Land Acknowledgment

Written by Grade 6 Students at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School, Presented at the Class of 2019 Graduation Ceremony

A: This graduation ceremony begins with the land acknowledgement, because we will be using the land and need to respect this place where Indigenous people have lived and continue to live. We wrote this to share some of our learning, and to teach others. We thought about who would be hearing it, and we didn’t want to make it too complicated, or too simple.

S: We would like to thank the First Peoples of this land and all of Creation, including the animals, plants, land, water, air, rocks, trees and all that exists on this beautiful Earth.

K: We honour the Indigenous people whose traditional territories include the land on which we gather today : the Petun, the Wendat, Mississaugas, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, and other Nations, whose names we no longer remember because of the impact of colonialism.

A: We want to honour the Treaties that were made with the Land and between First Nations and the Crown. Treaties should be honoured no matter what political party is in power.

The story of Canada that most of us know is not the whole story. We have been learning from Indigenous sources about losing language and culture through residential schools, and also about ceremony, celebration and strength of community.

When we are thinking about doing something to the land, like dams or pipelines, we should ask Indigenous people first, because they lived in balance with nature for thousands of years. We have lost our relationship to the earth by doing things like polluting and taking too much.

S: We need to ask ourselves:

What is more important, what I get out of this, or what happens to the land?

A: We need to think seven generations ahead:

What we do today, how will that affect tomorrow?

We invite you to do the same.

Notes:

This land acknowledgment was brought to life by the Grade 6 students at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School after about 15 classes focusing on Indigenous history and culture throughout the year, under the thoughtful facilitation of our teacher-librarian Krista Spence and guidance of our Indigenous consultant (and author of Natural Curiosity) Doug Anderson. The children were so excited to share it with their families and staff at the Class of 2019 Graduation Ceremony. While this land acknowledgment will evolve over time with new students, staff, families, and further consultation with local Indigenous Peoples, we will remember the Class of 2019 for taking this learning to their hearts, growing it passionately, and sharing such a beautiful piece of it with the wider community.

When we looked at land acknowledgements as part of the curriculum I taught, we talked about the significance and what it means. They thought that it didn’t make sense, after all they knew about the Indian act and treaties not being respected, that people said thanks for stealing something. In some of the notes they talked about ‘if someone came to your house and wouldn’t leave and thanked you for your house. It’s terrible.’
Krista Spence, Teacher-Librarian, JICS Lab School

The land that Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School is situated on.