Indigenization

Protocol and Guidelines

In keeping with Okanagan College's commitment to Indigenization and supporting good intention, the information below is provided as a resource to staff and students to guide activities such as land acknowledgements, welcome ceremonies and Elder visits. If you have questions or require clarity on the information below, please contact Anthony Isaac, Indigenization Coordinator, at aisaac@okanagan.bc.ca

Terminology

Territorial welcome

A territorial welcome is usually conducted at the beginning of a function by someone who is a descendent of the local nation, and who is a recognized and respected Elder, Knowledge Sharer, Chief or leader in the community.

Territory acknowledgement

Below is a territorial acknowledgement sample for each of our OC campuses. 

Territory acknowledgement - region-wide
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people, our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc, and our Revelstoke centre is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Syilx Okanagan peoples.

Regional - Shuswap-Revelstoke
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc, and our Revelstoke centre is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Syilx Okanagan peoples.

Salmon Arm campus
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc.

Kelowna campus
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Kelowna campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people.

Penticton campus
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Penticton campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people.

Vernon campus
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Vernon campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people.

Revelstoke centre
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Revelstoke centre is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Syilx Okanagan peoples.

Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people, our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc, and our Revelstoke centre is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Syilx Okanagan peoples.

A territorial acknowledgement recognizes the territory and ancestral people of the local nation. It is provided by someone who is not from the respective nation on that territory.

Acknowledging traditional and unceded territories is a moment to give thanks and be grateful to the local hosts. It is a sign of respect to acknowledge the land on which you stand, and to acknowledge the local nations for welcoming you onto their territory. A territorial acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes, and honours the unique, long-standing relationships amongst First Nations peoples and their traditional territories.

A territorial welcome is usually conducted at the beginning of a function by someone who is a descendent of the local nation, and who is a recognized and respected Elder, Knowledge Sharer, Chief or leader in the community.

A territorial acknowledgement is a formal statement that is made at the beginning of a meeting, event, as well as other spaces and venues. This could include course syllabi, e-mail signatures, the first day of class, convocations, job interviews, news communication, videos, staff meetings, websites, workshops or conferences, to name a few.

Reflecting on your own connection to the land should challenge your thinking and encourage you to think critically about your intentionality. We ask that your territorial acknowledgement is not performative, and that it is paired with respectful, meaningful action. We encourage you to exhibit acts of reconciliation and Indigenization in attempts to dismantle colonial structures. Let’s all foster a welcoming, inclusive learning environment that celebrates Indigenous knowledge, language and culture.

Acknowledging the local territory is a means of recognizing that Indigenous peoples have been on this land that we work, live and play, since time immemorial. Thoughtful and respectful recognition of the territorial allows for the creation of a safe space, open dialogue and community building with Indigenous communities. It is a way for us to acknowledge and appreciate the territory we are on, as well as a way of respectfully recognizing the land and local Indigenous peoples past, present and future.

Territorial acknowledgements date back centuries for Indigenous peoples, signifying a deeper inter-connected relationship to the land. For many non-Indigenous Canadians, officially recognizing the territory or lands we stand on is a fairly new concept. However, it's one that many Indigenous peoples say marks a small but essential step toward reconciliation. 

It is important for you to reflect on the importance of territorial acknowledgements, and what they mean to you. Always seek to deepen your understanding. Reading, asking, listening, learning, sharing, and engaging in meaningful dialogue will help us all collectively enhance our culture here at OC.

If you are interested in learning more about Indigenous peoples, communities and our collective history, visit this link to explore some self-directed learning resources. Begin here, but don’t stop there. We encourage you to be active learners in this journey of reconciliation with us.

https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/commitment-to-reconciliation#pledge

https://reconciliationcanada.ca/cultural-teachings-welcome-to-territory-land-acknowledgments/

In February 2022, Okanagan College released Inspire, our College’s new Strategic Plan. The plan acknowledges the traditional and unceded territories on which Okanagan College’s campuses are located, as well as outlines the College’s responsibility to take meaningful steps toward reconciliation. Excerpt from Inspire:

We pledge to weave Indigenous world views into all aspects of College life as part of our journey toward reconciliation. This includes our learning and research environments, our physical, cultural, social, and spiritual spaces on campuses, and our structures, policies, and practices. We remain committed to working with, listening to, and learning from Indigenous communities throughout this journey.

Read the full plan at www.okanagan.bc.ca/inspire.

Inviting Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Elders and Knowledge Keepers help support students and the College community in a variety of ways and it is important that we care for and respectfully welcome them. Some ways in which they provide support include but are not limited to;

  • providing an array of support, teachings and guidance to students
  • facilitating ceremonial and cultural activities on campus
  • territorial welcome
  • hosting workshops
  • guest lecture

Elders and Knowledge Keepers play a vital role in the Indigenous and College community, keeping teachings, stories, laws and customs alive. We are honoured to support this important work and provide opportunities for campus visits where Elders and Knowledge Keepers can share their knowledge and experiences with students and the broader College community.

Visiting Elders on campus provide numerous opportunities to support students and staff and foster culturally affirming learning environments. Students are welcome to receive support and guidance from visiting Elders during regularly scheduled visits to the campus. Check out the Indigenous Services calendar for upcoming dates.

If you are interested in bringing an Elder, Knowledge Keeper, Singer or guest speaker, please review the protocol and submit a request at least three weeks in advance.

Protocol

This section intends to provide you with some direction on protocol to observe when working with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers within the context of the College community, and your personal lives. These recommendations are meant to guide our interactions but are fundamentally based on respect and reciprocity. Please observe protocol in requesting an Elder or cultural resource persons visit. Please note that these guidelines by no means are intended to homogenize the diversity of beliefs, values, cultural practices and protocols among Indigenous groups.

Each Indigenous community will have designated Elders who are highly respected and valued for their specialized knowledge and traditions within their respective community. Elders and Knowledge Keepers hold unique gifts, cultural knowledge and practices. There are important considerations to take into account when extending invitations, including being respectful and welcoming during the visit and providing adequate remuneration.

Growing and maintaining positive working relationships with Indigenous community partners is an important part of our work at the College. Establishing relationships built on safety, trust and openness is key to our growth, development and the support that we are able to provide to the College community. Understanding that this process of relationship building and trust takes time, we encourage staff and students to seek out community and College events where you can learn from and engage with Indigenous community members.

Collaboration among various departments and the intersectionality of learning among the broader College environment bodes well with understandings of interconnectedness from an Indigenous perspective and helps to build broader capacity within the College community. Consider attending or partnering with Aboriginal Services activities or community events that can help foster stronger understandings and opportunities to build lasting relationships.

 

Important considerations

Be as clear and specific as you can be on the nature of your request. This clarity will help the Elder or Knowledge Keeper feel more comfortable and prepared in making their decision of whether to accept the invitation or not. Consider class or event topics, size of the audience, and type of service requested.

A few key considerations to take into account when bringing in Elders and Knowledge Keepers include making space for an Indigenous lens and worldview. In other words, Indigenous ways of knowing doing and being may differ from the approach you are used to. Being flexible and open to various formats and delivery of teachings is important to establish safe spaces for knowledge exchange to occur. It is important to encourage students and staff to consider alternative ways of knowing and doing.

Other planning items you should take into account:

  • Inquire to ensure that guests have everything that they need.
  • Ensure they have a parking pass.
  • Designate a person to greet the Elder or Knowledge Keeper, and help carry things if needed.
  • Provide class/venue location and map if necessary.
  • Set up your classroom to accommodate their needs.
  • Do not touch any sacred items unless otherwise advised that it is okay to do so.
  • Do not take photos during certain ceremonial functions. If you are not sure, ask.

Be aware of competing priorities and understand that Elders and Knowledge Keepers hold multiple roles in their families and communities. These responsibilities may impede their ability to attend a College function, and we ask that you are respectful of the importance their roles play in the community, and nation. It is also important for us as an institution to be aware of not overextending our community partners.

The value of reciprocity ensures that we are considerate of both giving and receiving with Elders and Knowledge Keepers.  We respectfully ask that every effort be made by departments to offer a sufficient amount when making cultural requests. There is a standard amount of remuneration that is provided, taking into account preparation time, travel, meals and length of stay. Please connect with Anthony Isaac if you are unsure.

In addition to payment, or when and where terms are agreed, it is culturally acceptable to offer gifts of appreciation for cultural visits.

Tobacco is traditional medicine and is often used as an offering to an Elder or Knowledge Keeper when asking a question or making a request. The offering of tobacco, along with a question or request, to Elders and Knowledge Keepers is a cultural practice that carries honour and responsibility. If the Elder or Knowledge Keeper is comfortable with this practice, and they accept the tobacco, that means they accept the responsibility to your request. The Elder or Knowledge Keeper can choose not to accept the tobacco and may choose to explain why.

Guidelines

Remuneration

​​​​​Remuneration is to be provided to all Elders and Knowledge Sharers for each event or activity they are requested

Remuneration will be paid to Elders and Knowledge Sharers who assist the College through openings, guest speakers, workshops, visiting Elders program or otherwise provide service and supports to strengthen our approach to Indigenous OC.

The purpose of these guidelines are to establish a framework for administration and remuneration of payments to Elders and Knowledge Sharers for the provision of designated services requested by OC and to establish a process that outlines fiscal and relational responsibilities that applies to all OC staff. There is no single department responsible for curation, coordination, payment set-up, or distribution. It is expected that every request is respectfully facilitated by the requester.

Elders and Knowledge Sharers hold gifts, knowledges and practices that are very sacred to Indigenous peoples, and thereby implicit in this understanding is that there is no amount of money that can pay for culture. Some individuals may require more than what is outlined in these guidelines, while some may only invoice for their services. Please be respectful in these conversations.

Definitions

​​​​​​Honoraria - An honorarium is a voluntary payment made to a person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required. An honorarium is typically used to help cover costs for volunteers or guest speakers who are not expecting to be paid for their time and service. Honorarium is defined as a thank you gesture of nominal value for voluntary services.

An honorarium is typically a payment made on a special or non-routine basis to an individual to recognize or acknowledge the contribution of gratuitous services to the College.  It is a token of appreciation with a nominal value (see https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/financial-Services for more details) assigned to it and is not equivalent to a professional fee.

​​​​​​Service Contract – A service contract is an agreement between Okanagan College and a service provider or business. A service contract would outline the terms and conditions of the services to be provided and the agreement would discuss the work they are doing for OC and how we will pay them. When someone is performing a service for the College and there is some expectation of payment, you need a service contract.

​​​​​Elder – Not all Indigenous seniors are Elders. In Indigenous culture, Elders are not defined by age, but rather are identified by community in recognition of their earned respect for their wisdom, spirituality, traditional cultural practices, mentorship, community guidance, healing, teaching and various other community service roles.

​​​​​​Knowledge Sharers – A person regarded or chosen by community for their expertise and depth of knowledge they hold, as well as for their sharing and teaching of cultural traditions, languages, ceremonies, and practices.

Designated Services Elders and Knowledge Sharers work with students, staff, faculty, and the broader community at OC to provide guidance, advice, services, and overall support. More specifically this might include but is not limited to providing an opening prayer, territorial welcomes, or welcome song, hosting a culturally orientated workshop, being a guest speaker, providing support and guidance to students, and ceremonial activities.

Procedures

The remuneration schedule is baseline guide for designated services should the requested individual not have a set rate for their services. Elders and Knowledge Sharers may have predetermined rates that are outside of this schedule. In such instances where individuals have set rates, it is expected that these rates are paid as quoted and invoiced. Please negotiate these conversations respectfully.

Before starting the process, ensure that you have an adequate budget amount based on the remuneration schedule for designated services. If your inquiry or request falls outside the scope of this schedule, or if you are unsure where your request sits within it, please contact the Indigenous OC manager.

Please also ensure:

  • to account for any extra time and work in your remuneration payment. For example, this may include travel, materials, or any necessary preparation work for your request.
  • to follow proper OC Financial Services procedures, using appropriate forms.
  • Elders and Knowledge Sharers are advised of any taxation requirements
  • paperwork is submitted promptly 

It is always advisable to provide a gift in addition to the remuneration that will be paid, particularly when there is a sharing of traditional teachings. As examples, gifts could be in the form of traditional medicines (tobacco, cedar, sweetgrass, or sage) or items from the OC bookstore.

Inclusivity should be ensured, and submissions for a designated service should fit the desired inquiry. 

The nature and context of any given event, workshop or otherwise will present preferable options to who or how a designated service is requested. For example, in some instances, a territorial welcome or prayer may be preferable for opening an event, while in other cases, a welcome song may be more fitting. Please consult with your team and Indigenous staff members if you are unsure of what may be the best fit

A key tenet of Indigenous OC is interweaving intersectionality into all that we do. In efforts to reach as many students and staff as possible, we strongly recommend that you consider opening invitations to students and staff outside of your immediate department or class. Consider hosting multiple events with various groups, inquiring with, and broaching the idea of cost-sharing with other portfolios in efforts to bridge further connections and broader enhancement of Indigenous understandings.

The remuneration schedule is baseline guide for designated services should the requested individual not have a set rate for their services. Elders and Knowledge Sharers may have predetermined rates that are outside of this schedule. In such instances where individuals have set rates, it is expected that these rates are paid as quoted and invoiced. Please negotiate these conversations respectfully.

Before starting the process, ensure that you have an adequate budget amount based on the remuneration schedule for designated services. If your inquiry or request falls outside the scope of this schedule, or if you are unsure where your request sits within it, please contact the Indigenous OC manager.

Please also ensure:

  • to account for any extra time and work in your remuneration payment. For example, this may include travel, materials, or any necessary preparation work for your request.
  • to follow proper OC Financial Services procedures, using appropriate forms.
  • Elders and Knowledge Sharers are advised of any taxation requirements
  • paperwork is submitted promptly 

It is always advisable to provide a gift in addition to the remuneration that will be paid, particularly when there is a sharing of traditional teachings. As examples, gifts could be in the form of traditional medicines (tobacco, cedar, sweetgrass, or sage) or items from the OC bookstore.

Inclusivity should be ensured, and submissions for a designated service should fit the desired inquiry. 

The nature and context of any given event, workshop or otherwise will present preferable options to who or how a designated service is requested. For example, in some instances, a territorial welcome or prayer may be preferable for opening an event, while in other cases, a welcome song may be more fitting. Please consult with your team and Indigenous staff members if you are unsure of what may be the best fit

A key tenet of Indigenous OC is interweaving intersectionality into all that we do. In efforts to reach as many students and staff as possible, we strongly recommend that you consider opening invitations to students and staff outside of your immediate department or class. Consider hosting multiple events with various groups, inquiring with, and broaching the idea of cost-sharing with other portfolios in efforts to bridge further connections and broader enhancement of Indigenous understandings.

A guide on possible remuneration can be found in the Remuneration Schedule.

Resources

Elders and Knowledge Sharers hold gifts, knowledges and practices that are very sacred to Indigenous peoples, and thereby implicit in this understanding is that there is no amount of money that can pay for culture. Some individuals may require more than what is outlined in these guidelines, while some may only invoice for their services. Please be respectful in these conversations. 

If you would like to invite an Elder or Knowledge Sharer to support your event, please first review and familiarize yourself the Protocol Guide.