Indigenous Protocols

Indigenous Protocols for Congress 2024

These guidelines, prepared by McGill University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII), highlight some guiding principles to consider to respectfully engage with Indigenous knowledges and the peoples of this land and territory at Congress 2024. 

Please note this guidance is intended for Congress attendees and presenters. If you are an association conference organizer, or would like to review the full Protocols document, please see Indigenous Protocols for Congress 2024.


Shé:kon, Kwé,  Kwey, Auneen, Boojhoo, Tansi, Wachiya, Ai!

Congress 2024 takes place in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal, Quebec). In Kanien'kéha (the Mohawk language), Tiohtià:ke is a shortened version of the word, Teionihtiohtià:kon, meaning “a divided group” and likely refers to the Island of Montréal as a place of long-standing interaction and diplomacies between various First Nations. According to McGill University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII):

The Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg peoples have long ties to what is now the Island of Montréal. Kawenote Teiontiakon is a documented Kanien’kéha name for the Island of Montréal. The City of Montréal is known as Tiohtià:ke in Kanien’kéha, and Mooniyang in Anishinaabemowin. McGill University is located closest to the Kanien'kehá:ka Nation communities at Kahnawà: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.  

The Dish with One Spoon is a concept long embodied by Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations 
directing them to share in mutual benefits – the dish represents the land and the spoon its inhabitants. 
Relations between these two nations are still guided by this principle today.

To read more about Tiohtià:ke, visit McGill University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII).

Surrounding First Nations communities

The closest Kanien'kehá:ka communities to Tiohtià:ke are Kahnawà:ke located on the immediate southwest shore of Montréal; Kanehsatà:ke located on the south shore of Lake of Two Mountains, and Akwesasne which uniquely spans across Ontario, Quebec and New York State.  

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg is located a few hundred kilometers away and sits at the meeting of the Desert and Gatineau rivers.  

Numerous other Indigenous communities are situated in the proximate territory of Tiohtià:ke, and extend broader into Quebec. These nations include: Abenaki, Atikamekw, James Bay Cree, Innu, Maliseet, Mi’gmaq, Naskapi, Huron-Wendat and Inuit. To view the nations in relation to their location, please visit:

Land Acknowledgement

Often conducted at the beginning of activities, Land Acknowledgements honour the historical and ongoing presence of the Indigenous peoples whose lands we currently live and work upon. They draw attention to the ongoing presence of Indigenous peoples in their homelands and sets the tone for ongoing reciprocal relations. They typically refer to the Indigenous peoples of the territory and can be expanded to include relevant treaties, languages and modern representative and political organizations. It is respectful practice to offer a Land Acknowledgement as one of the first agenda items at Congress proceedings. Land Acknowledgements draw attention to the ongoing presence of Indigenous peoples in their homelands and sets the tone for ongoing reciprocal relations.  

Pronunciation guide

Name Phonetic pronunciation









For presenters

Presenters wishing to use a Land Acknowledgement are encouraged to review the OII’s Learn about the Land and Peoples of Tiohtià:ke/Montréal where you will find information on local and proximate nations, the Hiawatha Wampum Belt and guides to creating your own Land Acknowledgement. If you are presenting virtually, Whose Land is a helpful resource to situate people on the Indigenous homelands upon which cities and towns across Canada are situated.  

For the use of association programming throughout Congress 2024, the following territorial Land Acknowledgement is a good starting point and is widely used at McGill University:

”McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous peoples whose presence marks this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.”

Landing at McGill

McGill’s Land Acknowledgement is a starting point for visitors to understand their proximity to the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg homelands where McGill University is situated.  

Attendees at Congress 2024 are encouraged to ask themselves: how does my presence here benefit these lands and Indigenous peoples? For some, this may look like being mindful of the environmental impacts of their presence here and others may be compelled to search out land reclamation efforts to support that are taking place in the territory. For the local context, consider referring to Montréal Indigenous Community Network’s allyship guidebook which highlights how to contribute to local Indigenous communities and suggestions on how to be a good ally while in Tiohtià:ke/ Montréal.

Kahnawà:ke tourism

The Kanien'kehá:ka Nation closest to McGill University is Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, which hosts the Kahnawà:ke Tourism Welcome Centre, a place for visitors to get connected to the community. Some offerings include self-guided tours of the language and cultural centre, guided tours of local attractions and traditional dance performances. Also, the Kahnawà:ke Tourism page lists local businesses including food and drink, retail, services and leisure. Please visit for more details.  

Kanien'kéha (the Mohawk language)

Kanien'kéha (gah-nyen-GEH-hah) is the Mohawk language and is distinct across Mohawk communities with dialects that differ in each community (CBC). To hear some words and phrases in Kanien'kéha, please visit:

Shé:kon skennenkowa (SAY-kohn ska-na-go-wah) – Meaning: peaceful greetings

Onenki wahi (oh-na gih-WAH-hee) – Meaning: goodbye

Niá:wen (nya-wah) – Meaning: thank you

Anishinabemowin (the Algonquin Anishinabe language)

The Algonquin dialect of the broader Anishinaabe language system is spoken by members of Kitigan Zibi, and other Algonquin First Nations in Quebec. Kitigan Zibi First Nation has consolidated Algonquin language learning resources, where you can learn some common phrases with the help of sound clips. Also, you can refer to the Algonquin Pocket Dictionary.

Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Elders and Knowledge Keepers are highly regarded as sacred members of their respective communities and are keepers of cultural teachings, wisdom, language and practices alive and act as conduits of those knowledges and teachings in many different settings (uOttawa). Often, Elders and Knowledge Keepers are called upon to conduct ceremonies, provide spiritual guidance, mentor learners, and guide discussions.  

For presenters

If you are a presenter and wish to invite an Elder or Knowledge Keeper to your presentation, please contact your association to make arrangements and request the OII’s guidelines for engaging Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.


Smudging is a common spiritual practice for First Nations and Métis peoples. In general, smudging is not an Inuit practice, however, many Inuk people do participate in the practice. Smudging usually involves lighting sacred medicines (cedar, sage, tobacco, or sweetgrass) in a shell or cast-iron bowl for the purpose of purification and embodying a positive mindset. When conducted appropriately, the medicines do not ignite in a way that pose safety concerns of fire or asphyxiation.  

For presenters

Smudging as Indigenous ceremony, should only be carried out by Indigenous peoples, and if possible, by Elders or Knowledge Keepers. If you are a presenter and intend to have smudging as part of your presentation, please contact your association.

Indigenous resources at McGill University

All Congress participants are welcome to visit the Office of Indigenous Initiatives website for information on news and events, McGill’s 52 Calls to Action and details on McGill's Indigenous research partnerships.  

Resources for current and prospective Indigenous students can be found at the First Peoples House (FPH) website: