Board adopts Aboriginal acknowledgement

What began as an informal tribute to Indigenous history and culture has become a formal part of the protocol and traditions across the campus community.

By James Shewaga

On October 6, the University of Saskatchewan board of governors became the latest group on campus to formally adopt tribute language used to open all of its board and committee meetings:

“As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nation and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.”

The acknowledgement has been used for a number of years at events ranging from convocation ceremonies and the Graduation Powwow to Senate meetings and University Council, which formally adopted the motion in June 2015. Variations of the tribute language now begin executive meetings, presidential addresses, news conferences and a multitude of other events across campus.

“Originally it was used more in ceremonial situations, but now it is used whenever we are gathering for meetings,” said University Secretary Beth Williamson. “It acknowledges where we are and that is important. It centres us and allows us to recognize that we have a responsibility to our ancestors of this place and it demonstrates that all of us have a role in the relationship building.”

The language was originally developed by a team of faculty and staff through the Teaching, Learning and Academic Resources Committee of Council. The body consulted broadly with members of the Indigenous community of campus and those most connected with Indigenous programming.

Williamson said the board’s Governance and Executive Committee is encouraging the use of tribute language at all university events, including Huskie Athletics.