Land Acknowledgement Statements

What is a land acknowledgement statement?

A land acknowledgement statement is usually made at the beginning of a gathering or special event. The purpose is to acknowledge the host Indigenous nation(s) on whose territory people are gathering, as a sign of gratitude and respect. The length of land acknowledgement statements, even for one specific location, may vary, and the wording may be informed by oral histories, wampum agreements, treaties, historical documents, and/or contemporary Indigenous understandings of an Indigenous nation’s relationship to that land and to other Indigenous nations. Acknowledging the traditional territories of host nations has been a practice common to many Indigenous nations for generations, but is new to many Canadians.

Why is Toronto Public Library making land acknowledgement statements?

Making land acknowledgement statements is a sign of respect and affirmation, and is also a first step in the journey towards reconciliation. This initiative also represents one of 42 strategies laid out in TPL's Strategies for Indigenous Initiatives (PDF) which is TPL's formal response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action (PDF).

Moreover, making land acknowledgement statements helps support TPL’s efforts to ensure safe and welcoming spaces for Toronto’s Indigenous communities. It also serves as an awareness building piece for TPL staff and members of the public. It is important for everyone to be aware of the space they inhabit.

Who was involved in putting together these land acknowledgement statements?

TPL's land acknowledgement statements were developed in consultation with TPL's Indigenous Advisory Council, which is made up of community members from Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Métis communities in Toronto, as well as representatives from Indigenous service providers in the city.

When are land acknowledgement statements made?

TPL staff will make land acknowledgement statements at the start of TPL programs, and any other formal gatherings taking place at TPL locations that have been organized by TPL. Land acknowledgement statements are being made only by TPL staff who have attended TPL’s mandatory Indigenous Cultural Competency training and who have some knowledge and understanding of the significance and meaning of these statements and the Indigenous nations who are acknowledged.

Why is there more than one statement?

Because TPL’s branches and buildings are dispersed over a wide geographic range, multiple statements have been created. Most TPL branches share the same statement, while branches in Etobicoke and those along the Humber River have their own statements. There is also a separate statement that is used in our online spaces and for virtual programming. In addition, a children’s statement has been created for use in our online and in-person children’s programming, and which is also on the TPL Kids website.

Anything else I should know?

These land acknowledgement statements are living documents. TPL will update these statements as needed based on additional feedback from Indigenous communities. If you have any questions or comments, please contact: indigenousinitiatives@torontopubliclibrary.ca