Land acknowledgment & welcome

Land-welcome-person-with-cedar-woven-hat-and-hands-raised

Royal Roads University acknowledges that the campus is on the Lands of the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees) ancestors and families.

With gratitude, we live, work and learn here where the past, present, and future of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty and staff come together.

In honour of the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees) ancestors, Hay’sxw’qa si’em (hy-sh-kwa sea-em)! This means, "Thank you, respected or honourable one."

Chief's traditional welcome

Listen to a traditional welcome from Elected Chief Ron Sam of Lekwungen Nation on behalf of the Chiefs of the Lekwungen (Songhees) Nation and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) Nation.

Chief's traditional welcome

Land acknowledgments at Royal Roads

Whether you’re a member of our university community, considering attending Royal Roads, or visiting our campus for an event, you’ll find that we practice making Land acknowledgments at the start of meetings, presentations and events.

In these Lands, when a member of a different Indigenous nation visits the lands of another nation, they seek permission, beginning by acknowledging the traditional presence of the nation they are visiting.

Asma-na-hi Antoine, our Indigenous engagement associate director, reminds us that doing this is a small sign of reconciliation — one way that we can affirm the past and present home of the families of these Lands and honour the practice of respectful acknowledgement of their deep ties to it.

Acknowledgment, not welcome

There's an important difference between the acknowledgment of the Lands and a welcome to the Lands.

Anyone who's a visitor and guest on these Lands can conduct a Land acknowledgment. However, guests and visitors who are not from the traditional Lands cannot welcome other guests and visitors to the lands.

You can invite a Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) or Lekwungen (Songhees) member of the Heron People Circle to conduct a welcome by contacting Asma-na-hi Antoine, Indigenous engagement associate director. She will provide you with direction on how to make the invitation, what to prepare in advance, and what to do on the day.

Follow an example

Asma-na-hi Antoine, associate director of Indigenous engagement, offers the following land acknowledgment:

Royal Roads University is located on the ancestral and traditional Lands of the Lekwungen speaking families of Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees). I raise my hands in appreciation for their continued teachings and contribution of their knowledge shared with the Royal Roads University family.

This phrase sounds scripted, but that's okay. Over time, you'll create an acknowledgment that is organic and authentic to you. Adding your intention and purpose and how being in this place connects to whatever you are doing can help you to find your voice when you do this.

What to call the Lands

The members of our Heron People Circle and our local Chiefs and Council members prefer that we use the specific names of the families and ancestors when we conduct a Land acknowledgment.

That’s the reason we say "Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees)" at Royal Roads.

We acknowledge that the term "Coast Salish" was coined by immigrant linguists to refer to one branch of the vast Salishan language family and this term is variously accepted by members of the Nations that speak Salishan languages. Both are correct, but it's best to use specific family or Nation names.

Pronunciation

It can be intimidating to say words we don’t know how to pronounce in any language. It’s also not uncommon for immigrant-descendants and immigrants to worry that they might offend Indigenous Peoples if they say a Nation or place name wrong. Our Heron People tell us that they appreciate it when people try. They also recommend asking someone who knows how to say the names the way community members do, especially an Indigenous person who is from the place.

Nothing replaces hearing these words spoken by members of these communities, but here is a pronunciation guide for our local Nations:

  • Songhees (song-eez)
  • Esquimalt (es-kwai-malt)
  • Lekwungen (lekwun-gen)
  • Pacheedaht (pa-chee-dat)
  • Pauquachin (paw-kwi-chin)
  • Scia’new (chee-a-new)
  • Tsartlip (sart-lip)
  • Tsawout (say-out)
  • Tseycum (say-come)
  • Xwsepsum (ko-sap-sum)

Contact

Email Asma-na-hi Antoine, associate director of Indigenous engagement, to learn more about making Land acknowledgements or inviting someone who can offer a welcome to these Lands.