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Caroline Elliott: B.C.’s land reforms treat non-Indigenous people like uninvited guests – National Post

May 26, 2024

The province has divided its people into two ancestry-defined camps with unequal claims to the place they all call home

A criticism often made of land acknowledgements is that they amount to little more than virtue signalling. They’re seen by some as purely performative gestures that make those uttering them feel good, but do little to improve the lives of Indigenous people.

A look at several recent initiatives under B.C.’s NDP government suggests that land acknowledgements can be scrutinized on the opposite grounds: that they represent a serious perspective that results in real policies premised on the notion that non-Indigenous people are “uninvited guests” in their own country.

Jennifer Grenz, a forest resource management professor at the University of British Columbia, told the Vancouver Sun last year that “Land acknowledgements should actually mean something, otherwise they are purely performative.” Applauding the unilateral closure of B.C.’s popular Joffre Lakes Provincial Park by local First Nations, Grenz saw it as an opportunity for the public to “really recognize that settlers are guests on the land in so-called Canada. Period.”

Similarly, Deanne Leblanc, an award-winning UBC academic, wrote in a 2021 issue of the Canadian Journal of Political Science that land acknowledgements “draw to light” the idea that non-Indigenous Canadians are “uninvited guests” and should “consider themselves ‘foreigners’ in need of invitation onto Indigenous lands.”

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