In November 2016, Guelph City Council began offering a territorial acknowledgement at the beginning of each Council meeting. This statement was developed as part of our continuous journey toward reconciliation. It was centred in truth and an ongoing commitment to nurturing relationships in the place we call Guelph. In September 2022, the City committed to refreshing and updating the territorial acknowledgment to better reflect our journey and the significant move forward in our understanding and relationships.
Statement of acknowledgement
As we gather, let us take time to reflect on our privilege to live and work in Guelph; a city built over rich Indigenous histories. We are guests here, and we should reflect upon the responsibility to care for this land, the people who live here today, and the generations to come. If our actions today can move us towards reconciliation, we should take pause and make those decisions with intention and gratitude.
This place we call Guelph has served as traditional lands and a place of refuge for many peoples over time, but more specifically the Attiwonderonk, and the Haudenosaunee. This land is held as the treaty lands and territory with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Guelph lies directly adjacent to the Haldimand Tract and is part of a long-established traditional hunting ground for the Six Nations of the Grand River. Many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples who have come from across Turtle Island call Guelph home today.
Explanation of statement
- The first paragraph provides the context that history does not start at the point of European contact. It establishes that the lands where Guelph is situated had a rich history, culture and governance structure which existed long before settler contact. It encourages us to reflect on our responsibility to care for the land and resources for both present and future generations, and how we can move towards reconciliation.
- The second paragraph recognizes our treaty partners, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. It also better represents and acknowledges the traditional uses of the land. It strives to better balance the recognition of Indigenous Nations who have considered these lands as traditional territories and reflect on complex histories of the place we now call Guelph.
Context and intent
The 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 federal 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 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 present day. The document was 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.
On September 26, 2023, the City of Guelph Council moved to adopt a refreshed territorial acknowledgement that would reflect our learning and understanding to date as well as our continued commitment to relationship building and journey to truth and reconciliation.
The City of Guelph is continuously learning about the rich and complex histories of Indigenous peoples in this area and is working to refine how the organization can better understand and acknowledge Indigenous Nations, peoples and cultures that have and continue to contribute to the area known as Guelph.
Development and acknowledgement
City staff met with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council. We also met with several Indigenous community members to draft the territorial acknowledgement. Staff reviewed examples of existing acknowledgements from various organizations, universities, and municipalities. 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 and with our neighbours.
Our understanding and reflection around belonging on this land continues to grow through listening and learning from Indigenous communities. This territorial acknowledgement will change over time with those new learnings. For more information, contact [email protected].
What is territorial acknowledgement?
A territorial acknowledgement starts with the land: it’s about acknowledging the land we reside on and honouring a rich history, culture and governance structure which existed long before settler contact. It offers an opportunity to reflect on our privilege as we work and live here and to be mindful of our collective role and responsibility to the land and our surroundings. It is a way to build awareness of present-day Indigenous culture in our community and to commit to reconciliation.
Use of acknowledgement
The territorial acknowledgment will be used at the beginning of formal meetings, announcements, and large gatherings where decision-making is present. The acknowledgement may be used by the Mayor or designate at civic celebrations and other official events, as deemed appropriate, that are either hosted and/or supported by the City. It will also be used within master plans and strategic governing documents authored by the City of Guelph. The acknowledgement may be printed, spoken, projected, or posted on the City of Guelph website.
For a territorial acknowledgment to be meaningful, it is important that it is delivered with a sense of purpose and authenticity. A second phase of the learning journey will focus on understanding the importance and value behind the territorial acknowledgement. Moving forward a greater focus will be given to including personal reflection, personal connection to the land and actions towards reconciliation, providing an opportunity to reflect on each individual’s personal privilege, background, and relationship to Guelph.
For more information
Manager Policy and Intergovernmental Relations
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3920
Senior Advisor, Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3509