City of Guelph Territorial Acknowledgement

In November 2016, Guelph City Council began offering a Territorial Acknowledgement at the beginning of each Council meeting.

Statement of Acknowledgement

As we gather, we are reminded that Guelph is situated on treaty land that is steeped in rich indigenous history and home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people today.

As a City we have a responsibility for the stewardship of the land on which we live and work.

Today we acknowledge the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation on whose traditional territory we are meeting.

Explanation of Statement

  1. The first sentence provides the context that the history does not start at the point of European contact. It begins long before and includes the Anishnaabe, Haudenasanee and Métis peoples, and continues to the present day.
  1. The second sentence refers to the role and responsibility of the City as present day steward of our public lands and natural resources.
  1. The third sentence recognizes that today the people of Guelph reside on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, from whom this land was purchased by the British in 1784, as Upper Canada Treaty No. 3, 1792.

Context and Intent

Canada has entered into a period of reconciliation. The federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report of December 2015 contained 94 calls to action to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous Peoples. It contains the government’s commitment to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. The TRC report has spurred organizations, businesses and provincial and municipal governments across the country to parallel the federal government’s commitment through a variety of initiatives that speak directly to their immediate communities.

Through a motion of Council on June 29, 2016, the City of Guelph has expressed intent to do its part by developing a statement that recognizes the traditional territory in which we live and work and that acknowledges the presence of Indigenous Peoples from the past through to the present. This document is intended to provide City of Guelph elected officials and staff with a statement of territorial acknowledgement and a guide for putting the acknowledgement into practice.

Development of Acknowledgement

City staff met with several First Nations, Métis and Inuit community leaders and elders to draft the territorial acknowledgement. The group reviewed examples of existing acknowledgements from various organizations, universities, municipalities, and the Province of Ontario. From the start it was recognized that the process itself held value as it created a path to new conversations that will serve to build deeper awareness and strengthen relationships within our community.

Much effort has been made to ensure that the information contained within this document is accurate. It is understood that this is a living document that will continue to evolve over time as an ongoing work in progress. Any inaccuracies may be reported to City of Guelph Clerk’s Office (clerks@guelph.ca).

What is a Territorial Acknowledgement?

A territorial acknowledgement starts with the land: it’s about acknowledging the land we reside on and honouring the relationship between the land and the people living and thriving here long before settlers arrived. It offers an opportunity to pay respect to traditional territories; be mindful of our collective role as stewards of the land; and build awareness of present-day indigenous culture in our community.

Historical Background

Archaeological evidence indicates Indigenous Peoples were present in the area now known as Guelph as early as 11,000 years ago.  Up until the 15th century, the Anishnaabe people lived, farmed, and hunted in the Guelph area before their settlements moved closer to present-day Hamilton.  At one point, the local First Nations population was estimated to number 30,000.  The population steadily declined as many died in epidemics of diseases brought from Europe, while others were driven out of the area during wars, or were absorbed into what is today Six Nations.  After 1690 the Mississauga people entered the area and in 1784 negotiated the sale of a large tract of land, including the location of present-day Guelph, to the British for £1,180.  This transfer of land is covered by Upper Canada Treaty No. 3, 1792.  Today, Guelph is home to many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people who have moved to the area from across Turtle Island.

Use of Acknowledgement

The acknowledgement may be used by the Mayor or designate at the start of public meetings of council and at civic celebrations and other official events, as deemed appropriate, that are either hosted and/or supported by the City. The acknowledgement may be printed, spoken, projected, or posted on the City of Guelph website.

Practice

For a territorial acknowledgment to be meaningful, it is important that it is delivered with a sense of purpose and authenticity.

The City recognizes that various terms may be preferred over others, and that preferred terms can change over time. The City’s practice will be to honour First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in our community with the terms they wish to be identified.