What is Land Acknowledgement?

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A land acknowledgment is an act of conciliation, a statement that recognizes indigenous
people as the traditional stewards of the lands.

“When approached humbly, in authentic consultation with indigenous
people as equals, land acknowledgments can help pave the way to honouring
those with whom we share this land”

-Selena Mills

Hilltop Montessori School, in the work for understanding biases, confronting racism and
any other form of discrimination, has committed to acknowledging the land of the
Abenaki people as a first step to initiate historical reparation and decolonizing history in
our community. For the last two years, our Head of School has dedicated time to
initiating most of our meetings with a land acknowledgment. In the beginning it felt
strange, perhaps because it was something unusual for us. Perhaps because it has not
been part of the “tradition”, or because the history books did not consider this practice
as part of the history of those who have inhabited this land before European colonizers.
The awareness for understanding and hearing the voices of indigenous people is
starting to echo in our everyday teaching practices. For us, it began with a simple but
courageous act of stepping forward and acknowledging their existence and the
injustices made towards them. We know that this is an important act to include in our
daily life, but we also know that there is more work that needs to be done.
This week, I met with some of the programs to discuss Indigenous Peoples’ Day and
the historical accounts that are still perpetuating bias and racist ideas in our school and
society. Sharing our thoughts and ideas, curating our classroom libraries, sharing
classroom experiences about redirecting students when using improper concepts,
reflecting on our childhood awareness in the context of indigenous people’s presence,
asking for feedback, experiencing vulnerability, and constructing possible lessons to
share with students and families were some of the points to share from this week’s
Next week, I’ll be meeting with the rest of the programs to continue exploring and
discussing our bias, and reflecting and constructing new approaches for continuing
decolonizing historical narratives.