The City of Markham is situated upon traditional territories of the Anishinaabe Peoples and of the Haudenosaunee Peoples. These territories are covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. The First Nations community in closest proximity to the City of Markham are the Chippewas of Georgina Island.
In January 2018, the City approved its formal land acknowledgement to recognize and honour the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples. This statement is articulated at the beginning of Council and other Committee meetings. The land acknowledgement helps us lead while remembering and acknowledging our history. The act of saying and repeating the land acknowledgement is also a way for us to honour oral traditions and to help us commit the sentiment to memory.
In 2021 the City updated its land acknowledgement.
A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that acknowledges and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of the land, as well as the long-standing relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their ancestral territory. Land acknowledgements are used to show appreciation for the land, which has been a custom for Indigenous people for generations. In municipal and community settings across Canada, land acknowledgements have become a widespread practice–a tiny but significant step toward reconciliation.
Land acknowledgements are a sincere way to acknowledge the traditional territory of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit lands. The purpose of land acknowledgements is to honour Indigenous peoples' connection to the land and recognize Indigenous peoples have an established relationship as caretakers of our collective first mother, Mother Earth. It is an attempt to shift how the land is viewed and discussed. Land acknowledgements help reframe how people see themselves in relation to Indigenous peoples and the original caretakers of these territories.
The original land acknowledgement was a great first step. Through growing relationships, the City of Markham has learned and continues to learn more about Indigenous peoples. The new land acknowledgement was updated with the support of elders, youth, and community members from various First Nations communities. It aims to recognize Indigenous communities in a holistic way while recognizing how to practise reconciliation in our daily lives - inside ourselves and our families, as well as in our communities, governments, schools, and businesses.
During the creation of a more meaningful land acknowledgement, it is important to acknowledge not only the ancestral lands, but also the traditional treaties that are still in effect today. As Canadians, we must be committed to the continuing task of developing and maintaining respectful relationships.