Recognizing First Nation and Indigenous cultures is important to Canadians. So, in honour of National Truth & Reconciliation Day, we would like to share our favourite ways to honour First Nations and Indigenous Peoples during your events.
How To Honour First Nations During Your Corporate Events
- Before the event, make sure you know the treaty land/ territory you are on. It will be important to know this in order to give thanks to the host nation. Ask around to know what land the building sits on, or do your research prior to the event. Be sure that you are pronouncing the land right, as it can be disrespectful to some if not pronounced correctly.
- A very common way to recognize the land your event is on is by a formal thank you to the hosting nation. At the beginning of your event, during the welcoming remarks, we recommend including a formal thank you. This land acknowledgement statement should be presented by the host or the emcee.
- Ask a first nation representative to attend your event. During the opening remarks, you can have them perform a blessing, prayer or perform a smudging ceremony. Just remember, if smoke is involved, let the venue management know in advance about this.
- Make sure that there is a part of your event that supports First Nation weather. This can be done through a small presentation about the land, an activity or having the tables read the land acknowledgment.
- Should you have a first nation representative attend, we recommend having a gift or a token thanking them for you holding your event on their land. We recommend tobacco as it has great ceremonial significance in the Indigenous culture.
- If an elder is invited or you are aware will come, be sure to welcome them. I recommend assigning a staff member to receive them at the door and escort them out. If the elder wants to and if you have beforehand asked for them to speak at the event, try to thank them in the following way. “Thank you to Elder [xxxx] from the [xxxx] Nation and a member of the [xxxx] program, for sharing your words of welcome with us today. Let me start by acknowledging the …”.
- In Canada many prefer to be called Aboriginal or Indigenous more often than First Nation. Prior to your event, I recommend doing some research on this. In the spirit of honour and reconciliation, there is a need to make sure that the Indigenous Peoples are being respected. Be sure to ask your planner or local Indigenous communities for the appropriate protocols.
Incorporating Indigenous Culture Into Your Event
- You can have a Pow Wow drum that opens the event during the welcoming remarks. The drum is said to be the heartbeat of Mother Earth and is often accompanied by singing. This is a tradition that is always performed by Indigenous Persons as it holds great honor and responsibility.
- Pair your drumming performance with traditional dancers. Performances typically last around 20-40 minutes which includes the narration of the history and teaching of the dance style. Some dance performances could include Metis Jiggers or an Indigenous hoop dancer.
- There are many different places to get specific Indigenous foods to be served at your event. We recommend doing some research to see who can cater the food at your event. If bringing in an outside caterer is not an option with your venue, consider an action station hosted by the venue or an Indigenous People. Some options could include a Salmon station of Bannock station.
- A great way to incorporate Indigenous culture into your event is by having some art displayed by local artists. Have art stations where the artwork is displayed or bring in a local artist to share Indigenous stories about their culture and artwork.
- Storytelling is another interactive activity that can be incorporated into your event. Story telling is done by elders in the Indigenous group and can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Seek Out Help From A Professional
There are many different ways to incorporate and honour First Nations at your event. We recommend that you get in contact with local Indigenous Persons and ask them what they would appreciate being shown and done at the event. If the event is geared towards them and their culture, find out what ceremonies or activities they want to include. Doing so in advance will allow yous ample time for preparation.
For more ideas on how to incorporate and honour First Nations at your event, book your complimentary consultation call with Sharon!
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