Si’ye’ya: to Witness, to Acknowledge

 by Jessica Humphries (AYIP Year 10 Intern) and Bradley Dick (AYIP Program Coordinator)

(Bradley is the BCPSA Aboriginal Youth Internship Program Coordinator and celebrates his Lkwungen, Mamalilikulla, Ditidaht, and Scottish heritage.)

* Originally Posted to the Aboriginal Youth Internship Program (AYIP) Site *

Ey’skway’chul si’em  nu’shawla’kwa, Ey’skway’chul  si’em nuschala’cha, namekwa ti’e skway’chul tsa Lkwungen tung’exw. (Good day my respected close family, Good day my respected extended family, welcome this day to the Place to Smoke Herring lands)

Many have perhaps experience me sharing this at the beginning of a conference, forum or meeting and believe me when I say, I am always honoured to share and humbled by the responsibility of welcoming my extended family to our traditional, ancestral, and supernatural land and waters.

Culturally what does this mean to many First Nations, Metis and Inuit relatives?

Over years, decades, centuries and millennia, we as Indigenous peoples have had relational connections to each other, whether through culture, relational, war and economic trade commerce. The simple gesture of acknowledging land and water keepers of specific territories allowed us to bring honour to those families and communities in a good way. This gesture provided opportunity to establish who we are, our intent and our relation to the family or community.  This allowed us to reaffirm our relations to ensure we have done our work in a good way and that we are following age old teaching of connecting and reconnecting to family, community and culture.

This very act and recognition allowed us to rekindle those we are honouring role, rights and responsibilities in their homelands and provided opportunity to honour and offer our respect, integrity and humility to them as keepers of their lands and waters. Honour individually, culturally, hereditary roles, ancestral connections, and their rights and role connected to their land and water resources.

This socio-economic connection was not always monetarily visibly based however was how we invested and honoured each other’s roles as care takers of our lands and water.

Together with our Gen Ten (year ten) intern Jessica Humphries we have created two basic poster formats that we hope will assist in this simple gesture of acknowledging the lands and waters that we travel as public servants and to pay respect to our First Nations, Metis and Inuit relatives in a good way. The first is the example and as we are on Lekwungen Lands we thought best to create a couple posters for the BC PSA Learning Centre Pilot Bay Boardroom. As modeled by yours truly.

These posters we hope will create not only learning opportunities, strengthen awareness, and assist in a minute way in contributing to the TRC calls to action. We hope that folks find this format easy to use and simple to upload and add to their working environments whether your cubical, quiet rooms, free space, or boardrooms. As a gentle reminder that we have capacity to start our work in a good way and acknowledging the traditional keeper of the lands we live work and play.


     Victoria Region example     


LEKWUNGEN Peoples Poster

  Blank Template example










Our encouragement 🙂

Go to this link upload the template and in our blog share the lands you are on and if you wish take a picture and send it to .

Over to you Jessica…. 🙂

Kwe’ Teluisi (Hello my name is) Jessica Humphries, I identify and an urban Indigenous mixie, my father is Metis, Mi’kmaq with ties to the Kalinago peoples in Caribbean and my mother is Irish and Scottish.  Through family silence, trauma and distance from my families’ traditional territories I have done most of my learning as an adult on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen speaking peoples. For me it is important to acknowledge that even as an indigenous person I am stilling finding my way, still learning my teachings and still honoring and reconciling my mistakes.

Acknowledging the land has been one teaching that I have been grateful to learn and grow with and one that fills my heart spaces and brings awareness and presence when I hear it at the start of ceremony, meetings, events, etc… A teaching that for me is a process of learning and unlearning in itself, it is a gift of one’s time, one’s energy to these lands as we work to cultivate community care in our work, homes and lives.

So what does this mean tangibly? I am often told “I do not know how to acknowledge” or “I do not want to mess up”. Firstly, there is no one way to acknowledge lands.  I always say make sure you know the names of the people’s lands that you are on and give something back in your words. Maybe you acknowledge with gratitude, talk about your personal relationship to the land or the barriers that still exist for indigenous peoples. And if you say the wrong territory or have not so great pronunciation someone will correct you, and you will know for next time. Remember that we must be vulnerable to truly be relationship in with one another.

Here are some ways to acknowledge the lands in your everyday work:

•             Opening a meeting, event or presentation with a Territory Acknowledgement

•             Put up Territory Acknowledgement  posters in board rooms

•             Have a Territory Acknowledgement  in your foyer or entrance to your ministry or office

•             Add an acknowledgment  to your Email Signature

Let’s keep the dialogue going and support each other on this journey – Comment below on one way you will work on acknowledging the lands, something you are already doing or other suggestions you have. If you’re comfortable post a photo.

Hay’sxw’qa Si’em Na’kwilia (Thank you Respected All People)