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Vancouver - the unceded city


Vancouver - the unceded city

Travel is a fantastic way to broaden our horizons, expose ourselves to new cultures and really ‘see’ the world. Each trip teaches me something new and it really is an amazing reality check.

One of the really interesting facts that I have learned this week is the difference between unneeded and ceded territory. 

Unceded Territory

  • No treaty signed
  • Permission required from the First Nation Government involved.
  • No pipeline, no mining, no fishing, no farming, etc...without First Nations Permission.

Ceded Territory

  • Treaty signed
  • Permission Required from BOTH First Nations and Second Nations Government (according to individual treaties signed)
  • No pipeline, no mining, no fishing, no farming, etc... without BOTH First Nations and Second Nations Permission (according to individual treaties signed.)

I think that the way colonisation was carried out, regardless whether there was a treaty or no, was barbaric, and acknowledging this builds a new relationships between Aboriginals and Vancouverites, especially since the memory of the colonisation still lives in the collective memory of the defendants. The Aboriginal community suffered a great loss and trauma and even centuries later they still are affected by some of the practices carried out.


A few years ago Vancouver city council has unanimously voted to acknowledge that the city is on unceded Aboriginal territory. The modern city of Vancouver was founded on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations and these territories were never ceded through treaty, war or surrender. There is now a routine ritual before most public events on the West Coast of Canada, during which organizers thank indigenous tribal groups for allowing attendees to meet on their “unceded traditional territory. An aboriginal elder often offers a prayer and mini-lecture as part of this gratitude ceremony, which now occurs before conferences sponsored by governments, public schools, mainline Protestant churches and institutes of higher learning.