Learn about the Land and Peoples of Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal

Two diagonal purple arrows crossing one another at their center

The un-ceded lands where McGill University is located hold a long and rich history of occupation and stewardship by Indigenous peoples for millennia through to the present day. Recognizing and respecting the presence of these historical and contemporary communities, and their unending connection to and care of this land, is an important step towards building trust and creating or renewing relationships.

The Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg peoples have long ties to what is now the Island of Montreal. Kawenote Teiontiakon is a documented Kanien’kéha name for the Island of Montreal. The City of Montreal is known as Tiohti:áke in Kanien’kéha, and Mooniyang in Anishinaabemowin. McGill University is located closest to the Kanien'kehá:ka Nation communities at Kahnawá:ke, Kanehsatà:ke and Akwesasne. The Kanien'kehá:ka Nation is a founding nation of the Haudenosaunee/People of the Longhouse (Iroquois) Confederacy which is also comprised of the Seneca, Tuscarora, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Oneida Nations. The Hochelaga Monument on McGill’s Lower Campus Field commemorates the Iroquoian village of Hochelaga visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535, which was situated in the area around Mont Royal. Beyond the Downtown and Macdonald campuses on the Island of Montreal, McGill University also features four research stations in addition to the newly opened Campus Outaouais in Gatineau, Quebec.

 


What are the Indigenous lands upon which McGill University is situated? 

Kanien’kehá:ka Territory: Downtown and Macdonald Campuses, Island of Montreal

Anishinabeg Territory: Campus Outaouais, Gatineau, Quebec

Abenaki Territory: Gault Nature Reserve on Mount Saint Hillaire, Quebec

Naskapi and Innu Territory: McGill Sub-Arctic Research Station in Schefferville, Quebec

Inuit Territory: McGill Artic Research Station on Grise Fiord Inuit-owned land, Nunavut

Taino (Arawak) and Kalinago (Carib) Territory: McGill Tropical Bellaires Research Station, Barbados

 


Land Acknowledgements

Land acknowledgements are one way of acknowledging the presence of Indigenous nations. Another important step towards reconciliation is learning about the particular communities and nations with ties to Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal.

Land Acknowledgement Guides

Listen to pronounciations:

  • Ahkwesáhsne

Audio icon ahkwesahsne_.mp3

  • Anishinaabeg

Audio icon anishnaabeg.mp3

  • Haudenosaunee canon Rotinonshonni - The Iroquois League

Audio icon haudenosaunee_canon_rotinonshonni_.mp3

  • Io - You're welcome
  • Ionkhhisotho:kon Ratiwe:ras - Grandfather, the thunderers

Audio icon ionkhhisotho_kon_ratiwe_ras_.mp3

  • Ionkhi'nistenha tsi iohonsta:te - Our mother the earth

Audio icon ionkhinistenha_tai_iohonsta_te_.mp3

  • Ionkhihsotha Ahsonthenhnehkha Karahkwa - Grandmother, the nighttime moon

Audio icon ionkhhisotho_kon_ratiwe_ras_.mp3

  • Iotsistohkwaronion tsi tkaronhia:te - The stars in the sky

Audio icon iotsistohkwaronion_tai_tkaronhia_te_.mp3

  • Kahihshon:a - The fruits

Audio icon kahihshon_a.mp3

  • Kahnawà:ke

Audio icon kahnawake.mp3

  • Kahnekaronnion - The waters

Audio icon kahnekaronnion_.mp3

  • Kaienthohsera/Tionhnhehkwen - Our sustenance (Kaienthóhsera, ó:ni’ ne Tionhnhéhkwen – Ó:nenhste, Osahè:ta, tánon Onon’ónsera)

Audio icon kaienthohsera_tionhnhehkwen_.mp3

  • Kaieri Nikawere:ke - Four winds

Audio icon kaieri_nikawere_ke.mp3

  • Kaion'kehá:ka - People of the swamp
  • Kanehsatà:ke

Audio iconkanehsatake_.mp3

  • Kanien’keha:ka - People of the flint, Mohawk

Audio icon kanienkehaka.mp3

  • Katerihwaiénstha ni ní:'I Ohni - I'm a student, too

Audio icon katerihwaiensta_ni_ni_i_ohni_.mp3

  • Katewienstonhatie I am a student

Audio icon katewienstonhatie_.mp3

  • Kentson’shon:a - The fish life

Audio icon kentsonshon_a_.mp3

  • Kontirio - Wild animals

Audio icon kontirio.mp3

  • Kwe - Hi

Audio icon kwe_.mp3

  • KweKwe - Hi there

Audio icon kwekwe_.mp3

  • Niá:wen - Thank you

Audio icon nia_wen_.mp3

  • Niá:wen ki' wáhi - Thanks a lot (thank you my good friend, it's dearer to the heart)

Audio icon nia_wen_ki_wahi_.mp3

  • Nia:wenkowa

Audio icon nia_wenkowa_.mp3

  • Ó:nen - Bye

Audio icon o_nen_.mp3

  • Ó:nen ki' wáhi - Goodbye (goodbye my good friend)

Audio icon o_nen_ki_wahi_.mp3

  • Ohenton KarihwatehkwenWords before all else/thanksgiving address

Audio icon ohenton_karihwatehkwen_.mp3

  • Ohonte’shon:a tanon Ohtehra’shon:a - The plant life and the roots

Audio icon ohonteshon_a_canon_ohtehrashon_a_.mp3

  • Ohswé:ken 

Audio icon ohswen_ken_2.mp3

  • Okwire'shon:a - The trunks and the trees

Audio icon okwireshon_a.mp3

  • Onenio’te’á:ka - People of the standing stone

Audio icon onenioteaka.mp3

  • Onkwehshon:a - The people

Audio icon onkwehshon_a_.mp3

  • Ononhkwa’shon:a - The medicines

Audio iconononhkwashon_a_.mp3

  • Ononta’kehá’ka - People of the hills

Audio icon onontakehaka.mp3

  • Osti’ten’okon:a - Bird life

Audio icon ostitenokon_a.mp3

  • Otsi’nonwa’shon:a - Insects

Audio icon otsinonwashon_a.mp3

  • Ronterihwaienstha Ni ne”e

Audio icon ronterihwaienstha_ni_nee_.mp3

  • She:kon - Hello

Audio icon she_kon_.mp3

  • Shonkawstsí:'a Tiohkehnékha Karáhkwa - Our elder brother the sun

Audio icon shonkawstsi_a_tiohkehnekha_karahkwa_.mp3

  • Shonkwaia’tison - The Creator

Audio icon shonkwaiatison_copy.mp3

  • Shotinontowane'á:ka - People of the big mountains
  • Tehatihskaró:rosPeople of the hemp

Audio icontehatihskaro_ros.mp3

  • Tiohtia:keMontreal

Audio icon tiohtia_ke.mp3

  • Tyendinaga

Audio icon tyendinaga_.mp3

  • Wakateriwaiensta:na - I am going to school 

Audio icon wakateriwaiensta_na_.mp3

  • Wat’kwanonwerá:ton - Welcome

Audio icon watkwanonwera_ton_.mp3

  • Wáhta

Audio icon whata_.mp3


The Sky Dome symbol in white against a purple background.

 

Indigenous Nations of Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal

The Kanien'kéha Nation are recognized as the stewards of the land known as Tiohtià:ke or Montreal. The Haundenosaunee Confederacy, of which the Kanien'kéha Nation is a part, and the Anishinaabeg peoples have strong historical ties to the area.

Visit "Montreal in Mohawk", a map of Tiohtià:ke tsi ionhwéntsare which was made by Karonhí:io Delaronde, a Kanien’kéha speaker from Kanièn:ke, and Jordan Engel, a map-maker from Ka’skonhtsherá:kon (Rochester), to view where Kanien'kéha communities are located around Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal.

 

The Haudenosaunee

Learn more about the Haudenosaunee

  • The Canadian Encyclopedia has an article that describes Haudenosaunee (Iroquois): "The Haudenosaunee, or “people of the longhouse,” commonly referred to as Iroquois or Six Nations, are members of a confederacy of Aboriginal nations known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy." The article provides a brief background and history of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 

  • The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is comprised of six First Nations, one of them being the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) nation whose territory includes Tiohtià:ke, or Montreal. The other nations are the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, and Tuscarora.

  • Kahnawà:ke, the community which is located closest to McGill, is one of eight territories that make up the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation. Kanesatake and Akwesasne are other nearby communities that are also part of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation.

The Hiawatha Wampum Belt

  • Learn more about the Hiawatha Belt on the Museum of Ontario Archaeology website. The Hiawatha Belt "symbolizes the agreement between the 5 original Haudenosaunee nations and their promise to support each other in unity. The central symbol is a tree (representing the Onondaga Nation – where the Peacemaker planted the Tree of Peace and under which the leaders of the Five Nations buried their weapons). Four white squares from left to right represent the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, and Mohawk tribes."

  • The Haudenosaunee Confederacy webpage describes the importance of Wampum Belts, as well as this article from The Canadian Encyclopedia. 

  • (Hint: Scroll down to see a photo of the Hiawatha Wampum Belt on the McGill campus.)

Learn about Kahnawà:ke

Learn about Kanehsatà:ke

  • Read more about the community of Kanehsatà:ke at kanesatake.ca.

  • See where Kanesatà:ke is located here.

Learn about Ahkwesáhsne

 

The Anishinaabeg

Learn more about the Anishinaabeg

  • The Canadian Encyclopedia has an article that describes the Anishinaabeg: "Anishinaabeg (other variants include Anishinabe, Anicinape, Nishnaabe, Neshnabé and Anishinabek) refers to a group of culturally and linguistically related First Nations that live in both Canada and the United States, concentrated around the Great Lakes." The article provides a brief background and history of the Anishinaabeg language and culture. 

  • For further reading, refer to an information hub about the Anishinabe Nation

  • Algonquin? Anishnaabeg?

    • Although in recent years the Algonquin have resumed using the name “Anishinaabeg” which they have called themselves since time immemorial, the term Algonquin was imposed on them for more than 400 years by Euro Canadians. Read more about the origin of the name Algonquin here.

  • The Ojibwe, Chippewa, Odawa, Potawatomi, Algonquin, Saulteaux, Nipissing and Mississauga First Nations are Anishinaabeg.

  • Kitigan Zibi is one of the nearest Anishinaabeg communities to Tiohtià:ke/Montreal.

Learn about Kitigan Zibi

  • Kitigan Zibi is one of the nearest Anishinaabeg communities to Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Learn more about Kitigan Zibi here.

  • See where Kitigan Zibi is located here.

 

Land Maps by Territory

 

Visit Historical Resources for the Indigenous history of Tiohtià:ke/Montreal and historical maps of the land before, during, and after colonization. 

 

A framed Hiawatha Wampum Belt flag sits in front of a garden at McGill.

Above: The Hiawatha Wampum Belt on McGill campus.

 


Terminology

Learn about appropriate terminology to refer to Indigenous peoples within the context of Canada, including the differences between First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and more. For more information, visit the University of British Colombia's Indigenous Foundations website, which some of these definitions borrow from.

"Indigenous"

  • "Indigenous is a term used to encompass a variety of Aboriginal groups. It is most frequently used in an international, transnational, or global context" (UBC).

"Aboriginal"

  • "The term 'Aboriginal' refers to the first inhabitants of Canada, and includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples" (UBC).

"First Nations"

  • "'First Nation' is a term used to describe Aboriginal peoples of Canada who are ethnically neither Métis nor Inuit. This term came into common usage in the 1970s and ‘80s and generally replaced the term 'Indian', although unlike 'Indian', the term 'First Nation' does not have a legal definition" (UBC).
  • There are more than 630 First Nations communities in what is now called Canada, each with its own history, traditions, and practices.

"Inuit"

  • Inuit in Canada come from Inuit Nunangat, or the Inuit homeland. Inuit Nunangat comprises four regions: Inuvialuit (Northwest Territories and Yukon), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), and Nunatsiavut (Labrador). Inuit means "the people" in the Inuit language of Inuktut. The singular form is Inuk, meaning "person."
  • "This term refers to specific groups of people generally living in the far north who are not considered 'Indians' under Canadian law" (UBC).

"Métis"

  • "The advent of the fur trade in the historic Northwest during the 18th century was accompanied by a growing number of mixed offspring of Indian women and European fur traders. As this population established distinct communities separate from those of Indians and Europeans and married among themselves, a new Indigenous people emerged – the Métis people – with their own unique culture, traditions, language (Michif), way of life, collective consciousness, and nationhood" (The Métis National Council).
  • "Distinct Métis communities developed along the routes of the fur trade and across the Northwest within the Métis Nation Homeland. This Homeland includes the Prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta), as well as parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and the northern United States" (The Métis National Council).

Is it okay to say "Indian"? Is it okay to say "Native"?

  • "The term 'Indian' refers to the legal identity of a First Nations person who is registered under the Indian Act. The term 'Indian' should be used only within its legal context when referring to a First Nations person with status under the Indian Act. Aside from this specific legal context, the term 'Indian' in Canada is considered outdated and may be considered offensive due to its complex and often idiosyncratic colonial use in governing identity."
  • "The term 'Native' is a general term that refers to a person or thing that has originated from a particular place. The term 'native' does not denote a specific Aboriginal ethnicity (such as First Nation, Métis, or Inuit). In Canada, the term 'Aboriginal' or 'Indigenous' is generally preferred to 'Native'. Some may feel that 'native' has a negative connotation and is outdated. This term can also be problematic in certain contexts, as some non-Aboriginal peoples born in a settler state may argue that they, too, are 'native.'"

VIDEO: "How to Talk About Indigenous Peoples"- Ossie Michelin

Inuk journalist Ossie Michelin has a friendly how-to guide about the correct terms to use when talking about Indigenous peoples.


Learning about Indigenous Cultures

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Government of Canada

The Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center

  • Language and Cultural Center - This Center was created to preserve and enrich the language and culture of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) of Kahnawà:ke. Their center is located in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke south of Montreal, Canada.

Learning About Indigenous Peoples

Take a Course

  • Indigenous Canada: A 12-lesson online course that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. The course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

Reading Materials

  • The Decolonial Toolbox: an Educational Pathway: Created by Mikana, Concordia University’s Office of Community Engagement, and the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK, the Toolbox provides "foundational knowledge on terminology, territories, and colonial history."
  • Indigenous Foundations: A website from UBC which discusses key topics relating to the histories, politics, and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Indigenous Peoples in Canada", by Zach Parrott, highlights demographics, history, a list of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and educational guides. 
  • The Canada Guide Chapter: Chapter 7, entitled "The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada", provides a basic historical overview. This visually appealing guide offers information for all audiences.
  • Facing History and Ourselves Series: "Stolen Lives" is a program that walks students and teachers through an examination of the devastating legacy of Indian Residential Schools. 

Historical Timelines

  • The Canadian Encyclopedia Indigenous Timeline: This web page presents key events and developments in Indigenous history, from Time Immemorial to the present day. While no timeline can be exhaustive in its coverage, the Canadian Encyclopedia provides a broad chronological overview.

 Visit the Historical Resources Page for more information.

Documentaries and Videos

  • 10 Documentaries on Indigenous Life in Canada - To celebrate National Indigenous History Month, here are some documentaries compiled by CBC to learn about the history of the first peoples of this land, and the activists fighting for their future.
  • Crimes against children at residential school: The truth about St. Anne's -  The Fifth Estate examines the horrific, decades-long abuse which took place at St. Anne's Indian Residential School in Northern Ontario.
  • Finding Dawn - Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh presents a compelling documentary about missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
  • First Contact - First Contact is a TV series that takes six Canadians on a 28-day journey intended to challenge misconceptions about Indigenous peoples and communities, and to shed a light on real Indigenous experiences.
  • Indigenous Cinema - The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has a section of films dedicated to Indigenous peoples.
  • Indigenous Peoples in Canada - The National Film Board has a section of films dedicated to Indigenous People in Canada, particularly in Quebec and Ontario.
  • Indigenous Voices and Reconciliation - A National Film Board documentary channel.
  • Rocks at Whiskey Trench - This documentary by Alanis Obomsawin looks at how Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) women, children and Elders fled their community of Kahnawake out of fear for their safety during the height of tensions in Oka, Quebec in 1990. 

Podcasts

  • All My Relations is a podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) exploring relationships.
  • At The Edge Of Canada 2.0 is hosted by Trevor Phillips, Indigenous Graduate Student Success Coordinator, showcasing the work of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, scholars, artists, and community members contributing to the vibrant Indigenous Intellectual Community.
  • Native Currents is a podcast hosted by Anishinaabe academic Steven Vanloffeld and Mi’kmaq lawyer Glenn Wheeler.
  • Residential Schools is a three-part podcast series created by Historica Canada and hosted by Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais. 
  • Revolutions per Minute explores Indigenous music culture.
  • The Henceforward is a podcast that considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island.
  • The Unreserved is the CBC radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation.

Webinars


Indigenous Awareness Weeks

Indigenous Awareness Weeks offer students, staff and faculty the opportunity to learn about Indigenous issues and promote greater knowledge and understanding about the Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Learn More

  • They aim to raise awareness and initiate an exchange of ideas on First Nations, Métis and Inuit topics within the McGill community.
  • The weeks allow a space to privilege Indigenous voices and perspectives on campus. Since 2011, invited guests have included: academics, community members, elders and students. Topics that have been covered include health, identity, language revitalization, the Indian Act, Residential Schools, Indigenous legal traditions, Canadian policies, education, child welfare, and ways of knowing.
  • For more information, please visit the Equity website with information about previous Indigenous Awareness Weeks. 

 

Before reaching out to Indigenous communities for guidance or research initiatives, McGill encourages students, faculty, and staff to learn about the land, colonialism in the past and present, and McGill's current and historical relationships with local communities.

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