Indigenous initiatives

Boozhoo, she:kon, waachjiiye, tansi, ahnee, tungasugiit, sago, greetings

Welcome to Conestoga College, where education, access and belonging are institutional priorities. We recognize that post-secondary institutions are in a unique position to take action that can positively impact Indigenous health, language, culture, and, especially education. Conestoga is committed to increasing Indigenous learners’ access to and success in post-secondary education and closing the participation and achievement gap. We continue to be dedicated to the goals outlined by the provincial government in the Aboriginal Post-secondary Education and Training Policy Framework (APETP) to support positive outcomes in post-secondary education and training for Indigenous people living in Ontario.

Our response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action continues through our ongoing emphasis on improving education and attainment levels and success rates of Indigenous learners. Developing culturally appropriate curricula, including the teaching of Indigenous languages, as well as offering a range of programming, services and research opportunities that promote Indigenous ways of knowing and reconciliation remain a priority.

Our commitment formally began in 2009 with the establishment of Be-Dah-Bin Gamik, an Indigenous Services department. The Be-Dah-Bin Gamik team continues to grow; providing dedicated supports and spaces for Indigenous students for learning, engagement and belonging. In 2018, Conestoga signed the Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes with key First Nations, Inuit and Métis stakeholders. This confirmed Conestoga’s prioritization of the protocol’s seven guiding principles “to address the learning needs of Indigenous peoples and support self-determination and socio-economic development of Indigenous communities.” Our institutional commitments have resulted in the creation of research and land-based revitalization projects, educational opportunities for faculty and staff , and ongoing curriculum Indigenization initiatives across the college.

Recently, Conestoga has begun development of an Indigenous Strategic Plan. While we work with our community to develop our multi-year framework, we continue to focus on Indigenous initiatives in the areas of research, curriculum development, recruitment of Indigenous-identifying students and employees, employee education, creating welcoming spaces, and embedding the work of reconciliation into our organizational plans.

At Conestoga, we believe that all students can be successful. As outlined in Conestoga’s 2021-24 Strategic Plan, “We promote and foster a college community that is characterized and enriched by equity, diversity, and inclusivity.” A shift is taking place in Indigenous research, scholarship and education and we look forward to continued collaboration to support and empower the success, prosperity and well-being of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities we serve.

Land acknowledgement

At Conestoga College, we would like to acknowledge that in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Brantford we are located on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to the Haudenosaunee people of Six Nations, which includes six miles on either side of the Grand River. This is the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee, and Neutral peoples. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory we reside on, and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land for thousands of years.

Understanding the land acknowledgement

Meaning of and how to create a land acknowledgement

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory we reside on, and a way of honouring the Indigenous peoples who have been living and working on it for thousands of years. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought us to reside on the land, and to seek to understand our place within that history.

  • Consider who is sharing the acknowledgment. It is appropriate for the host of the event to open by acknowledging the land.
  • A land acknowledgement is meant to be spoken meaningfully. Use the script as a starting place but be flexible when speaking and adapt it to the event/opportunity.
  • Practice pronunciation or consult a pronunciation guide to honour the nations of which you speak. Anishnawbe (Ah-Nish-Knob-bay), Haudenosaunee (Hud-din-nah-shown-knee), and Neutral peoples.
Resources

The following collection of resources encourage greater understanding of land acknowledgements and may assist you in developing your land acknowledgement:   

Continue your learning

Conestoga's Library has curated an Indigenous Resources guide that can be used as a starting point to find multidisciplinary eBooks, journals and films for educational, research and leisure purposes. Most of the work highlighted in this guide are by First Nations, Inuit and Metis authors and filmmakers.