George Brown College, a public institution in Toronto, recently required students and faculty joining a Zoom meeting to agree to a long mea culpa: “This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat, Mississaugas, Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee. . . . As settlers . . . we benefit from the colonization and genocide of the Indigenous peoples of this land. . . . It is imperative we constantly engage in acts of awareness and decolonization.”
Such “land acknowledgments”—a listing of indigenous tribes that have inhabited the area, followed by apologies for the institution’s “settler colonialism”—have in the past decade become ubiquitous in Canada and are catching on in the U.S. The trend might have started in Australia, where government functions commonly begin with a “Welcome to the Country” from an aboriginal elder—depicting Australian citizens as aliens who need a figurative visa stamp.