Land Acknowledgement

The Knowledge Equity Lab is physically based at the Centre for Critical Development Studies, at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 

We wish to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years, this land has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. 

The above statement was developed in consultation with First Nations House and the Elders Circle, some scholars in the field, and senior University officials. 

The Knowledge Equity Lab is also a virtual hub convening members from around the world. When gathering in the virtual space, we believe in acknowledging the diversity of indigenous lands we are on, and situating ourselves in our own positionalities — histories and contexts. At our Collective Visioning workshop, we did this through a Collaborative Land Acknowledgement, inviting participants to use to reflect and locate their: 

  1. Origins — Where were you born? Where are your ancestors from?
  2. Influences — What other places, cultures, and land have influenced you? 
  3. Settled — Where have you settled? Where do you live now? 

Video of Tkaronto oral land acknowledgement on the top left. To the right is a corkboard with three sticky notes and the words Origin, Influenced and Settled. Around that are two maps. The bottom map is the standard world map, with many pins around Eastern North America, and the top and bottom of South and Latin America. To the right are maps of the indigenous territories in North and South America, as well as Australia.

As people shared stories of their ancestry, origin, places of influence, and current place of residence (and indigenous land settled), we were reminded of the importance of positionality  — of being deeply reflective about the ways our familial history, cultural upbringing, and the various places we’ve lived and were educated in deeply shaped our experiences and worldview. 

Many participants grappled with the reality of colonisation and ongoing imperialism within their countries of origin and upbringing, raising questions around legitimacy and identity, in terms of whose voice and perspectives they were representing. This was coupled with the acknowledgement that much of our dominant educational and political institutions have deeply embedded colonial legacies, which conditioned the way we understand the world. Relatedly, several participants spoke of the active work of decolonisation, learning to re-value their own cultural traditions and teachings which were excluded from the Western education system. 

We believe land acknowledgements are critical not just to contribute to the Truth and Reconciliation process in the unceded territory of what is commonly known as ‘Canada’, but also to advance knowledge equity by recognising the deep epistemic injustice of residential schooling,  the outlawing of Indigenous languages and spiritual practises, and the devaluation of Indigenous ways of knowing, like through ceremony, spirituality, and land. 

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