TLDSB to implement Indigenous land acknowledgement

By Olivia Robinson
Published June 19 2018

Terms like Ojibway Pottawatomi and the mention of treaties will soon be woven into special ceremonies like graduations at Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

Dave Golden superintendent of learning and Holly Groome Indigenous education consultant introduced TLDSB trustees to the board’s new practice of land acknowledgements at a June 12 meeting.

A land acknowledgement is a formal statement of reconciliation that recognizes the traditional territory of Indigenous peoples and the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the land.

“As part of the TLDSB ongoing efforts to learn teach and share about Indigenous peoples discovering more about land acknowledgements brings us closer to understanding this dynamic relationship and acts of reconciliation” wrote Indigenous education consultant Holly Groome in a June 14 email to the Echo.

The practice of land acknowledgements has become increasingly frequent practice at convocations and sports events following the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action in 2015. Many of the report’s recommendations outline specific areas where reconciliation should be advanced in this country such as in the health-care and justice systems in the preservation of Indigenous languages and cultures as well as in educational settings.

“[A land acknowledgement] makes a small step towards reconciliation a process to which we are committed. It is a small way to recognize the history of colonialism and a move towards a society where Indigenous culture is honoured and respected” wrote Groome.

According to a highlights document following the board meeting the land acknowledgement will be used at special events such as graduations and when the community is present as well as board events and district-wide events for staff and students.

The acknowledgement was included in the board’s highlights document containing a long and short version with pronouncers. The short version reads:

“Trillium Lakelands District School Board acknowledges that these lands and waters are the traditional homeland of the Ojibway Nation and the Huron/Wendat Nation and now includes communities from the Mohawk Nation the Pottawatomi Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario. We acknowledge their stewardship throughout the ages.”

In August of this year TLDSB principals will be presented a copy of the land acknowledgement along with additional resources to help schools better understand its significance and practice.

As for upcoming graduation ceremonies later this month principals may choose to incorporate the land acknowledgement of their own volition. Each year an updated version of the land acknowledgement would be shared with the schools according to Groome.

The land acknowledgement is just the latest in a series of TLDSB programming that aims to forge a connection between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. The TLDSB has ongoing events such as treaty education week and orange shirt day which raises awareness about the residential school system.