Land Acknowledgement

A line of silhouettes of children standing in a row. They are holding hands. Purple background.

Guelph is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinaabek Peoples, specifically the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

Through Between the Lakes Purchase No. 3 Treaty (1792) the Mississaugas of the Credit ceded to the British Crown over 3 000 000 acres of land between Lakes Huron, Ontario and Erie.

Today, Guelph is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. Guelph Museums commits to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. We must do more to learn, share and support truth and healing.

What is a Land Acknowledgement?

A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

“To think about land activation and land acknowledgment is to remember that there are these rich Indigenous governances that still exist, that are ongoing and that will go into the future,“ said Karyn Recollet, (Cree) Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute.

Why Are Land Acknowledgements Important?

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those on whose territory you reside and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought you to reside on the land and to seek to understand your place within history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in past tense or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build mindfulness of our present participation. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.

Beyond Land Acknowledgement

Land acknowledgments are crucial in sustaining awareness and remembrance, however, they require action and participation in order to fulfill a purpose. We each hold responsibility for participating in this process. By taking time to learn about the truths and histories, through self-reflection and building relationships with the Indigenous community, we can begin to heal.

Guelph Museums’ Commitment

Guelph Museums is accountable to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Calls to Justice. We are adjusting the way history has been portrayed at the Museums to incorporate authentic Indigenous voices, stories, and knowledge, which have traditionally been sidelined in favour of colonial narratives. Guelph Museums considers truth and reconciliation fundamental in upholding its mandate to be a community museum that makes a difference, improving the lives of residents and visitors to the City of Guelph.

Treaty 3: Between the Lakes Purchase Territory

Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3 (1792)

Guelph Museums is situated on Treaty 3 Territory: Between the Lake Purchase, established in 1792. Treaties have been used in practice between Indigenous Nations long before European Settlers arrived. Treaties represent an agreement and respectful partnership between peoples, and are constitutionally recognized agreements between Indigenous Peoples and the Crown. Treaties cover relationships, titles to land, payment of goods, protection of rights, conservation and self-government. These arrangements were often betrayed, and colonial policies were put in place to exploit, assimilate and eradicate Indigenous Peoples.

Treaty 3: Between the Lakes Purchase is an agreement between the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Crown, and covers the municipalities now known as Guelph, Brantford, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Waterloo and Cambridge. The alliances state the land between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, 550,000 acres, was granted to the Six Nations in 1792 along with six miles on each side of the Grand River (Haldimand Proclamation, 1784). The Crown acquired 3,000,000 acres of land from the Mississaugas of the Credit, distributing 550,000 acres to Six Nations and 2,450,000 acres to the British Loyalists.

Treaties were often represented in ways other than paper documents by Indigenous Nations. Haudenosauee practice is to use wampum belts to document treaties and narrate traditions, histories and laws. Beads made from Quahog shells, both white and purple, are held together by string. The Two Row Wampum (Guswenta),  created in 1613, is an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Dutch Settlers stating that each party would respect one another and live in peace. Two purple lines run through a row of three white wampum lines. The two purple lines represent the sailboat and the canoe meaning: “We will go down the river of life, parallel to each other and never merging.” The first-row of white beads symbolizes friendship, the second-row good mind, and the third-row peace, altogether resembling a river.

We have an individual responsibility to recognize and honour the treaties of Turtle Island. Treaties Recognition Week, during the first week of November, is an initiative introduced in 2016 to encourage learning about the importance of treaties, treaty rights and relationships.–vT_zyVWg

Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters

Visit the Families Gallery at Guelph Civic Museum to learn about Orange Shirt Day and to be a part of the Every Child Matters installation.

Orange Shirt Day is a day to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.

Phyllis Webstad started the Orange Shirt Society in 2013 based on her experience at the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, BC, Canada. Phyllis grew up on Dog Creek Reservation with her grandmother. In 1973 Phyllis was to attend the local residential school, so her grandmother purchased a beautiful orange shirt to wear for her first day of school. Phyllis was nervous and excited, as she was not sure what to expect. Upon arriving to the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in her brand new orange shirt, it was stripped from her body never to be returned.

Write or draw on the Orange T-shirt what reconciliation means to you!

You may leave your message in the basket to be added to the “Every Child Matters” wall.

All ages welcome!


Indigenous Reads

Book recommendations by Indigenous authors and illustrators to add to your reading list! Share your recommendations with us via social media and tag @guelphmuseums on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Learn More

Ontario Treaties

Margaret Froh on Métis Experiences with Treaties

Gabrielle Scrimshaw on Indigenous Prosperity

Treaty Recognition Week: Listen, Read, Watch and Reflect

Rick Hill on Rethinking the Two Row Wampum

Doug Williams on treaties’ impact on First Nations languages and cultures



Haudenosaunee [Ho-deh-no-show-nee]

Anishinaabek [Ah-nish-nah-beg]

Ojibwe [Oh-jib-way]

Métis [May-tee]

Inuit [In-ou-eet]

Onondaga [On-on-daw-ga]

Tuscarora [Tusk-a-rora]

Oneida [Oh-nye-da]

Posted by Dawn Owen on November 2, 2018

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