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Creating meaningful land acknowledgements

[Land Acknowledgement Workshop]
Laura Maracle, Indigenous Cultural Safety Coordinator at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre in Student Affairs, and Dale Bennett, an Indigenous student from Tyendinaga Territory, who is attending the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program at Queen’s Faculty of Education, lead the recently held land acknowledgement workshop. (University Communications)

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives has introduced a land acknowledgement workshop to teach campus community members about the historical significance of the traditional lands that Queen’s University occupies, and to understand the importance of land acknowledgement statements.

Indigenous History Month
June is Indigenous History Month in Canada.
In recognition of this the Gazette is highlighting a number of articles over the coming weeks.
To learn more about Indigenous Supports at Queen’s University, visit the Inclusive Queen’s webpage.
Information is also available at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre website.

Developed in response to the high demand for Indigenous cultural services on campus, this collaborative experience encouraged the first 25 attendees on Tuesday, May 28 to move beyond standard land acknowledgements and embrace a more reflective and intentional approach.

The two-hour workshop also gave participants the opportunity to create their own personalized land acknowledgments and practice in a safe setting. It reached capacity two days after registration opened, and there is currently a wait list for people who wish to attend future land acknowledgement workshops.

“Creating personal land acknowledgements is a part of reconciliation for all people,” says Vanessa McCourt, Coordinator, Office of Indigenous Initiatives. “By giving participants the space to develop their own land acknowledgements, they are able to see themselves in this process and work towards right relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

The workshop was run by Laura Maracle, Indigenous Cultural Safety Coordinator at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre in Student Affairs, and Dale Bennett, an Indigenous student from Tyendinaga Territory, who is attending the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) at Queen’s Faculty of Education.

Bennett helped develop the workshop during his three-week practicum with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

“The goal in creating this workshop is for land acknowledgements to become more meaningful and impactful by tying the participants’ own experiential background into acknowledging the traditional lands in which they occupy,” he says. “A part of my journey at Queen's and through the ATEP program was connecting to my spirituality and culture, and I want to thank Vanessa and Laura who have been instrumental in passing down their teachings to me in order to inform this workshop”.

More sessions are being planned throughout the summer to continue these meaningful conversations.

“It’s important to have discussions about perspective and positionality on campus,” says McCourt. “This workshop allows participants to dig deeper into Indigenous history and traditions and situate themselves within a greater context of change.”

To learn more about Indigenous initiatives, resources and cultural services on campus, visit the Four Directions website.