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Land Acknowledgement: What Would You Do?

Colin, a VP, begins reading a lengthy land acknowledgement after welcoming everyone to a company-wide professional development day. As Colin struggles to say the names of several Indigenous nations and peoples, you watch a few colleagues shift uncomfortably. Some smirk. You’re pretty sure that what Colin just said is inaccurate. After the statement, there’s an awkward silence. You’re not sure if anyone in the company is Indigenous, but you can only imagine how they’d feel after that reading. What would you do?

A) Give Collin some feedback 

You don’t want this to happen again. You decide to tell Colin that his statement was lacking.

B) Write a better statement for company use

That evening, you do some research and then you write up a solid land acknowledgement for your company.

C) Let it go. Land acknowledgement are tokenism.

Colin’s performance made you cringe, and you’re hoping he won’t do that again. But even if he did, it’s pure tokenism to make white people feel good anyway.


The best answer is A. 
The next day, ask Colin if you can give him some feedback on his land acknowledgement statement.
“I know, it was really generic, and possibly even incorrect,” he admits. “I grabbed it online minutes before.”
“We have to do better,” you say. That evening, you send Colin some resources about how to write a meaningful statement. You learn that the most important part of the statement is stating what the company plans to do about the fact that it’s located on unceded land.
This is a question Colin can’t answer himself. He takes it to the leadership team, and they discuss ways that the company can support reconciliation with local First Nations communities.


Indigenous communities have practiced land acknowledgements for centuries. As nations begin to address their colonial histories, the statements have also become popular in public institutions and private companies.
Land acknowledgements should stem from careful research and reflection. They should also spark a learning process. When an organization writes a statement, it creates an opportunity to ask questions about local First Nations and about what reconciliation might look like in their specific context. Partnering with local Indigenous groups or organizations is the best way to avoid empty or performative statements.
While it demonstrates respect, reading a standard land acknowledgement in a corporate setting can become tokenism if it is not accompanied by further action, such as support for Indigenous employees and their cultural practices.
If you hear a land acknowledgement that feels emptied of meaning, look for ways to spark further conversation and action.


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