Healthcare Excellence Canada (HEC) honours the traditional territories upon which our staff and partners live, work and play. We recognize that the standard of living that we enjoy today is the result of the stewardship and sacrifices of the original inhabitants of these territories. We must commit to not repeat past mistakes and to work towards more equitable and respectful relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. Acknowledging the territories and the original stewards of these lands is a fundamental responsibility of our organization and part of our commitment to work towards Truth and Reconciliation.
Truth and Reconciliation is an ongoing journey, and as an organization we are committed to being guided by First Nations, Inuit and Métis. We recognize that we are still learning how to respectfully support reconciliation efforts and develop meaningful relationships and partnerships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, organizations and communities. We strive to support cultural safety and humility in the healthcare system and enhance the capacity of the health system to meet the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
As part of our organization’s journey towards Truth and Reconciliation, we explored what land acknowledgements are, why they are important and how we can respectfully honour the land we live on.
In collaboration with Algonquin Spiritual Advisor and Traditional Teacher Albert Dumont, and Indigenous Consultant and Educator Kelly Brownbill, we developed three resources to enhance our understanding of what a land acknowledgement is and why we acknowledge the territory where we are located: What are land acknowledgements; Traditional Land Acknowledgements; and Contemporary Land Acknowledgements. The release of each resource was followed by an opportunity for HEC staff to connect with Albert and Kelly in a safe space, ask questions about the resources and land acknowledgements more broadly. In tandem with this staff learning series, a land acknowledgement for our email signatures and website was drafted.
Throughout this process we learned that a land acknowledgement is a recognition of the place where you are located and the history that has built and preceded it. In recognizing the distinct traditions and cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and communities, it is important to note that land acknowledgements are historically a First Nations protocol.
We extend our gratitude to Albert who shared with our staff that the contemporary understanding or practice of offering a land acknowledgment is rooted in “the way in which First Nations would have greeted and welcomed one another traditionally.” Reflecting on this teaching can be helpful when exploring what this practice means today.
We continue to be grateful for the guidance and support of Monique Manatch, Algonquin Knowledge Keeper, who guides us on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin territory where the HEC office sits.