Hosting a Knowledge-Keeper or Elder

As planning gets underway, here are a few important actions to consider:

Planning together

Invite the Knowledge Keeper or Elder to be a part of the initial planning, as they are an important resource with much knowledge and experience to share. They can also help to ensure an event or engagement is facilitated in a culturally appropriate way.

Transportation, Accommodations, Directions & Parking

Ask whether the Knowledge Keeper or Elder requires transportation to and from the event, as well as accommodations (depending on the duration of the engagement). Offer to help make arrangements and cover the costs of mileage, meals, and accommodation as per Brandon University specified rates per diem.

Provide a campus map, outlining the location of the event and the nearest parking lot. A parking pass can be purchased from BU’s Ancillary Services, by the department or organizer and can be provided to the Knowledge Keeper in advance or upon arrival at the parking lot.

Presentation of gift to follow

Often a small, non-monetary gift of thanks is presented following the engagement. Ideas shared by local Knowledge Keepers and Elders include tea, cloth, sage or cedar, or a nice tea towel. As you work together and get to know one another, you will learn more about what is meaningful to them (culturally and personally). This small gift of thanks would be in addition to an honorarium.


For a one-time engagement, an honorarium is presented to a Knowledge Keeper or Elder in exchange for the sharing of their knowledge and work. An honorarium should be presented at the time of the event or engagement.

To ensure this is provided in a timely way, the most common process would be to:

  • approach the Dean or Department Head to request approval for honorarium funding
  • submit a cheque request to BU’s Financial & Registration Services – Accounts Payable Office no later than two weeks in advance of the event for payment. Make a note to have it picked up or sent to you directly so you can present it to the Knowledge Keeper or Elder.

Recommended amounts for Knowledge Keeper or Elder honorarium:

  • Opening or closing activity (hour or less) – $100
  • Half day (up to three (3) hours) – $200
  • Full day (up to seven (7) hours – $400
  • For ongoing engagements, contact BU’s Human Resources Office or Indigenous Peoples Centre for guidance.

Identify a Point Person for the Duration

Identify a point person who will greet the Knowledge Keeper or Elder upon arrival and will be available to assist them throughout the day.

A Knowledge Keeper may be accompanied by a Helper, however, it is still important to have a point person who can offer additional support throughout the day as required.

Contact Knowledge Keeper a few days before event

Contact the Knowledge Keeper or Elder two or three days prior to the engagement to finalize details.

Opening remarks & protocol

If this is the first opportunity to offer tobacco to the Knowledge Keeper or Elder in- person, do so at the start of the event or engagement.

Greet those in attendance, acknowledge the Knowledge Keeper or Elder’s presence, and welcome the group with a land acknowledgment. To help guide members of the campus with offering a land acknowledgement, the University offers a couple of examples below, however, you are welcome to adapt the wording to make it your own and meaningful for those present.

Brandon University – Basic Statement of Acknowledgement

We respect the treaties that were made on these lands and acknowledge that Brandon University is located on Treaty 1 and 2 lands. On behalf of Brandon University, I welcome you to the traditional homelands of the Dakota, Anishanabek, Oji-Cree, Cree, Dene and Metis peoples.

Brandon University – Extended Statement of Acknowledgement

Brandon University has campuses on both Treaty 1 and Treaty 2 territories. Our main campus is located in Brandon, Manitoba, on Treaty 2 territory. This is traditional shared land between the Dakota and Ojibway. The Turtle Mountains and Brandon area was also home to the Métis peoples. Settlements along the Assiniboine River and into Northeastern areas of Saskatchewan created a chain of Métis communities.

We at Brandon University acknowledge and respect the history, land and people of this area. On behalf of Brandon University, I welcome you to the traditional homelands of the Dakota, Anishinabek, Oji-Cree, Cree, Dene and Metis peoples.

Refreshments & Meals

When a Knowledge Keeper or Elder is joining you for an event where refreshments and/or a meal is provided, be sure that the Knowledge Keeper or Elder is served first.

Sacred Items

Often a Knowledge Keeper will bring with them cultural or sacred items for ceremony. Those in attendance must be mindful not to handle these items without permission.