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Want to learn whose Indigenous land you're on? There's an app for that

If you want to find out whose land you're on, and learn more about how to acknowledge it. There's an app for that. Mitch Holmes is Haudenosaunee, and he's one of the developers of Whose Land, an app and website that can help you find out whose territory you're on.
Whose Land is an educational tool for people to use and learn about Indigenous lands across the country. (Zoe Tennant/CBC)
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Originally published on Jan. 20, 2019.

If you want to find out whose land you're on, and learn more about how to acknowledge it, there's an app for that.

"Whose Land was created because we've all sat and listened to somebody get a land acknowledgement wrong, and you can clearly tell that they didn't do the research,"  said Mitch Holmes who is Haudenosaunee, and one of the developers of the app.

"People are starting to realize that they need to actually put some effort into these land acknowledgements," explained Holmes.

"We thought that by building something that people can have in their pocket and they could get a notification telling them where they are, that would help create a conversation and get people talking about reconciliation."

Whose Land is both an app and a website and was launched in March, 2018 by Canadian Roots Exchange, TakingITGlobal, and Bold Realities. It's an educational tool for people to use and learn about Indigenous lands across the country. Whose Land maps out traditional territories across Canada, treaties and agreements as outlined by the government, and Indigenous communities.

Mitch Holmes, is Haudenosaunee and one of the developers of the Whose Land app. (Zoe Tennant/CBC)

The developers wanted to make it easier for all people to find out whose Indigenous lands they're on — something that can be a bit complicated to sort out. "So we created this database for people to use where they can come and get correct information on whose territory they're situated upon, and we thought that would be a good way to open up a conversation about traditional territory and doing land acknowledgements."

One thing that's clear when you open the app is that the maps don't include any provincial or territorial borders. "We thought that it was important to show that these boundaries of traditional territories overlapped on top of what the government has enstated as provinces and territories." 

The app also includes videos of Indigenous people doing territorial acknowledgements of their own communities. "Different Indigenous people across Canada doing their version of their land acknowledgement," Holmes explained.

The map, though isn't complete, Holmes said. As more and more people use the app, Holmes receives emails from users with further information about where territories end and begin and overlap. 

"I don't think any map is ever really finished, especially not this one. I think there's always room to correct information."

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