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Land Acknowledgement

Dish with One Spoon Wampum belt
Image of Dish with One Spoon wampum belt


The land acknowledgement started in British Columbia, where there are no treaties at all. Its popularity has spread as an acknowledgment of Indigenous presence and assertion of sovereignty. It is used in a variety of ways, such as at opening events and meetings.

In 2014, then Provost and Vice President Academic, now President Mohamed Lachemi requested the Aboriginal Education Council (AEC) to create a Land Acknowledgement Statement to be used uniformly across the university. Thus, the AEC did this work in the spring and summer of 2014.

There has been an open forum on campus about the land acknowledgement which you may view here:

 Why do we Acknowledge the Land?

This Land Acknowledgement is presented as an example of a place to start; and folks are encouraged to consider what their departments are contributing to Truth and Reconciliation.  This can be shared by anyone, though we recommend that this be the event host who shares this statement with the audience and/or participants.

The following statement is Toronto Metropolitan University’s Land Acknowledgement:

"Toronto is in the 'Dish With One Spoon Territory’.  The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect."

The "Dish", or sometimes it is called the "Bowl", represents what is now southern Ontario, from the Great Lakes to Quebec and from Lake Simcoe into the United States. *We all eat out of the Dish, all of us that share this territory, with only one spoon. That means we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the dish is never empty, which includes taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with. Importantly, there are no knives at the table, representing that we must keep the peace. The dish is graphically represented by the wampum pictured above.

This was a treaty made between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee after the French and Indian War. Newcomers were then incorporated into it over the years, notably in 1764 with The Royal Proclamation/The Treaty of Niagara.


Burrows, John. 1997. “Wampum at Niagara: The Royal Proclamation, Canadian Legal History and Self-Government” in Asche, Michael, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equity, and Respect for Difference. Vancouver: University of British Columibia Press.

Hall, Anthony. 2003.The American Empire and the Fourth World: The Bowl With One Spoon, Part One. Montreal: McGill-Queens.

Johnson, Darlene. 2005. Connecting People to Place: Great Lakes Aboriginal History in Cultural Context. Prepared for the Ipperwash Inquiry.

Simpson, Leanne. 2008. “Looking after Gdoo-naaganinaa: Precolonial Nishnaabeg Diplomatic and Treaty Relationships.” Wicazo Sa Review 23 (2): 29-42.

 (PDF file) TMU Land Acknowledgment statement.


Canadian Association of University Teachers Guide to Acknowledging Traditional Territory (external link) 

Check out the Whose Land App (external link)  for learning about the territory your home or business is situated on, finding information for a land acknowledgement, and learning about the treaties and agreements signed across Canada.