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Indigenous land acknowledgments: opinions toward a practice unknown to many depends on context, place

Do Canadians feel Indigenous land acknowledgements are a valuable instrument towards reconciliation in this country? Opinion largely depends on who is doing the acknowledging, along with when and where they are doing it.

After being recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, the practice has become more commonplace in recent years.

That said, a significant segment of the population is unfamiliar with the custom wherein meetings, speeches, public gatherings or other occasions may begin by noting the event is taking place on the traditional territory of local Indigenous peoples.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds four-in-ten Canadians (39%) have heard such an acknowledgement at a public event, rising to majority levels in the four western provinces and dropping to just one-in-six in Quebec (17%).

Women appear more receptive toward this practice than men. More than half of men (53%) believe these types of acknowledgement do little to help reconciliation with Indigenous people, nearly twice the number (29%) who say they’re actually quite meaningful. On the other hand, four-in-ten women (41%) believe land acknowledgements are a valuable part of reconciliation, slightly more than the proportion who disagree (35%), with a sizable group (24%) saying they remain unsure what effect the practice has.

Context is important: six-in-ten say they support hearing a land acknowledgment from the Prime Minister (59%) or premier of their province (59%). Far fewer say they would like to hear them at sporting events (44%) or a staff meeting in their workplace (26%).

More Key Findings: 

  • More than one-in-three Canadians (36%) say that Indigenous land acknowledgements are a valuable part of reconciliation with Indigenous groups in Canada. A slightly larger group (44%) disagree, believing instead that they do little to advance reconciliation.
  • Those with university education are considerably more likely (62%) to have heard an Indigenous land acknowledgement than Canadians with other educational backgrounds – college and technical school: 32 per cent, high school or less: 25 per cent
  • A majority of residents in every region, at least 54 per cent, say they would support their premier making a land acknowledgment before public speeches

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