Have Land Acknowledgments gone too far? Canadian teacher weighs in on their effect on students

B.C. teacher Jim McMurtry explains why land acknowledgments in public schools could be negatively impacting Canada’s diverse classrooms.

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Territorial acknowledgments, often referred to as land acknowledgments, have become common practice in Canada. A distance research guide through the University of British Columbia describes such acknowledgments which we see declared by politicians, employers, email senders, and more as being a “respectful, yet political, statement that acknowledges the colonial context of the Indigenous territory/territories where a gathering is taking place.” 

However, in today’s report, I bring a different perspective from an award-winning educator of over 30 years who has concerns about how routine and sometimes compelled land acknowledgments could be impacting students today. According to Mr. Jim McMurtry, students attending the Abbotsford high school he taught at were led to participate in daily land acknowledgments that lasted approximately two minutes.

“They are hearing that they are not on their land. They are hearing that they’ve committed some sort of injustice,” McMurtry explained when giving examples of how such acknowledgments can have a negative effect on diverse classrooms which sometimes include refugees settling safely into Canada. McMurtry believes that in addition to educating students, it is important that teachers create an atmosphere that fosters a sense of belonging for all students.

Mr. McMurtry, an expert in history, is no stranger to challenging students to think critically about what they see and hear even if doing so goes against the political norms of the day. Last year McMurtry found himself cancelled after educating his students about the most common cause of death during the time residential schools were in operation. 

Teaching such facts likely wouldn’t have found McMurtry escorted out of class and later suspended if the timing hadn’t coincided with the release of an internationally spread press release that misled many to believe that the remains of 215 children, some as young as six years old,  had been discovered in a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Rebel News will keep you informed on the fate of Mr. McMurtry’s teaching career at the hands of the Abbotsford School District but for now, click on the full video report to hear more on what he has to say about land acknowledgments in schools.

To find out more information about what has actually been discovered buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to date, become a RebelNewsPlus subscriber and gain exclusive access to watch our investigative documentary called Kamloops: The Buried Truth.

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