Land Acknowledgement

We would like to acknowledge this sacred land on which the University of Toronto and Victoria University operate. It has been a site of human activity for 15,000 years. This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and Confederacy of the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. 

We would also like to acknowledge Victoria University’s history and place in colonization. The founder of Victoria University, Egerton Ryerson, was a public advocate for residential schools, calling for Christian “industrial schools” for children [1]. From the late 1800s to 1973, Victoria University was in possession of the sacred Manitou Stone, which held important spiritual significance while hunting to the Cree and Blackfoot Nations in Alberta [2]. In all of Victoria University’s history, these are only two pieces of its contribution to the disenfranchisement of the Indigenous people of Canada. 

However, Indigenous discrimination, disenfranchisement, and genocide are not a phenomena of the past. Indigenous communities continue to suffer from the usurping of land through the creation and maintenance of national parks and protected areas [3]. Canada’s pipeline projects are another current form of stolen land, one that the University of Toronto actively invests in [4]. Issues surrounding treaty rights and the agreements between the Canadian government and the Indigenous people continue to be ignored.

By acknowledging the land that the university sits on, we strive to recognize its history, the privileges it affords us, and the long path of reconciliation that lies ahead. 

We hope that you will consider how you benefit from this stolen land on a daily basis and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Why is this acknowledgement happening?

  • How does this acknowledgement relate to the event or work you are doing?

  • What is the history of this territory? What are the impacts of colonialism here?

  • What is your relationship to this territory? How did you come to be here?

  • What intentions do you have to disrupt and dismantle colonialism beyond this territory acknowledgement [6]?

[1] Egerton Ryerson, the Residential School System and Truth and Reconciliation, Ryerson University’s Aboriginal Education Council

[2] Spirit of the Stone, Wayne Arthurson

[3] The shady past of Parks Canada: Forced out, Indigenous people are forging a comeback, Graeme Hamilton

[4] University of Toronto rejects activists’ call to sell oil and gas investments, Jameson Berkow

[5] Pipeline battle puts focus on Canada's disputed right to use indigenous land, Leyland Cecco

[6] Territory Acknowledgement, Native Land