Land acknowledgments cause deep ambivalence among some advocates

February 6, 2019

“Canada’s growing embrace of Indigenous land acknowledgments appears to have left some First Nations advocates ambivalent about whether they are a form of reconciliation—or institutional hypocrisy,” reports the Canadian Press. This ambivalence is captured well by the comments of Lynn Gehl, an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley who notes that for her, the acknowledgements are “meaningless and patronizing.” However, Gehl notes that the gesture might still be meaningful to other Indigenous community members. Naiomi Metallic, a Dalhousie University law professor and Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy, notes that the acknowledgements are “simply a recognition of facts,” especially in areas without land cessation treaties. In these cases, however, other critics note that the acknowledgement of unceded lands creates expectations regarding land ownership that the courts will never enforce, contributing to a disconnect will lead to mounting frustration and eventually a reckoning as more Indigenous Peoples realize the extent to which “they’ve been lied to.” Vancouver Sun (National)