, and solid relationships with Indigenous organizations and leaders in areas of policy, business, human resources, and beyond.
Inspired by the 94 recommended TRC Calls to Action and the work carried on by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), we accept that it is our responsibility to acknowledge the territories on which we work and reside as a necessary first step toward honouring the original occupants of a place. These acknowledgements help our internal staff and external partners recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ prior and continued claims to the land, and to our shared responsibility for caring for the land, water, and our relationships. This recognizes the inherent kinship beliefs held by Indigenous peoples about land, especially since those beliefs were restricted by Canadian policies for so long.
We make land acknowledgements to recognize how systemic and institutional systems of power have oppressed Indigenous peoples, and how that oppression has historically influenced the way non-Indigenous people perceive and interact with Indigenous peoples. We encourage all of our staff and partners to take the time to read the Final Report of the TRC, and to consider how the scope of our shared and external projects can further advance progress on the Calls to Action.